How was paint invented?

Hannah Kissack's Wonderopolis Lesson

Do you ever take for granted the paint tubes that can be bought at Michaels?

I certainly do, and I think about how many, many years ago, paint wasn't available at a store- it had to be made. People all around the world have created art since the beginning of their times, but from place to place, they used different materials depending on what they had available. For paint to be the right consistency, it has to have a pigment or color, and something that can carry the pigment to spread it around evenly.

Native Americans might be the most famous for making their own paints, using a combination of milk, eggs, berries, flower petals, and even roots. Other ancient artists from around the world painted in caves using blood, charcoal, mud, rocks, juice from vegetables, wax, and more. During the Medieval age, chalk was popular for drawing, and during the Renaissance, walnut oil was useful to make paint easier to use on different projects.

Before paint brushes artists often used sticks and hair to transfer the paint to the canvas, cave or paper, or they used other techniques with their hands with scratching, and pressing their homemade paint on to their art. Although many extremely old pieces of art are no longer visible, a lot of history can be told through paintings, and I sure am glad that they were made when they were.

What would you do if you wanted to create art, but didn't have modern materials available?


1. Create your own cave painting: if hundreds of thousands of years from now, people were to find a cave painting that represented what your life was like now, what would it look like? Draw, paint, or collage a piece of art that depicts the most important aspects of your life in 2015, making sure to embody the modern way of life. Be creative in how you show your life, whether it be literally, or abstractly, but include an interpretation of it, so that the future will be able to understand life back in 2015. Students should tweet, video, or blog about their experience showing off their hard work.

2. How else can you make paint?: We have learned wow ancient people created paint hundreds of thousands of years ago, but how would you make paint with materials available to you? Would a crushed up Oreo combined with water make a good black paint? Yogurt mixed with some blue power aid? Or Georgia red clay? Create a painting using homemade paint, then describe why you chose the materials you did on a blog, video recording, or tweet pictures of the process to create different colors.