Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great Art for (so much) Less

I visited a friend several years ago and happened upon a gallery that was exhibiting old paint by number paintings. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling and the impact was so striking—and the site of the paintings such an emotional trigger from my youth—that I started to collect the paintings myself. At first, I would be happy just stumbling upon an unexpected discovery. Soon I began looking in earnest, focusing on landscape paintings and scouring flea markets, yard sales, and even Salvation Army and Goodwill stores whenever I travelled. One painting was no longer enough. I started to look for companion paintings (paintings that were originally packaged together with complementing imagery). Before long, I was bidding against other collectors on eBay; crestfallen when paintings I coveted were snatched up in the final seconds of bidding. It was clear, I had not only become a collector, but a paint-by-number addict.

But collecting is only part of the story. The bigger question is what do you do with the things you collect? I decided to create a gallery of my own in the stairwell of Trout House. (You may recall seeing the story in the pages of Country Living Magazine, but the photo shoot was by no means the end of the project.)

When I first mounted the paintings, I decided to use a small, nearly headless, brad nail to tack each corner (see right). I figured if I ever wanted to remove the paintings I could do so without damaging them. I also knew that a frame would conceal the pin-sized hole in the corners should I decide to re-use or resell them. But, after a couple months, the centers of the paintings started to bow. So now my worst fear was realized—I would need to take each painting down and find another solution for mounting. Because the nails had no heads, the only way to remove the paintings was to pull them away from the wall and have the nail go through the backing. I used a pliers to remove the nails afterwards.

Oh, did I mention that I changed the wall color after I hung the paintings the first time and, rather than remove them, painted around each one? I should have known that decision would come back to haunt me (see left). After I re-painted the walls, I tried a double-sided carpet tape to see if that would keep the paintings flat against the wall. But, even the combination of carpet tape and corner nails failed to keep the paintings flat against the wall after a couple months.

So, I removed them again and used a 3M Scotch heavy duty mounting tape that, if you can't find locally, can purchase on Amazon. Today, those paintings are secure. Of course, taking them down now will clearly destroy the paintings. I hope the future owners love the paintings as much as I do.


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  2. Hi, love this post. I just recently found a collection of paint by numbers at a yard sale, and I love them. Wondering If you would mind if add a link back to this post on my blog. Take Care, Carrie