In addition to architecture, sculpture and graphic arts, painting belongs among the classical visual arts. Painting is usually the result of a manual application of paint to a canvas or substrate. The creative process involves the application of paints to a surface (i.e. traditionally a wooden panel or a canvas) with a brush, a palette knife or some other utensil. Beyond such portable substrates, however, paintings can also be directly rendered on walls or other elements in indoor or outdoor spaces. The manual application of paint to a substrate usually leaves traces of the artist’s movements that are manifested in the ductus of the brush strokes and in the relief structure of the applied paint. The paints that are used are either manufactured with the use of chemicals or mixed by the artists themselves from pigments and binders (e.g. oil). In material terms, they remain bonded to the surface. In general, a great variety of techniques, materials and forms can be used in to render works of various degrees of abstraction and representation, works that are generally referred to as paintings.
While the focus of painting, whose origins can be traced back to cave paintings, has traditionally been directed toward the representation of real objects, this function was called into question by the introduction of photography. The status and value of painting became a subject of particular controversy in the 1970s and 1980s. This controversy led to a broadening of our notion of painting. As an autonomous, self-referential system, painting is no longer exclusively bound to the tasks of representation and presentation. Analytical approaches in painting show that a self-examination of the medium and its components can be a subject of painting.