Pantone may have picked a soft tropical hue for the 2014 color of the year, but with this winter season being what it has been over most of the country, I’m just not feeling it yet. It seems the color of choice in current design trends continues to be a moody, deep, dark azure. All the peace and tranquility of blue, deepened to a level of utter quiet sophistication. It can be both simple and complex, feminine and masculine. Beautiful with white, it creates a truly elegant setting when paired with gold or brass tones.
Yep. I love ’em. No, I mean really. Cheery little canvases with simple animal scenes or landscapes made out in brilliant, chunky blocks of color. There’s nothing better. I am currently in search of an old kit after a recent search found a sad, modern offering of Thomas Kinkade-esque compositions that look nothing like their ancestors.
Developed in 1950 by engineer Max S. Klein, these kits contained an outlined composition, with each space numbered. The number corresponded to a paint color to be used for that area. Suddenly, everyone could be Rembrandt. In fact, the paint kit box tops themselves decreed it so!
By 1954, Max Klein’s company, Palmer Paint (under the Craft Master label) had sold over 12 million kits. Of course, the pop culture phenomenon was panned by art critics, who pooh-poohed the trend as an uncreative wave of mindless consumerism. Especially since trade-show demonstrators promised to reveal how easy art could be, for absolutely anyone.
The hobby continued to explode, and seemingly everyone, from every walk of life, had their home walls adorned with their own paint-by-number creations. Businessmen – even U.S. presidents – were getting in on the action, feeling a sense of bewildered pride toward their new creations.
In the end, the kitschy paint-by-number art movement of the 1950’s came to represent a calmer, more prosperous, postwar America, content to explore the leisure life had to offer. Today, contemporary artists, like Jenn Jarnot or Trey Speegle, utilize the innocent simplicity of these works to make modern statements.
Additionally, these “original” creations are now being coveted as wonderful expressions of mid-century Americana. Since the 1990’s, they have been popping up again, either discovered in a relative’s attic or more recently sold on Ebay and Etsy. And they are not just paintings anymore. They are being re-purposed and re-imagined as new creations, used to lovingly remember a simpler time in history. Buntings, fabrics, and phone covers adorned with the vibrant works, often incomplete to partially reveal the numbered composition beneath, are now being seen. A new revival of the amateur genre has come to 21st century pop culture.
So come on! Because this bandwagon promises to be a fun ride…
I am currently obsessed with antique and vintage framed panoramic group portraits! I want to create a gallery wall full of them…
I love the fun geometry of the long rectangle of the frame coupled with the contrast of the vertical lines of the subjects’ staged black-and-white or sepia-toned poses. They make such an interesting statement on a wall.
I also love the size range of these photographs. Typically, they are about 6-9 inches high by anywhere from 20-40 inches long. Price-wise, be prepared to spend anywhere from $100-$125 each for a vintage panoramic group portrait. Many of them date from the 1910’s – 1930’s, so you may want to re-frame or mat them.
They will also make great conversation pieces for your next gathering as your guests gaze over the hundreds of faces represented in the portraits. Instant charm, guaranteed!