About Painting Styles


Like many artists, over the years, I’ve created art using a wide variety mediums, styles and methods to make art. Eventually, I settled on painting, and narrowed my focus to working primarily with acrylics on canvas. Additionally, I developed two very distinct painting styles. My earlier style was Pointillism and my later and current style of painting I referred to as Romantic Realism.

Romantic Realism

As noted in the subtitle under my name above, I refer to myself as a Romantic Realist meaning my painting style is Romantic Realism. Someone once asked me what Romantic Realism was and I quickly responded, the Romantic part  meant, how I wished things could be, and realism portion was how I depicted them! Actually, I think this is still a pretty good description.
Writer and philosopher, Ayn Rand, once wrote of Romantic Realism, “The method of romantic realism is to make life more beautiful and interesting than it actually is, yet give it all the reality, and even more convincing reality than our everyday existence.”  While I’m not a big fan of Ayn Rand, I do think she nailed it when describing Romantic Realism.
With the romantic realism, the subject matter matters deeply. I always tried to emphasize the dramatic and emotional qualities, usually within a natural setting (and on occasion I’ll add a human element of some form or another to the painting, which usually creates a surrealistic feeling). With Romanticism, there is a strong focus on elevating the positive qualities of emotion, of the individual, and on nature. With Realism, the desire is to present the subject in a believable fashion, to make it “real.”
For myself, my primary goal when I paint is to focus on beauty, form, and redemption. Bring beauty into the world; create so that others can relate and understand what they are looking at; and leave people with a sense of hope, of lifting the human spirit. Everyday matters; every life matters; and hope and joy are still with us! For myself, this is what Romantic Realism is about.

Pointillism: My Other Style

For many years, prior to painting as a Romantic Realist, I painted using a modernist style called, Pointillism. I still have many Pointillist works available, and so I felt readers would appreciate a short brief concerning this style I worked with for so long.
Pointillism, was the first style to come about after Impressionist. It is a technique whereby paint is applied closely together using  tiny dots, daubs and/or dashes. Mixing dots of specific colors can create a new color. These new colors are not produced  physically on the canvas or paper by blending them with a brush or palette knife, but are created visually by your eyes, when observed from a distance. This is referred to as optical mixing.    
I’ve been painting with this style since 1979 (over 35 years), and developed a lot of specific techniques for figuring out how to produce a wide range of colors. I also learned through a lot of trial and error, what works and what doesn’t work well (and no, blue dots and yellow dots DON’T create a green field of grass. Trust me on this)!
Over the years, I figured out that my pointillist works can be sub-divided into three distinct types of paintings, Realistic Pointillism, Impressionistic Pointillism and Stylized Pointillism.
Realistic Pointillism, generally speaking is work that I produced working from photographs. Design wise, the work is pretty close to what you see in the photograph.
Impressionistic Pointillism is much looser, more quickly completed, somewhat expressionistic, and often done en plein air, or from life. Because it’s so loose in appearance, most of the time this work would just fall under Impressionism. It’s also the style I use to created studies and field work.
Stylized Pointillism. In appearance, this work is very curvy, geometric, streamlined and modernist looking.  This is the pointillist approach that I produced the most work with, and is the one that I would most likely referred to as my signature Pointillist painting style.
I have paintings available for sale at my ETSY shop and they can be viewed by clicking on this link HERE.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Ed McCarthy



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