“A beautiful oil painting the first time you try.” Our childhood memories of those easy to follow paint by number kits are sentimental and fond – so much so that in recent years, Lauren has started collecting vintage paint by number works at flea markets and thrift stores. So the timing couldn’t have been more serendipitous when I came across photographer Ashley Cambell’s tutorial for turning thrift store art into a self guided paint by numbers. It’s a brilliant way to give an inexpensive piece of art a face lift. Plus, it’s incredibly relaxing and wonderfully encouraging for those of us that aren’t skilled painters!


You’ll need:

  • thrifted art
  • acrylic paints
  • a variety of paint brushes
  • pieces of scrap cardboard


I found this floral still life at my local Goodwill for $15, frame and all. All you need to do it remove the backing and the work of art. The only type of art that probably wouldn’t work is a color photograph or super textured oil paining – only because the acrylic paint may not be applied easily. Now start by stepping back and examining your painting to decide on the colors you will use. The key here is to simplify, simplify, simplify! One type of flower, in the original painting, might have 6-7 different shades of color. When using the paint by numbers technique, narrow those shades to just one or two.


For example, for all the greenery, I used a yellowish green, light green and dark green. Start with one color at a time, with the lighter shade first.


Remember to not think too literally and just paint over multiple shades. Don’t worry about getting the edges too detailed or perfect – throw those brushstrokes out the window!


Once all the light green color has been applied, go back and paint the darker shades with a dark green.


Again, don’t worry if you think a lot of detail has been lost in the painting – it’s supposed to look that way!!


Now work onto your next color. Here, I’ve mixed a dark blue and then added white paint to create a lighter shade with half of the paint. Apply the lighter shade first.


Then go back and apply the darker shade of blue.


Next is the white, which I highly recommend using – even if you have a really muted color. The pure white really makes the final product pop!


If you’re using white, use a light grey as the darker shade. Continue adding colors until you’re satisfied.


I left the vase and background unpainted – I love the juxtaposition of old and new.


Put it back into the frame.


Hang your new art piece and tell all your friends: I painted that!


(images by HonestlyWTF)