When an artist paints a picture, it is a representation of something they have seen, felt or experienced. There are a few artists who do this using realism as their method. What is on the canvas is exactly what they have seen. An object, person or landscape is painted exactly as it appears in real life. This may not seem very difficult, but it is not easy. Painting something so real that it looks as if it could be taken out of a canvas requires exquisite attention to detail.
Imagine a flower of any kind and then paint it. The painting must look exactly like the flower as it appears in real life. Every shape and line must be exactly as it is in the real object. Shadows must match the background of the object, and they cannot be off in any part of the painting. Each petal of the flower must be the same proportions as the original flower. The leaves and stems cannot be vaguely painted. They must contain the same details as those being copied. That is the idea behind realism.
Paintings that are realistic are done so well that they almost appear as if they are living within the same space and time as the world around them. A flower in a realistic painting must look as if it will only last a few days before it wilts and dies. The real flower will wilt and die soon enough. Fortunately, the flower in the painting will last for many more years. This method allows the living world to be captured in a small time frame.
Realistic paintings are about preservation of an object, scene or person at a specific time and place. They are the work of an artist that wants to capture a moment of time. While this can be done easily with photography, the challenge of realism is in the recreation without mechanical aids. It is a way to expand art through the use of traditional methods.