Can Paint By Numbers Be Considered Art?

By  //  February 28, 2021

Paint by numbers is a relaxing hobby but can it teach us anything? Does it have any artistic merit? The answer to both is yes.

Paint by numbers can be art and it can teach us how to be better artists. Here’s why.

Art Defined

Critics have called paint by numbers uninspired, democratic, and oversimplified. Others decry that it’s “not real art” and dismiss it as a creative process. The fact is, there’s no reason paint by numbers shouldn’t be counted as art.

One of the fascinating aspects of art is that it defies definition. If you look up the term in a dictionary, the result is something like, “an expression of creativity in visual form.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Not Identical

Paint by numbers kits, like the ones found at are created in batches. One design can be printed onto thousands of canvases. Each little pot of paint is poured from a larger batch. Ideally, each kit that goes out has the same printed canvas and the same paints.

The uniformity of paint by numbers is so notorious that the phrase has become a term that means unoriginal and non-creative. However, it’s not entirely true that every paint by numbers is the same, especially when it’s finished.

No two people will paint their canvas exactly the same. The brushstrokes someone uses to apply the paint, the humidity where they live, and the time they take to finish the painting will all influence the outcome. So, technically, by the time a painting is finished, it’s not the same as someone else’s.

Valuable Skills

One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to start. Overcoming the hurdle of a blank canvas prevents some people from even getting started. Paint by numbers takes away a lot of this hesitation and gets you painting right away.

Paint is fluid. It’s not as easy to control as a marker or a pencil. Every artist, whether they are a five-year-old finger painter or a 50-year-old oil painter has to learn the way their paints behave. This takes practice and experience. Paint by numbers gives you that experience.

What does the paint do when you mix it with water? What happens when you layer colors? How does the line change when with a thick brush versus a thin one? How much paint should go on the brush at once? All of these questions get answered through the experience of handling paint.


If you’ve never handled a paintbrush before, it will take some getting used to. You have to adjust the amount of pressure you use and compensate for the unpredictable movements of your brush.

Painting between the lines on a paint by numbers canvas helps you learn to manipulate the paint and brush to be more accurate. This improves your hand-eye coordination. Hand-eye coordination is a very important early developmental tool. As we age, it’s also an important skill to keep up.

Colors and Composition

One great thing about paint by numbers is that you don’t have to do the work of creating a composition and deciding on colors yourself. If that’s something you’re interested in, however, you have the freedom to roam from the prescribed color palette.

A simple way to get started designing compositions is with a camera. Because it creates images quickly, you see a rapid return on your investment of time. Once you have taken a photo you love, upload it and create your own canvas!

Any photo you like can be turned into a paint by numbers kit. Just upload it, choose a size, and order! Click this link for custom paint by number kits.