picture vs paining

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nikkieli

Senior Member
Bulgaria, Bulgarian
Hi, there,

I have always thought that 'picture' is an umbrella term that can be used instead of 'painting' or 'drawing', etc. Whereas 'picture' has an additional meaning- a photograph, 'paiting' and 'drawing' have not.
If we substitute 'painting' with 'picture' in the following sentence, though, I think 'picture' would not work and would sound rather like a disparagement of Picasso's chef-d'oeuvre:

'Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso depicting the Nazi German bombing of Guernica.'

Can you please think of other connotations of 'picture' and 'painting' that would contribute to their disambiguation and proper usage?
Thank you
 
  • cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    I think "picture" would be somewhat disparaging.

    I slaved for months over a self-portrait in painting class last semester, and if anyone at the end of all that had said "Oh, that's a nice picture" I'm pretty sure I would have walloped them! :D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hi Nikkieli. You're quite right that picture is an umbrella term which covers all flat hand-crafted works of art regardless of medium: drawing in pastels or graphite, painting in gouache or oils, photographs either untampered-with or 'photoshopped', even a framed tapestry or flat embroidery might be termed a picture of sorts.
    Furthermore, it can be used for machine-reproduced images too, such as illustrations in a book. It's an extremely handy word.

    A painting involves any substance which is wet when applied to whatever surface is being used: oils, acrylics, gouache, watercolour, tempera, etc.
    Which would mean a drawing is created using dry materials/media.

    Millions of people (not just Cycloneviv;)) would agree with you that calling Guernica a picture would sound a bit disparaging. But when exactly a painting can only be termed a painting and not a picture is a matter of art criticism...
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Interesting. I don't find anything disparaging in the word "picture," but then I'm not an artist.
    In fact, a piece of canvas covered top to bottom with red paint (with perhaps a white stripe across ist) is not, to me, a picture -- simply because it doesn't depict anything. It is, however, clearly a painting.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm with you, Lexi ~ that's why I didn't say 'not just me and Cycloneviv';)
    And I see precisely what you mean about the concept of depiction ... but again that's a matter of art criticism really.
     
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