With all of the painting genres that are out there, what should YOU focus on the most? This isn’t an easy question to answer as only you can find “your” style. In this post I will go over all of the major ones and a little of what they are about, and you can see what inspires you the most.
Many of these styles developed in past times. Some go a way way back. They have all stood the test of time though. My own favorite style is classical realism (more on that shortly) so I may be a stalwart in that genre. You may notice that your favorite style is the one you are the most loyal to as well as being the most adept.
There are lots of them but I thought I would talk about the most popular and highly respected today.
This is something I was advised to pursue,, but it never did grab me. My late husband (by the way, today would have been 4 years) always said I should try to emulate Howard Finster. I was told a few times I should get into it but I never could. It just wasn’t me.
Abstract art involves anything that doesn’t actually look like it’s representation. It can involve anything from linear shapes to the pour painting methodology. Now me I never could get into abstract art for various reasons. One I could never tell if I was “through” working on something, because a lot relies on well, as the name implies, “abstractions”.
Abstract art can involve brushwork or strictly a palette knife like this work below:
This is the camp I follow the most. If you go to my Gallery page you can see this is the style I emulate the most. As someone who has always studied under “old school” instruction, it just makes sense.
I do try to get into this one from time to time. My art professor in college called his style “intensified realism”. You know, the kind of work that is hard pressed to tell between a photograph and a painting? Well, that’s hyper realism. I have heard people say “You don’t have to get married to your subject matter”. And maybe they’re right.
Be that as it may, it can be tedious. But there is a certain admiration garnered for people who can capture their subject matter with such a great level of meticulousness. I think it all depends on the person.
This style draws from a movement popular in the 19th century, you may recall seeing the works of Renoir or Monet in a museum somewhere. They were both French Impressionists. As the name implies, the idea is not to “copy” an exact replica of your subject matter, but to capture it. Although I never have actually studied this style in a lengthy manner, I do know of a few important points: One is that you should never use black or very very sparingly.
I always used Payne’s Gray in place of stark colors like black. Notice that the painting above captures the reflection of the background in the water and the vegetation in the foreground has lots of green and yellow values.
I always liked this style; I believe it to be an offshoot of the Impressionists, a good example would be Georges Seurat. This is a techniques that involves arranging many tiny dots in place of traditional brushstrokes. The end result is still striking and realistic with more subtlety. This painting below of cherry blossoms is a good example of a pointillist work.
Can you tell that the background includes different colors? You may also notice that even with dots, tonal values are still well captured. That’s the kind of approach you want to take here. I have heard of people using a simple tool like cotton swabs, to experiment with the pointillist technique.
I did have an assignment in school one time to utilize this. I found it quite relaxing.
These are the major styles I can think of at the moment. If you are still looking to find yours, one way is looking in to books – I always had a collection of art books around me for inspiration. Look through some that have beautiful full-color illustrations in them. What draws you in? What do you like the most about each artist?
The Art of Still Life: A Contemporary GuideMonet. The Triumph of ImpressionismCreative ideas for painting colorful folk art in acrylic
Some famous artists worked in a number of different styles. Picasso was one of them. You may be the same way, and straddle over more than one. That’s OK too.
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