Near the beginning of March this year, close to 30 local artists mustered into Vangarde Arts carrying frames of brightly colored paintings. They placed pieces against the wall and marveled at their fellow artists’ creations. Becky Bowers smiled as she browsed the works. She pointed to a painting of a fisherman casting a line into a plaid-patterned river, his back turned to a blue and purple mountain.

“You can tell that’s Mark’s,” she said. Indeed it was. Mark Bowden’s signature style was very evident. This is exactly what Bowers wanted when she gave out completed paint-by-number (PBN) paintings to her fellow artists and asked them to add their own unique flairs.

The results are now hung on the walls of Vangarde Arts as well as what the painting looked like before the drastic transformation. A portrait of Mona Lisa turns abstract with an explosion of vibrant paints. A majestic dog turns holy with an intricate halo illuminating his pointed ears. A lone horse standing in the desert suddenly receives a rider, whose figure is much too large for the original painting.

The collection of the PBN works will be on display and up for auction during a fundraiser at Vangarde Arts organized by Bowers and her husband, Jamie. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. During that time, guests may choose to purchase any of the works immediately and also listen to live music performed by Shawn Blomberg and Adrian Kolbo. Afterward, the “buy it now” period will end and make way for the live auction of five previously selected PBN paintings. Live music will continue on later in the night.

If you happen to stop by the gallery at that time -- you can also get an advance peek at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (April 21) -- here are just a few fun things you can do while browsing the PBN paintings:


Apparently those old paint-by-number kits never got tired of using dogs as subjects for newbies to draw. The Bowers picked up a ton of these completed PBN works over the years, many of which feature a canine as the focus of the painting. So do yourself a favor and count the doggies. And before you ask -- no, we’re not telling you how many there are.


Connie Luhman took an interesting approach when it came time to add her own unique flourish to the PBN work. She took her portrait of a dog (an Irish setter perhaps?) and cut it into square pieces. She then rearranged those pieces, turning the dog into a mountain. That’s pretty creative. If someone asked us how to change a portrait into a landscape, we would have just said turn it clockwise. But see if you can mentally rearrange those pieces. Or at least try to find the nose and eyes or something.


Believe it or not, those PBN kits taught you how to make well-known artworks by famous artists. But don’t think you’re some kind of master forger after completing one of these PBN paintings; they don’t even come close to the authenticity created by the original master. Funnily enough, there are a few works by the one and only Leonardo da Vinci. Can you spot them?


Weekender reporter

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