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All about Paint Brushes - Their History

Humans all through out history have had the need to create art, art is the history of humanity. However Paint Brushes have not always been the way they are now. They were orginally made of split palm leaves while others, used by different ancestors to beautify their surroundings, were made from sticks, bones and even wood shavings. We do not know the whole history of the paint brush, but we do know that they were originally made with animal hair.

Humans have been painting to memorialize their lives since the Stone Age, using techniques that endure to this day. 

The earliest art supplies we’ve found—abalone shells full of ground ochre and charcoal—were in the Blombos Cave in South Africa, and are up to 100,000 years old. But we haven’t yet found paintings to go with them.

By 40,000 years ago, tribes in Europe, Australia, and Indonesia painted images of hunters and herders on cave walls, and had expanded their palette to include many colors.

Pigments for these paints included blood, sap, berry juices, dried plants and roots, and many minerals.

Iron oxide pigments were highly valued for their durability, and prehistoric mining trails around the famous Lascaux Cave in France suggest that, 25,000 years ago, painters traveled many miles for these materials.

Early artists mixed their pigments into paint using water, saliva, urine, or animal fats. They then applied them with fingers, brushes, or by blowing them through hollow bones, like today’s airbrushes.

The Egyptians continued the modern advancements, mixing paints with binding agents like egg and began painting on plaster.

Greeks and Romans expanded upon these techniques, to create a painting style not matched till the Renaissance—when Italian artists made paint with plant oils to create works of astonishing color and depth that still captivate viewers today.



Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1525-1569

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting.Notice his paintbrush (hair tied to a wooden stick). We basically still make them this way today.

Watch this video to see how brushes are made now!

Stay tuned to next weeks Blog to learn more about

  • The differences between paint brushes

  • How they get their names

  • Brush types & so much more

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