General Art Terms

General Art Terms

Abstract Art
 Art that does not show a familiar subject, or a subject that the viewer can easily recognize. Abstract art does not show lifelike people, places, or things, but instead it uses shapes and colors and often expresses an artist’s emotions. The abstract art made during the 20th Century influenced many Modern and Contemporary artists.

Acrylic 
A clear plastic used as a vehicle in paints and as a casting material in sculpture. Noted for its quick drying and luminosity.

Aquatint
 A print produced by the same technique as an etching, except that the areas between the etched lines are covered with a powdered resin that protects the surface from the biting process of the acid bath. The granular appearance that results in the print aims at approximating the effects and gray tonalities of a watercolor drawing.

Animation
 Films of drawings or cartoons that are presented in a fast series, so that they appear to be moving.

Artist’s Proof 
An Artist’s Proof is one outside the regular edition, but printed at the same time or after the regular edition from the same plates without changes. By custom, the artist retains the A/Ps for his personal use or sale. Typically, 10% of the edition total is designated as A/P, or in the case of a small edition, five graphics are usually so designated.

Asymmetrical Balance
 A Kind of balance in which the 2 sides of the design are very different.

Avant-Garde
 A group active in the invention and application of new ideas and techniques in an original or experimental way. A group of practitioners and/or advocates of a new art form may also be called avant-garde. Some avant-garde works are intended to shock those who are accustomed to traditional, established styles.

Balance
 An arrangement of parts so that they have equal force.

Background
 The shapes that appear behind the foreground. The part of an artwork that appears to be furthest away from the viewer.

Baroque
 Art that was ornately decorated, dynamic and was filled with emotion.

Batik 
A method of dyeing cloth, originated in Indonesia, where you use wax to repel (resist) the dye on parts of the design where you do not wish to use dye.

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

Bronze An alloy of copper and tin, sometimes containing small proportions of other elements such as zinc or phosphorus. It is stronger, harder, and more durable than brass, and has been used most extensively since antiquity for cast sculpture. Bronze alloys vary in color from a silvery hue to a rich, coppery red. U.S. standard bronze is composed of 90% copper, 7% tin, and 3% zinc.

Brushes Tools used to apply paint and ink to a surface, consisting of hairs, or bristles held in place by a metal ring or cap attached to a handle. The hair may be from several sources or synthetic (man made) materials. Brushes for acrylic and polymer paints generally have nylon bristles. Names of the shapes of some brushes are bright, filbert, flat, and round.

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

Canvas
 A prepared cloth surface used for painting.

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

Cast
 A form for reproducing (making copies) 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
 The art making of objects of clay and firing them in a kiln. Wares of earthenware and porcelain, as well as sculpture are made by ceramists. Enamel is also a ceramic technique. Ceramic materials may be decorated with slip, engobe, or glaze, applied by a number of techniques, including resist, mishima, and sanggam. Pots made be made by the coil, slab, or some other manual technique, or on a potter’s wheel.

Chiaroscuro 
In drawing, painting, and the graphic arts, the rendering of forms through a balanced contrast between light and dark areas. The technique which was introduced during the Renaissance, is effective in creating an illusion of depth and space around the principal figures in a composition. Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt were painters who excelled in the use of this technique.

Chroma 
The quality that distinguishes a strong, dark color from a weak one. The intensity of a color.

Cloisonne
 An object having an enamel coating.

Collage
 The technique of building up a picture in two-dimensional form by using newspaper, magazines, wallpaper, and wood. Sometimes drawn or painted sketches where done over a collage background.

Collograph
 A print made from an image built up with glue and sometimes other materials. The inked image is transferred from plate to paper and is simultaneously embossed. The name derives from “collage.”

Color Value
 The color value is the position in reference to the amount of white and black.  
Color Wheel
A circle or wheel that shows all the basic primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow, and how they mix together to create new colors.

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

Composition
 The plan, placement or arrangement of the elements of art in a work, usually according to the principles of design.

Conte
 A soft drawing tool made by adding clay and pigment to graphite.

Contemporary
 Art that is being made now in the present day. All artworks on Little Collector are Contemporary and have been made by living artists.

Contrast
 Opposites placed next to or near each other in a picture.
Crayons
These can be made from wax, oil or plastic. Some crayons can be blended and others erased.

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

Dada
 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-dimensional an artwork looks. The illusion of space can be created using color, line, and shape

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

Digital Print 
A copy or print of an original artwork that is produced using a digital printing process. Paintings and illustrations are scanned into a computer and printed with inks on cotton paper using a high-quality color printer. Photographs are printed using the same high-quality digital process. All prints available on Little Collector are limited edition digital prints that include an official label of authentication that is signed and dated by the artist.

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

Diptych
 An artwork made in two parts, most often paintings, which are displayed next to each other and relate to one another.

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

Dye
 A substance used to color materials.

Easel 
A stand that artists paint on.

Edition 
A set of prints or exact copies of an original artwork. Prints in an edition are usually numbered so you can tell how many copies were made.

Elements of Art 
The building blocks of art such as lines, shapes, form, texture, space, value and color.

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

Encaustic 
Paint made from pigment mixed with melted wax and fixed by heat after application on the surface.

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

Emphasis
 When an artist makes one part of a picture more important than another.

Etching
 The technique of reproducing a design by coating a metal plate with wax and drawing with a sharp instrument called a stylus through the wax down down to the metal. The plate is put in an acid bath, which eats away the incised lines; it is then heated to dissolve the wax and finally inked and printed on paper. The resulting print is called the etching.

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

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

Fine Art
 Art that is created to be art without any other function or use. You can’t drink out of it like a handmade mug, or sit on it like a finely carved bench. Its only job is to be an artwork. Fine art includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, prints, poetry, music, and dance.

Fixative
 This is a type of spray used on artwork where charcoal, chalk or pastels where used so that they will not smudge.

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

Foreground
 The first shapes that appear in front of a picture. The part of an artwork that is closest to the viewer.

Foreshortening 
The diminishing of certain dimensions of an object or figure in order to depict it in a correct spatial relationship. In realistic depiction, foreshortening is necessary because although lines and planes that are perpendicular to the observer’s line of vision (central visual ray), and the extremities of which are equidistant from the eye, will be seen at their full size, when they are revolved away from the observer they will seem increasingly shorter. Thus for example, a figure’s arm outstretched toward the observer must be foreshortened–the dimension of lines, contours and angles adjusted–in order that it not appear hugely out of proportion. The term foreshortening is applied to the depiction of a single object, figure or part of an object or figure, whereas the term perspective refers to the depiction of an entire scene.

Form
 The colors, shapes, lines, patterns, and textures that make up the structure of an artwork. The form is often closely related to the artwork’s content and meaning.

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

Fresco
 Wet plaster put onto a wall then pigment is applied directly onto the wet plaster, mixing and spreading it quickly

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

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

Gesso
 A plaster used for a base for painting that is absorbent and brittle.

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

Giclée
 A new process using advanced technology to create a lustrous, continuous-tone digital print that meets or exceeds the quality of traditional ligthography and screen printing. Organic, water-based multi-color inks are applied to the surface of archival papers from tiny jets one-tenth the diameter of a human hair. Also referred to as an Iris print.

Glaze
 Used by puting a transparent color over anathor dry color.

Glossy
 Having a smooth, shiny, lustrous finish.

Graphic Art 
The art of drawing and printmaking.

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

Gouache
 The technique of applying opaque watercolor to paper; also a work of art so produced. The usual gouache painting displays a light-reflecting brilliance quite different from the luminosity of transparent watercolors.

Horizon Line 
The line where the earth meets the sky.

Hors Commerce  (H.C.)
Hors Commerce (Not for Trade) traditionally were the graphics pulled with the regular edition, but were marked by the artist for business use only. These graphics were used for entering exhibitions and competitions, but today, these graphics generally are allowed into distribution through regular channels.

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

Illustrator 
An artist who creates images for books or magazines.

Impasto
 Paint applied in outstanding heavy layers or strokes; also, any thickness or roughness of paint or deep brush marks, as distinguished from a flat, smooth surface.

Implied Lines
 Lines you cannot see.

Impressionist
 Artists tried to capture an immediate impression of what the eye sees at a single glance, rather than what the viewer knows or feels about the work.

India Ink
 A Black pigment that is lightfast and water resistant.

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

Intensity 
The brightness or pureness of a color. A bright color is at its highest intensity while a dull color is at its lowest.

Intermediate Color 
A color made by mixing a secondary color with a primary color.

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 filler or coating for paper and textiles.

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 an artist will print of their artwork; usually fewer than 200, they are numbered and signed.

Line
 A mark that connects two points. An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point to define a space It may be two-dimensional three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form).

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.

Lithography 
In the graphic arts, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone, metal or plastic plate, invented in the late eighteenth century. A drawing is made on the stone or plate with a greasy crayon or tusche, and then washed with water. When ink is applied it sticks to the greasy drawing but runs off (or is resisted by) the wet surface allowing a print – a lithograph – to be made of the drawing. The artist, or other print maker under the artist’s supervision, then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure. For color lithography separate drawings are made for each color. Chromolithography A process using several stones or plates–one for each color, printed in register. The result is color prints, to be distinguished from colored prints that have the color hand-applied after printing

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

Manifesto
 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 d’être and stimulated support for or reactions against them.

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

Mask
  An opaque border or pattern placed between a source and a surface to prevent exposure on certain areas. Used in stencils, airbrushing, and watercolors.

Mastic 
This resin is used to make varnishes.

Mat
 This is a way to protect your artwork and making 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 can’t work on an area that is wet with his brush due to lack of support.

Media
 The material used to make the artwork was made such as oils, water color, acrylic, inks, to name a few.

Medium
 The kind of material from which an artwork is made. The materials an artist uses to make a work of art, such as acrylic paint, watercolor paint, film, ink, clay, or charcoal.

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

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.

Modern Art
 This artist used new art movements instead of the traditional art. For example: Expressionism and Surrealism.

Model
 A person who poses for a work of art.

Monochromatic 
Variation of one hue.

Monoprint
 One of a series in which each print has some differences of color, design, texture, etc. applied to an underlying common image

Monotype
 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 paper by running the plate and paper through an etching press.

Montage
 A picture made up of various proportions of existing pictures, such as photographs or prints, arranged so they join, overlap, or blend with one another.

Mood
 The feeling created by an artwork.

Nonobjective 
Having no subject matter nor definable objects.

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

Negative Space
 Empty space in an artwork that surrounds the pictured objects or subject.

Oil
 A mix of ground pigments and linseed, poppy or walnut oil. Dries slowly so artists could take more time to work on details and capture textures.

Optical Art 
Optical Art is about distorted shapes and vibrating colors that challenge and manipulate the eye to perceive the illusion of movement.

Overlap
 When parts of a picture lie on top of other parts.

Paint
 People used to make paints by mixing vegetable, plant and earth pigments together with water or animal fat. Now there are many choices available.

Pallet 
An object designed to hold paints which the artist lays out and mixes colors on. 
Pallet Knife
A tool, the working end of which is flat and is used especially for mixing and/or applying paint.

Pastel
 Pastels are sticks of color used for drawing. The texture of pastels can be chalky or oily depending on what the pigment is mixed with. They are bright, portable colors with no drying time. 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. Pastels are called paintings rather than drawings, for although no paint is used, the colors are applied in masses rather than in lines.

Patina 
A film or an incrustation, usually green, that forms on copper and bronze after a certain amount of weathering and as a result of the oxidation of the copper. Special chemical treatments will also induce different colored patinas on new bronzes. Bronzes may be painted with acrylic and lacquer.

Pattern 
A repeating design of colors, shapes, and lines.

Perspective 
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.

Pigment
 Pigments give color to paint. Today pigments are made from chemicals which come in brighter colors, resist fading, and are less expensive.

Pochoir
 A stencil and stencil-brush process for making muticolored prints, and for tinting black-and-white prints, and for coloring reproductions and book illustrations, especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand-coloring or hand-illustration. Pochoir, as distinguished from ordinary stencil work, is a highly refined technique, skillfully executed in a specialized workshop.

Pointillism
 A postimpressionist school of painting exemplified by Georges Seurat, characterized by the application of paint in small dots and brush strokes.

Polymer
 Paint, sculpture, and texture mediums made of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule.

Portrait
 An image of a person or a group of people.

Primary Colors 
All other colors are made from these and they cannot be made by mixing other colors. They are red, yellow and blue.

Principles of Art 
These are balance, contrast, proportion, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, unity, and variety.

Prints
 For a print to be an original, the artist must do the plates or the stones. If someone else does the work, then it is a reproduction. Woodcuts, etchings, engravings, and lithographs are forms of original prints. Each involves the artist’s hand in brushing, or cutting.

Proportion 
Describes the size, location or amount of one thing compared to another.

Pure Color
 A color that has not been mixed with another color.
Realism
The exact way the an object really looks.

Remarque
 A current practice of some artists is the addition of a small personalized drawing or symbol near his pencil signature in the lower margin. The practice is borrowed from Whister’s famous “butterfly” which was added to personalize many of his graphics.

Renaissance 
Naturalistic styles were the interest and and formal rules of composition.

Representation
 Very close to the way an object really looks.

Reproduction
 A print or process made without the artist hand being involved directly.

Repoussoir
 From the French verb meaning to push back. A means of achieving perspective or spacial contrasts by the use of illusionistic devices such as the placement of a large figure or object in the immediate foreground of a painting to increase the illusion of depth in the rest of the picture.

Rhythm
 A repeated part or pattern in a picture.

Sculpture 
It’s three dimensional art usually done in clay, bronze, marble, plaster, wire, or wood to name a few.

Scumble
 This is an almost dry paint applied over a dried paint to make it look as a haze.

Secondary Color 
A color made by mixing 2 primary colors as green, orange and violet.

Serigraph
 Serigraphy (also referred to as ‘silkscreen’ or ‘screenprint’) is a color stencil printing process in which a special paint is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Areas which 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 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, transparent washes as well as gouache and pastel.

Shade
 The color made by mixing a pure color with black.

Shape
 The 2-dimentional flat space between or around objects.

Siccative 
Metallic salts used to make a paint dry faster.

Sketch
 An drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study, not the final artwork. 
Still Life
Inanimate objects grouped indoors.

Stipple 
In painting, to apply small dots of color with the point of the brush; also to apply paint in a uniform layer by tapping a vertically held brush on the surface in repeated staccato touches.

Space
 The empty place or surface in or around a work of art. Space can be two or three dimensional, negative and/or positive.

Surrealism
 Melding the conscious and the unconscious, the world of dreams and fantasy along with reality.

Symbol 
An object or image of an object ithin a work of art that stands for something else.

Symmetrical Balance 
A kind of balance in which both sides of design are exactly alike.

Tempera 
A type of paint made by mixing powered pigments with egg yolks. Usually came from natural sources such as minerals, wood, plants or clay and dries quickly.

Terra Cotta 
A reddish-brown baked clay.

Texture
 The way something feels or seems like it would feel on the surface if you could touch it.

Tirage 
Document that provides backgraound information on the graphic edition such as edition size, printer, technique, year of execution.

Tone
 When a color is mixed with gray.

Tools 
Those items that help to make art such as: brush, pencil, paint, crayon, etc.

Trompe L´oeil (Tromp´- loy)
A french term meaning “deception of the eye.” It is applied to painting so photographically realistic that it may fool the viewer into thinking that the objects or scene represented are real rather than painted.

Unity
 When the parts of a picture come together.

Value
 The amount of lightness or darkness in a color.

Variety 
This occurs when an artist creates something that appears different from the rest of the artwork.

Varnish
 A paint containing a solvent used to coat a surface with a hard, glossy, transparent film.

Visual Art 
Any art for that can be viewed.

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

Watercolor 
A type f paint that is water-based and has a transparent or see-through quality.

Woodcut 
With Special tools a block of wood is carved then used to print.