We explain what painting is, its origin and its characteristics. Also, what are the techniques, main representatives and more.

What is painting?

Painting is an artistic procedure that is based on figurative or abstract representation through thick or liquid substances that are applied with various tools on a canvas.

It consists of a complex art that requires the integration of various techniques of painting, drawing, visual composition and the use of color theory.

There are different painting techniques that are subdivided into two general groups:

  • Dry painting techniques. They are those that do not require the use of a solvent to apply to the paint or substance. For example, the graphite pencil, the colored pencils, the markers, the charcoal and the crayons or crayons. Collage, photomontage and decoupage are also included.
  • Wet painting techniques. They are those that require the addition of a water-based or oil-based diluent, to apply to paints or substances and use them with a tool, such as a brush or spatula. For example, tempera, watercolors and oils.

The artist can use one or more techniques on a surface that can be: a canvas, a wood , a wall, a sheet of paper or a fabric, according to the aesthetic criteria of the artist.

History of painting

History of painting

Painting is one of the seven fine arts and one of the oldest forms of expression dating back to prehistory , some fifty thousand years ago . There is evidence of cave paintings in the Altamira cave in Spain and in the Lascaux cave in France, among others. For the first human beings, painting was an expression of symbolic thought that arose long before the invention of writing .

The term rock derives from the Latin rupestris and means rock. Humans painted pictures of animals or stencils of their hands on cave walls. They used their fingers, flattened stones or feathers as tools to capture the dyes they obtained from nature, such as the red of iron oxide or the blood of an animal and the black of manganese oxide or carbon.

Five thousand years ago Egyptian painting evidenced an evolution in its techniques and designs , although they maintained conceptual rather than realistic images. They used to paint on the walls of the tombs of the pharaohs figures of mythological beings and scenes of everyday life, such as hunting and agriculture.

Roman painting was of great influence to the Greeks, both for the walls decorated with mural painting with the fresco technique, and for the painting on tableware and ceramics. The Greeks were noted for advances in ceramic painting techniques .

Before the Spanish invasion, the painting of the native American peoples represented religious situations , their different deities and questions of astrology, as can be seen in the Aztec , Teotihuacan or Mayan cultures. Starting in 1492 with the arrival of Columbus in America, the European art exerted its influence also in art and painting.

With the connection of the old and the new world, the new artistic movements, most of which emerged in Europe, spread throughout the world. For example, modernism from 1900, Gothic painting from 1400, Cubism from 1910, Expressionism from 1914 and Dadaism from 1916, among others.

Paint characteristics

Paint characteristics

Among the main characteristics of the painting, it stands out that:

  • It includes a diversity of genres , such as portraiture, nude, still life, mythology, landscape painting, among others.
  • It manifests itself in the diversity of artistic movements and currents , such as expressionism, cubism, impressionism , modernism and Fauvism .
  • He makes use of perspective and space, through different techniques , such as fresco, watercolor, oil, pointillism , among others.
  • It makes use of two or three dimensions : height, width and depth, through visual perspective techniques that are used to create the illusion of depth.
  • The use of color is from the primary colors , red, yellow and blue, which when mixed can be obtained secondary colors, green, orange and violet. Tertiary colors are the many variants of primary and secondary tones.
  • Use various supports such as canvas, table, paper, murals, among others.
  • The use of the form can be with mimetic or abstract representations .
  • Contemplate the importance of luminosity , a central aspect in painting to achieve realism .

Main representatives of the painting

Main representatives of the painting

Among the main representatives of painting and its works are:

  • Pablo Picasso and his work Las senoritas de Avigno, dated 1907.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci and his work Mona Lisa from 1519.
  • Vincent van Gogh and his work The Starry Night of 1889.
  • Sandro Botticelli and his work The Birth of Venus of 1486.
  • Johannes Vermeer and his work The Girl with a Pearl Earring from 1665.
  • Jan van Eyck and his work The Portrait of Arnolfini from 1434.
  • George Seurat and his work Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte , 1886.
  • Gustav Klimt and his work The Kiss of 1908.
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler and his 1871 Gray and Black Arrangement No. 1 .
  • Hieronymus Bosch and his work The Garden of Earthly Delights from 1515.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Luke is passionate about fostering student involvement and connection. He studied psychology for his major and likes learning about the past. Luke aims to specialize in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. .

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