Mediums and forms of painting

Definition, medium and forms

Definition: Form of 2-D Visual Expression:


The art of painting comprises of the ordering of shapes, lines, colours, tones and textures on a two-dimensional surface, in this way making a stylish image. Beyond what that one can’t say, the sheer variety of potential outcomes blocks any progressively exact definition. The finished with painting might be completely representational and naturalistic – for example, those of the photorealists (eg. Richard Estes) – or entirely abstract – involving just geometric shapes (like those by Piet Mondrian, or Bridget Riley) – or anyplace in the between. In type terms, it may be a story history work, a portrait, a genre-scene, a scene or a still life. It might be painted using encaustic, gum based paint or fresco paint, oils, acrylics or watercolors, or any of the new contemporary mediums. And as art critics and historians can testify, there are countless clashing theories about the function, design, style-chain of command and aesthetics of painting, so maybe the most secure thing is to state that as “visual artists”, painters are occupied with the assignment of making two-dimensional works of visual expression, in whatever manner appeals to them. The forms and mediums of painting art as follows”:

Mediums of painting 


One of the primary painting mediums of the old world, encaustic painting utilizes hot beeswax as a coupling medium to hold coloured pigments and to empower their application to a surface – usually wood panels or walls. It was broadly used in Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine art.


Fresco (Italian for “new”) refers to the method for painting in which shades are blended exclusively with water (no binding agent used) and afterward applied directly onto crisply laid plaster ground, usually on a plastered wall or ceiling. The plaster absorbs the fluid paint and as it dries, holding the pigments in the wall. Additional impacts were acquired by scratching techniques like sgraffito. The best instances of fresco painting are most likely Michelangelo’s “Genesis” and “Last Judgment” Sistine Chapel frescoes, and the paintings in the Raphael Rooms, for example, “The School of Athens”.


Rather than beeswax, the painting medium tempera utilizes an emulsion of water and egg yolk (occasionally blended with glue, honey or milk) to tie the pigments. Tempera painting was in the long run superceded by oils, in spite of the fact that as a method for painting on panels it endured for quite a long time. It was additionally broadly utilized in medieval painting in the making of illuminated manuscript.


The dominant medium since 1500, oil painting utilizes oils like linseed, walnut, or poppyseed, as both a binder and drying agent. Its prominence comes from the increased richness and glow that oil provides for the colors pigments. It also facilitated subtle details, adopting techniques like sfumato, as well as bold paintwork got through thick layering (impasto). Essential pioneers of oil paint techniques included (in Holland) the Flemish painters Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, and (in Italy) Antonello da Messina, Leonardo Da Vinci, and particularly individuals from the school of Venetian painting, including Giovanni Bellini and Titian.

Watercolours and Gouache

Watercolour painting – a rather unforgiving medium – developed in England – uses water soluble pigments pre-formulated with a binder, typically gum arabic. When watercolours are thickened, made opaque and mixed with white, it is called gouache. Early pioneers of watercolour painting include Thomas Girtin and JMW Turner. Gouache was an important medium for many of the best miniaturists involved in early miniature portrait painting, before the use of enamel.


The most current all mediums, acrylic painting is a man-made paint containing a resin got from acrylic acid that consolidates a portion of the properties of watercolor and oils. Very adaptable,it can be applied to almost any surface in varying amounts, going from thin washes to thick impastoed layers. It can give either a matt or gloss finish and is greatly quick drying. Well known with numerous famous painters, including David Hockney, acrylic painting may yet supercede oils during the 21st century.

Forms of Painting


Going back to Paleolithic cave in painting, murals were painted in tombs, sanctuaries, havens and catacombs all through the ancient Western world, including Etruria, Egypt, Crete, and Greece. At first without “depth”, they were completely created as a medium for Biblical art during early Renaissance, by fresco artists like Giotto (see: Scrovegni Chapel frescoes), and later by Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Raphael and Michelangelo. As interior decoration turned out to be progressively overwhelmed by stained glass and tapestry art, mural painting declined, in spite of the fact that various site-specific works were commissioned through the 19th and 20th centuries.

Panel Painting

The earliest form of portable painting, panels were widely used (eg) in Egyptian and Greek art (although only a few have survived), and later by Byzantine artists from 400 CE onwards. As with murals, panel-paintings were rejuvenated during the late Gothic and early Renaissance period, chiefly as a type of decorative devotional art – eg. “The Ghent Altarpiece” (1432) by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, and “The Deposition” (1440) by Roger van der Weyden. For details of Renaissance panel painting in 16th century Venice, a genre and period which illustrates the colorito approach of the city, please see: Venetian Altarpieces (1500-1600) and Venetian Portrait Painting (1400-1600). See also: Legacy of Venetian Painting on European art.

Wooden panel painting was especially popular in Flemish painting and other Northern schools, due to the climate which was not favourable for fresco murals, and remained so up until the end of the 17th century.

Easel Painting

This form, similar to panel painting, was a type of studio art yet utilized canvas as a help instead of wood panels. Canvas was both lighter and more affordable than panels, and required no special priming with gesso and other materials. From the Baroque period onwards (1600) oil on canvas turned into the preferred form of painting all through Europe. It was especially well known with new bourgeois in 17th century Dutch painting (1600-80), notably in the form of portraiture, still life and genre works.

Scroll Painting

Hand scrolls are a form of Asian art dating from c.350 CE, common to both Chinese painting and Japanese art. Composed of varying lengths of paper or silk, they featured a wide variety of ink and wash paintings whose subjects included landscapes, Buddhist themes, historical or mythological scenes, among others. For a guide to the aesthetic principles behind Oriental arts and crafts, see: Traditional Chinese Art: Characteristics.

Screen/Fan Painting

There are two essential types of painted screen: traditional Chinese and Japanese folding screens, painted in ink or gouache on paper or silk, dating from the 12th century – a form which later included lacquer screens; and the iconostasis screen, found in Byzantine, Greek and Russian Orthodox church, which isolates the sanctuary from the nave. This screen is generally enriched with religious symbols and other imagery, using either encaustic or tempera paints. Painted fans – commonly decorated with ink and coloured pigments on paper, card or silk, sometimes laid with gold or silver leaf – started in China and Japan, although inquisitively many were really painted in India. In Europe, fan painting was not observed until the 17th century, and just appropriately developed in France and Italy from around 1750 onwards.

Modern Forms of Painting

20th Century painters have experimented with a huge range of supports and materials, including steel, concrete, polyester, neon lights, as well as an endless variety of “found” objects (objets trouves). The latter is exemplified in the works of Yves Klein (1928-62), who decorated women’s nude bodies with blue paint and then imprinted them on canvas; and Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) whose work Bed (1955) consisted of the quilt from his own bed, painted with toothpaste, lipstick and fingernail polish.

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