Art Terminology | Glossary


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.

Black, white and greys. Artwork that is executed without color.

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.

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.

The symbolic representation of truths about human traits and existence.

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.

In visual art, to examine the features of an artwork as they relate to the elements of art and principles of design.

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.

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.

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.

The shapes that appear behind the foreground

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.

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.

Parrafin or beeswax is used to resist paint or dye on fabric or paper. Designs and patterns are produced on the unwaxed areas.

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.

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.

When you take and absorbent material to soak up or dry excess paint or water.

In printmaking, a Brayer is a roller which is used to apply ink to printing surfaces.

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

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

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

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

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

A form of reproducing (making copies of) something. A mold.

The process by which a sculpture may be reproduced from a mold into a more durable material such as metal.

Used to describe the shaping, finishing and firing of clay.

Using the contrast and transitioning of light and dark areas to create the illusion of three-dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface.

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.

An impression made by the artist, or by the printer seal.

This is the intensity, or strength, or purity of a color. Squeezing paint directly from the tube to the palette is ‘full chroma’.

A process where a photographic print can be made directly from a color transparency.

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.

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 is from the French meaning “paste up”. The combination of pieces of cloth, magazines and other found objects to create artwork.

This name is derived from the word ‘collage’. It is an image built up with glue and other materials.

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.

To create and arrange and arrange the elements of art in an artwork.

The arrangement of lines, colours and form.

Computer design
Any visual expression (original art, functional graphics, scientific illustrations) created with a computer.

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 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.

These can be made from wax, oil or plastic. Some crayons can be blended and others can be erased.

Crazing is the fine cracks that occur on the glaze.

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.

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

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

To draw or trace the outline of a sketch out.

How deep or three-dimensional 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.

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

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

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

This painting technique involves the use of powdered colors that are mixed with glue size, or such things as egg yolk.

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.

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.

This type of clay needs to be glazed, it is porous and not waterproof. Earthenware is a low-fire clay.

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.

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.

Decorating fabric with stitches.

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

A protective or decorative coating baked on metal, glass or ceramic ware that dries to a hard glossy finish.

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.

You draw with a steel needle on a metal plate.

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

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

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.

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.

The first shapes that appear in front of a picture.

An element of art, such as you would see in a sculpture that has three dimensions.

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.

Drawn by hand without the aid of tracing or drafting devices.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Color that is thinned to a transparent state and applied over previously painted areas to modify the original color. (see also Underpainting)

Having a smooth, shiny, lustous finish.

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.

A soft, steel-gray to black, allotrope of carbon with a metallic luster and greasy feel, used in lead pencils, lubricants, paints and coatings.

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.

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.

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 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.

The artistic interpretation of an idea, scene or writing, used to better describe text in books, magazines and posters.

A manner of painting where the paint is laid on thickly so texture stands out in relief.

Implied Lines
Lines you cannot see

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.

A pigmented liquid or paste used especially for writing or printing.

This term is used to describe the brightness, or the dullness of a color.

Intermediate colors
Obtained by mixing adjoining Primary and Secondary colors.

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 influence of time and place upon the artist who created the work of art.

Irregular Shape
Not geometric as most shapes in nature.

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

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

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

Any artwork with parts that move.

A glossy, resinous material used as a surface coating.

Outdoor scenes like city, sea, sky or land.

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

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 traditional “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 ~

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 molding paper pulped with glue and other substances, used most often in the construction of small and colourful sculptural creations.

In art, a public declaration or exposition in print of the theories and directions of a movement. The manifestos issued by various individual artists or groups of artists, in the first half of the twentieth century served to reveal their motivations and raisons dâetre and stimulated support for or reactions against them.

A term sometimes applied to art of late 16th early 17th century Europe, characterized by a dramatic use of space and light and a tendency toward elongated figures.

In sculpture, a small model in wax or clay, made as a preliminary sketch, presented to the client for approval of the proposed work, or for entry in a competition. The Italian equivalent of the term is bozzetto, meaning small sketch.

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

Three-dimensional form, often implying bulk, density and weight.

This resin is used in varnish.

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

Flat, non-glossy; having a dull surface appearance.

Maul stick
This is a stick to aid the artist in painting when he can’t work on an area that is wet with his brush due to lack of support.

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

Medieval Art
The art of the Middle Ages ca. 500 A.D. through the 14th century. The art produced immediately prior to the Renaissance

1. The material used to create a work of art. 2. The binder for a paint, such as oil. 3. An expressive art form, such as painting, drawing, or sculpture.

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

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

A style of painting and sculpture in the mid 20th century in which the art elements are rendered with a minimum of lines, shapes, and sometimes color. The works may look and feel sparse, spare, restricted or empty.

Mixed Media
Descriptive of art that employs more than one medium – e.g., a work that combines paint, natural materials (wood, pebbles, bones), and man made items (glass, plastic, metals) into a single image or piece of art.

Three dimensional shapes which are suspended and free moving.

Mobile / Stabile
Terms coined to describe work created by Alexander Calder. The mobile is a hanging, movable sculpture and the stabile rests on the ground but also may have moving parts.

A person who poses for an artwork.

1. In sculpture, shaping a form in some plastic material, such as clay, wax, or plaster. 2. In drawing, painting, or printmaking, the illusion of three-dimensionality on a flat surface created by simulating effects of light and shadow.

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.

The feeling created by an artwork.

Having only one color. Descriptive of work in which one hue – perhaps with variations of value and intensity – predominates.

A print that has the same underlying common image, but different design, color or texture.

A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet or slab of glass and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper held firmly on the glass by rubbing the back of the paper with a smooth implement, such as a large hardwood spoon. The painting may also be done on a polished plate, in which case it may be either printed by hand or transferred to the paper by running the plate and paper through an etching press.

A picture composed of other existing illustrations, pictures, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. that are arranged so they combine to create a new or original image. A collage.

An art form in which small pieces of tile, glass, or stone are fitted together and embedded into a background to create a pattern or image.

A unit repeated to create visual rhythm.

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.

Any large-scale wall decoration done in painting, fresco, mosaic, or other medium.

A building, place or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical or artistic value. The word Museum is derived from the Latin muses, meaning “a source of inspiration,” or “to be absorbed in one’s thoughts.”

Narrative Painting
A painting where a story line serves as a dominant feature.

Descriptive of an artwork that closely resembles forms in the natural world. Synonymous with representational.

Negative Space
The space in a painting around the objects depicted.

“New” classicism – a style in 19th century Western art that referred back to the classical styles of Greece and Rome. Neoclassical paintings have sharp outlines, reserved emotions, deliberate (often mathematical) composition, and cool colors.

“New” expressionism – a term originally applied to works done primarily by German and Italian, who came to maturity in the post-WWII era; and later expanded (in the 1980’s) to include certain American artists. Neo- Expressionist works depict intense emotions and symbolism, sometimes using unconventional media and intense colors with turbulent compositions and subject matter.

Having no hue – black, white, or gray; sometimes a tannish color achieved by mixing two complementary colours.

Completely non-representational; pure design; fully abstract.

Op Art
Short for Optical Art, a style popular in the 1960s that was based on optical principles and optical illusion. Op Art deals in complex color interactions, to the point where colors and lines seem to vibrate before the eyes.

Optical Color Mixture
The tendency of the eyes to blend patches of individual colors placed near one another so as to perceive a different, combined color. Also, any art style that exploits this tendency, especially the pointillism of Georges Seurat.

An image that shows a relationship to nature as opposed to man-made images. Any shape that resembles a naturally occurring form or that suggests a natural growing or expanding process.

Organic Art
An art form that emphasizes an object alive in its own right and not contrived.

Overlap Effect
Spatial relationships are achieved by placing one object in front of another. The object closest to the viewer blocks out the view of any part of any other object located behind it (or, where the two objects overlap, the one in back is obscured).

Descriptive of paintings in which forms are defined principally by color areas, not by lines or edges. Where the artist’s brushstrokes are noticeable. Any image that looks as though it may have been created with the style or techniques used by a painter.

A colored crayon that consists of pigment mixed with just enough of a aqueous binder to hold it together; a work of art produced by pastel crayons; the technique itself. Pastels vary according to the volume of chalk contained…the deepest in tone are pure pigment. Pastel is the simplest and purest method of painting, since pure color is used without a fluid medium and the crayons are applied directly to the pastel paper.

A film or an incrustation, often green, that forms on copper and bronze after a certain period of weathering and as a result of the oxidation of the copper. Different chemical treatments will also induce myriad colored patinas on new Bronze works. Bronzes may additionally be painted with acrylic and lacquer.

A condition of old paintings where lead-containing pigments have become more transparent over time, revealing earlier layers.

Performance Art
Art in which there is no concrete object, but rather a series of events performed by the artist in front of an audience, possibly including music, sight gags, recitation, audio-visual presentations, or other elements.

The representation of three-dimensional objects on a flat surface so as to produce the same impression of distance and relative size as that received by the human eye. In one-point linear perspective, developed during the fifteenth century, all parallel lines in a given visual field converge at a single vanishing point on the horizon. In aerial or atmospheric perspective, the relative distance of objects is indicated by gradations of tone and color and by variations in the clarity of outlines.

Photo Realism
A painting and drawing style of the mid 20th century in which people, objects, and scenes are depicted with such naturalism that the paintings resemble photographs – an almost exact visual duplication of the subject.

Pictorial Space
The illusory space in a painting or other work of two-dimensional art that seems to recede backward into depth from the picture plane, giving the illusion of distance.

Picture Plane
An imaginary flat surface that is assumed to be identical to the surface of a painting. Forms in a painting meant to be perceived in deep three-dimensional space are said to be “behind” the picture plane. The picture plane is commonly associated with the foreground of a painting.

A coloring substance made from plants, earth, or minerals and may include other synthetic elements. When mixed with binders it becomes paint, ink or crayon, etc.

A branch of French Impressionism in which the principle of optical mixture or broken color was carried to the extreme of applying color in tiny dots or small, isolated strokes. Forms are visible in a pointillist painting only from a distance, when the viewer’s eye blends the colors to create visual masses and outlines. The inventor and chief exponent of pointillism was George Seurat (1859-1891); the other leading figure was Paul Signac (1863-1935).

Having many colors, as opposed to monochromatic which means only one hue or color.

Pop Art
A style derived from commercial art forms and characterized by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterized in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.

A ceramic ware fired to the highest temperature ranges and often used for dinnerware, vases, and smaller sculpture.

Positive Space
The space in a painting occupied by the object depicted (not the spaces in-between objects).

Post Impressionism
A term applied to the work of several artists – French or living in France – from about 1885 to 1900. Although they all painted in highly personal styles, the Post-Impressionists were united in rejecting the relative absence of form characteristic of Impressionism and stressed more formal qualities and the significance of subject matter.

Prehistoric Art
Art forms predating recorded history, such as Old, Middle, and New Stone Ages.

Art created in the America’s by native people that pre-dates the discovery of the new world.

Primary Colors
Any hue that, in theory, cannot be created by a mixture of any other hues. Varying combinations of the primary hues can be used to create all the other hues of the spectrum. In pigment the primaries are red, yellow, and blue.

An image created from a master wood block, stone, plate, or screen, usually on paper. Prints are referred to as multiples, because as a rule many identical or similar impressions are made from the same printing surface, the number of impressions being called an edition. When an edition is limited to a specified number of prints, it is a limited edition. A print is considered an original work of art and today is customarily signed and numbered by the artist.

Primitive Art

1. Paintings and drawings of and by peoples and races outside the influence of accepted Western styles.

2. Religious portrayals predating scientific studies of perspective and anatomy.

3. Intuitive artists with a “naive” style often due to little, if any, training (or works intentionally made to look  this way).

Size relationships between parts of a whole, or between two or more objects perceived as a unit.

Any art in which the goal is to portray forms in the natural world in a highly representational manner. Specifically, an art style of the mid 19th century, which fostered the idea that everyday people and events are worthy subjects for important art.

Relative Apparent Size
Objects appear smaller as their distance from the viewer increases.

Relative Position
We view nature from our own eye level. Objects in the foreground appear lower and distant objects appear higher relative to the imaginary line created by our level of sight.

1. Sculpture in which figures or other images are attached to a flat background but project out from it to some degree (bas-relief, haut-relief). 2. A printmaking technique in which portions of a block meant to be printed are raised above the surface.

Literally, “rebirth”. The period in Europe from the 14th to the 16th century, characterized by a renewed interest in Classical art, architecture, literature, and philosophy. The Renaissance began in Italy and gradually spread to the rest of Europe. In art, it is most closely associated with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

Works of art that closely resemble forms in the natural world. Synonymous with naturalistic.

A style of art popular in Europe in the first three quarters of the 18th century, Rococo architecture and furnishings emphasized ornate but small-scale decoration, curvilinear forms, and pastel colors. Rococo painting has a playful, light-hearted romantic quality and often pictures the aristocracy at leisure.

A style of architecture and art dominant in Europe from the 9th to the 12th century. Romanesque architecture, based on ancient Roman precedents, emphasizes the round arch and barrel vault.

A movement in Western art of the 19th century generally assumed to be in opposition to Neoclassicism. Romantic works are marked by intense colors, turbulent emotions, complex composition, soft outlines, and sometimes heroic subject matter.

1. Fashionable gathering of artists, writers, and intellectuals held in a private home.

2. In France, a state-sponsored exhibition of art, held in Paris, controlled by the Academy of Fine Arts.

Size in relation to some “normal” or constant size. Compare with proportion.

A three-dimensional form modeled, carved, or assembled.

Secondary Colors
A hue created by combining two primary colours, as yellow and blue mixed together yield green. In pigment the secondary colors are orange, green, and violet.

Serigraphy is a color stencil printing process in which a special paint is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Areas that do not print are blocked with photo sensitive emulsion that has been exposed with high intensity arc lights. A squeegee is pulled from back to front, producing a direct transfer of the image from screen to paper. A separate stencil is required for each color and one hundred colors or more may be necessary to achieve the desired effect. A serigraph, also referred to as a screen print, differs from other graphics in that its color is made up of paint films rather than printing ink stains. This technique is extremely versatile, and can create effects similar to oil color and transparent washes, as well as gouache and pastel.

From the Italian work for “smoke,” a technique of painting in thin glazes to achieve a hazy, cloudy atmosphere, often to represent objects or landscape meant to be perceived as distant from the picture plane.

A two-dimensional area having identifiable boundaries, created by lines, color, or value changes, or some combination of these; broadly, form.

Simultaneous Contrast
The tendency of complementary colors to seem brighter and more intense when placed side by side.

The outer shape of an object. An outline, often filled in with color.

A preliminary drawing of a composition.

In painting, space may be defined as the distances between shapes on a flat surface and the illusion of three-dimensions on a two-dimensional surface. Also refers to a physical site where art is displayed for viewing.

Still Life
A painting or other two-dimensional work in which the subject matter is an arrangement of objects – fruit, flowers, tableware, pottery, and so forth – brought together for their pleasing contrasts of shape, color, and texture, Also the arrangement of the objects itself.

A pattern of closely spaced dots or small marks used to create a sense of three-dimensionally on a flat surface, especially in drawing and printmaking. See also hatching, cross-hatching.

A detailed drawing or painting made of one or more parts of a final composition, but not the whole work.

A characteristic, or a number of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or coherent. In art, the sum of such characteristics associated with a particular artist, group, or culture, or with an artist’s work at a specific time.

Descriptive of works based on forms in the natural world, but simplified or distorted for design purposes. See also abstract.

The surface on which a work of two-dimensional art is made i.e.: canvas, paper, cardboard, or wood.

A painting style of the early 20th century that emphasized imagery and visions from dreams and fantasies, as well as an intuitive, spontaneous method of recording such imagery, often combining unrelated or unexpected objects in compositions.

An image or sign that represents something else, because of convention, association, or resemblance.

Descriptive of a design in which the two halves of a composition on either side of an imaginary central vertical axis correspond to one another in size, shape, and placement.

A quality which refers to the sense of touch.

A type of weaving in which the crosswise yarns are manipulated freely to create patterned or pictorial effects.

A painting medium in which the binder is egg yolk.

Tertiary Colors
Six colors positioned between the primary and secondary colors on the color wheel.

The actual feel (roughness or smoothness) of a surface. In art, texture may refer to the illusion of roughness or smoothness often achieved with contrasting patterns.

A three-part work of art; especially a painting, meant for placement on an altar, with three panels that fold together.

The overall color effect in terms of hue and value. Often one dominating hue is employed in various shades and values.

A French term meaning “deception of the eye.” A painting or other work of two-dimensional art rendered in such a photographically realistic manner as to ‘trick’ the viewer into thinking it is three-dimensional reality.

The traditional stage in oil painting of using a monochrome or dead color as a base for composition. Also known as laying in.

The relative lightness or darkness of a hue, or of a neutral varying from white to black.

Vanishing Point
In linear perspective, the point on the horizon line where parallel lines appear to converge.

The entire liquid contents of a paint.

A line from top to bottom or bottom to top. Upright.

Similar to mass, a three-dimensional form implying bulk, density, and weight; but also a void or empty, enclosed space.

Warm Colors
Those which suggest a sense of warmth i.e.: red, yellow and orange.

Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting and sculpture to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment, ink, glaze or patina. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique.

A painting medium in which the binder is gum arabic. Water is used to thinning, lightening or mixing.

This effect on oil paintings is usually caused by one of three reasons: excessive use of linseed oil medium; applying any of the varnishes that are prone to yellow with age; or most often – an accumulation of dirt embedded into the varnish.