Process in which a coloring matter is applied, by some method, to a surface or support, with the purpose of representing or suggesting through the line, color and matter, some visible or imaginary entity.

To this definition it can be added that painting is an artistic expression that seeks the representation of aesthetic ideas on a two-dimensional surface, sometimes three-dimensional, using the elements that are specific to it, such as drawing, modeling, and coloring.

Painting is one of the oldest human activities, since it appears before writing, becoming one of the most important expressions to define and characterize an era.

The history of painting began approximately 30 thousand years ago and has not stopped in its evolution, existing today innumerable trends and artistic movements.

Throughout the history of art, and the history of painting, in particular, there have been many transformations of the function, taste, performance, etc. of the painting.

Themes and motives

We can say that these are very diverse since they have a direct relationship with the authors, their life and time they lived. However, there are some that tend to repeat themselves, such as:

Allegorical / Historical / Mythological / Religious / Portraits / Still lifes

Animals / Landscapes / Costumbristas / Imaginative / Marine


In turn, the motives can be classified into genres.

Self- portrait: portrait of a person made by herself.

Still life: See still life.
Customs, painting: see genre painting.

Naked: Representation of a naked human body.

Still life: the pictorial genre that consists of the representation of objects such as fruits, dead animals, flowers or everyday objects and that often has a symbolic character. It reached a considerable boom in Dutch painting of the seventeenth century.

Heroic landscape: See landscape painting.

Idyllic landscape: See landscape painting

Landscapes: Pictorial representation of a landscape. If at first, the landscape was only secondary to shape a second plane, at the end of the 16th century it became a pictorial genre of its own.

In the 17th century, “idyllic landscapes” (such as the glorified landscapes of C. de Lorena) and “heroic landscapes” (such as the allegorical views of N. Poussin) were developed.

However, it experienced its peak during the Dutch Baroque. the painting of landscapes was revolutionized thanks to the outdoor painting of the 19th century.

Painting costumbrista: see genre painting.

Figurative painting: That which represents figures of concrete realities, in opposition to the abstract.

Gender painting: Painting that represents scenes of everyday life. In the academic hierarchy, it is considered as “inferior painting” and is characterized by its great realism and approach to life. It differs between genre painting of bourgeois type, peasant or polite.

This painting reached its splendor during the seventeenth century in the paintings of Dutch customs.

Portrait: Figuration that reflects the features of a human being. They can be self-portraits, the portrait of another person, doubles or even of a whole group.


Although the techniques have varied throughout history, the most important and that have lasted over time are:

Watercolor: slightly transparent pigments, colors dissolve in water.

Gouache: opaque pigments, diluted in water, which allow thick layers.

Encaustic: pigment combined with wax. Diluted for its application by means of heat or turpentine.

Cool: paint with colors diluted in water with lime that are applied to a wall.

Oil: the colors dissolve in the oil and are applied on a canvas or cloth. It can be applied opaque or transparent, thin or thick.

Tapestry or goblin: it is used to cover the walls and consists of a cloth woven of wool or silk with figures.

Temper: they are pigments diluted in egg white.

Stained glass: consists of pieces of glass painted together by lead.