Painting in our Life

Since prehistoric times, many artists have painted the subjects that were most important to their societies. For example, religion was

Painting in our Life



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ic painting was widely used in Greece as early as the 400's B. C. But by about A. D. 800, the technique had been abandoned. During the 1800's, artists attempted to use wax paints for outdoor murals. Some painters of the 1900's have used the technique for easel picture.

Pastels are colored chalk sticks. They are made of pigment and a small amount of weak adhesive. Many artists who draw especially well like to work in pastel because they can use the stick like a pencil while producing brilliant effects of color.

Two French artists of the 1700's Jean Chardin and Maurice Quentin de La Tour, made excellent pastel portraits. Outstanding French artists of the 1800's, including Edouard Manet, Jean Francais Millet, and Pierre Auguste Renoir, often worked in pastel. They captured the visual effects of light and atmosphere in pure pastel colors. Edgar Degas, another French artist of bather, dancers, and people working . Degas's well drawn, brilliantly colored works proved that pastel could be a major painting technique.

Tempera is a technique in which egg yolk is used as the binder. Most egg tempera paintings are done on wood.

A painter usually applies tempera in fine crisp strokes with a painted brush. The paint dries almost immediately into a thin, water-resistant coasting. Tempera dries quickly, and so the brushstrokes do not blend easily. Normally, the artist develops the tones of the picture through a series of thin strokes laid over each other. In a tempera painting, most shapes are sharp and clear. Tones are bright, and details are exact and strong.

An artist should not applies tempera paint too thickly because the paint cracks when applied in heavy layers. Tempera paintings require protection against dirt and scratching, and so he artist usually applies a coat of vanish to the finished picture.

The tempera technique achieved its greatest popularity between 1200 and 1500 in Europe. Beautiful tempera pictures were painted during the 1200's and 1300's in Siena, Italy, by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Simone Martini. Several modern American artists have used tempera skillfully. They include Ben Shahn, Mark Tobey, and Andrew Wyeth.

Oil paint is made by mixing powdered pigments with a binder of vegetable oil. Linseed oil is the most common binder. Certain feature of oil paint make it popular with artists who want to show the natural appearance of the world around them. Oil paint-even when applied thickly - does not crack so easily as does water paint or egg tempera. As a result, the painter can apply oil paint in varying thicknesses to produce a wide range of textures. Each artist develops his or her own method of working with oil paint.

Oil painting first became popular in Europe during the 1500's. By the 1700's it had become the most common painting technique. It remains the technique preferred by many artists today.

No one knows when people first painted pictures. Scholars date the oldest known paintings at about 20,000 B. C. The high quality of these works suggests that people began to paint pictures much earlier.

Egyptian painting. The ancient Egyptians began painting about 5.000 years ago. They developed one of the first definite traditions in the history of the art. Egyptian artists painted on the walls of temples and palaces, but much of their finest work appears in tombs. Like other early peoples, the Egyptians believed that art was a magical way of transporting things of this world into a world people entered after death. Egyptian artists decorated tombs with frescoes showing persons and objects related to the life of the dead. Egyptian artists painted according to strict rules that hardly changed for thousands of years. The figures they drew look stiff. The heads of people in the painting always face sideways. The shoulders and body face to the front, and the feet paint to the side. Important persons are larger than the other people.

Artists painted tombs only for the benefit of the gods and the souls of the dead. The tombs were scaled and beautifully colored frescoes were intended never again to be seen.

Cretan painting. About 3000 B. C. - while Egyptian civilization was flourishing - another great civilization was developing on the island of Crete. The Cretans, a seafaring people, often came into contact with the Egyptians. The Cretans adopted some elements of Egyptians art, including the Egyptian way of drawing human figure. But the Cretan style

did not have the stiffness of the Egyptian style Cretan paintings are lively, and the figures in them seem to float and dance. More important. Cretan painters, unlike the Egyptians, were interested in life in this world. They used paintings to decorate buildings instead of concealing the paintings in tombs. Thus, Cretan art became a bridge between Egyptian art, which emphasized death, and ancient Greek and Roman art, which dealt with life.

Greek painting. The ancient Greeks made greater achievements in architecture and sculpture than in painting. Nearly all surviving Greek paintings appear on pottery. The Greeks made beautifully shaped pottery and painted it with scenes from everyday life and from stories about their gods and heroes.

Greek artists of the late 600's and the 500's B. C. Painted black figures on naturally red pottery. This method became known as the black figure style. A painter named Exekias was a master of the style. About 530 B. C. Greek artists developed the red figure style, the reverse of the black figure style. These artists painted the background of their pottery in black and let natural red show through to form the figures. The red figure painters, like the Greek sculptors of the same period, created extremely lifelike figures. This “ideal style” became the chief quality of the so-called classical art of the Greek and Romans.

Greek sculptors made realistic figures and indicated emotion by facial expression or bodily pose. This was the style copied by Roman sculptors and relearned by Renaissance sculptors. It served as the basic style for European sculpture until the late 1800's. The Greeks thought of their gods as being like people, and sculptors portrayed gods as people in such works as the “Greek God Poseidon” or “Zeus”. They showed people as godlike beings. The earliest important classical sculpture appeared on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The high point of the classical style is generally considered to be the sculptures on the Parthenon in Athens. Sculptures decorated sarcophagi with reliefs. Portrait sculpture also began during this period.

We know more about Roman painting than Greek painting because a wider selection of Roman paintings has survived. Roman artist

were strongly influenced by the Greeks. They gave the figures in their paintings the same lifelike quality. Roman artists added to the reality of their works by painting convincing illusions of depth, shade, shadow and reflected light. Some of the best examples of Roman painting have been Found in the ruins of the city of Pompeii. The house of two brothers named Vettius contains frescoes portraying stories about lxion, a mythical hero. These frescoes consist of elaborately designed painted panels.

Roman sculptures. The finest work of Roman sculptors was probably their mass-produced portrait sculpture. To meet the large demand for portrait busts, the Romans developed a set of standard symbols for hair, eyes, nose, and mouth. A student learned to carve by reproducing these details accurately, rather than by copying a living model. Art schools used this method of teaching until as recently as the 1940's.

The Romans were deeply religious, and many reliefs from altars show ceremonies or symbolic stories. A famous example of such sculpture is the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) in Rome.

The Romans also were particularly interested in showing historical events, a theme that the Greeks had avoided. Reliefs of commemorative arches and columns tell the story of complete military campaigns. The best-known columns are Trojans Column and the Column of Marcus Aureoles.

Oriental painting, the painting of Asia, has three main branches Indian, Chinese, and Islamic.

Indian painting, is primarily religious art. Indian painters create their works to help the people communicate with their gods. Their main subject include gods and stories about the gods and holy people. Indian artists paint on manuscripts of holy texts, on banners and wallhangings, and on walls. They direct all the elements of their pictures toward increasing the religious experience of the viewer. Every object and figure in their paintings has a specific meaning. Gods are usually portrayed as red and fierce in order to show their great power. Their many arms let them display all the symbols of their power at once. The god appears warlike and full of motion, which shows that he can conquer his enemies. The artists do not attempt to show gods and the other figures in real space. All the figures seem to float in a heavenly atmosphere. They are seated on clouds or lotus plants. Clouds and a ring of flame which symbolize the universe encircle the chief figure and fill the background with swirling movements and color.

Chines painting. The major Chinese religions al stressed a love of nature. Partly as a result, tree major kinds of subject matter dominate

Chinese painting. They are birds and flowers; figures; and landscapes of the countryside, mountains, and sea. Chinese landscape painters tried to create a feeling of union between the human spirit and the energy of the wind. water, mist, and mountains. Such pictures express the Chinese belief that there is an inner harmony and balance among all things in the world. Chinese painters use black ink that could produce different tones and a br

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