49 Types Of Painting Styles And Techniques (Updated List)

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What is painting?

The ‘Wiki’ defines the painting as

“The method of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface.”

Is painting as simple as it sounds? To be honest, it never is and never was.

The paintings day by day spreading and reaching the new heights in the world.

The way artists assume the scenarios and portray it onto the canvas is unbelievable. The use of colors is getting complex and the way thoughts are put on the canvas is getting even more sinuous.

For any beginner, it might be difficult to start the different practices and types the artist follow in creating paintings.

Ahead are some of the common and unique type of painting styles and techniques from an old age to modern age:


#1. Oil Painting: The most common type of painting out there. Used by most artists.

It’s a process of painting with pigments that get mixed with a layer of drying oil, such as linseed oil, which was widely used in early modern Europe.

The oil painting techniques became widely known. After some years the oil painting techniques used more than the tempera paints in Europe.

Most renaissance origins credited Jan van Eyck – the northern European painter of the 15th century who invented the painting with oil media on wood panel supports.

#2. Watercolor Painting: It’s a method where artist indulges the colors with water and make their finest paintings on the paper. Most of the watercolor paintings are made upon papers.

Watercolor paintings can be made upon other supports as well as papyrus, bark papers, plastics, leather, and wood.

In China, they make finger-painting with watercolors paints. There are water-soluble color pencils which can be used either wet or dry.

Albrecht Dürer who painted the finest botanical, wildlife and landscape watercolor which are considered as the earliest exponents of watercolor.

#3. Pastel Painting: In this painting, it consists of pure powdered pigment and binder. The pigments in pastel consist of same pigments as those used to produce all colored art media and oil paints.

The binder is a neutral hue and low saturation in pastel. The effects of colors in pastel painting are closer to natural dry pigments than any other process.

The pastel paintings surface is usually fragile and can easily be smudged, its preservation requires protective measures such as framing under glass.

If it is made with permanent pigments and properly cared then pastel painting may unchanged for centuries.

#4. Acrylic Painting: Acrylic painting is fast drying paint than any other paints. It consists of pigment suspension in acrylic polymer emulsion.

The paint can be diluted with water. The painting becomes water resistant when gets dry. The finished acrylic painting can give outcomes like watercolor or an oil painting.

In 1934, the first acrylic resin dispersion was developed by BASF, which was copyrighted by Rohm and Haas. The synthetic paint was used in the 1940s, combining some of the properties of oil and watercolor.

#5. Charcoal: Charcoal is a form of dry art medium made of finely ground organic materials that are held together by a gum or wax binder. The charcoal paintings are often used by artists for their versatile properties.

It gives a natural effect to the art. The charcoal can be easily removed but can leave the stains on paper.

They are often used for fine and crisp detailed drawings while keeping the user’s hand from being marked.

Charcoal was a key element of Cave painting. The picture of a zebra which is one of the oldest paintings found at the Apollo cave in Namibia.

#6. Coloured Pencil: Feeling nostalgic? Yeah, I felt it too.

This art is growing day by day and the colored pencil art is experiencing the whole new level of appreciation in the art world.

 They are built of a narrow, pigmented core encased in a wooden cylindrical case.

The elements of colored pencils are wax or oil based and consists proportions of pigments and binding agents.

The Golden Age of Greek utilized the wax-based crayons and later used by Roman Scholar, Pliny the Elder.

#7. Pencil Sketch: Pencil Sketches are quickly growing and achieved freehand sketches that are not usually intended as a finished work.

The purpose is to might document something that the artist sees. Sketches can be made in any drawing medium. A sculptor might model three-dimensional sketches in clay, plasticine or wax.

The graphite was mined in the 16th century, the artists used pieces of natural graphite, inserted in a porte-crayon (“pencil holder”), wasn’t known before the 17th century. After those Dutch artists include minor graphite details in sketches and landscapes.

During that century and most of the 18th, graphite was used to make preliminary sketch lines for drawings to be completed in other media, but drawings completely finished with graphite were rare.

#8. Ink Painting: Ink paintings are made with a liquid that consists of pigments or dyes and is used to color a surface to made painting. Ink is used for drawing with a pen, brush, or quill.

Ink paintings feel like magic when they’re made. It has a rich texture in the paintings that are worth it.

In books, it suggests that Shan Shui style painting existed during China’s Liu Song dynasty of the fifth century. During the Tang dynasty, the Ink wash painting developed further.

#9. Glass Painting: Glass painting is a contemporary art which has been acquired from the old art of stained glass painting which involved putting small colored pieces of glass together.

In old age, it was a common feature in windows or doors of religious place and can be seen in churches and old buildings.

Glass painting looks beautiful when light or any illumination passes through the transparent medium, the results are simply amazing.

#10. Ball Point Pen Art: In the mid-20th century, ballpoint pens have demonstrated to be a great benefit for artists or doodlers.

Low cost, availability, and portability are reproduced by practitioners as qualities which make this common writing tool a convenient art supply.

In the 20th century, some of the famous artists during their careers have utilized ballpoint pens to some extent. Andy Warhol and Alberto Giacometti used ballpoints within their artwork in the 1950s.

#11. Fresco: Fresco Comes from an Italian word which is obtained from a Latin word. Fresco style is for those who want paintings on their walls and ceilings.

The techniques of fresco consist of mixing the paints with water and applied on a thin layer of wet plaster. It requires a medium to get attached to the wall properly.

In the 18th century, Zimri-Lim from Syria Initiated an Old Fresco. Many tombs and houses were painted by Ancient Egyptians but those paintings were not frescoes.

#12. Collage Painting: This is an assembled creative artwork having the visual effect. Collage work can be done with pieces of colored or handmade papers, ribbons, applying paints, magazines, etc. the themes are varied and mostly is a cheap mode of art.

Techniques of collage were first used at the time of the invention of paper in China, around 200 BC.

The use of collage wasn’t used by many people until the 10th century in Japan, when calligraphers began to apply glued paper, using texts on surfaces, when writing their poems.

#13. Sand Painting: In sand painting, the works done are not permanent.

In videos, you can see the temporary work, done very quickly with hand stroke only on a fixed surface.

In this type of painting, the controlling speed is very important. It is very unique than the others. It requires a lot of patience and can be taxing to do.

The artists of Southwestern Native Americans paint upon the ground of a hogan, where the ceremony takes places, or on a buckskin or cloth tarpaulin, by letting the colored sands flow through his fingers with control and skill.

#14. Spray painting: In spray painting, aerosol paint comes out from the pressurized container by controlling it with a valve.

The portion of the surface where a particular color is needed to be applied is kept open, while the other portions are covered. This is done so that the color does not spread to other portions of the painting.

In the 1880s, the spraying paint with compressed air was used back in the Southern Pacific Railway.

#15. Encaustic Painting: Encaustic painting is well known for hot wax painting in which generally beeswax is heated with color pigments.

The liquid mixture is then spread over upon the surface of wood or other materials. This type of painting is quite different and requires lots of efforts.

This technique was used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100-300 AD, in the Blachernitissa and other early icons, as well as in many works of 20th century.

#16. Gouache Painting: This is an opaque painting method. The water-based pigments are used in which the particle sizes are larger than the water colored ones.

The colors are beautifully pitched against each other to add extra beauty to the art. This type of painting is rare and often looks realistic.

In the early 16th century, the practice of applying oil paint over a tempera base, which could give a matte effect.

#17. Tempera Painting: Egg yolk is basically used as the water-based binder with the colored pigments to form this type of painting.

Tempera was famous for ages until the invention of the oil painting. This is the unique form of painting and is rarely practiced.

The tempura was found on early Egyptian sarcophagi decorations. Tempera was used in many Fayum mummy portraits and sometimes combined with encaustic.

#18. Digital Painting: This painting is digitalized creative artworks which are done on computers to give the same effect as that of oil painting, acrylic or watercolors.

It can be easily done with rectification to give a perfect look. The digital painting does not need to concern about the drying time.

Digital painting is very common and brings art to the life. The concepts of art vary from people to people, based on their thoughts.

#19. Miniature Painting: Another name for Miniature painting is limning.

Miniature painting is executed on vellum, prepared card, copper or ivory. The name is originated from the minimum.

It was used by the medieval illuminators. Emerged from the fusion of separate traditions of the Illuminated manuscript and the medal.

Miniature painting expanded at the beginning of the 16th century to the mid-19th century.

#20. Kalamkari Painting: Kalam means pen and Kari means work.

This is an artwork which can be done using a simple pen.

To color the designs, vegetable dyes are extracted and applied on cloth which was famous in several parts of India but the kalamkari style developed further at Kalahasti in India. The designing process involves 17 steps.

#21. Warli Painting: This is a style of painting of tribal art. It is found by the Adivasis from the North Sahyadri range in India.

This technique is applied to an austere mud base using various colors like white with occasional dots in red and yellow. The white color is obtained from grinding rice to the white powder.

One of the largest tribe in India is the Warli tribe which is located outside of Mumbai.

The warli rejects the contemporary culture regardless of being close to one of the largest cities in India.

#22. Phad Painting: Phad painting or Phad is a style religious scroll painting and folk painting practiced in Rajasthan. This painting is traditionally done on a long piece of cloth or canvas which is known as phad. The portrait of the folk deities of Rajasthan is illustrated on the phads.

The Bhopas carried the painted phads along with them. They used and worshipped these as temples of the folk deities.

The phads of Pabuji and Devnarayan were normally about 15 and 30 feet long. The phads were painted by using vegetable colors.

#23. Madhu Bani Painting: Another term for Madhu Bani is Mithila art which is practiced in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. This type of Painting is done using the fingers, brushes or even twigs of the trees.

Natural dyes were used as colors and matchsticks were used to draw.

Originally the Madhu Bani painting was designed by a woman.

#24. Cave Painting: Another term for cave paintings is ‘Parietal art’. Cave paintings usually are seen upon the cave walls, ceilings of prehistoric places.

The caves paintings were found 40,000 years ago in Eurasia. The cave paintings are not that much visible and it seems that they have tried to convey some information at that time.

Due to ancient times, many of the paintings cannot be deciphered properly.

#25. Gond Painting: Gond paintings is basically originated from Madhya Pradesh. It’s a form of folk and tribal art that is practiced by the largest tribe in India.

The very striking facet of Gond paintings has to be the use of bright vivid colors such as white, red, blue and yellow. The paints are usually derived naturally from objects such as charcoal, colored soil, plant sap, leaves and even cow dung.

The colors were obtained from the various sand like Yellow from Chui mitti which is a type of local sand, brown from Gheru mitti which is another type of sand, and the other colors were obtained from different sources like green from leaves and red from Hibiscus flower. They used painting as a way to record their history.

#26. Action Painting: In action painting, the art consists of strong appeal, vast brushstrokes and chances of dripping and spilling colors onto the canvas.

The action painting was derived from Harold Rosenberg who created the group of American Abstract Expressionists who used the technique from 1950.

The artist’s creative interaction with materials and create some magnificently work upon the canvas defines the action painting.


#27. Aerial Perspective: Another term of Aerial perspective is atmospheric perspective. The technique of creating the depth perception or depression in a painting by modifying colors to reproduce changes, affected by the atmosphere on the colors which can be seen at a distance.

The use of aerial perspective has been known before the European Middle Age. Leonardo da Vinci used the term aerial perspective in his study upon painting.

#27. Anamorphis: In artwork, an innovative perspective technique gives a distorted picture of the subject which is portrayed in a picture that if it’s seen from a particular angle or in a curved mirror, the distortion disappears and the artwork in the picture appears normal.

It is originated from the Greek word meaning “to transform”. The term anamorphis was first used in the 17th century.

#28. Camaieu Painting: This painting is executed either entirely in shades or tints of a single color to the object or scene represented.

When a picture is rendered in grey it’s known as grisaille and when in yellow it’s known as cirage.

Camaieu painting was derived from the ancient world. It was used in miniature painting to reproduce cameos and to reproduce sculpture.

#29. Casein Painting: In this style, the colors are mixed with casein to make paintings. Casein paint consists of a phosphoprotein milk sparked by heating with an acid or by lactic acid.

By using homemade curd made from soured skim milk, it has been a traditional adhesive and binder for more than eight centuries.

In the 19th and 20th century, the pure casein mixed with ammonia and has been used for easel and mural paintings. Recently, ready-made casein paints have come into very wide use.

An advantage of casein painting is that it can create effects similar to oil painting.

In this technique, the use of bristle brushes and a moderate impasto is allowed like an oil painting.

The casein paint is a fast drying and gives the matte effect. After drying, the paint becomes water resistant to a specific degree.

#30. Chiaroscuro: This technique used in the artwork to represent light and shadows as they define three-dimensional objects.

It’s a technique for producing print on the woodcut in which light effects and shades are produced by printing from a different wood block.

The technique was first used in Italy in the 16th century, probably by the printmaker Ugo da Carpi. The key block was inked with the darkest tone and printed first.

Some proofs show that Ancient Greek and Roman artists used Chiaroscuro.

The technique was first used by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century.

#31. Divisionism:  It’s a technique of separating color into individual dots or strokes of pigment. It formed the basis for Neo-Impressionism.

When you see the painting from a distance, it would blend and can be perceived by the retina as a luminous whole.

Divisionism means the separation of color and pointillism means the skill of applying dots.

#32. Easel Painting: The painting which is executed upon the portable support such as a panel or canvas instead upon a wall.

The easel paintings were known to the ancient Egyptians and the 1st century – AD Roman Scholar.

It became relatively common and finally overriding the mural or wall painting.

 #33. Foreshortening: The technique of creating a specific object or figure in a picture in depth.

The artists suggest that in different angles, the distortion appears if the object is seen at a distance.

The artists produce an illusion of reality that seems to violate the surface of the picture or modify it, reducing the size of the nearer part of the object so to make a less-aggressive assault on the viewer’s eye and can relate the object more harmoniously the rest of the picture.

#34. Graffiti: It’s a way to communicate or address any information to people.

Without permission, marking the public place is illegal. It is done by an individual or group.

The walls are usually painted by some members of the street gang and some graffiti ain’t related to any gang. It’s an expressive art form. Graffiti is also used to gain attention or as a form of thrill-seeking.

Derived from an Italian word graffito which means “scratch”.

#35. Grisaille: To execute entirely in shades of gray or to create the illusion of sculpture, this painting technique is used.

In the 15th century, it was used by the Flemish painters.

In the 18th century, to imitate classical sculpture in wall and ceiling decoration, grisaille was used.

Among most of the painters, grisaille was used in the art of coloring glass for stained glass.

#36. Impasto: Impasto is executed upon canvas or panel in quantities so that it stands out from the surface.

It was frequently used to reproduce the broken-textured quality of highlights.

In the 17th century, Impasto technique was found.

Such Baroque painters like Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Diego Velazquez used this technique skillfully and worked this technique to craft armor, jewelry and rich fabrics.

Even Vincent Van Gogh used this technique to create the various paintings.

Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning also used Impasto technique which made the qualities of paintings itself better.

#37. Mural Painting: It is applied to the surface of a wall or ceiling.

Mural paintings include painting on tiles but does not refer to mosaic decoration.

Around 30,000 BC, the murals paintings were found in the Chauvet Cave in the Ardeche department of southern France. Around 3150 BC, many ancient murals have been found within ancient Egyptian tombs.


#38. Panel Painting:  This technique was executed on a rigid support-ordinarily wood or metal-as distinct from the painting done on canvas.

The panel was the support for easel painting before canvas came into general use at the end of 16th century.

Beech, cedar, chestnut, fir, larch, linden, white poplar, mahogany, olive, dark walnut, and teak are the type of woods which has been used while panel painting.

To remove gum and resin, wood panels were usually boiled or steamed and then wood panels were coated with a glutinous material and gesso to fill the pores on which the painting was executed.

Silver, tin, lead, and zinc were also used for the panel paintings.

#39. Panorama: In this style, the painting is applied upon a flat surface or curved surface which is usually a continuous or landscape scene and it is surrounded or is unrolled before the viewer.

Painted in a broad and direct manner which is related to the scene or dramatic painting.

The panorama became popular in 18th and 19th centuries where it was essentially the forerunner of the stereopticon and of motion pictures.

The panoramas were presented on the walls of a large cylinder, the old version of panorama about 60 feet in diameter and the new version of panorama about 130 feet in diameter.

The person has to stands at the center of the platform and turns around to see all the points of the horizon.

#40. Perspective Painting: This is a technique of making the three-dimensional object graphically and spacial to relationships on the two-dimensional plane or that plane is superficial than the original.

It’s a way to represent space and volume which gets mixed at a specific time and from a fixed position.

Since the Renaissance, the Chinese and most western painting are made under this technique.

This technique portrays the sense that objects and their surroundings have been compressed within a superficial space behind the picture.


 #41. Plein-air Painting: The practice of painting landscape pictures out-of-doors, the achievement of an intense impression of the open air in a landscape painting.

In France mid-19th century, the painters used to practice rough sketches of landscape subjects outside and finish their paintings in the studio.

#42. Scroll Painting: This art is practiced in East Asia.

The two main types of the scroll painting are shown. Chinese landscape scroll which is theirs culture biggest contribution to painting.

Another one is the Japanese narrative scroll which portrays the stories of painting.

The forerunners of narrative scrolls are from the 4th century AD and they teach Buddhist moral lessons. The scroll is viewed on a table and is opened from right to left.

The makimono which is also known as landscape handscroll consists of the narrative form instead of any pictures.

It became popular in 10th and 11th centuries with masters such as Xu Daoning and Fan Kuan.

The person who sees the scroll feels like a traveler. This gives an experience of moving through space and time.

#43. Sfumato: In this technique, the painting has the fine shading that presents soft and invisible transitions between tones and colors.

The technique was to blending colors without the use of lines or borders as described by Leonardo da Vinci. The followers of Leonardo da Vinci made subtle gradations without any lines or borders and made more dark areas.

This technique was used to make more specific facial features and atmospheric effects.

#44. Sgraffito: This technique used in painting, pottery, and glass.

It consists of covering the layer with another and then removing the superficial layer in a way that the pattern or shape is of the lower color.

In stained glass, they used to remove the top layer of colored glass and showing the clear glass beneath.

In pottery, it used to be through a white or colored slip which is a mixture of clay and water and showing the body color.

It was made by Islāmic potters and became popular in the Middle East.

#45. Sotto In Su: In this technique, the painting used to be painted upon a ceiling or other higher surface to give the illusion effect to the viewer.

In Italy, it was approached by many Baroque and Rococo painters during the Renaissance. Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Correggio, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo were masters of this technique.

#46. Tachisme: This style of painting practiced in Paris after World War II and through the 1950s that, like its American equivalent, Action painting featured the intuitive, spontaneous gesture of the artist’s brushstroke.

Tachisme was a reaction to Cubism. It was produced with the drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube and sometimes scribbling through calligraphy.

Art Informel was inspired by an Instinctive in which the personal approach of contemporary American Abstract Expressionism had one aspect as Action painting.

 #47. Tenebrism: In western history, the use of extreme light and dark is used in compositions to make paintings more dramatic.

Another term for tenebrism is dramatic illumination.

It’s a style of painting where there is the use of extreme light and dark and then darkness becomes the more dominating feature of the picture.

This was originated by the Italian painter Caravaggio and was taken forward by the influencers in the 17th century.

#48. Trompe l’oeil: The representation of an object with such reality to feel the material reality of the object.

The idea was approached by the ancient Greeks who were new from the conventional stylizations of earlier art. For example, Zeuxis painted such realistic grapes that birds tried to eat them.

The technique was also popular between Roman muralists.

#49. Water Miscible Oil Paints: Another word for water miscible oil paints is water soluble or water mixable.

It is a modern way of oil paint and made to be thinned and can be cleaned with water.

No need to use chemicals like turpentine. This paint can be mixed and applied using the same technique as oil-based paint.

The paint can be removed with brushes, palettes, and rags with soap or water while the paint is still wet.

The water solubility comes from an oil medium in which one end of the molecule has been adapted to cover the water molecules in a solution.

Conclusion: Different people around the world have produced different types of painting styles and techniques. Although each type of painting is unique, you will be able to relate more to a specific type of painting.

It might be the thoughts or the way to address anything to people. It might be the use of colors.

Following your heart and creating a masterpiece on the canvas is all you need to do!


What other paintings types do you know? Which one is your favorite painting styles and techniques?

Do let us know by sharing your views in the comment section down below.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

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