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Beginnings of Paint

Listed under Blog, Emma Brown, paint Posted Jul 19 2015

Emma Brown, Traditional Painter for Kent is passionate about her craft. Here she shares a fascinating discovery that re-wrote what we know about the beginnings of paint and decorating kit.

Recently I came across an article online about a discovery made in South Africa (1). I am interested in these sorts of things anyway, but this one really caught my eye – Archeologists reported finding a paint-like substance used in a cave 100,000 years ago.

cave painting 100000 years old

To put this in perspective, before this discovery the oldest known use of paint was on cave paintings from 40,000 years ago!

The painting itself has not survived but it would probably have been similar to this image of the oldest surviving cave painting found in Spain. (2)

The South African discovery of this pre-historic, pre-homo sapiens mixture of red earth and crushed bone was found in an abalone shell and is the oldest known example of a man made compound as well as the earliest known use of a container.

Next to the shell was a thin length of bone stained red at one end, suggesting it had been used as a way of applying the pigment to a surface. The discovery is the first known use of paint, paint kit and workshop – this is why it caught my interest!

A major advance in painting

As simple as this kit sounds to us, it would have involved much planning, effort, thought and care. The ochre came from twelve miles away, the bone needed to be heated before being ground to powder to release the natural oils, then charcoal and liquid were added to the pigments and oils to get the mixture to the right consistency. And finally a suitable container was needed.

This kit would have been as technologically advanced as ‘paint’ and paint tools could get 100,000 years ago. Trial and error, practice and perseverance, lessons learnt and results constantly improving – this is what created and defined these people, their lives, their work, and their tool kits.

Ongoing developments

My paint kit is a little more comprehensive but the essence is the same –

decorating kit 2015

from the highest quality Purdy brushes to hard wearing eggshell paint from Mylands, from quality sand paper by 3M to gel edged Frog masking tape, from cutting edge fillers to trusted tools … the list is endless.

Traditional Painters use only the best products, ones we have trialled and tested – often before they are even available to the public. We share our recommendations and knowledge with each other so our paint and tool kits are always full of reliable and professional quality items.

Don’t wait 100,000 years

If you are interested in having your kitchen or furniture painted by one of our team, please check our painted kitchen information and search for your local Traditional Painter.

There is a 3 – 6 months lead time, depending on your area, but in the scheme of things isn’t too long, particularly if you have to make any changes to your kitchen ahead of painting it.

Accept no imitations.

Emmas door painted kitchen Kent

Brushes, fillers and frog tape available at www.mypaintbrush.co.uk
Mylands paint www.mylands.co.uk or www.brewers.co.uk

(1) Stephanie Pappa, October 13, 2011 “Oldest Human Paint-Making Studio Discovered in Cave“, Live Science. www.livescience.com
(2) image from www.nationalgeographic.com

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