The Invention of Art Tools

Ever wonder how your favorite art tools came to be? I did, so I went online to find out when some of them were invented. Oddly enough, I couldn’t get any definitive answers.


Watercolor paint: The exact date of its invention is unknown, but the cave paintings of Lascaux, France were done in watercolor around 15,000 BC

Paper: Generally attributed to Cai Lun, an imperial eunuch official of the Han Dynasty. He is believed to have invented it around 105 CE

Paintbrush: Invented around 300 BC by Qin Dynasty general Meng Tian

Oil Paint: The oldest known oil paintings were made around 650 AD in the caves of the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan

Canvas: Introduced in 14th century Italy as an alternative to the wood panel, it didn’t become the most widely used surface until the 16th century

Graphite Pencil: The modern pencil was invented in 1564 when a huge graphite mine was discovered in Borrowdale, Cumbria, England

Camera: The first modern camera was invented around 1826 by French amateur scientist Nicéphore Niépce

Paint tubes: Invented in London in 1841 by John Goffe Rand

Painting knife: While it has existed in some form for centuries, it is believed to have been invented by New England artist Charles Hawthorne around 1899

Acrylic paint: Developed in the 1930’s by German chemical company BASF, the first acrylic paint was created by Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden between 1946 and 1949

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