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An encaustic wax artwork, “Divide,” with red and black coloration on one half and red and white on the other. This piece is featured in Volume 140 of Prism, Displacement.

An Exploration of Painting Styles
Prism Assistant Editor
In times of displacement, many look to
creative ventures to encourage, empower, or enlighten themselves and others.
Painting is one of many creative ventures
that people take part in, with many different mediums and techniques. I’d like
to explore eight styles of painting from
across the centuries.
The first painting style is perhaps the
most straightforward: realism.
Realism is the accurate, truthful depiction of an artist’s surroundings. Like its
name suggests, realism mimics the real
world. It doesn’t try to enhance its subject,
or try to make it more charming, more
ugly, more anything! It is a practice in
appreciation by offering the artist’s true,
honest interpretation of the outside world.
The next style I’d like to talk about
is impressionism, which is quite a stark
contrast to realism.
Impressionism is a unique style of
painting which revolves around the essence

of the painting rather than the accuracy
of it. This style involves using a unique set
of brushstrokes and an emphasis on color
and light to show emotion in the artwork.
This style of painting is still widely used
and appreciated in the 21st century.
Expressionism is a lot like impressionism in that expressionists do not care
about providing a realistic depiction of
their subjects. However, while impressionism focuses some on displaying the
natural world in a meaningful way, the
message of expressionism is simply expression. The focus of an expressionist painting is for the piece to invoke a feeling. It
focuses less on the external world and
more of the internal impact. “The Scream”
by Edvard Munch is one famous example
of expressionism.
A newer style of painting is modernism.
Modernism strives to break the norms
of more traditional art styles. Created
alongside massive revelations in science,
war, religion, etc., modernism focuses on
finding one’s own way of expression, rather than relying on modes of expression
that came before. It is an embodiment

of the constant search for new ways of
displaying art, showing expression and
conveying a message.
The next style of painting I’ll talk about
is abstract art.
Abstract art has no place for natural,
worldly objects. It has no objective or storyline that goes along with it, and does not
try to display anything tangible. Instead,
abstract focuses on color, line, and composition within any individual piece.
The next style of art takes inspiration
from both the natural world and more
abstract modes of design: surrealism.
Surrealism employs uncommon,
uncanny imagery to display its message
or story. Salvador Dali is a great example
of a surrealist artist. In surrealists’ work,
the imagery used in one piece may vary
drastically compared to another in order
to prove its point.
The final style I will discuss is cubism.
Cubism focuses on using sharp, bold
lines to form geometric shapes like triangles and squares. Sometimes these shapes
may be representational and other times
they may be more abstractly composed.

Pablo Picasso is a cubist artist, making portraits of himself using strong, geometric
figures side by side. Cubist-style paintings
may also be viewed from different angles
to create different settings, leading some
pieces to look jagged and fragmented.
Throughout the centuries, artists have
found many different ways to express
themselves with art and painting. As we
keep living and creating I can’t wait to
learn—what will the next style be?

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Displacement, scan this QR code
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