Painting is a visual art form that aims to create a visual representation of an idea. It has been practised by humans for thousands of years. There are many different styles of painting and different types of mediums. Some use colour as decorative element, while others make color their primary expressive element. Paint is applied to a surface by a brush, sponge or other tool. Most paints are liquid, but some can be made in powdered form and mixed with a solvent such as oil.
The earliest forms of painting were produced in caves by primitive people. These paintings often depicted animals and landscapes. Later, painting was developed to become more detailed and realistic. This occurred in the Neolithic period when humans developed agriculture and began to make a society. Paintings were linked to everyday life, with the image of a subject being used to ward off danger or to depict rituals.
The most notable images in Western art history include Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Often, paintings from the Neolithic and early medieval periods were highly symbolic and depicted animals, plants and objects.
In the Greco-Roman and Renaissance periods, a system of notated tonal values was used to develop the technique of painting. During this time, artists had to learn to balance the tonal value of the subject. They were also trained to develop the design of the image and to establish a personal relationship with their patrons.
Today, artists are combining graphic and painterly techniques, allowing them to expand the boundaries of the practice of painting. For example, a growing community of computer “painters” is “painting” colour onto digital canvas.
In ancient Greece, the style of painting known as parietal fresco, incorporated mineral and vegetable pigments into an aqueous medium. In the Cretan mural tradition, the painting of buildings was done in a figurative manner. Eventually, this style became the standard for the entire area.
Other forms of modern painting include encaustic painting, where the artist applies colored pigments to a prepared surface. Often, the mixture contains beeswax, damar resin and other ingredients. Many encaustic painters use wooden or metal tools to manipulate the paint.
The simplest type of encaustic mixture is made by adding pigments to beeswax. Modern artists have also adapted the technique by using various materials such as paper, wood, leaves, plastic and metal.
Another method is called impasto, where thick layers of paint are built up. Impasto can cause paint to split and dries slower than other media. A third type is called collage. Collage hasn’t always been considered painting, but some of the most influential contemporary painters have done this.
As the art of painting becomes more diverse, the definition of a painting is increasingly uncertain. However, a great painting is a good representation of the emotional level of human condition. The subject matter is the important factor, and the artist must find a subject that inspires them and challenges them to produce a work of art.