Art Styles

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What Does Art Style Mean?

Style in art refers to an artist's unique combination of techniques, processes, and decisions. It develops and evolves over the lifetime of an artist.

A distinct style can help with an artist's branding and recognition. Many people could recognize Vincent van Gogh's work without seeing the name.

Art Style Versus Movement

An art movement refers to specific trends, periods, and groups of artists. Each movement is associated with a certain style, but a style is not limited to a certain movement. For example, I can paint in an impressionistic style today, but that does not mean I am part of the Impressionist art movement.

Types of Art Styles

Realistic

What it means: A focus on mimicking the appearance and nature of the subject.

Characteristics: Fine rendering, muted colors, intricate detail, and accurate fundamentals.

Examples:

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Claude Monet, 1887
John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Claude Monet, 1887
Joaquín Sorolla, My Wife and Daughters in the Garden, 1910
Joaquín Sorolla, My Wife and Daughters in the Garden, 1910
Marie Bashkirtseff, The Umbrella, 1883
Marie Bashkirtseff, The Umbrella, 1883

Romantic

What it means: Capturing the subject in a favorable and exaggerated style.

Characteristics: Sharp contrast, bright highlights, strong colors, and a refined, almost glossy finish.

Examples:

Ivan Aivazovsky, Sea, Koktebel, 1853
Ivan Aivazovsky, Sea, Koktebel, 1853
Ivan Aivazovsky, Sunset, 1866
Ivan Aivazovsky, Sunset, 1866
Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada, California, 1868
Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada, California, 1868

Abstract

What it means: A focus on capturing the subject in its simplest form. Think of abstract as a scale rather than an absolute term. Essentially all artworks have some form of abstraction.

Characteristics: Reliance on shapes, colors, lines, and contrast.

Examples: An extreme example of abstract art is Jackson Pollock's work. A less extreme example is Paul Cézanne's work.

Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1906
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1906

Impressionist

What it means: A focus on capturing the artist's impression of a subject.

Characteristics: Light colors, weak shadows, energetic brushwork, broken color, and colorful accents.

Examples:

Claude Monet, The Artist’s Garden in Giverny, 1900
Claude Monet, The Artist’s Garden in Giverny, 1900
John Russell, Rough Sea, Morestil, c.1900
John Russell, Rough Sea, Morestil, c.1900
Paul Cezanne, Gardanne (2)
Paul Cezanne, Gardanne, 1885-92

Painterly

What it means: Describes paintings that look like paintings.

Characteristics: Thick brushwork, confident and visible strokes, and strong fundamentals.

Examples:

Joaquín Sorolla, Elena Among the Roses, 1907
Joaquín Sorolla, Elena Among the Roses, 1907
John Singer Sargent, Siesta, 1907
John Singer Sargent, Siesta, 1907

Pointillist

What it means: Conveying the subject with small dabs of color.

Characteristics: Strong colors, sharp contrast, light colors, and weak drawing (painting with small dabs of color means sacrificing the drawing).

Examples:

Camille Pissarro, Sunset at St. Charles, Eragny, 1891
Camille Pissarro, Sunset at St. Charles, Eragny, 1891
Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884
Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884

Photorealistic

What it means: Capturing the subject with photographic accuracy.

Characteristics: Micticulous drawing and detail.

Examples: Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and Raphaella Spence.

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Signature Draw Paint Academy

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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