What is Painting and what are its main techniques - I

What is Painting and what are its main techniques - I

What is Painting?

When we talk about painting, from the point of view of art, we refer to a form of expression that sometimes seeks to represent reality graphically.

For this purpose it uses shapes and colors on a surface, from natural and / or synthetic pigments mixed with binders (paints)

Actually, painting as art consists in applying, on a given surface, a sheet of paper, a canvas, a wall, a wood, a fragment of tissue, or any other element that allows it, a pictorial technique, thinking about obtaining a composition of shapes, colors, textures, drawings, etc. giving rise to a work of art governed by certain aesthetic principles.

As you can guess the painting is one of the oldest artistic expressions, dating back to prehistory.

The walls of the caves, both inside and outside, became the first supports of the painting. Altamira, Mas d'Azil, Lascaux, Cogul and Valltorta are some of the sets that have best preserved paintings, some of them of great quality.

Cave painting, Altamira caves - Spain

Paint is part of the classical Fine Arts.

These fine arts consisted of six disciplines: music, dance, declamation, sculpture, architecture and painting.

Currently, some more recent creation such as cinema is added to these classic disciplines.

From the point of view of the history of art or aesthetics, painting is considered a universal category that includes all artistic creations made on surfaces.

A category applicable to any technique or type of physical or material support, including supports or ephemeral techniques.

These techniques have also evolved historically and have entered into new digital and virtual techniques, such as video art or digital art.

The painting relies conceptually on drawing, color theory and pictorial composition, as well as on perspective and other knowledge that pertain to the vision and physics of light to create works of art.

Painting is a word with several meanings in the art world.

A painting is the support painted on a wall, a canvas, or a sheet.

Likewise, the word paint is also applied to the color prepared for painting, associated or not with a painting technique.

That is, we use paint to talk about the pigments we use to make a pictorial work.

Paint - Van Gogh

We can also classify the painting according to multiple elements.

We can classify it by its historical period: prehistoric, Gothic, Renaissance, etc.

By the technique used in its preparation: oil, fresh acrylics, watercolor …

For its support materials: canvas, wooden board, glass, paper, etc.

Even for the theme of painting: landscape, history painting, still life, nudes, portrait, religious painting, etc.

The profusion of painters, styles, schools, proper names of this art are such and so overwhelming that we cannot pretend to approach them from a post.

It would take no longer a book but an encyclopedia to address it in a serious way.

The post does not want to be this but rather a simple guide for whom wants to make its first steps in the world of art purchase to be clear about the basic concepts in terms of technique and materials when he is in front of a pictorial work.

We will first talk about the supports where the pictorial work is done.

Wood has been, throughout the History of Art, one of the most used supports.

Wood is already found in ancient Rome and in the Egyptian world, but it was in the Middle Ages when it was most used in altarpieces, fronts, altars ...

Medieval painting on wood - Baldaquíno de Ribes, 13th century, workshops of the Seu d'Urgell

The table is usually made of white poplar, linden or willow wood.

Historically, chestnut, cypress, spruce and mahogany woods have been used.

Currently, plywood boards consisting of three, four or five sheets of pressed hardwoods, glued and joined on both sides are used.

Many works that use the wooden support are actually painted on a canvas attached beforehand to the table, since it gathered the advantages of both methods.

Fabrics are the other great pictorial support in the art world.

The fabric is the most common support in current paint.

The Renaissance progressively incorporated the canvas, which consolidated from the 17th century, although Rembrandt and Rubens often used the wooden support.

The most commonly used fabrics are linen, hemp, pure linen mixture for small and medium formats, and hemp for larger paintings.

The surface of the fabric must receive a primer or base on which the materials will be applied.

Among the fabrics are also used, although more rarely, silk, tapestry, velvet, satin, satin ...

Painting on canvas

The third support, in terms of importance, is the wall.

From the paintings of ancient Egypt, through Minoan and Etruscan art, we arrive at Greek and Roman paintings, of which we retain some examples. It has been an element always present in art.

There was a lot of work in the Romanesque world, reappearing strongly in the last Gothic -Giotto, Scrovegni chapel in Padua- and throughout the Renaissance.

A grandiloquent sense of language on the wall and ceiling will appear in the baroque world.

Mosaic of the battle of Isos, House of the Faun, Pompeii

The painting has used other supports

Copper is one of the most used.

In the seventeenth century flamenco there are good examples of paintings in small format and accused preciousness.

Brass and zinc fulfill similar functions.

Slate, marble and ivory are more rare, as is glass and glass, although we have an example of their use.

Currently plastic closes the relationship of supports themselves.

The paper

One of the most used media from the fourteenth century is paper.

Its reduced cost allows the artist an expressive freedom that other media do not facilitate. Through Art History it has been used for notes, sketch, and artistic work itself.

The parchment is important in the illumination of the texts, which cultivated by Greeks and Romans reached its peak in the Middle Ages, together with the miniature.

The cardboard can be used, conveniently prepared, for painting, but is generally used, together with the cardboard, for drawing and related techniques, as well as Egyptian tablets, smooth sheets, calcareous or terracotta sheets, papyrus sheets and palm.

In general, any surface that has the ability to be painted has been used to create art, starting with the walls of prehistoric caves and ending with the walls of our cities.

In a second post with the same title: "What is Painting and what are its main pictorial techniques II" we will talk about more common techniques in painting used for artistic expression. 

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