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Canvas, brushes, and in 1, 2, 3 I’ve got a painting

Steaming in ... Eli’s third paint-by-numbers project was of The Flying Scotsman train

 I have never been to Venice, and I have absolutely no artistic talent, but I recently painted a Venetian scene.

It all started with a visit to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem some months ago. In the gift shop, I saw a paint-by-number kit of a camel resting on its haunches on the desert sand, a colorful red and gold rug thrown over its hump. I liked it and thought, "If I could paint that, it would make a lovely personal gift for one of our grandchildren." The kit, produced by the Israeli company Palphot, costs NIS 31 and comes with a paintbrush, tubes of paint, and the picture preprinted on a canvas, ready for hanging. It took me about seven hours to complete, and today it does, indeed, hang on a granddaughter's bedroom wall.

Completing the camel project was so enjoyable that I wanted to paint a second picture, but finding paint-by-number kits in Israel, I discovered, is not an easy thing. Neither Graphos nor Kravitz stocks them. One day, in the Gan HaIr shopping mall, I entered a large art supplies store. A lovely elderly saleswoman shook her headwhen I asked if they sold such kits. "A long time ago, we used to have them," she said. "They were popular once. By the way, who are you buying it for?" Obviously, she thought I was buying a gift for a grandchild and was curious about the child's age. "For me," I sheepishly replied.

A few weeks ago, in Givatayim, I happened to pass a Hobby Lobby store and, to my delight, they did have the kits, albeit very few. The kit I bought, the aforementioned scene of Venice, was much more sophisticated than the picture of the camel, and took many more hours to complete – about 20 hours in all. Made by the Royal & Langnickel Company of England, it cost NIS 65. Today, the completed picture stands on the mantel in our living room, and I am delighted every time I pass by it – flaws and all.

Eli’s first effort with paint by numbers ... a camel resting on its haunches in the desert

Having discovered that finding paint-by-number kits in Israel is problematic, I turned to the Internet and discovered a whole world of companies offering a vast array of pictures. Prices range from $10 to $60, not including shipping. The advantage of shopping on the Internet is that you have a very rich selection of pictures to choose from.

For my third project, I have chosen a picture of a train approaching a station in a small Scottish town, with an excited family waving as it nears. That's how I feel anticipating the arrival of the kit at our local post office. I found this particular kit on Amazon, and, as usual, there were consumer comments. One woman wrote, "I've done many paint-by-number projects, and, believe it or not, this is the hardest." So it will be a challenge, but a welcome one.

I'd like to recommend this hobby to the readers of ESRA magazine. Although paint-by-numbers sounds very much like an activity for young children – "stay within the lines," "fill the whole space," "be careful not to make a mess" – I have found it to be entertaining, exacting, and satisfying, even a bit creative as the process involves mixing colors. For those of us whom God has not blessed with artistic talent, painting-by-numbers can be a godsend. 



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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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