Not a great deal is known about painting in Nunavut's pre-historic period, though a number of Europeans and southerners of the 19th and early 20th centuries collected drawings made by Inuit.

Painting was a natural development of traditional visualization and hand-eye skills, as well as the introduction of printmaking in the 1960s. Even today, most Inuit prints begin with a paper drawing that is then transferred to the printmaking medium, so the choice to make the paper image the final product seems a natural one.

While painting, along with ceramics, is arguably the least developed of Nunavut's fine arts and crafts, it also holds great promise.