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Painting can best be described as the process of adding color to a surface, usually in the form of a liquid. There are many different painting methods and techniques. Each technique is dependent on the type of paint that is used. Watercolor painting is vastly different than oil painting, for example.
Understanding the properties of the medium that you are using can determine your success in painting. Remember, the more that you practice painting, the better you will get.
Paints are generally made up of three types of ingredients. These ingredients include pigment, solvent, and binder.
Pigment gives paint its color. Pigments can sometimes influence the name of the color as well. For example, Alizarin Crimson gets its name from its pigment.
The second type of ingredient in all paints is binder. Binder is what holds the pigment together and can influence its ability to be spread over a surface. The type of paint is generally named after its binder. A few examples of this is oil paint (binder=oil), acrylic paint (binder=acrylic polymer), and latex paint (binder=latex). A few exceptions include watercolor (binder-gum arabic) and tempera.
Solvent is what allows paint to be thinned. Obviously, the solvent affects the viscosity of the paint. Solvents also must "jive" with the binder. For example, you could not use water as a solvent for oil paint.