Painting can be defined as the practice of applying paint, pigment, use of color, or any other medium to a support surface (Raczka 1). Artist and designers use the term painting to refer to both the act of and the result of painting. Support surfaces where painting can be made include such surfaces such as glass, walls, paper, canvas, and clay or concrete.
Furthermore, paintings can be improved by using gold leaf, and other materials such as clay, sand, and pieces of paper variety. In actual sense, paintings are used for expression purposes and hence there are as many forms and styles as there are artists spanning from the ancient times to the modern era where technology is transforming every aspect of life in the society. This essay seeks to briefly describe the different and major styles of painting, and to compare and contrast three different paintings provided. It is proper to acknowledge that painting as a field has undergone significant transformation over time. In the current century, painting has been greatly influenced by technological advancement and has led to numerous variety of painting styles to select from. The transformational journey started mainly from the later years of the 19th century through the 20th century facilitated by the discovery of metal paint tube and photography and the ever changing events world wide.
The range of art styles vary from those that are most realistic to the ones that are most abstract (Raczka 4). Realistic painting relies on the tactical use of paint, color, and tone to create a convincing illusion of reality where the paint resembles the actual object or phenomenon in a real life situation. Another art style is the painterly which closely resembles the realism one only that it uses paint as it is without trying to make smooth the texture to achieve realism. This can easily be noticed through brushwork. Impressionism, the third style of art emerged in the 19th century but is still admired to date despite the initial criticism it faced in France. It mainly looks like an incomplete paint work creating an impact of light on the surface. Expressionism and fauvism styles are less concerned with creation of reality by the use of perspective.
They aim at creating an impact on emotions without sensitivity to color or tone. The last art style is the abstract one and the paintings are far from resembling the reality. This work is intentionally not meant to be representational (Raczka 26). To illustrate the above styles of painting, we shall compare and contrast the three paintings provided on the slides by using block method.
The first painting is by a great American artist by the name Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). The “Heart of the Andes,” is a landscape painting and was done in 1859. From a keen observation of the painting, we realize that the style used is that of realism. Church effectively strives to create a real life impression of the tropical scene. The work depicts a river that is bordered by dense vegetation, upland plains, and the rugged, towering, and snowcapped mountains. Church’s work creates a real impression of wilderness since there is no sign of human life.
The second landscape painting was done by Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900), an American just like Church. Cropsey produced the paint in 1865. This work uses the realism art style to depict the fiery autumn scenery where there are mountains, valleys, and forests. The presence of human beings can be seen as well as their encroachment which is depicted by the presence of a railroad. The train’s smoke echoes the clouds above hence creating a peaceful coexistence between man and nature.
Lastly, we have the third painting by an American, Charles Sheeler (1883-1963). Sheeler painted it in the 20th century (1931). He used the “precisionism” art style to depict this large architectural impression of a factory. Sheeler used clear light with an amalgamation of both realism and abstraction art styles. In a nutshell, this work depicts; a hard, exact, flat, huge, and industrial product. There is nothing living or organic in this particular painting which illustrates clearly the influence that the difference in context and culture can have on the artists’ work.
This essay has described the various major styles of painting. It has also analyzed the three paintings with an aim of drawing a comparison as well as contrast among them. We can conclude from the analysis that art and design is a product of its context and is greatly influenced by culture and time frame. The first two paintings have the same theme, landscape, while the third depicts an industrial age of the 20th century.
Church’s and Cropsey’s work have the most similarities both in style and theme while Sheeler combines both the realism and abstract styles of painting.
Raczka, B. Name That Style: all about isms in Art. Millbrook Press, 2008, Pp. 1-30.