Paint is a combination of a pigment (color) with a binder (liquid that keeps it together). When the paint is applied to a surface, the binder helps the particles to adhere, or stick to, that surface. Eventually the binder evaporates to leave only the pigment behind.
Oil paint is a pigment suspended in an oil-based binder, usually linseed oil. Linseed oil comes from flax seeds. Oil painting emerged as the preferred paint of choice in Europe during the 15th century. It is relatively easy to work with, holds color well, and is easy to combine with other colors. The artwork produced with oil paint will often last a long time if proper precautions are taken while working with it.
EXAMPLEThis is an example of an oil painting.
Acrylic paint is a relative newcomer, emerging during the 1950s. It is a pigment suspended in a synthetic, or artificially made, binder. The emergence of acrylic paints allowed for experimental types of artwork to be produced that were not possible with oil paints because of their much slower drying times. Acrylic paint dries quickly and was the paint of choice for artists such as Jackson Pollock, who relied on it to create his splatter, or drip, style paintings.
Watercolor paint is pigment suspended in a water binder. Water-based paints are much easier to clean up, are easily blended, and allow for a translucency, or near transparency. This translucency is very difficult to achieve with other types of paint, even when thinning them down. Some artists find that they produce a more natural or realistic color effect. This can be open to interpretation, particularly with objects such as water or the sky, where the colors tend to fade into each other.
EXAMPLEAbove is an example of a watercolor painting.
Tempera paint is pigment suspended in a protein binder, typically egg yolk or milk casein, or milk protein. It’s one of the earliest types of paint used, and it tends to produce a nice glossy finish. Long-lasting and durable, tempera paint is used in Fresco Secco, which is painting on dry plaster. The binder in the tempera paint helps moisten the plaster to create adhesion.
EXAMPLEAbove is an example of a tempera painting.
Encaustic paint is pigment suspended in a beeswax binder. It is also one of the earliest types of paint. Interestingly, in order to work with it, the artist uses hot metal tools to help manipulate and blend the wax, rather than the typical paint brush. The earliest examples of encaustic painting are the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt, dated between 100 and 300 AD.
EXAMPLEAbove is an example of an encaustic painting.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR IAN MCCONNELL.