The History of Painting

The art of decorating homes with painting started thousands of centuries ago with modern man. Paintings are not only pretty to look at, but they are messages in themselves. They portray emotions of the artist at that particular time and to some extent, reveal the way of life in a specific era.

Artists are competent people, and they aim to make better paintings from their predecessors. The standards set for portraits more than 3000 years ago no longer apply today. As humans advance, so do their arts.

In the past, ancient people did not have many materials that are available today. They used earth, animal blood, soot and various minerals to draw on their cave walls. Melted animal fat, water or saliva was their main mixing medium.

Over time, the medium advanced to include seed oils. A variety of pigments came up to replace the animal blood, earth, and soot. The painting has come a long way over the years. Below is a brief history about the evolution of painting over the centuries.

What is Painting?

Painting is the simple act of rubbing the surface with color mixed in water or oil. The painting application makes use of bare hands, cloth or a brush depending on the era and the availability of these materials in the particular age.

Although the artist may make a painting with a particular meaning in mind, other people can view it differently. When you look at art,it can give you a hint of emotion, a message or it can purely be for enjoyment purposes.

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Prehistoric Painting

Archeologists’ earliest discovery of painting dates 38,000 years ago in a cave. Pre-historic man’s paintings were about hunting. They were paintings of deer and arrows. The paint had earth, animal blood and soot mixed in melted animal fat or water medium.  The soil offered a variety of colors from deep red to glowing yellow depending on the iron oxide amount present. To paint the cave walls, the early men made brushes from animal hairs or used sticks to rub the mixture on the wall.

The earliest paintings as discovered are in the caves of France, Spain, and some parts of Africa.

Modern-day Painting

Over the years, painting has taken twists and turns to grow and become what it is today. From late 1800, the previous painting restrictions lifted and artists could paint anything in any form.

The realistic art began at that time with paintings of daily activities, poverty, homelessness and other occurrences within the society. Impressionism followed where the peinture only gave an impression without going into details. Distortion art overtook realistic art with “starry night” leading the way.

Other recent painting evolutions are cartoonism, symbolism, and expressionism.


Although painting has been in existence for many years, forms keep changing, but its use remains the same. Humans enjoy creating art that triggers emotions, transmits a message or decorates the environment. In centuries to come, contemporary paintings will probably phase out, and in their place, a new era of art will emerge.

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