Portrait paintings are representations of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. The art of the portrait flourished in Ancient Greek and especially Roman sculpture, where sitters demanded individualized and realistic portraits, even unflattering ones. One of the best-known portraits in the Western world is Leonardo da Vinci's painting titled Mona Lisa, which is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
Painters apply paint, stain, varnish and other finishes to buildings and other structures. They select the right paint or finish for the surface to be covered, taking into account durability, ease of handling, method of application and customer's wishes. Painters first prepare the surfaces to be covered, so that the paint will adhere properly. This may require removing the old coat of paint by stripping, sanding, wire brushing, burning, scraping, or water and abrasive blasting. Painters also wash walls and trim to remove dirt and grease, fill nail holes and cracks, sandpaper rough spots and brush off dust. On new surfaces, they apply a primer or sealer to prepare the surface for the finish coat. Painters also mix paints and match colors, relying on knowledge of paint composition and color harmony. They also cover walls and ceilings with decorative wall coverings made of paper, vinyl or fabric.
A painter and decorator works with homeowners and commercial business managers to design and create a color/decoration scheme for homes and businesses. This usually means talking with a client to determine particular likes and dislikes in regard to interior design and decoration, making suggestions, and creating an overall project plan that meets the needs of the client. Some clients have clear ideas for their project, while others may want the painter to take the lead and be responsible for developing overall themes and designs. Either way, the position requires considerable experience with interior design, excellent decoration and aesthetic skills, and knowledge of materials and techniques.
The first example of modernism in painting was impressionism, a school of painting that initially focused on work done, not in studios, but outdoors (en plein air). Impressionist paintings demonstrated that human beings do not see objects, but instead see light itself. The school gathered adherents despite internal divisions among its leading practitioners, and became increasingly influential. Initially rejected from the most important commercial show of the time, the government-sponsored Paris Salon, the Impressionists organized yearly group exhibitions in commercial venues during the 1870s and 1880s, timing them to coincide with the official Salon. A significant event of 1863 was the Salon des Refusés, created by Emperor Napoleon III to display all of the paintings rejected by the Paris Salon.