A lot has already been written about folk art painting. When I think of this style of painting I'm also reminded of a primitive style of painting. I love the simplicity of this art form as one who often mimics this style of painting to jazz up old dressers and trunks.

I want to go back in time a bit to share with you a little folk art appreciation. In most "fine art" books today, there is very little if any reference to folk art. Maybe it's because the people who did this sort of painting or sculpting or drawing were all self-taught.

Maybe it was the naivety of the renderings that placed folk art on a lower rung in the art echelon. I don't know. But there is a large and growing appreciation around the world for this art form. Collectors pay big dollars for antiquated objects adorned with the simplest painting designs. Naïve style family or pet portraits with disproportionate heads and bodies are seen as charming and fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars!

I'm no expert in this field but apparently; uncovering old murals by New England's Rufus Porter (1792-1884) is enough to make a person swoon! So, if you're looking for more information about folk art there are plenty of great books out there by people who really know their historical facts. I'm not one of them. I just love to paint in some of these styles!

Here on this site we use the terms "tole painting", "decorative painting", "folk art painting" interchangeably.

In today's painting classes, folk-style painting usually means learning how to reproduce strokes and swirls and embellishments that are associated with certain nationalities. Examples include Bauernmalerei and Rosemaling.

Bauernmalerei Folk Art Painting

Bauernmalerei literally means "farmer painting" and comes from Germany. It's often referred to as Bavarian art where the art form is mostly concentrated… although Austria and Switzerland also added their own flare and influence to this way of painting.


Rosemaling simply means "decorative painting" and specifically uses the rose as its foundation design. But depending on the region or city each has its own recognizable look, interpretation, color schemes and flourish. There are at least 9 different rosemaling styles.

Tole Painting and Decorative Painting

As for tole painting and decorative painting, these two terms simply refer to the art of painting on stuff to make it look pretty. And we use all sorts of designs to accomplish this. We use anything from seascapes to landscapes to reproduction vintage signage. We paint in watercolor, oils and acrylics too! No matter what, we still often refer to it all as folk art painting.

This hand painted mother-of-pearl button is a perfect example of contemporary folk art. Painted by Cheryl Poulin for a button collector.

Let's leave Folk Art Painting and go to Decorative Painting.

Return to our Decorative Painting Home Page.

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