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ART GLOSSARY

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Abstract
Artwork where objects have been changed or modified so they no longer look realistic. An abstract work of art does, however, use a recognizable object or thing as its reference or origin.

Achromatic
Black, white and greys. Artwork that is executed without color.
 
Acrylic
Thicker and stronger than tempera or watercolor paint, Acrylic is a water-based "plastic" paint. Almost like oils but quicker to dry and you can paint on any unprimed surface and it will not crack over time.

Aesthetics
The study or the theory of the beautiful in art.
 
Albumen Print
This printing process is used in photography printing processes. Egg whites are used in the emulsion.

Alternating Rythm
Repeating motifs but changing the position, content or spaces between them.
 
Alternative Process
This photography term covers approximately 35 different processes for the final unconventional effect.

Allegory
The symbolic representation of truths about human traits and existence.

Analogous
Colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel and are related by a single hue; red, red-orange, orange and red-violet.

Analyze
In visual art, to examine the features of an artwork as they relate to the elements of art and principles of design.
 
Armature
A structure used beneath something else for support. For example, a sculptor might create a clay sculpture with a wood or wire armature beneath it as support. Think about the frame of a house being constructed before all of the brick or siding is built on top.

Art
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power

Art criticism
The process and result of critical thinking about art; usually involves the description, analysis and interpretation of art, as well as some kind of judgement or determination of the quality of the piece.

Artists Proof
A small group of outstanding prints for the artists use which have been set aside from the edition prints.

Assemblage
Sculpture consisting of different objects and materials arranged in a unified 3-D composition.

Asymmetrical Balance
A way of organizing the parts of a design so that one side differs from the other without destroying the overall balance and harmony; also called Informal balance

 


Basic color principles
All color theory is based on the principle that 'color is light'.
An object that we see as red contains pigmentation which absorbs all of the colored rays of white light except the red color, which it reflects. White pigment absorbs none of the colored rays, and black absorbs all of the colors of the spectrum.

Background
The shapes that appear behind the foreground
 
Balance
An art and design principle concerned with the arrangement of one or more elements in a work of art so that they appear symmetrical (even) or asymmetrical (uneven) in design and proportion.

Baroque
Art that was ornately decorated, dynamic and was filled with emotion. The conflict between the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation set the stage in the Baroque period (1580-1700 CE) for competing types of art. In general, the countries of northern Europe rejected religious imagery as a result of Protestant Reformation. ( Protestants believed that religious paintings violated the 2nd Commandment against graven a {carved image used as an idol} images.) Thus , much Baroque art from those countries includes landscapes, portraits and still-life paintings. In other parts of Catholic Europe, artists of the Baroque period painted dramatic images, including religious themes, characterized by energy, tension and sharp contrasts of light and dark intensity.
 
Batik
Parrafin or beeswax is used to resist paint or dye on fabric or paper. Designs and patterns are produced on the unwaxed areas.
 
Bisque
When clay has its first firing in a kiln, it is called bisque ware. At this point, the clay has changed composition and can no longer have water added to it and turned back into a useable material.
 
Black
The complete absence of light. Because of impurities, you can not create black with pigments. In most black pigments, the is a slight blue trace. A black surface absorbs all light.

Blot
When you take and absorbent material to soak up or dry excess paint or water.
 
Brayer
In printmaking, a Brayer is a roller which is used to apply ink to printing surfaces.
 
Brushes
Brush styles are designated by a letter following a series number. Some basic brushes to meet your needs:
F- Flats, square edge, long bristle
B- Brights, flat, square-edged, long sable
R - Rounds, pointed bristle
L- Longs, flat, square-edge, long sable
Filberts- Flat, oval edge, long fibre

Byzantine
This art was very religious and mostly created for the Eastern Orthodox Church.

 


Canvas
Fabrics ( linen or cotton) that are prepared for painting. Canvas is available in panels, stretched on frames, or obtained by the yard.

Caricature
An exaggeration or distortion of the subject which makes it comical, satirical or grotesque.

Carving
Shaping wood, stone, or marble by scraping, cutting and chipping.

Cast
A form of reproducing (making coppies of) something. A mold.

Casting
The process by which a sculpture may be reproduced from a mold into a more durable material such as metal.
 
Ceramics
Used to describe the shaping, finishing and firing of clay.

Chiaroscuro
Using the contrast and transitioning of light and dark areas to create the illusion of three-dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface.
 
Charcoal
In stick form,  gives you a very strong, dark line. A disadvantage to these crayons is that they break easily and tend to smudge. Charcoal can be found is stick form as well.
 
Chop
An impression made by the artist, or by the printer seal.
 
Chroma
This is the intensity, or strength, or purity of a color. Squeezing paint directly from the tube to the palette is 'full chroma'.
 
Cibachrome
A process where a photographic print can be made directly from a color transparency.

Classicism
Imitating, referencing, or having the general characteristics of the art and culture of ancient Rome and Greece. Classical characteristics include idealized beauty, restraint, harmony and balance.

Cloisonne
An object having an enamel coating.
 
Coil method in clay
As one of the oldest methods used in the formation of pottery, long strands of clay are laid on top of one another, joined by blending the coils together.
 
Collage
Collage is from the French meaning "paste up". The combination of pieces of cloth, magazines and other found objects to create artwork.
 
Collograph
This name is derived from the word 'collage'. It is an image built up with glue and other materials.
 
Colour
When light is reflected off an object, color is what the eye sees. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors are orange, purple and green. Colour has three properties: hue, value and intensity.

Colour Theory
The study of pigmented colour ( subtractive colour theory) as opposed to light ( additive colour theory).

Colour Value
The colour value is the position in reference to the amount of white and black.

Colour Wheel
A tool for organizing colour that shows the visible light spectrum organized in a circular format; a tool that helps to chart the relationships between colours (hues). On a colour wheel, the primary colours of magenta red, yellow and cyan (turquoise) blue are the fundamental hues from which a great number of colours can be mixed. For instance, mixing two of the primary colours results in the secondary colours of green, purple, and orange. Similarly, the mixture of a primary colour and a secondary colour can result in the creation of a tertiary colour such as yellow-orange or blue-green. These relationships, as well as the concepts of warm/cool colours and analogous colours are easily illustrated on a colour wheel chart.
 
Complementary Colours
Complementary colours are those which appear opposite to one another on a color wheel. The complimentary colours are red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.

Compose
To create and arrange and arrange the elements of art in an artwork.
 
Composition
The arrangement of lines, colours and form.

Computer design
Any visual expression (original art, functional graphics, scientific illustrations) created with a computer.
 
Conte
The modern pencil lead invented by Nicolas Conte. It is a black, red or brown chalk.
 
Contour Drawing
Contour drawing shows the outline of the subject, and not the volume or mass of an object. Blind contour drawings are those created by looking only at the subject, and not the paper while drawing.
 
Contrast
Contrast is created by using opposites near or beside one another, such as a light object next to a dark object or a rough texture next to a smooth texture.
 
Crackle glaze
Tiny cracks in the glaze to decorate. Often rubbed in with coloring material.

Crayons
These can be made from wax, oil or plastic. Some crayons can be blended and others can be erased.
 
Crazing
Crazing is the fine cracks that occur on the glaze.

Cubist
Art that shows more than one view at a time. A Cubist painting may show the fron of a face and the side of the face at the same time.

 


Dada
Art that was a reaction to the rationalization, rules and conventions of mainstream art.

Decoupage
A method of creating pictures by cutting and pasting pieces of painted paper.

Delineate
To draw or trace the outline of a sketch out.

Depth
How deep or three-dimentional an artwork looks. The illusion of space can be created using colour, line and shape. A two-dimensional (2-D) work of art has two dimensions of length and width; a three-dimensional (3-D) work of art has the three dimensions of length, width and depth.

Design
To create or plan in an artistic manner an idea in a decorative pattern.

Dimension
A measure of spatial extent, especially width, height or length.

Display
To present or hold up to view so as to exhibit artwork.

Distemper
This painting technique involves the use of powdered colors that are mixed with glue size, or such things as egg yolk.
 
Dominance
Dominance is an object or color that stands out in relation to the rest of the painting.
 
Dry Brushing
Technique used in paintings using more pigment then water.

Dye
A substance used to colour materials
 
Dye Transfer
This is one of the most permanent color processes. This method gives maximum control of color, balance and contrast for color prints or transparencies.

 


Earthenware
This type of clay needs to be glazed, it is porous and not waterproof. Earthenware is a low-fire clay.
 
Easel
An easel is used to support your canvas while painting. Can be a collapsible tripod, studio types and as a combination sketch box unit. Some sketch boxes contain lids that serve as easels.
 
Edition
A group of identical prints that can be numbered and signed by the artist.
Open Edition: An unlimited number of prints
Limited Edition: Prints that have a known number of impressions, and are usually signed and numbered by the artist.
 
Egg Tempra
A water-base paint made with an egg yoke binder.
 
Elements of Art
Elements of art are the basic visual symbols found in the work such as lines, shape, form, space, point, light, motion, direction, scale, dimension, texture and color.

Embroidery
Decorating fabric with stitches.

Emphasis
The principle of design that is concerned with dominance; the development of a main idea or center of interest (focal point)

Enamel
A protective or decorative coating baked on metal, glass or ceramic ware that dries to a hard glossy finish.
 
Encaustic
This ancient art uses colored wax for painting. This technique involves painting images onto walls with pigments that are blended with wax. When used with heat, such as an iron, the permanent color is burned into the wall, for good.

Engraving
You draw with a steel needle on a metal plate.

Etch
To cut into the surface by using chemicals to create a design.

Expressionism
The emotions of the artist communicated through the emphasis and distortion, which can be found in works of art of any period.

 



Favauvist
Often used very bright colours and short blunt brushstrokes. Very emotional, raw and shocking way to express emotion rather than to represent the real world.

Fine Art
Works made to be enjoyed, not functional, and judged by the theories of art.

Firing

To harden clay, you have to heat it at high temperatures which fuses the clay particles.
 
Fixative Spray
For fixing charcoal drawing on canvas before painting. Fixative spray is available in spray cans, or for use with mouth atomizer.

Focal Point (center of interest)
The part of an artwork that you look at first.

Folk Art
Generally refers to artworks created by individuals who have little or no formal academic training in fine art.

Foreground
The first shapes that appear in front of a picture.
 
Form
An element of art, such as you would see in a sculpture that has three dimensions.

Formalist
A philosophical approach that is primarily concerned with the effective organization of the elements and principles of design.

Found objects
Common or unusual objects that may be used to create a work of art; specifically refers to scrap, discarded materials that have been "found" and used in artworks.

Freehand
Drawn by hand without the aid of tracing or drafting devices.
 
Fresco
Pigment is applied directly to damp plaster making this wall painting medium one of the most permanent form of wall decoration.

Functional Art
Functional objects such as dishes and clothes that are of a high artistic quality and/or craftsmanship; art with a utilitarian purpose.

 



Gallery
A place where artists can exhibit their works of art and sell them

Gamut or Colour Gamut
The range of colours that can be mixed by the paints on an Artists Pallette. Also defined as the range or colours that can be displayed on a TV, Computer Monitor or a Printer. The Human eye is capable of seeing colors far beyond any of these limited Gamuts.
An Ideal Artists gamut can be produced by 3 colours with Cadmium Yellow Light, Quinacridone Magenta and Phthalocyanine Blue GS.

Genre
An art work that depicts scenes or events from everyday life.

Geometric
Shapes such as circles, cylinders, spheres, ovals, triangles, cones, pyramids, cubes, squares and rectangular forms

Gesso
A plaster used for a base for painting that is absorbent and brittle
 
Gesture Drawing
This quick drawing captures the energy and movement of the subject. It does not necessarily have to be realistic.
 
Glaze
Color that is thinned to a transparent state and applied over previously painted areas to modify the original color. (see also Underpainting)

Glossy
Having a smooth, shiny, lustous finish.

Gradation
Principle of design that refers to the use of a series of gradual/transitional changes in the use of the elements of art with a given work of art; for example, a transition from lighter to darker colours or a gradation of large shapes to smaller ones.

Graphic Art
The art of drawing and printmaking.

Graphite
A soft, steel-gray to black, allotrope of carbon with a metallic luster and greasy feel, used in lead pencils, lubricants, paints and coatings.
 
Greenware
When clay is hard, but not yet fired it is referred to as greenware. The clay can be made wet and turned back into a useable material.
 
Gold Leaf
Used for gilding, gold or silver (for silver leafing) is beaten to extremely thin sheets.
 
Gouache
This is watercolour paint that chalk was added to make it opaque. Gouache opaque watercolors and the technique of painting with such colors using white to make tints.

 


Highlight
Small areas on a painting or drawing on which reflected light is the brightest.

Horizon Line
The line where the earth meets the sky.
 
Hue
Hue is another word for color. The attribute which describes colors by name, i.e. red, blue, yellow etc.

 


Ilfochrome Classic (Cibachrome) Print
Ilfochrome Classic (Cibachrome) is indisputably the best fine art color print process available today. Its archival qualities make it suitable for gallery and museum exhibits. Image sharpness and color fidelity are unsurpassed.
Constructed on a polyester base that is durable, chemically inert and will not yellow with age.
Only pure Azo organic image forming dyes are used.
These dyes yield an image with richer color saturation and more accurate hue rendition.
This product has unexcelled archival stability, offering extremely high fade resistance and life expectancy.

Illustration
The artistic interpretation of an idea, scene or writing, used to better describe text in books, magazines and posters.
 
Impasto
A manner of painting where the paint is laid on thickly so texture stands out in relief.

Implied Lines
Lines you cannot see
 
Impressionism
Impressionism is referred to as the most important art movement of the 19th century. The term impressionism came from a painting by Claude Monet. His painting was titled Impression Sunrise. Impressionism is about capturing fast fleeting moments with color, light, and surface.

India Ink
A black pigment that is lightfast and water-resistant.

Ink
A pigmented liquid or paste used especially for writing or printing.
 
Intensity
This term is used to describe the brightness, or the dullness of a color.
 
Intermediate colors
Obtained by mixing adjoining Primary and Secondary colors.

Interpret
To respond to art work by identifying the feelings, moods and ideas communicated by the work of art. Interpretation also calls for the investigation of the influennce of time and place upon the artist who created the work of art.

Irregular Shape
Not geometric as most shapes in nature.

Itaglio
This process uses ink on plates and when pressed on wet paper the ink releases itself from the grooves and makes a print.

 


Kaolin
A fine clay used in ceramics and refractories and as a filter or coating for paper and textiles.

Kiln
Kilns can be electric, of natural gas, wood, coal, fuel oil or propane. The kiln is the furnace used to fire ceramics or metal. 

Kinetic
Any artwork with parts that move.

 


Lacquer
A glossy, resinous material used as a surface coating.

Landscape
Outdoor scenes like city, sea, sky or land.

Limited Edition
The specific amount and artist will print of their work.

Line
A line is an identifiable path of a point moving in space. It can vary in width, direction and length.

Linear Perspective
The way the eye perceives objects. Closer objects appear larger and they get smaller with distance.

Linseed Oil
Made from a seed of the Flax plant. Used as a medium. The tradional "binder" for oil colors.
 
Horizontal lines run parallel such as ===
 
Vertical lines run up and down such as |||||
 
Diagonal lines are slanting lines such as \\\\\
 
Angled lines are a combination of diagonal lines such as /\/\/\/\/ ><<>
 
Curved lines are curly and express movement such as ~~~~~
 
 Lithograph
This is a printing process. A small stone, or metal plate is used. The printer, usually with the artists supervision covers the plate with a sheet of paper which are then run through the printer. 

 


Mache (papier)
Strong but light moulding paper pulped with glue and other substances, used most often in the construction of small and colourful sculptural creations.

Mask
An opaque border or pattern place between a source and a surface to prevent exposure on certain areas. Used in stancils, airbrushing and watercolours.

Mastic
This resin is used in varnish.

Mat
A substance used to protect your artwork and make it more attractive when framing it.

Matte
A dull often rough finish.

Maul stick
This is a stick to aid the artist in painting when he cant work on an area that is wet with his brush due to lackof support.

Media
The material used to make the artwork such as oils, watercolour, acrylics and inks to name a few.

Medium
The art material that is used in a work of art such as clay, paint or pencil. Describing more then one art medium is referred to as media. Any substance added to color to facilitate application or to achieve a desired effect.

Metamerism
This refers to the situation where two colour samples appear to match under one condition but not under another.

Mimetic
Artwork whose purpose is to "mimic"  or imitate nature; often refers to work that is highly realistic.

Mixed Media
A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition.
 
Mobile
Three dimensional shapes which are suspended and free moving.

Model
A person who poses for an artwork.
 
Modeling Material
Material that is formed into a shape. Most modeling materials harden when the moisture in them evaporates, such as clay. Some do not harden, such as plastecine and can be used again.

Modern Art/ Modernism
Refers to the overall art movement from the late 1800s to the early 1970s in which artists were primarily interested in how they presented their artistic ideas and issues rather than reproducing the world as it appears visually. The focus on the cultivation of individual style and artistic process led many modern artists toward an abstracted use of the elements of art. The new creative possibilities encouraged a great diversity of activity and artists experimented with new visual formats and ideas. Reflecting this artistic diversity, Modernism can be considered as a larger heading under which a number of different art movements such as Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism all flourished in succession.

Mood
The feeling created by an artwork.

Monochromatic
Variation of one hue.
 
Monoprint
A print that has the same underlying common image, but different design, color or texture.
 
Monotype
A one of a kind print made by painting on smooth metal, creating a texture that is not possible to paint directly on paper.

Motif
A unit repeated to create visual rhythm.

Movement
The design principle that uses some of the elements of art to produce the look of action  or to cause the viwers eye to sweep over the art work in a certain manner.

Mural
A very large image, such as a painting or an enlarged photograph, applied directly to a wall or ceiling.

 



Narrative artwork
A work of art whose primary purpose is to tell a story.

Naturalistic
Art work that looks like the subject is trying to represent.

Negative Space
The areas of space that are in and around the subject matter. The negative spaces define the subject matter.

Neoclassicism
"New" classicism movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Neoclassicism was inspired by the classical style of ancient Greece and Rome and the classical ideals of harmony, idealized realism, clarity and reason are all generally found in ex