Art Styles Explained & How to Identify Them

Art Styles Explained

Art has the power to captivate, inspire, and evoke emotions in ways words often can’t, so art history and art education should be freely accessible to anyone. Understanding different art styles not only enhances your appreciation of art but also allows you to discern the unique characteristics of a particular piece and gives you a glimpse of what is going on in the artist’s mind when painting it.

Here are four popular art styles and how to identify them.

4 Common Art Genres You Can Identify

  1. Realism
  2. Surrealism
  3. Impressionism
  4. Post-Impressionism

1. Realism: Like Photography

Realism is all about capturing the world as it truly appears. Artists who embrace this style aim for meticulous attention to detail, producing works that closely resemble photographs. Some of what makes this style special is its use of:

  • Precise and fine brushstrokes to create lifelike details.
  • Accurate proportions and perspective.
  • Intricate color mixing and juxtaposition of many subtle shades of colors to create light and iridescence.
  • Detailed shading and highlights that create realistic, 3-dimensional depth.

2. Surrealism: Enchanting & Dreamlike

Surrealism takes you into a dreamlike realm where the impossible becomes possible. This style often blends the real with the imaginary, creating thought-provoking (and sometimes unsettling) imagery.

  • Unusual juxtapositions and dreamlike scenes.
  • A sense of mystery and subconscious exploration.
  • Unexpected, whimsical, or bizarre elements that challenge reality.

3. Impressionism: Colorful & Fluid

Impressionism is known for its focus on capturing fleeting moments and the play of light on surfaces. Artists use loose brushwork and vibrant colors to convey their impressions of a scene. Look for:

  • Quick, visible brushstrokes to capture a moment.
  • Combining vivid colors with a strong emphasis on natural light.
  • Scenes depicting everyday life, landscapes, or outdoor scenes.

4. Post-Impressionism: Unique & Stylish

This style builds on the foundations of impressionism but adds a unique twist. Post-impressionists often use vivid colors and bold brushwork to convey emotion and a personal perspective. Common features of these types of paintings include:

  • Use of intense colors and unconventional palettes.
  • Distorted or exaggerated forms to evoke feelings.
  • A sense of individual expression and a break from strict realism.

Enjoy A Little Slice Of Art History In California

Now that you’ve learned more about these art styles and their defining features, exploring the world of art can be an even more enriching experience. Why not indulge your inner art critic and impress your friends by showcasing one of these art styles in your home?

At Thomas Kinkade Carmel, Monterey & Placerville, we have a vast collection of pieces in these fundamental art styles, so we invite you to explore one of our galleries today.