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How to Paint in the Romanticism Style

Paint in the Romanticism Style

Things You'll Need:

  • Canvas
  • Oil paints

Romanticism is as much a philosophy as an art form. It is a backing off from logical explanations and an embracing of the unknown. To paint in the romanticism style is to explore the unexplained with paint and canvas.

Choose a Romantic Subject for Your Painting

Choose a moment in history that you found particularly moving. These moments should be scenes of great sorrow, great happiness or great courage. They should include people, but the people depicted do not need to be famous.

Pick a scene from literature. Romantic painters like Eugene Delacroix often depicted scenes from their favorite pieces of romantic literature. Good examples of romantic writers are Lord Byron, Shelley, Keats, Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Use nature as a theme. Consider the sublime quality of untamed nature. Paint about how mankind does not and can never understand everything about nature and the wild world.

Come up with a scene of great emotion or mystery on your own. Romantic subjects usually include a lot of movement and the scenes are always intense collections of people engaged in some kind of battle, literally or figuratively.

Focus on the unexplained. Whatever kind of scene you choose, depict a moment that cannot be described in words. Portray an instant of intense emotion. Include in the scene something unfathomable.

Paint in the Romanticism Style

Paint at the same level of expertise as a classically trained painter. You will need to stress realism as you portray the fantastic. Otherwise, you will be painting an expressionist piece instead.

Include a lot of figures and objects in the painting and draw each to great detail. Romantic paintings are very busy pictures. The over-saturation of action creates a sense of chaos that defines the style.

Portray emotion as an aesthetic quality in your painting. Have each person's face in the picture show strong feeling. Have nature in your painting have a life of its own. Use bright colors, even to an unrealistic level, to emphasize the intensity.

Stress the unknown in the painting. Have some faces turned away. Make parts of the scene dark or foggy so that the viewer does not know what is there.


The constant proficiency of French painters has been attributed to the practice of art institutes in France to force students to copy the works of the old masters. Study the masterpieces of the French romantic period and see if the same trick works for you.

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