Paint – by – Numbers Mural
Janet Skinner orchestrated a record-setting mural in the north Brisbane suburb of Strathpine.
The almost 29m2 mural held a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest paint-by-numbers painting.
Pine Rivers Shire council commissioned Janet to paint a mural on the wall of the Strathpine Community Centre in 1998.
Her brief was to depict scenes from the days of explorer Thomas Petrie, who explored much of south-east Qld’s coastal areas in the 1800s in search of timber and locations for settlements and was regarded as a friend to Aboriginal people.
Petrie made his home in the area. The suburb Murrumba Downs is named after the property that was in his family for 100 years and the town of Petrie was named after him.
Janet designed the mural, which included local people, Murrumba homestead, a steamer arriving in Moreton Bay, the North Pine Hotel, Petrie station, a bullock team and more.
Although she could have painted the wall herself, Janet had another idea, given the mural was in a community centre.
She had already designed two 2.4m by 1.2m paint-by-numbers locomotive paintings for the annual Railways Exhibition at Brisbane’s RNA showgrounds.
Each had been divided into about 4600 numbered sections which passers-by, particularly children, enjoyed painting and the finished piece was raffled off at the end of each show.
Janet suggested to the council that she turn the 16m long by almost 2m high Petrie mural into a paint-by-numbers community project, and the council readily agreed.
Janet set about the task of engineering the design for the mural which included 20,096 colour-coded numbered sections.
Janet was aware that the massive paint-by-numbers project could set a record.
The call went out through the media and community groups for people to come and be a part of the record attempt.
From 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, for two weeks, people filed through the community centre to have their chance at painting the record-breaking mural.
In all, 1000 people representing a cross-section of the community took part.
They ranged in age from 6 to 86 and included school students, members of church and services, groups and the local chamber of commerce.
Six at a time, they climbed aboard scaffolding and painted about six patches corresponding to a colour number of their choosing.
Janet had learned that no official record had ever been set for the largest ever paint-by-numbers. A solicitor and official adjudicators visited during the painting of the mural to verify that it met the required conditions. After the mural was completed, it was recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest paint-by-numbers.
The mural was actually painted in three coats. Each patch was renumbered by a volunteer and recoated two more times.
The three coats have ensured its longevity and more than 25 years later, it still looks as good as the day it was done.
Janet pushed herself to her limit to complete the mural. It hurt her just to walk up the scaffolding stairs to it. She was later diagnosed with the debilitating auto-immune disease, multiple sclerosis.