Art styles, from the abstract to realism, a vast range of choices in just describing the way art looks, and how it was created. Both have a bearing on what style of art “it” actually is. So let’s take a look at some major styles, and break them down to help you understand which style would be suited for your own artistic journey.
The last 200 years have been extremely explosive in terms of different styles in art. With the advent of computers and new materials, art can now include digitally produced works, to different colored pieces of plastic bottles glued or stapled together.
I’m gonna stick to just what gets put on a canvas (or wooden board) with good old “Oil Paints” within this article! So let’s break it down to smaller pieces to help in your decision process which road you may travel with your art.
Let’s imagine a line, and at one end is what we will call Representational art (the new word for realism). On the other end of this line, we will label Non-representational art. Sort of like the value scale only with pictures of paintings going from one end to the other.
On the representational side, at the extreme end, we would place Hyper-realism, and at the other end of the spectrum we would have Abstract Expressionism. The entire range of art styles would fall along this line!
Now along this line would fall all the other styles of painting we see today. Let’s talk a little about the major ones most folks hear about.
Realism, which is a fairly large grouping, would include Hyper-realism, Surrealism, and Photo-realism. Each of these would have their own set of rules or guidelines.
Then we get into a little Painterly, Impressionism, Cubism, and a number of other ism’s that characterize the modern art movements, which finally would take you into the pure forms of non-objective abstraction art in which the artwork doesn’t represent anything.
It doesn’t represent people, or places, or things within the natural world. This style of art uses its content in color, shapes, brushstrokes, size and even what process is used to create it to help define it. It is meant to invoke a feeling or an experience of the mind rather than any analytical judgements of what it could be.
But let me be clear here.
Abstract art is not definable. It has no rules, where as the realist has to follow rules, and as you come across the lines from hyper-realism to abstraction, your “rules” tend to become less, and less.
I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, I’m just saying what is.
Somewhere in the middle let’s place Folk Art.
Folk Art is produced by trades people (our modern day Crafters), an indigenous culture and/or peasants. It is a Naive style in which the normal rules of perspective, form and proportion are not followed. (Less rules than in realism)
Most art critics do not classify Folk Art as “fine art” but rather “decorative art”. I'll leave the definitions of art to the academics of the world, and...
Don’t tell that to Grandma Moses, whose works can be found worldwide in collections and museums of quite well known repute. I include it, because I believe it is a wonderful STYLE of art that can be easily learned and created.
More detailed descriptions of these different art styles will be available below. Live articles links will be active. Just bear with me. As a full time artist, it's hard to split my time between these two loves, the easel and this web site! I think I'll review some of my own advice in time management.
Now, here’s a suggestion. Would you like try a style of art you’ve never attempted?
Check out one of the posters above of a famous painting. If one of them really turns you on, then order it, and use it to copy from.
There’s nothing like the learning process in attempting a to copy a famous work by another artist. Just remember to sign your own name when it is done and attribute the work to the other artist. There's a great PBS show that featured one of the greatest forgers of all time, John Myatt. Once caught, he spent some time in jail, but after paying his due to society, he goes around teaching the skills of his trade. From attempting to match the paint by its historical manufacturing processes to the actual way an artist would make a brush stroke, a mark on the canvas. Conservators and Appraisers study a masters work that close to be able to identify the artist by his/her paint stroke movement!
Academic studies within art schools have used this technique for a long time in helping students improve their skills. You can too!