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My long-time bloggy friend Leslie - she who drives the Omnibus - posted a piece on Farcebook about coloring pages for adults, which (along with the comments appended thereto) reminded me of the ancient and estimable art of Coloring by Numbers.
Painting by Numbers, with its sibling Coloring by Numbers, were massively popular amusements a half-century ago. You had a piece of cheesy artwork - a jumping fish! a tribe of Native Americans! a sunset in the mountains! a horse race! - deconstructed into its component colors, the various segments and slivers delineated by light blue lines. Each segment would be marked with a number to indicate which little cup of paint or which pencil you would use to fill it in with the appropriate color. And when you were done, voilà! You had a piece of artwork on heavy paper or - in the case of the paint-by-numbers sets, a thin canvas-covered board - suitable for framing.
A typical Venus Paradise color-by-numbers set. [Photo credit: The Fancy Tail.]
I loved those damned things. I cared not whether they involved paint or colored pencils (although I strongly suspect my parents had a strong preference for the far less messy pencils). All I knew is, coloring by numbers provided hours of semi-idle amusement, a fine way to pass the time during warm afternoons in Florida while visiting the grandfolks. You couldn’t stay at the beach 24/7, after all.
There was another way to
Kopeefun. This package design (circa 1952) mashes up the crappy typography of the early 1950’s with charming artwork from the late 1930’s.
For all of the wonderful electronic amusements today’s kids have at their disposal, I wonder whether they’re really any better off. Nowadays you could get the same results using Photoshop, but you’d be missing out on the tactile pleasure of holding a pencil in your hands or scraping a damned popsicle stick over that glorified piece of wax paper.
Ahhh, those were the days.