diy {goodwill print to Paint by Number art}

My favorite subject in school was art. During my senior year all the AP art studios had studio spaces in one big room. We had free creative reign to decorate as we wished. I shared a spot with a guy named Chris (not the Chris I married). I ate most of my lunches in the studio laughing with that crazy bunch of art students. Good memories. Another memory from my days in art classes was the practice of changing paintings. All the way back to elementary art classes I remember being given photocopies of paintings or drawings from famous artists and being instructed to paint or color over the original work. It was a good practice in learning how to draw and learning different techniques. So for craft week, I thought I’d show you how to do it.

A while back I picked up a poster/print from Goodwill. I mainly bought it for the frame, but I kind of liked the flowers too. Well last winter I covered all the paintings in my living room with wrapping paper and taped Christmas cards to them. When I took the paper off, the tape peeled the corners of this painting. I’ve been meaning to replace it and then thought it would make a fun Paint By Number painting. So here are some basic steps to do your own:

Supplies: acrylic craft paint, Acrylic Sealer/Finisher Glossy

Here are some tips on Paint By Number paintings:

* There is no blending together of colors…the colors are more like blobs with very defined edges

* The more colors you use the more complex (and time consuming) the painting

* You can combine similar shades. For instance, if there are 5 different tints of yellow near each other in the original..combine all 5 into one yellow for your Paint by Number, unless you want it more detailed.

* Florals and landscapes are the easiest to tackle for a first time project.

To begin: Pick a main color and begin painting over it using defined edges…think BLOBS of paint. If your picture has tons of colors I recommend taking a step back and seeing what the strongest colors are…then begin painting those areas. Just keep going from there….


Did you know we have a large sycamore tree in our backyard? It is where we do most of life…hence the name of this blog Under the Sycamore! When I craft I usually try to have the kids doing something similar near me. I did some of my painting outside while the kids did their spin art. On a side note: this is one of my kids favorite ‘toys’. When we run out of paint I use my acrylic craft paint (3 parts paint, 1 part water) in the little bottles.

You can see on the painting that I continued to add more colors. I choose to use colors a lot brighter than those in the original painting.


Continue on until the entire painting is covered. I did opt to the leave the top background of mine untouched…I like the eclectic feel of it that way.

Once all the painting was done I sprayed an Acrylic Sealer over the entire thing. I chose to go with glossy to give it some shimmer.
And then hang it back on your wall.

If you are wondering if that is a branch with cupcake liners hanging on my living room wall…well, Yes, it is. Doesn’t everyone do that?



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  • Jacqueline - Ha! I also have a string of cupcake liners hanging in my home, but over the kitchen table. Funny…

  • Betsy C. - I love this project! I have a collection of vintage paint by number and I am so excited about adding my own to the collection! Heading to the thrift store today!

  • Christina - Oh wow, this is the neatest idea I’ve seen in a while! I can’t wait to try this!!

  • Abby - Oh my gosh…I love this! My husband is an auctioneer (awesome because I have regular access to awesome junk!) and I see old paintings and prints all the time. I am so going to do this!

  • Rachel Schindler - The painting you did is amazing. But, I love the branch with the cupcake liners. I want one of those!

  • Margaret - What a cool project! I love how bold the colors are.

  • reeve - cute idea!

  • cailan - What pretty fun … thinking quickly if I have anything about that could be painted over. And I love your Sycamore.

  • Meggie - Oh how fabulous! From shabby to totally chic! I love the colors too… much more my style in the “after”!

  • ellen Gradman - Love all the white frames!

  • Anna Joy - i would’ve never thought to do that with an old painting. you are genius! im off to goodwill to see if i can find a cool painting!

  • Maloree - Never thought of doing something like this, but I LOVE this idea. On my bucket list this summer I have working on a water color painting, but I think I am going to change it to this. This is brillant!

  • Courtney - AWESOME SAUCE~ I love this idea!!! You are so talented, I would have never thought to do this!!!

  • Kate W. - What a great idea – super cute and cheap art… the best!

  • molly Grove - Very cool idea and you used great colors!

  • Katie @ explanationrequired - Oh man, I loooooove this!! I’ve been searching for paint by numbers for a while but find that they’re never bright and bold enough for my style. I never thought to make my own. Perfect!!

  • Julie @ Connell Tales - Such a creative idea! Definitely trying this one… 🙂

  • Allison - Great idea!! Although I am not so sure I could ever pull off a painting as cool as yours it would be fun to try!!! 🙂

    I bought all of those Katie Daisy cupcake liners at Target too when they came out!! I have been hoarding them trying to decide what to do with them!!! 🙂

  • Shannon - This is so fun!

  • maria - wow, I love this, came out so bright, pretty, and colorful!!!

  • Lori - I CAN do the cupcake liners. No prob – the painting??? whateverrrr. I took Art and made an A. However, I cannot see myself painting over something and it looking better!! Yours is!! wow. I will work on courage but for now pass the cupcakes, please.

  • Kimber-Leigh - what a wonderful idea!!! (why didn’t any of my art teachers growing up have that idea?) i think my kiddos and i are going to love this project!

  • Sarah @ Handbags*N*Pigtails - I know Ive seen pics of other parts of your home but have you ever done a full blown house tour? Id love to see more of your living room. Im always in awe of those who can do great wall collages. Im inept at them:)

  • Christen - Ashley, you continue to amaze and inspire me! You also make me laugh. “Why yes, those are cupcake liners!”. LOVE! I had a family member ask me why I put a chicken coop in my living room. As if I needed a reason! Silly person – because I love it!

  • Tina I. - Off to Goodwill!

  • Michelle - wow…this is so cool! i’ve never seen this done! i want to try this! how awesome…thanks for the idea and how-to!

  • Kimber - i seriosuly LOVE this! so cute! I really want to try it and I’m no “artist” at all!

  • Sarah Batdorf - Something about this reminds me of Kim Parker art. and I love Kim Parker. I’m going to do this! Thanks for the tut.

  • naomi - This is so neat! I never did this in school 🙁 I’m going to have to try it as soon as I can get my butt to a thrift store!

  • Marykay - What a great idea! I love the way yours turned out. I will have to try this

  • Kate S. - This is so cool! I’ve never seen this done before.

  • Marjorie - Such a great idea!

  • carlab - Love this! So cute! Definitely inspiring!

  • robyn - This looks like something I would like to try. You’ll have to hostess a show and tell for us all!

  • Jenna - What a fantastic idea! So glad you shared!

  • Kina Baddorf - This is amazing! I will definitely be doing this soon. What a great project for a former artist, turned mother who doesn’t have time to sit and come up with a new subject for painting, nor the time to actually bring it to life! Perfect!

  • Jeannette - Oh my word, Ashley – once again – I’m absolutely amazed, not in a million years would I have thought to do something like this, but it is beautiful!

  • Stefanie D - I love love LOVE this. I don’t now if I could have done it so close to that spin art though…

  • Sarah Baker - This is such a great idea! I want to go to every Goodwill in Shreveport and find a painting to do this with! Love it!

  • pinksuedeshoe - Oh. My. Goodness. This is absolutely amazing. I LOVE the way this turned out! I know what i am going to be spending my time on this week for sure. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I am falling in love with my acrylic paints all over again! WOW! (Also, I seriously had lacking art classes… I’ve never even heard of this technique!)

  • Lindsay (The Craftafarian) - I like your version much better 🙂

  • Karen - Wow! This is so neat and SIMPLE! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Seamingly Sarah - I’ve never thought to do this! What a great idea. I took lots of art classes (I almost majored in it, but my parents talked me out of it and I still kind of regret it) and I never had a teacher tell us to draw over someone else’s. Very cool. Thanks for the idea!

  • amy b. - what an original idea!! I love it!! I like the vintage prints too but sometimes the colors are just too pastel for my taste! Great way to update them! thanks for the inspiration!

  • Ali - Love it, love it, love it SO much! I am doing this!!!!!

  • Ashleigh - You are a genius. One of my favorite things you’ve ever done. And that’s saying a lot since I’m in love with everything you do!

  • Kelly - OMG! I LOVE paint by numbers and I always have my eyes peeled for them. This is an incredible idea! I can’t wait to do my own.

    Thanks for the wonderful ideas. And it’s rummage season! Yeah!

  • Abigayle - this is a genius idea! i’m definitely going to be on the look for pictures i can do this to now!

  • Jen Means - so AWESOME! i can’t wait to try it!

  • Randi - LOVE THIS! I’m excited to try this someday … what a fantastic idea! Yours turned out lovely 🙂

  • Amy @ dwell in the season - This looks amazing! Nice job – I love it!

  • Cristy - Brilliant idea! Pinned for future reference.

  • The Motherload » Amy’s Notebook 06.29.11 - […] would love doing this paint by number art (@ under the […]

  • Suzy - So fresh and bright…love the idea!

  • Sarah Baker - I have looked all weekend for a paiting to do this to! I love it so much! Do you know how many I’ve passed up over the years at estate sales? Too many I tell you. Great job!

  • Steph @ BirdHouse - This is such a wonderful idea! I’ve been wanting to start painting, and this seems like such a fun way to get my feet wet. And I love how yours turned out!

  • Tina I. - Just did this today with my kids after being inspired by your post. Thanks for the great idea for a mom who is most definitely NOT crafty!

  • Kara Paslay - I’m just catching up on your blog and I LOVE this! I am definitely going to be copying it- you may see this idea at Anthro in a few months! 🙂

  • Deanna - We love our spin art machines. You can use fabric paint and “stamp” the painting on a shirt. That’s how we did our chickfila shirts this year.

  • Friday Reader Roundup — SoEclectic - […] been doing crafts and every single day I’ve loved what she’s posted. On Tuesday she did DIY Paint By Numbers (PBN) and it’s just too cool. I’ve been eying every vintage PBN lately, but I just […]

  • This Birdie Needed a Makeover | MixedMolly Designs - […] transformation is inspired by a do-it-yourself post I once read at Under the Sycamore. Ashley used a paint by number technique to transform a painting she purchased at […]

  • DIY Paint by Number Round Up » - […] on the wall. #1 Wall Mural @ The Lettered Cottage #2: Turn a thrift store find into a PBN @ Under the Sycamore #3: Turn a picture into a PBN for $40 @[What a fun gift?!] #4:Wall Mural @ […]

  • DIY | Tied Up With String - […] Goodwill Print to Paint by Number Art […]

  • Kristen - Check out this website where you can upload any photo and it turns it into a color by number project you print and color at home for free! You can even use the old crayons you have in your junk drawer to finish the project with your kids. So awesome! I love Spinniest Orange!

  • DIY Paint By Numbers Projects | Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Website - […] Cover Up: If you’ve already got a paint-by-numbers art work but it’s not quite doing it for you, consider giving it a cover up by painting over it with a different color palette or technique to update it. Just don’t forget to spray some sealer on it once you’ve finished. […]

  • 2013 Pinterest Projects | These Small Hours - […] 6. Family Cookbook from Clover Lane | 7. Painted Chalkboard Goals  from Mary Kate McDevitt  | 8. Paint-by-Number Makeover from Under the Sycamore | 9. Chalk Clock (source unknown) | 10. Anthro-Inspired Snow Globes from Whipperberry | 11. Chalk […]

  • keisha - I LOVE this! And congrats on this post being featured in Apartment Therapy.

  • Kimberly @ Colors Mixed Together - Oh wow! I absolutely love what you did with the painting. I am going to be on the hunt at yard sales and good will now. Thanks so much for the idea. I have such fond memories of high school art class too. I would love to do that all over again. Thanks again!

  • Gagyi csendélet | Édes Öko Otthon - […] És jaj annyira élveztem a festést, nem akarja valaki a megunt pasztell képét átfestetni? Az ötlet egyébként innen, ezer éve olvastam és vártam erre a napra. Eredeti; bevallom él?ben így is nagyon tetszett. […]

  • shout outs - A girl and a glue gun - […] can do HERE to read all about […]

  • Passion for Paint by Numbers | Maggie Overby Studios - […] creative blogger at Under the Sycamore created her own Paint by Number out of a thrift store […]

  • Maggie Overby - What I great Idea! Beautiful Blog! Shared a link to you tutorial in my blog on Paint By Numbers

  • Thrift Shop Find, Updated | Little House Design - […] take old thrift shop paintings and update them by painting over or accenting the original (examples here, here, and […]

  • DIYable Thrift Shop Find #4032 | Little House Design - […] via Under the Sycamore […]

  • friday favorites. | a BEAUTYful home - […] How beautiful.creative.abstract is this paint-by-numbers update technique. Need to get my hands on an outdated/semi-ugly […]

  • Alice Sheridan - Great idea – modifying art is often seen as trashing it, but this is great way to transform those dated finds in auction rooms.

  • Chris - I tried this but failed, I couldn’t get those defined edges. Did you use markers or paint?

  • AshleyAnn - Chris – I used paint brushes and put it on pretty thick

  • Michelangelo, Picasso, and You | Nashville Painting Blog - […] matter who created it. And, if you don’t love it, there are ways to improve it. According to Under The Sycamore, you can transform a mediocre thrift store painting into a one-of-a-kind showpiece by layering […]

  • This Week: Two weeks in One | Oh Hey, Hooray! - […] also stumbled upon this easy artwork and can’t wait to try […]

  • Jeanette Comlekci - You said this was a poster, so I assume you are painting right on the paper? Does this cause any problems? Love it!

  • thrift shop art up do | reckon and revel - […] via under the sycamore […]

  • polly plum - going to Salvation Army/Good Will tomorrow!:)

  • Angela - You are kidding, right? Please say this was a print, and not an original work of art. I would recommend anyone who wants to do this to please use a print. Please preserve original art. I happen to LOVE that “drab”, vintage look. 🙂

  • AshleyAnn - Angela – yes, it was a print not original artwork

  • Reckless Experimentation in Used Art: aka Thrift Store Painting to Paint by Number | Hawk Hill - […] paintings, but have terrible luck at finding them on my antiquing and garage sale trips. When I saw Ashley’s post about creating your own paint by number painting, I was excited to give it a try and kept my eyes […]

  • polly plum - Sorry for being so dense, but don’t commercial paint-by-numbers kits come with their own paint- and aren’t they usually watercolors?So did you use the paint that came with the picture, then paint over it with acrylic or oil paint to make the colors more vibrant?

  • Mary - I think you have just changed my life….

  • polly plum - Did you post any other examples of the technique of dipping the piece of art, incl.the frame, in paint, in addition to the grren paint /black haired lady?Any other examples of creating your own paint by numbers besides the floral? How many of those little bottles of acrylic paint did you have to buy?Where can you get them at a good price?

  • DIY Paint By Numbers Art - […] 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 […]

  • Kathy - Brilliant!

  • 2015 with five gold stars | lovejonespaper - […] surfing – which washed me up Ashley Ann Photography site – to give an old painting a modern painting-by-numbers twist, I’m really excited to play with colour here and see how they turn […]

  • Segmation - What beautiful paint by numbers! Do you have a favorite?

  • JODI - OH I LOVE THIS! I love old paint-by-number pictures to decorate with, but they’re kind of hard to find (nice ones) and sell for too much online. Now I can create my own! THANK YOU!

  • Sonja @ SustainMyCraftHabit - What an amazing transformation…it’s so fresh and colourful now. And your pictures are stunning!

  • Sunny Vogler - I have been doing PBN kits with my own artistic creativity and found your website. I was so pleased with your painting method that I visited all the secondhand stores looking for a painting for me to replicate. Finding nothing applicable, I ordered two flower bouquet PBN kits that would work. I have one almost completed. I love it. It’s a different challenge and I have to keep thinking “blobs of paint” or I tend to retreat into painting inside the lines. I’m choosing my own colors instead of the ones included in the kit and I keep your painting on my PC so I can study it as I go. I’ll send you the photos when it’s completed. Thank you for the lesson.

  • Naked Eye Studio - Wow, this is such a fun looking DiY! I just bought some old paintings at the flea market for the frames recently. Now I have a good idea what to do with the paintings too! 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda - I LOVE this idea! I’ll be scouting goodwill for a similar painting. I love paint by numbers and actually just launched a business making and designing them. Mine are definitely more modern and a lot simpler than the old school versions. I hope you’ll visit our website,