Painting Without Paint: Is it Possible?

You’ve probably asked yourself a couple times with this question: How can I paint without using actual paint? Admit it or not, most of us asked that at some point in our lives. But is it really possible to create this form of visual art without using a wet pigment? For this article, we will center the article regarding that question and see if the answer is yes.
Painting with different types of leaves
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Let’s travel back to history… during the prehistoric times to be precise. According to historical records, the first paintings known to men were found in caves. So far, the oldest painting discovered is a red hand stencil in Maltravieso cave, located in Cáceres, Spain by a Neanderthal man and was suspected to be 64,000 years old. With that being said, the painting mediums that we know today such as oils, acrylics, and watercolors, were not invented until 1410 AD (for oil painting). Instead, cavemen used naturally-occurring pigments mixed with their own spit or animal fat and blood to create their own “paint.” Subsequently, frescos and tempera paints were created 1800 BC to 1600 AD (for fresco paints). 

If cavemen were able to produce paintings on cave walls without conventional painting mediums, so can we. So the answer to my question earlier is a 100% yes! All you need is a little creativity and inspirations from your fellow artists. Now the next question is, how can we paint without an actual painting medium? We’ll figure out this one below!

How to Paint without Conventional Painting Mediums:

  1. Use Oil Pastels:

The debate on whether the pastel medium is considered as a painting or drawing has been going around for decades and the popularity of using this medium is growing as time goes by. Most artists consider pastels as a medium for both drawing and painting. That being said, using this art material can help you produce a beautiful painting! To give you inspirations for painting using these, check out famous Impressionist painters such as Edgar Degas and Claude Monet. 

Even though this medium is “dry,” utilizing it correctly and knowing the basic tips and tricks of using pastels can make your artwork look like it’s made from a real, “wet” painting medium. Take this painting by Ford Madox Brown called “Portrait of Miss Iza Duffus Hardy” shown below. Believe it or not, this painting is actually made from colored chalks and pastels!

Lady in an ancient outfit
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     2.  Paint with tea, coffee, or wine:

We all hate it when our clothes get stained with either of these three. But how about using them to stain our canvas and use them as a painting medium? This technique isn’t new, in fact, painting with tea has been a thing during the ancient times especially in ancient China. Accordingly, different types of tea can produce variations of shades and color. You have the freedom to just use either one of the three in a single painting or use them all at the same time to give the artwork depth and tonal value.

A painting showing a flowing river

    3.  Experiment with Mica Powder:

This has been a popular pigment for arts, crafts, and cosmetics and it is pretty much seen all over the internet. Mica powder is a crushed up natural stone mineral with shiny fakes that give you a shiny, glittery, and pearlescent results perfect for crafting activities. Mica Powder is a great ingredient if you want to experiment on doing your own paint pigments! Most artists mix mica powder directly to their acrylic paint. But do you know that simply wetting your paint brush and dipping it into the powder can also create pigment on your working surface? Try it out and see for yourself! Another option that you can do is to create your own paint beforehand by mixing a small amount of water with mica powder depending on the consistency you want to achieve, and add a small amount of acrylic medium or varnish.

Because of its shiny component, the finish that you’ll most likely get is metallic instead of a simple matte finish.

A color palette

    4.  Create 3-D “Paintings” using every objects you see:

You probably encountered a lot of photos online recreating famous artworks or making portraits of famous people, and still likes using random objects such as fruits, paper clips, coffee beans, and so much more. They literally incorporate everything that they pick-up at random places and the final outcome becomes a beautiful artwork.

Don’t forget to take photos of the finished real to life paintings when finished!

Types of fruits on a white platform

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    6.  Paint with Diamonds:

If you’ve never heard about diamond painting before, then you’re definitely missing out. Diamond painting is a hybrid of Paint by Numbers and cross stitch. Instead of using acrylic paint or needles and thread, this fun PBN-like activity allows you to create beautiful painting-like artworks with three basic materials--a pre-printed canvas, a set of colored diamonds, and a diamond brush. The instruction is very similar with painting by numbers which is to match all numbers in the canvas according to its corresponding color.

Sounds interesting, right?

If you wanna try this diamond painting experience, purchase a Diamond Painting kit sold at the Best Paint by Numbers store! It's a top-grade quality kit that comes with everything you need to start off your diamond painting journey. Moreover, you can upload your own photo for your own personalized canvas! Click here to learn more about the kit.

Paint with diamonds of a dog


Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Innovate

We wouldn’t be in the place where we are now if our ancestors didn’t step out of their comfort zones and innovate for the sake of all things, especially art. Now that you know art’s brief history of creating paintings without paint, as well as the multiple possibilities of creating this visual art form, try finding new ways to paint without an actual painting medium by using your imagination and creativity.

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