Life columnist

Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.

Sometimes it only takes a random sight to retrieve memories that may have been hidden for decades. For me, that random sight was from a local craft store’s website as I was “window shopping” last week.

The product? Paint-by-number kits.

Up until my early teens, paint-by-number kits were such a treat. I spent many hours dabbing that paint in the numbered areas and coming up with a masterpiece of art that could be hung on the wall. These weren’t just for kids; my mother and adult sisters enjoyed them, too.

My favorites were the baby animals. I remember painting puppies and kittens and still can close my eyes and see the paintings of the kittens hanging in the living room on the wall behind Daddy’s recliner. I think the puppies were across the room on another wall, but for some reason, that memory is so fuzzy it may be merely a figment of my imagination. I enjoyed painting flowers, too. One in particular was a bouquet of roses. I wonder what happened to those childhood masterpieces?

Knowing my penchant for saving everything, they possibly could be stored in the garage in a box that hasn’t seen the light of day since we moved to this house in 1996. Perhaps one of these days I’ll take the grandchildren “shopping” through all those storage containers and see exactly what we can find. Turning the kids loose in there would be a good way to clear a larger path through — a necessity to reach the storage containers — and they might even find some cool things I’m willing to part with. Maybe.

Isn’t it funny how the memory of a scent often accompanies a visual impression? In this case, I can smell the pungent odor of the paint itself as I dip my paintbrush into those small, round containers of the different colors. A very clear memory is of working on one of the kits during early summer, windows open, the scent of freshly cut hay and the sweetness of flowers blooming in the yard wafting in as the light breeze gently tugged at the sheer curtains. Don’t ever think you can’t go home again. You can, if only for a little while.

I didn’t even realize paint-by-number kits were still on the market since I hadn’t seen them in years. The new kits are a bit more complex than the ones I remember. If the online preview is any indication, these look almost like photographs and include the puppies and kittens, landscapes, flowers and more, plus reproductions of some famous artwork. I have my eye on two kits, both inspired by Van Gogh: “Starry Night” and “Irises.” These kits are geared toward adults, and are far beyond what I would have been able to do as a child. Shoot, they may be far beyond what I can do as an adult, but I’m going to give it a try. Perhaps I will be the next Van Gogh.

Nah. That won’t happen, but I’ll have hours of fun in the process. And who knows, I may be inspired to try my hand at creating a masterpiece of my own at some point in time.

If Anna Mary Robertson Moses — better known as Grandma Moses — could start her successful art career at age 78, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Mamaw Albert to take up the brush at 66. Right?

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at

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