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The Development Of Many Colors Essay

1211 words - 5 pages

As far back as the stone age men have looked for ways to share their lives and beliefs through art. Primitive drawings have been found in caves in Europe, Asia and Africa. The only thing missing was color to make the drawings more lifelike. By experimenting with plants, berries and minerals, men have developed beautiful colors that have been improved until we have the tempera, oils, acrylic and watercolor that artists use today.
Tempera is the oldest paint medium known to man. Powered minerals, plants or clay were used for pigment and egg yolks were used as a binder. Sometimes, artists mixed the tempera with plaster to make frescoes on walls. Tempera paint is long lasting and does not change color over time like oils. The colors are usually very soft because it cannot be layered like some other paints. The "poster" or tempera paint used in schools is a "cheap" form of the original tempera paint. Ancient Egypt was one of the earliest areas to use color in their drawings(The History of Tempera). They made paint from berries, animal fat, ash and minerals. They ground the hard minerals into fine powder and then mixed it with a gummy binder that they got from animal hides and plants. Eventually they developed six colors including black and white. Black was made from charcoal and white came from a mixture of hunite and calcium carbonate. Yellow came from ochre, while red was produced by heating the ochre. Blues came from copper carbonate and green came from malachite. The Egyptians experimented with colors and soon were able to mix colors to make new colors. They also learned to add washes of color to get light and dark effects. Because the paint was made from minerals most have retained their bright colors for thousands of years(Painting Through The Years). In Flanders, during the fifteenth century, Jan Van Eyck and his brother Hubert began using oil to bind pigments together. They have been given credit as the first to use oil paint. Jan Van Eych liked to paint small, realistic details in his paintings. He could not get the effect he wanted with the paint that was available at that time. He began to mix oil with his colors to thin the paint and slow down the drying time. This allowed him to add more shading and detail to his paintings(About.comPainting). Today's oil paint is a mixture of pigment(color), a binder which is usually linseed oil and a thinner which is usually turpentine(Oil Paint History). It was very hard to keep paint fresh during the early days of art. Before the nineteenth century artist or their assistants were required to mix fresh batches of paint every day. Then "colormen" began selling ready-made paint in pig bladders. Artists had to punch a hole in the bladder to get the paint out and they put a tack in the hole to reseal it. In 1822 James Hams, an English artist, invented a glass syringe with a...

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