Types of Art

Page Contents:   Still Life   People   Print Making   Sculpture   Design   Other living things   Places and Spaces   Events   Issues and Themes   Media   Technique   Style   Process   Practice   Function   Abstract   Abstracted  Conceptual   Representational   Realistic   Naturalistic

  visual arts


FORMS OF ART means the type of artwork such as drawing, painting, sculpture (carving, modelling, assemblage and construction) architecture, printmaking, electronic media such as computer and digital graphics, ceramics, Visual Design, Graphic Design, collage, photography and Post Modern appropriation and recontextualisation.

There is a LANGUAGE which is used to describe the Arts. This language is explained by using examples of student work and brief summaries. Extra information is available in the many texts and reference books available. This in not comprehensive but a student research tool for beginners in Art.

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VISUAL ARTS is where an artist uses MEDIA (materials, images, signs and symbols) and the available TECHNOLOGY to communicate about the self as expression, or the world as narrative or propaganda, promotion, illusion, imagination, teaching or prediction.

The Visual Arts are about art for society, art for the self, art for religion, art for profit and art for art’s sake.

Types of art are as varied as media, subject matter and technology allow.

Art can be painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, computer and digital graphics, architecture, ceramics and Visual Design which covers the more functional works of art.

Subject Matter  What the art work is about. The title usually gives a clue.  Subject Matter is divided into ....





Still Life 

FORM - Collage 

OBJECTS – Functional or useful objects, Still life, found objects and objects used as symbols of ownership, culture or value. Objects venerated (sacred) as religious symbols or used to represent strong feelings or fantasy.

REPRESENTATIONAL – looks like something, represents something even if it is not realistic.


                         Flower Pots


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portrait lady

FORM - Painting 

PEOPLE – Portraits of specific people or the Human Figure used in stories of heroes or gods, or used for religion or self-discovery or personality. The Human Figure has been used in art as expression of feelings, as objects of reverence, as symbols of fertility or death, strength or weakness, humorous or didactic (teaching).


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Other living things


FORM - Silk Screen Print

OTHER LIVING THINGS – Plants and animals from land, air and sea, used to decorate, as part of story or as a study in themselves. Many animals and plants have been use as symbols or motifs for design or expression of feelings, humour or themes and issues.


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Places and Spaces

places and spaces


FORM - Painting 

PLACES and SPACES – Landscapes, Seascapes, Cityscapes, Interiors, maps or keys to location. Places in fantasy or personal experiences.

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FORM - Ink Drawing and washes

EVENTS –Important Events in Life – birth, death, sickness or work. Historical, Public or Social Events- wars, coronations, ship-wrecks, executions, festivals or plagues.

Spiritual or Religious – Events within religious teachings.


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Issues and Themes

issues and themes

FORM - Collage

ISSUES and THEMES – where art deals with issues or topics, which cause debate such as feminism, multiculturalism, pollution or animal rights. Some are controversial others universal. Art which deals with themes such as abstraction, colour, love, hate, technology, cruelty, confrontation etc.


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Other Words or concepts used in the Visual Arts ...


Media  Material or substance used to make an Art Work 




Acrylic Paint



MEDIA means the materials or substance the artist uses to make art works.

 For example oil paint on canvas, acrylic, tempera or water paints. Drawing media includes pencil, pens and ink, charcoal and pastels. Sculptural media includes clay, wax and bronze, wood, metals, which are welded, junk or found or ready made media assembled by sculptors, plastics and wires, stone especially marble and even earth works.

MEDIA can also mean the images, signs and symbols that artists use in their artworks.

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Ink and brush - Post Modern

How the Artwork is made, the methods used:


TECHNIQUE – means the manner of making or method used in achieving an artwork. The manner of artistic execution or performance or the skills used in making artworks. For example, traditional western oil painting on canvas or the Impressionists “dab” technique. The coiling technique in pottery or the photographic silk screen print making technique.


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Print Making

lino art

Silk Screen Printmaking 


PRINT MAKING is where the artist uses TECHNOLOGY that allows more than one work to be produced. This is done using the traditional method of wood block/ lino printing or etching where a groove is carved or etched into the surface and ink is applied then transferred to paper using a press.  In Modern times silk screen printing and Lithography have been developed. 

Silk screen uses stencils where holes are cut and the ink is squeezed through using a screen and squeegee. Photographic silkscreen print making is used now, especially for fabric and "T" shirts.

Lithography is where a moist ink resistant block is painted with ink attractive emulsion and then inked and transferred to paper. 


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SCULPTURE is the word used to describe an artwork which has three dimensions, height, width and depth. most sculpture is free standing but can be in RELIEF where the form stands out from a flat background. Relief sculpture decorates the walls of many buildings. 

Sculpture is traditionally made by  carving wood or stone, or by modelling clay and then casting the form in bronze. Modern sculptors have made use of the new technology and materials to construct artworks in many different media using techniques of gluing and welding, nailing or wiring.


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The art of building. 

Visual Design

Visual Design


DESIGN - is the deliberate choice and layout of elements in a work of painting, drawing, photograph, collage, computer graphics or three dimensional form such as furniture, appliances or furnishings, which acts as a prototype for production and commercial release. Visual  Design is a Process 

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Punk Rock Assemblage

STYLE – means the manner of an artwork, the way it looks which can be recognised as characteristic of a person, school or culture eg the styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Cubism, the Aztecs or Egyptians, the style of Dali or Picasso which can be identified by its characteristic elements.

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PROCESS – means the sequence of action, the steps taken when making an art work usually involving developing ideas by experimentation, exploring different ways of solving problems, manipulating these ideas and appropriate media by evaluating success and resolving the work for presentation.

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PRACTICE – the way that an artwork is made and studied that is the practice of Art Making, Art Criticism and Art History.

Practice of making art works involves ideas, beliefs, interpretations, intentions, skills, technology and actions.

Art Criticism involves personal judgment, evaluation and interpretation.

Art History involves looking at how the artwork fits into history, into a sequence of events and into the surrounding culture.

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FUNCTION- the task, the job, the purpose of an artwork such as telling stories or narrative, to inspire magic, to celebrate an event, to decorate, art for religious instruction and worship, to imitate nature, for personal pleasure or art for art’s sake such as exploring the emotional effects of the elements or developing visual effects with media or technology.

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ABSTRACT ART – means it is non representational, it does not look like anything, it does not represent anything seen. It may cause the viewer to think of ideas but it does not copy the seen world or contain images.

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Fish logo

ABSTRACTED – means to be made less realistic by distortion or exaggeration of images as the Cubists or German Expressionists do. An image is changed, made less obvious.

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CONCEPTUAL ART – means art where the idea or concept is more important than the seen image. Conceptual art is usually abstracted or performance art. Conceptual Art uses elements to suggest deeper thoughts to trigger thoughts in the viewer rather than appreciation of skilled imagery. Most artworks have a conceptual side to it as most art works make the audience think about a concept. Tribal Art is strongly conceptual so is most modern and Post Modern art.

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REPRESENTATIONAL – looks like something, represents something even if it is not realistic.


                         Green Lady



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REALISTIC – looks like a seen subject.

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Penny the Penguin

NATURALISTIC – Looks as though it is from nature. Natural in pose, gesture, setting and imagery.

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