Week of October 23, 2022

Paint it Fact


Curiously, the first known paint mixture predates any known paintings by thousands of years. Several seashells containing a painting mixture of ochre, charcoal, crushed bone and stone flakes were found in South Africa’s Blombos Cave, and may be up to 100,000 years old. Any paintings made from this stash likely washed or wore away since then.


The oldest known preserved paintings are in limestone caves in Indonesia and date back at least 40,000 years. The better-known European cave art appears to be several thousand years younger.


Ancient paint was made with a remarkable variety of pigments to get the various colors needed. The origin of these colors included fruits, flowers, blood, charcoal, insects, sap, plants, roots, and many types of natural minerals.


A big revolution in the history of paint was the use of oil-based paint, which could give paintings more vibrant color, luster, and depth, among other advantages. The first known oil painting was from 650 A.D. by Buddhist artists in what is now Afghanistan. Historically popular paining oils were linseed, walnut, poppy seed and safflower.


The largest known painting in the world, completed in 2020, is over 17,000 square feet in size, and was sold to benefit charities.


In 1949, paint salesman Ed Seymour wanted a way to showcase an aluminum coating for radiators. His wife proposed a spray gun, like the kind used for deodorizers, and the spray paint can was born.


The Mona Lisa is likely the most famous paining ever, and is considered priceless. It is insured for over $900 million in inflation-adjusted dollars, the most of any painting in history, and French law prevents its sale.