Exploring Art Styles: A Guide for Beginners

Introduction to Art Styles

What are Art Styles?

Art styles are distinct classifications of visual arts based on their unique characteristics, techniques, and historical periods. They help us understand, appreciate, and interpret the intentions behind an artist’s work. Art styles have evolved through centuries, reflecting cultural, social, and political changes.

Importance of Understanding Art Styles

Understanding art styles is crucial for anyone interested in art, whether you’re a beginner, an art enthusiast, or a professional artist. It enables you to:

  1. Appreciate the diversity of artistic expressions
  2. Recognise the historical context of a particular art style
  3. Develop your taste and preference in art
  4. Enhance your artistic skills by learning from various styles
Exploring Art Styles: A Guide for Beginners
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Popular Art Styles

Let’s examine some of the most popular art styles and their characteristics.


Characteristics of Realism

Realism is an art style that strives to depict subjects as they appear in real life without idealisation or distortion. This style emerged in the 19th century as a response to the Romanticism movement, which often focused on exaggerated emotions and imagination. Key characteristics of Realism include:

  1. Accurate representation of a subject matter
  2. Attention to detail
  3. Use of natural colours and lighting
  4. Emphasis on everyday scenes and ordinary people

Abstract Art

Characteristics of Abstract Art

Abstract art is a style that deviates from realistic representation, using shapes, colours, and textures to convey emotions, concepts, or ideas. This style emerged in the early 20th century as a reaction to traditional art forms. Key characteristics of Abstract art include:

  1. Non-representational imagery
  2. Emphasis on colour and form
  3. Expression of emotions and concepts
  4. Experimentation with various techniques and mediums


Characteristics of Impressionism

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement that aimed to capture the fleeting impression of a scene rather than an accurate, detailed representation. This style is characterised by the following:

  1. Visible brushstrokes
  2. Use of vibrant colours
  3. Depiction of light and its changing qualities
  4. Focus on everyday scenes and outdoor settings


Characteristics of Cubism

Cubism is an early 20th-century art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. It involves the fragmentation and reconstruction of objects into geometric shapes, often from multiple viewpoints. Key characteristics of Cubism include:

  1. Geometric shapes and forms
  2. Depiction of objects from various angles simultaneously
  3. Limited colour palette
  4. Simplified and flattened backgrounds


Characteristics of Surrealism

Surrealism is a 20th-century art movement that seeks to express the subconscious mind through dream-like, fantastical imagery. It was heavily influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud and the Dada movement. Key characteristics of Surrealism include:

  1. Bizarre, illogical scenes
  2. The juxtaposition of unrelated objects
  3. Dream-like imagery
  4. Use of symbolism and metaphor

How to Find Your Art Style

Finding your art style can be an exciting and rewarding journey. Here are some tips to help you develop your unique artistic voice:

  1. Study various art styles: Familiarise yourself with different styles, techniques, and artists to broaden your understanding of art and find inspiration.
  2. Practice regularly: The more you create, the better you identify your preferences and strengths.
  3. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, mediums, or subject matters. This can help you discover what resonates with you.
  4. Reflect on your work: Analyse your artwork and identify recurring patterns. This can help you understand your artistic inclinations.
  5. Be patient: Developing your style takes time and perseverance. Keep working on your craft, and your unique style will eventually emerge.


Exploring different art styles is essential for any beginner looking to understand and appreciate the vast world of visual arts. By learning about popular art styles like Realism, Abstract Art, Impressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism, you can develop your artistic taste and find inspiration for your work. Remember that finding your unique style takes time, practice, and self-reflection. Enjoy the journey, and embrace the learning process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the difference between an art style and an art movement?

An art style is a classification of visual arts based on their unique characteristics and techniques. In contrast, an art movement is a group of artists with shared ideas, goals, and aesthetics that usually emerge during a specific historical period.

2. How do art styles change over time?

Art styles change over time due to cultural, social, and political influences and advancements in artistic techniques and materials. They often emerge as a response to or rebellion against previous styles or movements.

3. Can an artist work in multiple art styles?

Many artists work in multiple styles, either simultaneously or at different stages. Exploring various styles can help artists grow, develop their skills, and find their unique voices.

4. How can I learn more about specific art styles?

You can learn more about specific art styles by studying art history books, visiting museums and galleries, taking art classes or workshops, and researching artists who work in those styles.

5. Are there any contemporary art styles that have emerged recently?

Yes, contemporary art constantly evolves, and new styles emerge. Some notable recent styles include Street Art, Digital Art, and Post-Internet Art. These styles often reflect the influence of technology and contemporary culture on the world of art.