Painting is the practice of applying pigment to a surface such as paper, canvas, wood or a wall. However, when used in an artistic sense it means the use of this activity in combination with drawing, composition and other aesthetic considerations in order to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner.
Painting is used as a mode of representing, documenting and expressing all the varied intents and subjects that are as numerous as there are practitioners of the craft.
Color and tone are the essence of painting as sound and pitch are of music. Color is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects, although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is associated with mourning in the West, but elsewhere white is. Moreover the use of language is only a generalisation for a colour equivalent. The word "red", for example, can cover a wide range of variations on the pure red of the visible spectrum of light. There is not a formalised register of different colours in the way that there is agreement on different notes in music, such as C or C# in music, although the Pantone system is widely used in the commercial printing and graphic design industry for this purpose.
In 1829, the first photograph was produced. As the photographic processes improved painting lost much of its historic purpose to provide an accurate record of the observable world. Modern and Contemporary Art has moved away from the historic value of craft and documentation in favor of concept; this has led some to say that painting, as a serious art form, is dying, although this has not deterred the majority of artists from continuing to practise it either as whole or part of their work.
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