12 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About Paint

Consider yourself an expert on paint?  You may know less than you think.  Even experts are surprised at these little-known — often odd — facts about paint and paint color.  How many of them come as a surprise to you?

Purple: the color of royalty 1. The color purple became associated with royalty because at one time only aristocrats could afford the expensive pigment. During Roman times, it took 4 million crushed mollusk shells to create one pound of purple pigment.

The White House 2. The White House is white because of the original lime-based whitewash that was used to protect its porous stone surface. It gets painted every year.

Plato (c. 429–347 BC), Greek philosopher 3. The Greek philosopher Plato is credited with the discovery that you can mix two different paint colors together to produce a third color.

Cave Painting 4. The first interior painting was done roughly 40,000 years ago in what is now France by prehistoric cave dwellers, who employed stencils in some of the work and even “spray-painted” by blowing paint through hollow bird bones.

Red Color Makes People Happy 5.Various paint colors can help the body heal itself. For example, red can often help depressed people regain vigor, while green has been shown to relieve stress.

ground semi-precious stones 6. In the Middle Ages, manuscripts were “illuminated” with paint made from ground semi-precious stones and egg yolks.

Wodaabe Man in Festive Dress 7. In a reversal of gender roles, it’s male Wodaabe charm dancers in Niger who apply facial paint color to attract the opposite sex.
This image is copyrighted, and used with permission courtesy of Kerry M Halasz

Aztec Calendar Stone of the Sun 8. Among the Aztecs, red pigmented paint was regarded as more valuable than gold.

The Golden Gate Bridge 9. The Golden Gate Bridge has always been painted the same color since it was completed in 1937. The name of the color is International Orange.

Native American Chief Joseph (1840-1904) 10. Many Native American tribes used black paint to signify life and yellow paint to signify death.

Sistine Chapel 11. It took Michelangelo only four years to paint the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the 1500s, but it took 20 years to restore it in the late 1900s.

Isaac Newton 12.The “color wheel” is older than the United States. It was developed by Sir Issac Newton in 1706.

  • Xoicebabii27

    After stumbling the category of painting, I can say this is one of the more educational and informative links. Prior to reading this, I knew very little about paint. Over just a few minutes, I learned 12 new things!

  • http://www.selectiveresidentialservices.blogspot.com Linda Young

    Very fascinating! I love to paint! “If it doesn’t move , paint it” – It’s the quickest, least expensive way to change a rooms decor,or the look of a piece of furniture or object. Great way to restore, protect, update, beautify and improve the home and it’s contents. Great post! Linda

  • Designbyemh

    #4 is interesting, I never heard about the hollow bird bones being used. I took an art history class (Art student, minoring in Art History). I was told by my professor that it was believed they put the pigment directly in their mouths and blew. Of course there is no sure-fire way of knowing exactly how someone did anything 40,000 years ago.