One Story on Paint and Painting

One Story on Paint and Painting
Many writers have given their account of the origin of paint and painting. I will share my research into the artistic medium and subsequent human expression.

Dating back 100,000 years, it is believed humans first made paint by grinding red ochre stones, combined with the fatty juice from burnt bones.

Paint samples from the same timeframe were found on conch shells in the Blombos Cave near Cape Town, South Africa. Researchers discovered a workshop where red ochre was mixed and stored. The red pigment was believed to be used for body adornment and burials.

It is generally agreed upon humans migrated from Africa to Europe and Asia about 60,000 years ago. That is about the same time that paint was applied to walls and objects.

Objects painted by artisans is considered decorative arts, whereas painting on walls is considered visual arts.

Not called art by some critics, but considered signatures instead, the earliest forms of human expression are clusters of red dots and handprints, using red pigment blown over a hand. Yet isn't a child's handprint on paper a work of art?

On the walls of Chauvet Cave in France and the Borneo Caves in East Kalimantan and Sulawesi, paintings of animals in profile are outlined with bold strokes in charcoal and bodies filled in with red ochre paint.

The Chauvet Caves in France were discovered in 1994 and are believed to be 33,000 years old. Years after the original paintings, more animals were added, such as lions and rhinos.

On the limestone walls of Leang Timpuseng, Indonesia, there are handprints and paintings of wild pigs dating back 35,000 years, discovered recently in 2021.

Attention students, the first work of art by humans is of animals. Believed to be the first expression of figurative art is of three pigs (perhaps the inspiration for the children's bedtime story) in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

About 35,700 years ago, paintings of the Babirusa or pig deer were also discovered in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

In Europe, cave paintings dating back 36,00 years were discovered in Altamira, Spain, with the familiar charcoal outlines and red ochre bodies, depicting a sense of movement.

In the state of Assyria (now northern Iraq) from 1365-609 BC relief sculptures made of gypsum (alabaster) are believed to have been brightly painted, thanks to the analysis of microscopic traces of the original paint. The sculptures, with heads of humans or eagles and representing supernatural figures, adorned the entrance to palaces and temples.

The "Nefertiti Bust" is a painted stucco-coated limestone sculpture of the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. Considered the "icon of international beauty", Nefertiti's bust was discovered in the workshop of sculptor Thutmose and dated 1345 BCE.
Considered 'looted art' by Egypt, yet denied by Germany, it can be seen at the Neues Museum, Berlin.

Athens, Greece was the center of black-figure painting on vessels, including amphora. Exekias is considered the master of black-figure style, painting scenes of Greek myths and stories.

The technique is achieved by using watery clay called slip, then firing the slip in a kiln. The exposed areas of the clay vessel remain orange, whereas the paint becomes black and glossy.

The magnificent statue Winged Victory or Nike of Samothrace (200-190 BC) is made of white Parian marble and is believed to have been brightly painted since blue pigment was found on the wings and on a strip on the bottom. It can be seen at the Louvre, Paris. Truly a wonderful sight to behold!

Elegant Winged Victory Statue by SNOWLEE for

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Content copyright © 2023 by Camille Gizzarelli. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.