Painting Styles

Painting Styles

Decorative Painting

Whatever their methods, techniques for media, all decorative artists have a place in the British Association of Decorative and Folk Arts.
As defined by the British Association of Decorative and Folk Arts is a diverse art form, utilising a variety of techniques and media to decorate functional and non-functional surfaces.
Contemporary decorative painting is a teachable art form because of the systematic method that is employed. 
The use of either patterns or free-hand designs allows a high degree of success without necessary academic training or inherent drawing ability.
Approached with creativity, discipline and craftsmanship, contemporary decorative painting offers numerous opportunities for artistic self expression and creativity. 
The scope of contemporary decorative painting is boundless, incorporating styles and techniques of the past, adapting these to the trends and materials of the present,
whilst at the same time, developing the decorative art heritage of the future.
Today in addition to decorative and folk art styles of many countries such as Norway, Sweden, Germany, Russia, England, Mexico,
cotemporary decorative painting includes facets of British Decorative painting such as stucco, stencilling, bronzing, gold leafing, country painting, faux finishes and graining.

Countries and Areas of Painting

Classic French

Very delicate, following the designs and styles of tapestries, bows, trailing stems and ornate scrolls; used on ceramics and furniture.
Background – crackled or marbled, pale colours (white/cream), gold embellishment.  Usually pale ‘old gold’ on furniture very ‘watercolour’ type painting; roses, tulips, bows, trailing small leaves and tendrils.
‘Tole Peinte’ – Painted tin-ware –  milk churns, smoothing irons, jugs, trunks, trays etc.

Very simple pale but with delicate black outlining and scroll type leaves.  Geometric banded borders.  Woodwork left pale and natural.  Swedish roses are often elongated (stroke type.)
Norway – ‘Rosemaling’ (rose painting)
Bright vivid colours on dark background, with shapes outlined in white or black.  Leaves painted solidly as scroll shapes, Roses are very stylised stroke work.  
All Rosemaling is stroke-work at its finest.
Norway’s mountainous terrain resulted in 3 types of Rosemailing :
Hallingdal – Baroque style characterised by strong symmetrical designs and bold lines.
Telemark -  is flowing and asymmetrical with intricate shading and linework.
‘Rogoland  - developed on the south west coast where traders brought oriental influences, delicate crosshatching and more realism.

Netherlands ‘Hindeloopen’

Tulips, stroke roses, round petal flowers, landscapes, figures and birds.  Floral and leaf borders, scrolls and bows.  Flowers and leaves outlined in a darker colour.
Eastern European
(Ukranian/Slavic) – painting follows the same designs as the embroider found on skirts and waistcoats with bright, colourful decoration on dark backgrounds.
Lots of bright red used with stylised flowers, darker leaves in flowing lines, floral borders – filling in with lines and squiggles.  Painted eggs, wooden graduated size dolls. 
Lots of gold scrolling on black.  Much painting on religious articles i.e. triptychs, icons etc.

Bauernmalerei – Farm Painting 

Developed in Germany, Bavarian and Austrian Alps and Switzerland.  Artists travelled from farm to farm and town to town spreading different styles across Europe.
Backgrounds – dark (green and black, also imitation wood grain).  Decorated houses, borders around windows and door frames, blank walls both inside and out.
Inside – cupboards, chests, headboards, everyday furniture and utensils.  Typical examples of wardrobes with 4 individual panels of either country scenes or bowls of flowers.
Style – roses, tulips leafy borders, later on scroll-work filled in the designs.

English Narrowboat/Barge Painting

This only really developed since the 18th century with the use of canals (in the industrial revolution) on the long barge boats. 
Families living in small, cramped, dark often sooty quarters tried to brighten their surroundings by painting everything they could. 
The wood panelling both inside and out was decorated as well as everyday utensils, water jugs, coal buckets, trunks and containers of all kind.
The traditional designs were very basic comma one colour stroke roses, yellow, white and bright red; blue and white daisies and stylised leaves – with highlights over-painted when dry. 
Larger areas have castle scenes with mountains, fields, trees, rivers and bridges.  Usually painted in oils and enamels – repainted when dirty!
Backgrounds – mostly black, green or red.  Areas of designs separated by narrow bands of red or yellow.
There are similarities with Gypsy caravan painting


Because of the multi-cultural nationalities, styles are mixed up of all European styles with the main influences being Dutch.
Modern painting – simplified, introduction of animals, cats, bears, chickens etc.  Borders  typically simple and repeated.  Lots of dots, trails of dots, cross-hatching and hearts. 
Painting on storage boxes, letter boxes, tin, wood, scales, jugs, plates, suitcases etc.

Mix of European, Greek and North African influences -  surfaces mostly ceramics, plates and tiles etc.  Subjects typically fish, birds, grapes and fruit; basic stroke painting and overpainting.