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3 Methods of Painting you probably didn’t know about

by People! Just say Something! about a year ago in art
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You've heard of oils, acrylics, watercolors, and even gouache! But what about these three ancient methods of painting?

At least once in your life, you would have picked up a paintbrush and tried your hand at creating a masterpiece! Whether you were a child at the time, as a hobbyist, or even as a professional, we all know what paint is! But little to everyone’s knowledge, paint was one of humanity’s earliest inventions!

First created almost 40,000 years ago where cave paintings were drawn with red/yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide, and charcoal. Since then, paint and pigment mixing technology has come a long way to provide us with the types of paint we are all familiar with today: oils, acrylic, and watercolor paints are the most popular amongst artists. But along the way, humanity came up with other methods of creating paint that could be though of as rather unusual to us now!


A Fayum Mummy Portrait

A rather unusual start to this list, Encaustic painting, also known as Hot Wax painting, dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. This method involves using heated beeswax and adding pigment to create a liquid or paste which was then applied to untreated wood rather than paper. The oldest surviving Encaustic panel paintings are the Romano-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt, around 100–300 CE, which were place upon the top of the mummified remains. Encaustic painting was an extremely common technique used in ancient Greek and Roman painting as well, in fact, the word ‘encaustic’ originated from the Greek word ‘enkaustikos’ which means ‘to burn in’. Modern day artists still use wood as a base for this method but now also use canvas, and even experiment with the paint’s consistency by adding resin or oil. Nevertheless, this ancient method of painting is still to this day a wonderful vehicle to create complex artwork.


'The Creation of Adam' by Michelangelo

Though many may not have heard of this method, there are world famous pieces of artwork made through this way of painting that a vast majority would recognize. Michelangelo’s iconic ‘Sistine Chapel Ceiling’ and ‘The Creation of Adam’ are both incredibly well-known pieces of art which were created using the Fresco technique of mural painting. Artists take a mixture of water and dry-powder pigments and apply them to wet plaster, and as the plaster dries, the paint becomes an integral part of the wall. The word Fresco is in fact Italian for ‘fresh’ and is closely associated with Italian Renaissance painting. However, this technique did not originate in Italy, the earliest form of Fresco painting was found in Egypt around 3500 BCE. This ancient method of painting can be found across the globe’s history; in Aegean civilizations, Ancient Greece, India, Sri Lanka, Europe, and Mexico.


'The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli

Though less commonly used in today artwork, Tempera is one of the oldest types of paint and was traditionally made by grinding pigments together with egg yolks, which is a water-soluble binder. Tempera paintings are extremely long lasting and examples from the first century CE still exist in our modern time. One of the most well-known Tempera paintings is Sandro Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ which was painted across two panels of canvas and coated in a cool grey varnish which was also believed to have been mixed using egg yolks. Egg tempera was the primary method of painting until the 16th century where the invention of oil paints became the preferred paint medium. Tempera painting had been found on early Egyptian Sarcophagi decorations, and some of the Fayum mummy portraits previously mentioned were even created using a combination of Encaustic and Tempera paint.

What about the Last Supper?

'The Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci

Many believed that Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ was a Fresco painting, however, it is not a true Fresco due to da Vinci’s notorious perfectionism. An artist would have to apply the pigment quickly to the wet plaster, but da Vinci wanted to take his time and so he tried his own experimental technique where he applied tempera paint to two layers of dry preparatory ground instead. It took him three years to complete his world-famous mural, however, his compromise meant that the pigment was not fused into the wall like Fresco paintings would and the painting began to flake within a few years.

While these three painting techniques are not practiced as much as they once were, they are still impressive mediums to try if you are an artist looking to develop or expand your repertoire of technical skill!

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you want to find out more quirky, informative posts then why not check out our profile! We upload a new post each day from Monday to Saturday!

Until next time!

- Atlas


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