Painting is defined as the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface (support base). In art, the term describes both the act and the result, which is called a painting. Paintings may have for their support such surfaces as walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay or concrete. Paintings may be decorated with gold leaf, and some modern paintings incorporate other materials including sand, clay, and scraps of paper.
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Painting is a mode of expression, and the forms are numerous. Drawing, composition or abstraction and other aesthetics may serve to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner. Paintings can be naturalistic and representational (as in a still life or landscape painting), photographic, abstract, be loaded with narrative content, symbolism, emotion or be political in nature.
A portion of the history of painting in both Eastern and Western art is dominated by spiritual motifs and ideas; examples of this kind of painting range from artwork depicting mythological figures on pottery to Biblical scenes rendered on the interior walls and ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, to scenes from the life of Buddha or other scenes of eastern religious origin.
What enables painting is the perception and representation of intensity. Every point in space has different intensity, which can be represented in painting by black and white and all the gray shades between. In practice, painters can articulate shapes by juxtaposing surfaces of different intensity; by using just color (of the same intensity) one can only represent symbolic shapes. Thus, the basic means of painting are distinct from ideological means, such as geometrical figures, various points of view and organization (perspective), and symbols. For example, a painter perceives that a particular white wall has different intensity at each point, due to shades and reflections from nearby objects, but ideally, a white wall is still a white wall in pitch darkness. In technical drawing, thickness of line is also ideal, demarcating ideal outlines of an object within a perceptual frame different from the one used by painters.
Color and tone are the essence of painting as pitch and rhythm are of music. Color is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects, although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is associated with mourning in the West, but in the East, white is. Some painters, theoreticians, writers and scientists, including Goethe, Kandinsky, Newton, have written their own color theory. Moreover the use of language is only a generalization for a color equivalent. The word "red", for example, can cover a wide range of variations on the pure red of the visible spectrum of light. There is not a formalized register of different colors in the way that there is agreement on different notes in music, such as C or C♯ in music. For a painter, color is not simply divided into basic and derived (complementary or mixed) colors (like, red, blue, green, brown, etc.). Painters deal practically with pigments, so "blue" for a painter can be any of the blues: phtalocyan, Paris blue, indigo, cobalt, ultramarine, and so on. Psychological, symbolical meanings of color are not strictly speaking means of painting. Colors only add to the potential, derived context of meanings, and because of this the perception of a painting is highly subjective. The analogy with music is quite clear—sound in music (like "C") is analogous to light in painting, "shades" to dynamics, and coloration is to painting as specific timbre of musical instruments to music—though these do not necessarily form a melody, but can add different contexts to it.
Rhythm is important in painting as well as in music. Rhythm is basically a pause incorporated into a body (sequence). This pause allows creative force to intervene and add new creations—form, melody, coloration. The distribution of form, or any kind of information is of crucial importance in the given work of art and it directly affects the esthetical value of that work. This is because the esthetical value is functionally dependent, i.e. the freedom (of movement) of perception is perceived as beauty. Free flow of energy, in art as well as in other forms of "techne", directly contributes to the esthetical value.
Modern artists have extended the practice of painting considerably to include, for example, collage, which began with Cubism and is not painting in the strict sense. Some modern painters incorporate different materials such as sand, cement, straw or wood for their texture. Examples of this are the works of Jean Dubuffet and Anselm Kiefer. (There is a growing community of artists who use computers to paint color onto a digital canvas using programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and many others. These images can be printed onto traditional canvas if required.)
In 1829, the first photograph was produced. From the mid to late 19th century, photographic processes improved and, as it became more widespread, painting lost much of its historic purpose to provide an accurate record of the observable world. There began a series of art movements into the 20th century where the Renaissance view of the world was steadily eroded, through Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism and Dadaism. Eastern and African painting, however, continued a long history of stylization and did not undergo an equivalent transformation at the same time.
Modern and Contemporary Art has moved away from the historic value of craft and documentation in favor of concept; this led some in the 1960s to say that painting, as a serious art form, was dead. This has not deterred the majority of living painters from continuing to practice painting either as whole or part of their work. The vitality and versatility of painting in the 21st century belies the premature declarations of its demise. In an epoch characterized by the idea of pluralism, there is no consensus as to a representative style of the age. Important works of art continue to be made in a wide variety of styles and aesthetic temperaments, the marketplace being left to judge merit.
Among the continuing and current directions in painting at the beginning of the 21st century are Monochrome painting, Hard-edge painting, Geometric abstraction, Appropriation, Hyperrealism, Photorealism, Expressionism, Minimalism, Lyrical Abstraction, Pop Art, Op Art, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Neo-expressionism, Collage, Intermedia painting, Assemblage painting, Computer art painting, Postmodern painting, Neo-Dada painting, Shaped canvas painting, environmental mural painting, traditional figure painting, Landscape painting, Portrait painting, and paint-on-glass animation.
History of painting
The oldest known paintings are at the Grotte Chauvet in France, claimed by some historians to be about 32,000 years old. They are engraved and painted using red ochre and black pigment and show horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth or humans often hunting. However the earliest evidence of painting has been discovered in two rock-shelters in Arnhem Land, in northern Australia. There are examples of cave paintings all over the world—in France, Spain, Portugal, China, Australia, India, etc.
In Western cultures oil painting and watercolor painting are the best known media, with rich and complex traditions in style and subject matter. In the East, ink and color ink historically predominated the choice of media with equally rich and complex traditions.
Different types of paint are usually identified by the medium that the pigment is suspended or embedded in, which determines the general working characteristics of the paint, such as viscosity, miscibility, solubility, drying time, etc.
Spray paint (Graffiti)
Water miscible oil paints
'Style' is used in two senses: It can refer to the distinctive visual elements, techniques and methods that typify an individual artist's work. It can also refer to the movement or school that an artist is associated with. This can stem from an actual group that the artist was consciously involved with or it can be a category in which art historians have placed the painter. The word 'style' in the latter sense has fallen out of favor in academic discussions about contemporary painting, though it continues to be used in popular contexts. Such movements or classifications include the following:
Painting idioms include: