The Basics of Painting


Painting is one of the oldest creative mediums known to man. It is used in almost all cultures in the world. The most well-known images from Western art history include Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. But the act of painting has evolved little over the past few thousand years.

Today, paints come in a variety of forms and are applied to a wide range of surfaces. Some paints are in a liquid form while others are in a powder or dry state. Encaustic paints, for instance, are a mixture of heated beeswax and color pigments. Oil paint is another popular option for artists. In oil paint, a binder such as linseed oil is added to the liquid. This serves to bind the pigments in the solution until they are ready to be dispersed.

For the majority of people, paintings are done with a brush or palette knife. They can also be digitally made on computers. Other forms of painting may include drip paintings and leaf paintings. Modern paintings usually involve multiple supports, including canvas, paper, wood, or plaster.

Oil paint has the most versatility of all painting mediums. The artist can mix colors and build up the paint in thick layers called impasto. Unlike other media, oil paint dries slowly. This gives the painting a smooth, buttery texture. However, because of the paint’s slow drying time, it is often used in combination with other paints to achieve more dynamic effects.

A variety of binding agents are used to bind the paint. These can include gum, egg yolks, casein, and glycerin. Once the painting is complete, these agents help to hold the paint in the painting, thus preventing it from drying out.

Another type of support for a painting is the ground. A ground is a non-porous material, such as chalk or gesso, which helps to keep the painting stable. Paints on the ground can also be incorporated with the surface.

Another common medium is ink. Traditional inks are from Eastern cultures. Chinese black ink, for example, is most commonly used for calligraphy. Many inks are made by mixing water with black ink. When the ink dries, it creates a wide variety of shades of black.

Some supports include cloth, stone, glass, concrete, and other materials. Other materials are used for religious or spiritual contexts. Materials such as pottery and lacquer have also been used for the same purpose.

As a result of the history of painting, many different materials have been used. In the past, painting served as a means of conveying a message or creating a record of an event.

Historically, painting has also acted as a form of portraiture. Portraits were a means of social class distinctions, as painted portraits were only available to the wealthy. Later, photography became a popular method of capturing a portrait. Photography soon replaced the painter in portraiture.

Early photographers also acted as a means of portraying dark emotions. Early color photographs were impractical and limited in value. Most contemporary photographers are influenced by the most popular styles of painting, such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.