The Basics of Painting

Painting is an art form in which colored pigments are applied to a surface, usually paper or canvas. The purpose of this artistic expression is to communicate an idea or emotion. It is a visual medium with a wide range of styles, techniques and media.

In early times, cultural traditions of tribes, religions, guilds and royal courts largely controlled the craft, form, imagery, subject matter and symbolism of paintings. This was an era when painters were considered skilled artisans rather than as creative artists. Later in Renaissance Europe and Asia, a notion of the fine artist emerged. Prominent painters were afforded a more personal—if not always amicable—relationship with their patrons. In addition, they were given a greater degree of artistic freedom in expressing their ideas and experimenting with various forms, materials, and styles.

Today, many different art movements have evolved that challenge the boundaries of what a painting is. Modern painting combines elements of graphic and painterly styles to create works that are uniquely their own. The lines that separate other visual arts are becoming less and less clear. This is not only due to changes in technology and the evolution of a new generation of artists, but also to changes in the concept of what it means to be an artist and what kind of artwork a painting can be.

Painting can be done with any type of pigment, but the most common are water based and oil based. Water based paints are available in acrylic, gouache and watercolor. They dry quickly and are inexpensive. Oil paints, on the other hand, have been used by painters for centuries to create their masterpieces. This slow drying medium consists of pigments suspended in oil and has the ability to produce rich colors and textures.

The first step in painting is the preparation of the surfaces to be painted. Taking the time to protect floors, furniture and hardware can help ensure that a paint job is both efficient and beautiful. Masking trim and laying down drop sheets is also a must to prevent any unwanted drips or splatters.

Once the surfaces are ready, a prime coat of primer may be applied to prepare the canvas for painting. Once it is dry, the surface can be sanded and sealed with a quality sealant. This will protect the surface and extend the life of the paint.

When painting, it is important to remember that the final product should evoke a visceral and emotional response from its audience. The power of great paintings, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, is that they transcend mere mimetic function by capturing psychological and spiritual levels of the human condition. This is what makes them so memorable. Achieving this is not easy, and no one set of rules or secret methods can make someone a great painter. However, there are some fundamentals that any aspiring artist should know. These include the principles of design, color theory, composition, brushwork, form and notan.