What does it mean to have a “painterly” style? I have heard many definitions of the term “painterly,” but perhaps the best explanation I have yet come across is that a painterly approach incorporates visual and tactile qualities of the paint (or other medium) used in producing the artwork, such as evidence of brushwork, swirled or partially blended colors, or physical (as opposed to purely optical) texture.
As shown in “Red Hibiscus” (#120404 ), subject elements and spatial planes are usually differentiated primarily through changes in hue, value, and saturation (chroma) rather than by drawn lines—although line may be incorporated—and some or all edges may be indistinct or entirely lost.
This approach is in contrast with more precisely rendered images in which all evidence of brushwork and blending are hidden or minimized. Unlike the photorealistic approach, a painterly piece takes advantage of the unique qualities and expressiveness of the medium itself to help convey what the artist wants to say through the work.