The Art of Painting

The art of painting allows artists to convey thoughts and emotions in a visual form. It is one of the oldest forms of art, with evidence of prehistoric paintings found in caves in Lascaux and Altamira, France. Artists use a wide range of painting techniques, from simple brushes to elaborate stippling. Some paint with watercolors, while others work with oil or acrylics. Some artists specialize in a single style, while others experiment with many different styles.

Painting is not a static form of art; it changes with the culture that produces it. The most popular styles of painting tend to change with the times, as new ideas and technologies emerge. However, a few common themes have emerged throughout the history of art.


This style involves creating an accurate, detailed depiction of a subject. Realism is often seen as more “true” than other forms of art because it rejects imaginative idealization in favor of close observation of outward appearances. Some of the best known realism painters include Johannes Vermeer (Las Meninas) and Leonardo da Vinci (Mona Lisa).

Abstract Expressionism

This art movement began in the 1950s and involved a vigorous, physical action on the canvas. Artists such as Jackson Pollock used drips of paint to create works that appeared chaotic but held the viewer’s attention. The work of other abstract painters like Mark Rothko focused on the relationships between colors and the textures of paint itself, making them the central focus of the artwork.


A watercolor is a type of oil-based paint that is tinted and mixed with water to create a translucent effect. Watercolors are available in a wide range of colors and can be applied on paper, fabric, wood, glass or other surfaces. They dry quickly and can be cleaned with mineral spirits.

Oil-based paints have a richer pigmentation than watercolors and are easy to clean with mineral spirits. They also have a smoother, more lustrous consistency than water-based paints. Oil-based paints may take longer to dry than other types of paints.

Acrylics are similar to oils in that they are water-based and can be thinned with turpentine or other solvents. They are thicker than water-based paints and dry faster, but they are not as soluble as oil-based paints. Acrylics are available in a wide range of pigments and can be used on many different surfaces.


Painting can be an effective means of expressing feelings and thoughts through the medium of sculpture. Some painters combine sculpture with their paintings, attaching real objects to the canvas in collage fashion or using electricity to operate coloured kinetic panels and boxes. Others employ the use of shadow to create a three-dimensional effect on the surface of the canvas.

A painting can be a decorative or symbolic object, an expression of an idea or an attempt to capture a moment in time. Paintings have also been employed as a way to communicate religious and political beliefs, as well as serve as a record of historical events.