What Is Painting?

Painting is a centuries old form of fine art that involves carefully spreading paint on a canvas to create a picture. The most popular types of paint include oil paint, watercolor paint, acrylic paint, and tempera paint. Traditional canvas include cloth canvases and paper canvases, but other materials, like wood and stone, can also be used.

As an art form, painting has a long and detailed history. Early paintings, including cave paintings, were often used as a form of communication. As mankind evolved, so did artists. Antique paintings are often considered to be rare treasures, and they often give clues about how people lived long ago.

Work Environment

As mentioned above, a painter applies paint to a canvas to create a scene.

Painting is often much more than simply creating pictures, however. Artists often use their paintings as a means of self-expression, for instance. Nearly every painting that they create is meant to convey certain feelings or emotions.

Traditional fine artists may create several different types of paintings, depending on their preferences and skills. Some artists prefer to paint scenes, for instance, while others may prefer to paint portraits. Talented painters will often have their finished works displayed in art galleries or museums.

Some modern painters, on the other hand, may use entire buildings as canvases. These individuals are often known as mural painters, and they are often commissioned by individuals, companies, or municipalities to create large painted scenes on interior or exterior walls.

Other painters may specialize in restoring existing paintings. These types of painters usually work with very old and very valuable paintings. They are often responsible for cleaning and preserving the paintings as well as replicating any damaged or faded areas in the painting.

Education Requirements

As with many fine arts careers, there are no strict education requirements to become a painter. In order to hone their painting skills and learn new techniques, however, many painters choose to attend a school of fine arts at a traditional university or an art school.

Restoring valuable paintings, however, is a highly specialized field. Individuals who are interested in a career restoring and preserving valuable paintings must usually earn either a Bachelor's degree or a Master's degree in fine arts. During the course of their schooling, these individuals will usually take several painting and art classes to develop their talent. They will also take several classes in art history in order to learn about the different painting styles and techniques used by painters throughout the years. Many painting restorers will usually specialize in restoring paintings from different art periods, including Renaissance paintings and Romanesque paintings.

Before painting restorers are trusted with very valuable paintings, though, they must usually complete an apprenticeship, in which they study under and learn from an experienced art restorer.

Salary and Job Outlook


Generally, only the most talented painters are able to earn an acceptable salary with their works. In fact, many painters must seek additional employment in order to supplement income from their paintings. It is possible for some successful painters to make a living from their passion, however. In 2008, for instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for fine artists, including painters, was around $42,650.

Job Outlook

Talented painters that have refined their skills in art school often try to have their work displayed in art galleries and museums. Some artists may be successful in selling their paintings to private collectors or companies. At times, a painter may be commissioned to create specific pieces of art. Artists with a degree in fine art may also be hired by art museums and art galleries to restore and preserve masterpieces from other artists as well. This is a highly specialized field, however, and usually only the most talented artists will be chosen for this type of position. Individuals with painting or fine art degrees might also be hired by art museums as curators, archivists, and art directors.

Helpful Resources

Painting Jobs