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Who Invented Painting?

The widely held theory is the Chinese perfected the art of paint-making before anyone else did. The Egyptians also put in a lot of efforts to develop and perfect the paint-making process. Cave drawings dating back to 20,000 years in France also hint at some of the early attempts at producing colored substances.

Paint consists of pigments, binders and solvents. A pigment gives paint its color and it is usually a solid substance which is dissolved in a liquid (solvent). A third substance is then added, whose function is to keep the molecules of the pigment and the solvent attached and it is known as a binder.

Paint in the ancient Egypt was supposed to have religious significance. The Egyptians thought that the colored substances could heal. Evidence for similar beliefs has been found in the ancient China and India. The Egyptians mixed some gummy substance in their paints before applying them to the walls; this made their paint more durable. Some of the painted walls of that era still exist. Even their style of painting was unique. They first white washed the walls to create a base and then they worked on it.

Plato in Greece noticed that a third color was formed when two different colors were mixed together. The Greek civilization made further improvements till the Romans conquered them and became a world power. The Romans adopted the Greek techniques and improved them. Varnishes are a result of those Roman improvements. The progress didn’t stop there. There were some major improvements during and after the Middle Ages. The most important include the synthetic manufacturing of dyes from the minerals and the mass production of linseed oil (a solvent).

Today paints come in different categories: primers, varnishes, wood stain, enamel, finger-paints, inks etc. and research is still going on to make paints more environment friendly and less dangerous to human health.