The style of painting is evolving incessantly!

The use of colors is getting intense. Even the way thoughts are created and shaped on the canvas is getting more intricate.

The changes in social conventions, politics, and philosophy, along with technological advancements have deeply impacted the way we paint.

7 Best Art Painting Styles That Everyone Should Know

Let us explore the seven most popular painting styles which help you not only to understand art but also to admire it more:

1. Abstract Art

Also known as a modern art painting style, this does not resemble the ‘real-life’ revelling in the embrace of the subjective.

Modern art paintings began to appear in the gallery and studio between the periods extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s.

This art style seeks to achieve its point or subject using shapes, forms, colors, textures and the materials used to create it. For example, colors can represent emotions and shapes to illustrate the objects.

The whole purpose of abstract art is to let the viewer interpret its meaning for him/herself.

2. Realism

Also known as naturalism, this style of art is considered as ‘real art’ and has been the dominant style of painting since the Renaissance.

This style of art attempts to portray the subject as it actually appears in real life without being stylized or abstracted.

Artist spends a substantial amount of time and effort in creating an illusion of space and depth, setting the composition, colors, tones and lighting such that the subject appears real.

Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting ‘Mona Lisa’ is a classic example of the style.

Mona Lisa - Leonardo da Vinci

3. Expressionism

This style of painting began to appear at the turn of the 20th century.

It is closely related to the emotions and feelings of the human heart and is characterized by the use of bold and unrealistic colors. This style aims to represent life as it feels or appears to the artist.

Edvard Munch is a famous expressionist painter. He used to convey the grotesque and horror in everyday life through hyper-stylized brushwork and horrific creations.

Closely related to this style is Fauvism wherein bold colors are used prominently but to create compositions that express life in an idealized nature.

4. Painterly

The painting style arose during the Industrial Revolution in the first half of the 19th century. As its name suggests, the emphasis in painterly style is on the act of painting itself.

Artwork created using this style is characterized by visible brushstrokes and texture of the paint medium including oils, acrylics, watercolors, gouache, or any other medium where a paintbrush is used.

Artists using this style did not attempt to hide their technical work including the brushwork applied loosely and quickly. In fact, they often create many visual effects using paint such as broken tones, broad brushstrokes, sketchiness, etc.

5. Impressionism

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement, where artists attempted to depict light through gesture and illusion.

This style of art is characterized by small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition with emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities.

Paintings of this style are often painted outdoors to capture the natural sunlight and color of the subject matter. Impressionist artists rarely used Black color and preferred mixing and using dark tones or complementary colors.

It is quite interesting to know that impressionist artists were initially ridiculed by the critics as it was regarded as an unfinished and rough painting style, but today this style is loved and revered.

6. Surrealism

This style originated in France and flourished in the early 20th century.

This art style of painting juxtaposes various abstract concepts together to give a remarkable effect. Primarily, it is characterized by subjective images being painted realistically but taken out of their normal contexts and organized within an ambiguous or paradoxical framework.

You may often surrealist paintings illogical. Or, expressing imaginative dreams with visions that highlights the thoughts of the subconscious rather than focusing on the rationale.

7. Pop Art

Pop is a modern art style that started in the United Kingdom and America in the mid-1950s. This style was a major shift in the choice of the subject matter of the paintings.

Pop artists rarely use any of the traditional techniques of perspective but draw inspiration from commercial and commonplace objects and people of everyday life imagery including comic books, celebrities, magazines, movies, and even bottles.

Pop artists primarily tend to focus on the use of bold colors and realistic imagery with no hidden meaning in their composition.

Owing to the incorporation of commercial images and mass production techniques such as silk screening to reproduce their works by many artists, pop art has become one of the most recognizable and popular styles.

Pop Art - modern art paintings

Final Words

Some of these art styles are much more realistic than others, however, each is defined by its own unique technique.

Knowing about these popular styles, you can experiment with different approaches yourself, and discover your own style!