Big score at the thrift shop this week:
A matching set of vintage paint-by-number landscapes! They are beautifully done — each and every cell is painted with love, I can tell. Each is signed “Palme” in the lower right hand corner and they are so perfectly (professionally) framed that I haven’t had the heart to pull them out to check to see if there’s a full name and/or date on the back of the picture.
When I saw them, stacked on the floor behind a bunch of dusty plastic-framed prints (of the usual thrift shop variety: still lifes, posters from art museums, sail boats) I gasped. I couldn’t breathe for a moment or two. (The usual loss of breath when one finds a real treasure at the thrift shop.)
I’ve been looking for a good paint-by-number painting for years but all the ones I’ve seen so far (and they are hard to find, being highly collectible these days) were painted by the same bored-stiff paint-by-number painter that I was, when I got my paint-by-number kit 45 years ago. Meaning that the painter tended to free-lance when it came to painting all those piddling little cells just so, “simplifying” the painting into a few big blobs of color fields.
These paintings are meticulously done, with nice wooden frames to show how (justifiably) proud the painter was with his/her finished work, and they are big: each one is 16″ x 20″. And the scene is gorgeous — Fall in New England. In a word, or several, this is the gold standard, the jackpot, the n’est plus ultra of paint-by-number paintings.
They didn’t have a price on them so I had to take show them to the manager to get her expert opinion. She frowned, tapped one with her fingernail, determined that it was cardboard (not canvas), and told me “$9.99. each.”
Bargain. Which, again, is hard to find in a thrift shop these days. The Antiques Road Show and eBay have seriously lessened the quality and raised the prices of thrift shop goods these days, and a real bargain is hard to find. I would have paid twice the price for these paintings and thrown in the title to my SUV to sweeten the deal, so when the manager said $9.99 I couldnt get to the cash register fast enough. We’ve been thinking about getting rid of the SUV any way.
So here they are:
These two Fall paintings have filled in a sad and painful gap in my collection of thrift shop paintings of the four seasons. I had Winter already:
(44″‘ x 32″, canvas, signed “Kate Q.” on the back; it’s hanging over the fireplace in my livingroom.)
And I already had Spring:
(16″ x 20″, canvas, signed “JK ’67” in lower right corner; I’ve almost cleaned all the decades-worth of filthy cigarette-smoke-tar off it.)
Now all I need is Summer. If you see a good Summer thrift shop painting, let me know.
(P.S. This post was inspired by G2′s suggestion (see: Comments, August 6) that tea should have four different, seasonal blends — so right. Tea appreciation is a changing, seasonal thing, like all good things: wine, food, art, TV, and shopping. Right?)