During my elementary school years, my father had an evening shift job. He was on the job at home for breakfast, outfit selection, hairdos and lunch for my sister and me while my mother worked sunrise shift in a dress factory. We walked home for lunch and it was usually on the table waiting for us when we walked through the door.
There were a few times, though that we would come home and find my father sitting at the kitchen table in deep concentration over a large canvas board from a paint-by-number kit. The first time I saw this, one painting in the set was nearly done. When did that happen? Apparently, he had been working on it bit by bit and putting it away before we came home. Those few times we saw him at the kitchen table must have been times that he couldn’t tear himself away , although it was more likely a case of finishing up all areas of a color from the little plastic pot he had open.
Paint-by-number as a hobby was pretty out of character for my father if you looked at the big picture. But when I think about his life-long characteristic of extreme meticulousness, this makes sense.
There are two large canvases, one of egrets and one of flamingos against the same Everglades-type background. From the moment they were finished and framed in thick white wood frames with gold graining, they hung in the old house until my mother died. I have them now.
As far as I know, he never did another paint-by-number before or since.
Here is young me in an outfit* that I made in high school Home Ec class, standing in proximity to the paint-by-numbers in their place of honor in our home. The snapshot was taken because I had just trudged home through the snow from Easter Sunday Mass.
*The coat was a hot pink textured wool, double breasted with self-covered buttons. The ensemble included a hot pink floral sleeveless sheath dress that matched the lining of the coat. The hat was probably from K Mart.