which kind of paintings did winslow homer make?
Early on in his career, in the Spring of 1861, he worked in oil paintings. The same year he was sent to work in Virginia, where he worked as the front, editor and design chief, for Harper’s Weekly. Some of the earliest paintings that he created, from the Civil War, date back to 1863, and are quite similar to the prints that he did, while working in this position with the magazine.
During this time period, Winslow Homer and the career path he was following, was one that seemed to deal with quite a bit of experimentation, as well as trying new forms of art to portray his classical pieces of work. During this period, he was living in New York City; most of the money he made (and the way he paid the bills) was working as a painter, and designing work for magazines and illustrations for these magazines.
This tragic littleness of man appears to an even more poignant degree in Homer’s Gulf Stream (1899) (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) a picture which he painted while on a visit to the South. A shipwrecked Negro lies stretched out in a sailless and oarless lifeboat, drifting aimlessly over the blue Caribbean waters. The craft is surrounded by a number of sharks who wait, with hungry mouths wide open. In the far distance a merchant ship passes along the horizon. Nobody on board has observed the exhausted sailor, who is too weak even to be aware of this last disappearing hope of rescue. There is but one end to this grim and ghastly story – the sharks.
One of America’s most famous painters, Homer had a unique talent for portraying nature in a way that convincingly reflected the American pioneering spirit. Self-taught in both watercolour and oil painting, and a master of book illustration although he is best known for his seascape art, typically infused with strong narrative content. He also completed many fine landscapes and genre-paintings.
Homer’s career as an illustrator lasted nearly twenty years. He contributed illustrations of Boston life and rural New England life to magazines such as Ballou’s Pictorial and Harper’s Weekly  at a time when the market for illustrations was growing rapidly and fads and fashions were changing quickly. His early works, mostly commercial wood engravings of urban and country social scenes, are characterized by clean outlines, simplified forms, dramatic contrast of light and dark, and lively figure groupings—qualities that remained important throughout his career.  His quick success was mostly due to this strong understanding of graphic design and also to the adaptability of his designs to wood engraving.
After Homer’s high school graduation, his father saw a newspaper advertisement and arranged for an apprenticeship. Homer’s apprenticeship at the age of 19 to J. H. Bufford, a Boston commercial lithographer, was a formative but “treadmill experience”.  He worked repetitively on sheet music covers and other commercial work for two years. By 1857, his freelance career was underway after he turned down an offer to join the staff of Harper’s Weekly. “From the time I took my nose off that lithographic stone,” Homer later stated, “I have had no master, and never shall have any.” 
Homer matured slowly as an artist, but his development was constant. With the passage of years his oil paintings became larger, his figures more solitary, his concern for naturalistic detail greater. He painted many women, increasingly as single figures, intimate, withdrawn, feminine. From the late 1870s Homer began to devote his summers exclusively to direct painting from nature in watercolour. Greater concern for atmospheric effects and reflected light added complexity to the images but at the same time enabled him to achieve greater pictorial unity.
Although Homer’s studio was in New York City, the city was rarely his theme. During the warm months he traveled to Pennsylvania, the Hudson River valley, and New England, camping, hunting, fishing, and sketching. In 1866 he went to France for about a year. Although influenced by French naturalism, Japanese prints, and contemporary fashion illustration, his work after his return to America did not change markedly, except that his palette was generally somewhat brighter. Such early pictures as Long Branch, New Jersey (1869) and Snap the Whip (1872) depict happy scenes, the former of fashionable ladies promenading along the seashore and the latter of children frolicking in a meadow after school. In a few early pictures a disquieting note of human isolation is struck, premonitory of Homer’s later, more-powerful work.
“Never put more than two waves in a picture; it’s fussy.”
In the beautiful seascape painting below, notice the subtle color variation in the sky; there are all kinds of dull greens, yellows, reds and grays. In fact, there is hardly any blue. Keep this in mind next time you are painting a moody seascape. Don’t fall into the “sky is always blue” trap.