Little Big History of Paint Brianna Laughlin

Have you ever been to a museum and looked at a painting and thought about how the artist got the paint in order to paint the painting? No. Well not many people do, but sometimes its interesting to learn about new things, even if you don't think they are interesting... like paint. By the end of reading this website, you should be able to completely understand where paint came from and why it is important in history. It is important globally because it has been used in many different ways and it has taught us a lot about the past. We also seen it in many places, like in caves that the earliest people lived in, to museums, to modern day homes.

When earlier people used paint, they used it for many different things like learning, entertainment, and socialization. Some of it became part of religious traditions, some helped us learn about what life was like back then. Some of the first paintings were found in caves in Africa. The painting were thought to just be there to decorate the cave walls. They weren't really of anything specific that would teach us about that time period. There were also paintings found in burial tombs in Egypt. These were used to represent the person and their lives. Greek people used paints to decorate their cities. They would paint their palaces and temples. Their paintings aren't weren't around anymore because they were destroyed during war time.

Egyptian Cave Painting
Greek Paintings
Egyptian Paintings

As the years went on, paint started to become more complex. When paint was first invented it came in one color, reddish-brown. Today we have all the colors you could think of. Also, when people first discovered paint, they painted things so they could remember them. The things they painted were really important. Now we use paint to do things that are fun. Its form has also changed a lot over the years. When paint was first invented they would put eggs in the paint mixture so when it would dry, it would harden and stick to what ever they painted. Today it still hardens like it used to but it isn't made from eggs. When Egyptians first started painting, they would first put down a layer of white so whatever they painted on top of it would stand out more. Today we use it for many more purposes. We use it for things like cars, houses, buildings, and many other things, but back then they only used it for pictures and buildings. Today we have a lot of tools that we use for painting. Things like brushes, edgers, rollers, extensions, etc. In the early ages, all they used their hands, sticks, and tails from animals that they killed. There are also many different kinds of paint. For example, you have spray paint, nail polish, ink, wood stain, and lacquer.

As you may already know, paint obviously wasn't discovered until humans came around and needed somethings that they could draw with that would stay for a long time. The thing is, though, is that there had to be something that the people could make into paint. They used things like dirt and rocks to make the paint. These items were created long before humans were on Earth. In threshold 4, Earth and the solar system were created. This means that the dirt and rocks that the people used to make the paint, were created at this time. Threshold 6 would be when it really starts to fit in because our collective learning increased dramatically. Humans used the paint to put pictures on cave walls of things they would want to remember, as stated before. When others would come around, they could see the paintings and learn from them. In threshold 7 it became a big thing because humans could use it to write things down. For example how they grew their food, where some food was that they could collect, and where water was. What things worked and didn’t work in terms of living, hunting, and farming. What they thought was the best ways to do things. It also has a lot to do with people’s culture. They could paint things that help us learn today.

Spray Paint
Wood Stain
Nail Polish

There are many different people that look at things from the past. For example, anthropologist and archaeologists. When they look at artifacts from the past, they are looking for different things. Anthropologists look at the paintings to try and make educated guesses about what was happening. Back then, painting was more important because it was the only way that people remembered and how a way of expressing their knowledge besides through words. Today it isn't as important as it used to be. It is seen as more of a hobby and people do it on their free time. We don't have to use paintings to tell people about what is going on because of how far our collective learning has come. When archaeologists would look at the paintings, they would use them to see what life was like back then. They would also use it to make connections to what life is like today. What things were the same and what things were different. How does their life compare to ours.


As you can see there are many ways that paint changed as out collective learning changed. We made the ingredients more complex, which allowed us to be able to have more colors instead of just red, brown, and black. We invented more tools to use while painting that makes it easier, instead of our hands and tails from the animals we killed. For example, we now have things like painters tape, many different kinds of brushes, and different forms of paint. The use of paint is very different now than what it used to be used for. Today we use it more for entertainment, but back then they used it for information and important things to remember. This also shows that we had to evolve and use collective learning in order for theses changes to occur. If we didn't share our ideas and we let paint stay in one area, we wouldn't have what we have today.



Created with images by Chuck Siefke - "C023_Egypt_1983_Mural painting in Tomb of Nakht (303 of 560)"

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