Laugh if you will, but completed paint-by-number art can sell for significant amounts of money, especially if you can still see the numbers underneath the oil. Sort of bargain basement pentimento.
The Smithsonian's Natural History Museum maintains a website on the mid-century Paint-By-Number phenomenon. The site was originally created for SI's 2001 exhibition, "Paint by Number: Accounting for Taste in the 1950s". The Museum argues that the kits are a marker of significant, and "particularly American" social change that was brought on a strong post-war economy.
Art critics of the same period thought just the opposite. They saw paint-by-number kits as evidence of a growing, mindless conformity among the middle class.
But let's be honest, the kits are fun. They make "everyone a Rembrandt." I'm also going to upload some photos of Buddy the dog to www.easy123art.com and have some custom kits made.
I like paint-by-number art for the simple composition of the scenes, the imperfections left by the artist, and the patina the oil paint has acquired over time. These woodland scenes are going to look great in my Montana home.