Brief History of Paint:
The origin of paint dates back to prehistoric times. Ancient wall paintings were discovered in Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain that date back thousands of years. Early man used it as a tool of self expression to decorate walls and furnishings in their dwellings. The painted designs were highly valued and vital to daily life. Evidence suggests that early man believed that representations of hunting scenes in drawings or painting conferred magical powers. Early types of paint were produced form crushed berries, blood, eggs, milk, dandelion, milkweed sap and other natural materials. Furthermore, a paint mixture was also produced form coloured earth, water and perhaps animal fat.
Today, paint can be described as any fluid material that will spread over a solid surface and dry or hardened to an adherent, coherent, coloured, obscuring skin or film. Paint consists of a powdered solid (the pigment) in suspension of a liquid (the vehicle, medium or binder). The pigment provides the colouring and obscuring properties. The liquid supplies the skin (film), it contains forming components which binds the grains of pigment to one another and hold them firmly over the surfaces which they are spread. The quality of paint is judged ultimately by the length of time during which the paint coating maintains its decorative and protective value. Lasting qualities have improved with film form components and the introduction of permanent pigments.
There is now available paints which have low toxic properties. However, there is an on going argument among professionals, in related fields, as to the quality of these "environmentally friendly" paints. It seems that the higher the toxic nature of the paint, the higher the quality of that paint. And if left up to the people who use these paints, they would much rather trade off having to use harmful paints to obtain the desired quality. As a minor part of this study, we will look into other alternative sources of 'less' toxic paints, and if it is feasable to impliment change in what materials are used in Fine Arts.