Japanese Garden by Bucilla – Paint by number is not just for kids!

Japanese Garden Paint By Number Kit by Bucilla


(hmmm… it looks like Amazon swapped this listing’s product – you can still use this link, though, to browse through other paint-by-number kids)


Pros: Final project comes out great

Cons: Directions could be better, canisters hard to open

Paint by number kits – they’re not just for children!

For the past few years I have indulged in a hobby that holds my interest, keeps me busy for many hours, produces pretty pictures, and doesn’t cost a whole lot.  I’m talking about paint by number kits.  You see, I am not an artist.  I have no talent whatsoever when it comes to drawing and painting.  So if I want to create something pretty I have to rely on a kit to make it happen.  Is this “art” per se?  Not really, it’s more like a “craft”.  But I don’t care.  I enjoy every minute I spend with these kits, and I enjoy looking at the outcomes.

This review is for the kit called Japanese Garden from BucillaAs you can see from the picture, this is a beautiful landscape picture: sky, trees with white flowers, a gazebo, water, rocks, grass, and pink flowers.  I find the picture to be serene, comforting.  I would enjoy stepping through the stones to arrive at that gazebo where I would relax, read a book, and watch the world go by.


This is a decent-sized project; the canvas is 16 x 20.  There are 24 colors.  These are acrylic paints which are very easy to work with.  They wash off easily with water, yet have a thick consistency rendering them virtually drip-proof.  Too thick?  No problem, you can thin them by adding a few drops of water.  Overdo the watering?  No problem, let them sit a day or two and they thicken back up.  In other words, you can’t go wrong with acrylics. 

The paint canisters come pre-numbered.  This is nice; other brands force you to number the canisters as step 1.  However, the paint canisters are ridiculously difficult to open.  In fact, I can’t open them with just my fingers, I use a scissor’s blade shoved into the little plastic groove, then twist.  Kids will need supervision with this step.

Speaking of kids, this kit really isn’t designed for them.  The level of detail is such that there are lots of teeny-tiny spaces that need to be filled in.  It takes patience, and a steady hand.  I use several brushes from thin to very thin.  I even use a toothpick to fill in some of the fine detail.  I would say that this kit is for teenagers or adults, but only those with patience.  Expect to spend a couple months painting, if you do it for a couple hours a day.

The included instructions are pretty good.  They explain how to get started, how to wash the brushes, and how to add “special touches” if you want to add to the final design.  However, they don’t explain anything about the proper consistency of the paints; I had to learn through experience.  They also fail to mention that unlike traditional coloring projects, the object is not to paint within the lines, but to fully cover the lines.  Again, you learn this through experience.  Nor do they explain how to deal with the borders between two colors.  Sometimes you want to achieve a hazy blend.  Other times, you need a perfectly defined edge.  For instance, clouds, leaves, and grasses can have soft, blurry edges.  But the edge of a rock should be solid, as should the edges of the gazebo.  They don’t explain any of this.  Nor do they explain one word about framing the project when complete.  However, they do give you their website, customer service line, and email.

The kit includes one brush.  They really should provide more than one – with different thicknesses.  Do yourself a favor – go to a craft store and buy some high-quality acrylic brushes, and take proper care of them.

The canvas is of high-quality.  The spaces and numbers are marked clearly.  Granted, tiny spaces mean tiny numbers.  I keep a magnifying glass handy for those areas where my old eyes just can’t make out the detail.  They also provide a paper template.  This is vital.  If you purchase a kit that doesn’t provide a paper template, do yourself a favor and photocopy (or scan) the canvas so you have a template. Trust me, you’ll refer to it any time you want to touch-up an already-painted area.

In the end, my painting came out very similar to the one shown on the cover.  The picture at the top of this review is from the manufacturer.  The one shown here is my finished project:

My finished project
My finished project

Overall, I enjoyed the time I spent with Japanese Garden from Bucilla. The finished product looks great.  I would recommend this project for people who like the picture, and have some patience.


Other paint by number kits:

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions
Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper
Wheel Of Hearts

9 thoughts on “Japanese Garden by Bucilla – Paint by number is not just for kids!”

  1. Mona – the finished product really does look great!

    We had hours of fun with these kits as kids. With the extended winters we’ve had here lately, I may revisit this affordable entertainment to fill the hours spent resting-up between blizzards.

  2. You really did an awesome job on this! Good to know they don’t supply many brushes or tips. I guess you’re self taught for the most part while using this. Isn’t it great you can add your pictures here?! Great review.

  3. Thanks, all. I have found that – for adults – the best brands are Bucilla (also seems be called Plaid) and Schipper (a brand out of Germany). If you look at my Epinions profile page (before it goes away) you’ll see two pictures at the bottom that I did of tigers.

    And, yes, it’s awesome to be able to add pictures here – especially for an item like this where the entire “proof” can be summed up in a single image!

  4. This came out lovely, Mona. I find the color mix quite soothing.

    Thanks for writing. It was definitely a creative idea for a product to review – I added a Miscellaneous category.

    And promoted to the homepage! 🙂

  5. Thank you, Andy. In the days of SAPability, I wrote several reviews of this type of project. Once SAP was gone, so was that avenue as very few were part of the Eps database. I’m loving the freedom here. After all, these are real products that people might be interested in learning about / purchasing. I think they make great gifts for a small subset of people who would enjoy doing thing type of thing (and who have the time and the patience).

  6. ps: I’m working on another one now. It’s a three-part picture, in total about twice the size of this one. Give me about 6 months and I’ll have it finished and ready for review. 🙂

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