People have created paintings in different ways in different places and times. This short animation provides a quick lesson on the history of painting
It all started when like cavemen painted on the walls - buffalo and lions and whatever animals they had back then. Then you had the Egyptians. They were like obsessed with their kings and queens and whenever one died they would build a fancy grave called a tomb and paint pictures all over the walls of the things the king and queens liked when they were alive so they would still have them when they were dead.
Now in Europe the Greeks were sort of first - they painted heroes and gods fighting and stuff but instead of walls they painted them on vases and pots so they could carry them around. Then the Romans -they painted gods and heroes too - copycats! - but they went back to painting on walls only their walls were like wet plaster when they painted on them and that's called a fresco.
Next you have the Middle Ages. Most of the paintings were about the Bible and they were painted in books by monks. But they weren't like regular books - they weren't even made out of paper! The pages were like sheepskin and they called it vellum and they called the books illuminated manuscripts. The paintings had real gold on them sometimes, and lots of dragons and other monsters too, just to scare people.
Then there was the Renaissance and instead of painting flat pictures like everybody did before, they used perspective, where you could look way in the distance and see lots of stuff going on. They liked to paint people instead of saints and things.
After that you have what they call the Enlightenment because painters wanted to like enlighten you - get it? They tried to help you figure out what was good and bad by making pictures of all kinds of people doing like good things and bad things. By this time paintings were looking pretty real, kind of like a photograph.
But a weird thing happened to all these European painters. They started looking at art from other parts of the world, like Asia and Africa. They were like amazed by Chinese and Japanese paintings that were made on long pieces of paper called scrolls, with teeny little lines made with ink instead of paint. They thought African art was way cool because instead of looking exactly like something it would like remind you of something. That's called abstract art.
So then artists started getting all modern and weird and people started painting feelings or thoughts and it came out like cubes and splotches and just colors and shapes - and that's called modern art. After a while you could paint just about anything any way you wanted to - and it's still like that right up to today.