Major Types of Painting

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
A Painters Landscape

How many of these types of painting have you tried—did you ever paint a local landscape or draw a self-portrait? Some paintings combine types. For example, a portrait might also include details of a still life.

A landscape is an outdoor scene. A landscape artist uses paint to create not only land, water, and clouds but air, wind, and sunlight.

A portrait is an image of a person or animal. Besides showing what someone looks like, a portrait often captures a mood or personality.

A still life shows objects, such as flowers, food, or musical instruments. A still life reveals an artist's skill in painting shapes, light, and shadow.

A real life scene captures life in action. It could show a busy street, a beach party, a dinner gathering, or anyplace where living goes on.

A religious work of art shares a religious message. It might portray a sacred story or express an artist's faith.


Some paintings seem to show exactly what an artist saw, while others focus on exploring shapes or expressing feelings. One artist might paint a landscape with realistic details, such as craggy rocks and green blades of grass. Another might paint the same landscape in swirling shapes and colors that capture how the air and sunlight felt.

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