Painting, in art, describes any work of art that’s created with painting via brush, sponge, palette knife, or any other tool to apply paint.

Painting is a medium, not a genre unlike abstract or contemporary art.

Paintings’ Origins

Paintings as old as 40,000 years old have been discovered around the world – mostly in caves as they served as shelter during the Upper Paleolithic era.

Back then, paint was mainly composed of earth ochers (iron oxides) and manganese (metallic substance). These would be crushed into a fine powder and applied directly by hand, but there are also instances of these powders being mixed with animal fats and implemented with rudimentary tools.

Over time, dyes were mixed with water and gums to create more vivid paint. However, It wasn’t until the fifteenth century when oil was implemented – creating a more durable and flexible paint.

Painting in Early Civilizations

After Mesopotamia, Egypt emerged as the most prominent of the first civilizations. Much of Egypts history was passed along through their well-kept written and artistic records.

Most of the art in ancient Egypt was found in the well-preserved tombs of kings and pharaohs – which were shielded from the climate.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul could continue to exist after death, hence the process of mummification, and with that came vibrant and detailed art which depicted major events of that person’s life.

Greeks and the Arts

The ancient Greeks were responsible for the grand wall paintings (murals) that paved the way for Roman murals.

In addition to murals, the Greeks fancied pottery as an artistic medium. Pottery was in high demand due to the amount of trade that was coming in and out of Greek city states.

The Renaissance

Around the Renaissance, artists typically maintained the same social status as scholars, and were essentially artisans that focused on art.

Prominent artists were commissioned through wealthy entities, be it families, religious sects, or merchant moguls. At the time, the idea of artists selling admittance into a gallery in order for them to earn a living didn’t exist.

Once commissioned works were no longer the mainstay of an artist’s earnings, they needed to appeal to the market, not just patrons.

Painting Today

From innovative origins in cave paintings, painting has taken on more forms than one could count.

The tools of the trade aren’t much different from the first instances of painting, but the techniques, visual aides, and subject matter have erupted into a myriad of artistic works.

Regardless of what the future of painting has in store, one can be certain that it’ll derive from styles and techniques of the past and present.