Visual Art Glossary

by Ann Erpino

ABSTRACT – to draw from, separate; a depiction of the essential content of a thing; a nonrepresentational summary distilled or extracted from reality
ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM – abstract art expressing an artist’s emotions toward a subject, medium or artistic process
ACADEMIC ART – art influenced by academies and universities, governed and sanctioned by official rules and standards of composition, perspective and other art principles; art emphasizing the intellectual component and de-emphasizing the manual labor of art making; compare: classical art
ACHROMATIC – without identifiable spectral hue: black, white, and neutral tones such as browns and grays
ACID FREE – non-acidic, pH balanced artmaking surface or medium, typically more resistant to discoloring or yellowing
ACRYLIC – a clear plastic binder used in the manufacture of paint and as a sculpting material in sculpture; acrylic resin
ACTION PAINTING – an expressive, usually abstract painting which records the artist’s physical movement in vigorous brushwork, drips and smears, or other marks which emphasize the dynamic process of painting
ADDITIVE COLOR THEORY – increased light yielded by the mixing of two or more spectral hues in electronic and computerized systems – as pure colors are added, the image brightens; compare: subtractive color theory
AERIAL PERSPECTIVE – the illusion of depth in a scene rendered by a reduction of background detail, and the use of muted, typically cool background colors to suggest atmospheric haze; atmospheric perspective
AESTHETIC/S – the philosophy of the nature of beauty and art, and the nature of human sensory responses toward, and interpretation of, such qualities
AFTERIMAGE – a visible sensation which persists after directly gazing at, then looking away from a scene or image
AIRBRUSH – the application of a fine spray of paint or dye with an atomizer powered by compressed air; compare spray paint
ALKYD – a synthetic resin used as a vehicle in paint or as a protective coating
ALLA PRIMA – at the first, a painting executed in one sitting, usually by applying layers of wet oil paint on top of each other
ALLEGORY – a visual construct which reveals a hidden meaning, such as of a moral, experiential, physical, or political nature, upon interpretation – typically conveyed metaphorically or symbolically, as in a dream
ALL OVER PAINTING – an undifferentiated, usually abstract treatment of a painting’s entire surface
ANALOGOUS COLORS – colors next to each other on the color wheel; harmonious colors predominant in a painting; blue/blue-violet, yellow/orange/red-orange etc.
ANAMORPHOUS – a depicted object that appears distorted when viewed head-on, but becomes recognizable when viewed from a certain angle or with a special viewing device
ANIMATION – a production of successive positions of images or objects displayed in rapid succession to give the appearance of continuous motion; compare: flip book
ANIME – a style of Japanese film and television animation, characterized by stark, colorful graphics, vibrant characters, fast action, and fantastical or futuristic themes
ANTHROPOMORPHIC – an artistic style or image which represents or suggests a human form or characteristic
ANTIQUE – made in, or typical of an earlier time; an object esteemed for its artistry, beauty, or period of origin, usually with increased value due to age
ANTIQUING – to finish or refinish by glazing, rubbing, striking or otherwise treating a newer object to impart an appearance of age and wear
APOPHENIA – the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of seemingly unrelated phenomena
APPLIED ART – the design or decoration of a functional object to make it appealing to the eye
APPLIQUE – to put on, a decoration, usually a cutout, fastened to a larger surface, such as a design stenciled to a wall
AQUATINT – dyed water a print resembling a watercolor, produced from a copper plate coated with a thin layer of resin particles, and etched in nitric acid to produce tonal variation and a smooth texture; see: intaglio
ARABESQUE – a gracefully curving, spiraling or undulating line or linear quality; a form containing or depicted by interlacing sinuous lines
ARCHITECTURE – the art or practice of designing and building structures, especially habitable ones; a coherent, unified method or style of building a structure
ARCHIVAL – qualities in an artwork which maximize its physical and chemical stability over time
ARCHIVE – a cached chronological record of an artist’s output, or of an art venue’s records, documentation, and informational data
ARMATURE – a skeletal framework; the underlying support structure upon which a sculpture is built or a veneer is applied
ART – the human effort to imitate, supplement or alter the work of nature; the conscious production or arrangement of colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner affecting the sense of beauty; the skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or tangible medium
ART DECO – art characterized by sharply outlined geometric motifs, bold color, and simple curvilinear and angular forms, typically made with synthetic materials
ARTISAN – a person skilled at a craft or at making utilitarian objects by hand
ARTIST’S PROOF – a test print of a complete or partial image printed by or for an artist to compare with an original artwork to match color, value, clarity and etc, in preparation for a print edition. ‘AP 8/10’ identifies the eighth in a set of ten prints used for such comparisons; a trial impression of a print taken in the printmaking process to see the current printing state of a plate while the plate (of stone, woodblock, linoleum, etc.) is in progress. Artist’s proofs are not included in the count of a limited edition.
ASSEMBLAGE – art made with a combination of materials
ATELIER – the studio or workshop of an artist or group of artists
ATMOSPHERIC PERSPECTIVE – see: aerial perspective
AVANT GARDE – advance guard, the forefront of progressive, experimental, innovative art which deviates from traditional or previously accepted ideas or standards, potentially beginning an art movement
BACKDROP – large painted screens or panels behind a stage set or diorama which enhances the set’s depth
BACKGROUND – the area in a picture which appears to be farthest from the viewer, typically near the horizon
BACKLIT – illuminated by a light behind or at an oblique angle to an object, person or scene
BACK-PAINTING – a painting on the far side of a transparent surface, as on glass, generally beginning with foreground elements, and filling in with increasingly distant mid and background elements
BALANCE – the formal or informal arrangement of elements in an artwork as they relate to a feeling of stability; the visual equalization of design elements or sections in a work of art, whether symmetrical (mirror-like), asymmetrical (with differing halves or sections), or radial (in which elements emanate from a central point)
BAROQUE – art characterized by excessive ornamentation, vivid colors, dramatic content and contrast, turbulent composition, drama, and movement designed to dominate or overwhelm a viewer’s senses
BAS RELIEF – a sculpted form which is slightly sunken into or protruding from an otherwise even surface, of which it is a part; see: relief
BATIK – a technique of hand-dying fabrics with wax as a dye repellent temporarily covering the parts of a design not to be dyed; the fabric so decorated
BAUHAUS – build house, the integration of art, craft and technology derived from techniques and materials employed in industrial fabrication, with an emphasis on functional design and mass production; a severe, elegant geometric style carried out with minimal means, characterized by a rejection of individually executed luxury objects
BEESWAX – a dull yellow waxy substance secreted by bees, which is friable when warm and stiffens upon cooling
BENEFACTOR – one who confers a benefit, especially one who makes a gift or bequest
BILATERAL SYMMETRY – the similarity of form and arrangement on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane; a balance or equality in two sides of something
BINDER – a glue or adhesive which, when mixed with pigment and vehicle, causes paint ingredients to stick to each other and adhere to a surface
BIRD’S-EYE VIEW – a vantage point at or near the zenith; the view of a scene from a great height, in which the horizon line is near or above the top of the work; aerial view
BISQUE – fired unglazed ceramics of a pale brown color
BLACK LIGHT – an invisible ultraviolet or infrared radiation which causes fluorescent materials to emit visible light; invisible light used to see or take pictures in the dark
BLACK MANNER – mezzotint
BLEED – the seepage of color or damp media from one part of an artwork to a contiguous part
BLEND – a gradual transition in hue or tone over a given form or area in an artwork; to smoothly mix with no perceptible separation
BLOOM – the clouding of a varnished surface caused by entrapment or penetration of water vapor
BONELESS – color applied in light washes without a drawn outline or structure
BONSAI – the art of growing potted dwarfed plants to produce a desired shape or effect
BOPPER – a suction tool used to dispense ink, glaze, frosting, or etc. onto a surface
BOSS – an ornamental knoblike protuberance of metal, ivory etc, such as a carved keystone at the intersection of ogives; stone roughly formed and set in place for later carving; to emboss
BOUNCE LIGHT – light which is redirected from a brighter light source by means of a white or pale panel or flat object to fill in and soften shadows
BRAYER – a smooth rubber roller used to apply a consistent layer of paint or ink to a surface, or for blending large areas
BRIDGE – a contraption made to straddle and hover over a painting on a horizontal surface, which serves as an armrest doing detail work; see: mahlstick
BRISTOL BOARD – heavyweight paper made with laminated layers to achieve a desired thickness; fine pasteboard with a smooth, usually unglazed surface
BROKEN COLOR – color applied in dry or separate brushstrokes, or in segments which blend optically when viewed from a distance
BRUSHWORK – painted strokes which yield an effect through texture, placement, color or etc, and reveal an artist’s approach, technique or mood; compare: calligraphy
BURIN – an engraver’s steel cutting tool with a blade ground obliquely to a sharp point; a (prehistoric) flint tool with a beveled point
BURNISH – to polish and smooth a textured or etched surface, making it nonreceptive to ink
BUST – a sculpture, usually freestanding, of a person’s head, neck, shoulders, upper chest and sometimes upper arms
CALLIGRAPHY – the art of fine handwriting or letter forming idealized in the graceful, expressive efficiency of each brushstroke
CANCELLATION PRINT – (antiquated) a print made from broken metal or other production plates at the end of a print edition to show that that edition is discontinued, the plates being now destroyed
CANVAS PLIERS – wide, flat pliers used to grip and stretch a canvas while wrapping it onto a stretcher bar
CAPTURE – the act of documenting or recording data in a permanent file, as in a photograph
CARICATURE – the emphasis of salient features in a portrait or character; an artistic representation of a person with ludicrous or gross distortion or exaggeration of distinguishing characteristics
CARTOON – an interactive art form in which viewers optimally laugh during the contemplation of imagery, often accompanied by words and intended as satire, caricature, or humor; a simplistic, unrealistic portrayal
CARYATID – a draped (typically) female architectural figure supporting an entablature
CASTING – a sculpture process in which a molten substance, such as bronze, is poured into a mold where it cools and hardens
CAST SHADOW – non-illuminated areas on the dark side of a light-blocking form which reveal the location and intensity of a light source
CATALOGUE – a list of artworks which includes data such as artists’ names, dimensions, materials, date of completion, purchasing information, etc.
CAVE – a deeply recessed, usually curved semi-enclosure of space from which no light emits
CELADON – a type of ceramic having a pale green glaze; a pale to very pale green color
CERAMIC – clay pottery, tiles, or sculpture fired at high temperature for durability
CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY – a signed document verifying the title, media, dimensions, number, date and creator of a print or an original artwork
CHALK – a soft calcium carbonate white or pale colored cylinder or chunk used for drawing
CHALK PASTELS – soft pale-colored cylinders or chunks made of molded calcium carbonate and used for drawing
CHEVRON – a v-shaped pattern of stripes meeting at an acute angle, as in insignia and architectural fretwork
CHIAROSCURO – clear dark, strong light and shade in an artwork which gives a dramatic effect or the illusion of depth; compare: tenebrism
CHIMERA – an imaginary monster composed of incongruous parts, or an illusion or fabrication of the mind, especially an unrealizable dream
CHINE COLLÉ – Chinese collage, thin art paper laminated onto a grosser backing sheet of paper, then passed through a printing press to achieve a texture or effect
CHOP MARK – a small mark or seal made from an embossing stamp, usually into a margin specified by the printer, artist, collector or publisher
CHROMA – the intensity, strength or purity of a color; spectral colors are ‘full chroma,’ while neutral colors are zero chroma; compare: vibrancy, saturation
CICATRIX – deliberate scarification caused by the formation of new tissue in the healing process of a wound or infection
CINEMATOGRAPHY – writing in movement; the art or science of motion-picture photography, lighting and camera choices made while recording photographic images in motion
CLASSICAL ART – art adhering to standardized and formalized principles, as seen in balanced composition, naturalistic rendering and separation of figures from an architectural background; art with regularity, simplicity, balance, proportion and controlled emotion; compare: academic art
CLAUDE GLASS – a dark or colored convex glass that reflects a small image in muted colors, to show an artist the tonal values of a scene
CLAYMATION – an animation process using clay figurines that are alternately repositioned and filmed so as to create lifelike motion
CLICHÉ – a trite, stereotyped scene, motif, or arrangement
CLOISONNISM – a painting style in which (usually vivid) color areas are separated and defined by blackish, feathered-edged lines; compare: fauvism
CMYK – a printing and imaging process in which cyan, magenta, yellow and black (or ‘key’) combine to make millions of other colors
COLLAGE – art assembled with flat images such as drawings, photographs, or cloth glued to a larger, more stable flat surface
COLOR – the spectrum of visual phenomena resulting from the reflection and absorption of light by a surface; a hue or combination of hues, from pure to neutral, tempered by degrees of value and intensity
COLOR LITHOGRAPHY – a printing process in which a greasy drawing medium is applied to a dampened surface before a greasy printing ink is applied over it, with the ink adhering to the greasy areas and repelled by the damp areas
COLOR SEPARATION – a printing process in which each color – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black – is printed from a separate plate for a single image
COLOR THEORY – the study of pigmented color (subtractive color theory) or color yielded by light (additive color theory)
COLOR WHEEL – a radial diagram of spectral colors arranged in a continuum of gradated wedges, with complementary colors opposite each other
COMMERCIAL ART – an artistic work produced for market success, emphasizing business related skills and subjects, and typically of a low aesthetic standard
COMMISSION – an order placed or permission authorized for the creation of a specified artwork
COMPLEMENTARY COLOR – colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel, which neutralize each other when mixed; yellow/violet, blue/orange, red/green
COMPOSITION – the arrangement of various art elements and design principles into a unified whole within a work of art
CGI – Computer Generated Image; a static image or animated sequence of images made with computer-driven technology, often of fantastical, dramatic, or physically impossible representations of objects or events; compare: digital art
CONCEPTUAL ART – art related to concepts, a mental state or construct, or an abstract or general idea; art in which the artist’s idea and the viewer’s intellectual engagement are more important than the art object itself
CONCRETE POETRY – visual poetry; poetry in which the visual arrangement or treatment of words and letters helps to convey the poem’s meaning, apart from the words themselves
CONJURE – to bring to mind or obtain a visible sense of a form or scene in the mind’s eye; to picture; see: imagine
CONSERVATOR – one who preserves and treats artworks to minimize their physical and chemical degradation over the course of time; one who repairs damages accrued by art as it ages
CONSTRUCTIVISM – in sculpture, an abstract, formal organization of mass and volume reflecting modern technology, characterized by the use of industrial materials and emphasis of a sculpture’s relationship to space rather than its solidity
CONTE CRAYON – crayon made from (originally) a combination of powdered graphite and clay, and sometimes including other ingredients such as pigments or dyes
CONTENT – the events, forms, details, themes and information in a work of art; an artwork’s meaning, significance or message conveyed through subject matter, idea, process, tone, etc.
CONTINUITY – in design, shapes arranged so that the line or edge of one shape leads into another, creating unity; an uninterrupted succession or continuation of artworks presented in sequence without essential change
CONTINUOUS FLASH SUPPRESSION – an advertising trick of including faint, constant enticing stills behind a changing, busy image for minutes at a time unbeknownst to viewers
CONTOUR – with around; the edge or outline of a figure or object; the representation of a form’s boundary
CONTRAST – the degree of difference between opposing elements in an artwork such as dark and light, smooth and rough, or blue and orange
COOL COLORS – colors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem cool; violet, blue, green
COOL NEON – see: electro luminescent wire
COPY – a reproduction of an artwork, usually done in the same medium
COPYRIGHT – ©; the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell an artistic work
CORE SHADOW – the darkest part of a shadow, typically in the center; compare: penumbra
COUNTERPROOF – an offset image made by running a still-wet print, facing another sheet of damp paper, together through the press for a reverse image
CRAFT – an artist’s technical skill or ability beyond the aesthetic value of a work; artisanry and artistic utilitarian products as opposed to works of fine art
CRATERING – a pit or lacuna on a painting’s surface resulting from an air bubble held within the paint as it dried and, so, then cracked.
CRAYON – a stick of colored wax, charcoal, oil, or chalk used for drawing
CRAZE – to produce minute uniform cracks on a painted or glazed surface
CREATIVE – having the ability or power to create, characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative
CREATIVE PROCESS – reflective thoughts and actions leading from conception and generation to the completion of an artwork, which may include musing, consideration, selection, research, daydreaming, synthesizing, and revising
CRITIQUE – a verbal or written evaluation, analysis, or judgment of a work of art
CROSSHATCH – to mark or shade with two intersecting series of parallel lines
CRYPTOGRAM – an occult symbol or representation; a message in code or cipher
CUBISM – an abstract arrangement of geometric forms in which objects appear to merge with the background in tilting lines and planes; multiple views of a subject presented simultaneously in rectilinear and angular shapes and lines
CURATOR – one who decides upon artworks to be exhibited at a particular venue; a manager, overseer, or superintendent of a gallery’s or museum’s art collection
DADA – art characterized by deliberate irrationality, accidental and incongruous effects, and the negation of traditional artistic values, or the benefits of technology
DECAL – decalcomania; a sticky piece of paper or plastic bearing a picture or design to be transferred to another surface
DECKLE EDGE – an irregular, untrimmed edge of paper, typically torn along a straight edge
DECORATIVE – art which adorns, or emphasizes ornamentation over other content
DEPICT – to show, portray, or represent something via art
DERIVATIVE ART – an artistic image or style deliberately adapted or co-opted from the previous artworks of another artist or stylistic genre
DESIGN – a planned arrangement of line, color, value, and other formal elements in an artwork, organized to result in a desired effect, such as unity or harmony
DETAIL – a notable individual feature or small component within a larger artwork, which may be decorative, intricate, or finely rendered
DIAGONAL RECESSION – in perspective, orthogonal lines receding to an off-center vanishing point
DICHROISM – the property of a painted or printed color which appears different under different viewing conditions, such as a paint which appears darker or lighter when applied with horizontal or vertical strokes; see metamerism
DIFFUSE – a spread or unfocused light source which produces soft-edged shadows
DIGITAL ART – a static work of art made with a computer, or computer-driven technology; CGI
DIORAMA – a three-dimensional representation of a scene which may include sculptural elements and a painted background to add depth; a scenic painting in which changes in light direction and color mimic changes in weather and time of day
DIPTYCH – a painting in two parts, related in subject and displayed side by side, or stacked
DISTORTION – the stretching, warping, or constriction of one or more dimensions in the portrayal of a form; compare: anamorphous
DIVINE PROPORTION – see: golden ratio
DOCENT – a knowledgeable art gallery or museum lecturer, guide or facilitator
DOCUMENTATION – a photograph or film clip, or other record of an artwork, especially of temporary art and installations, which records its existence
DODGE AND BURN – to brighten the highlights of an image (dodge), and darken the shadows (burn)
DOODLE – an aimless or casual scribble, design, sketch, or minor work of art
DOT PAINTING – a painting consisting of hundreds or thousands of dots in representative designs which may represent a narrative or event; pointillism
DOUBLE IMAGE – a painted or drawn figure or object which is identifiable as two separate objects, depending upon the viewer’s focus and awareness
DRAFT – the graphical representation of a structure or machine and its component parts, which communicates a designer’s technical and aesthetic intent to a manufacturer
DREAMTIME PAINTING – an Australian aboriginal painting which may portray a historical event, a narrative of life’s origins and interconnections, subsistence, and so on; compare: dot painting
DROP SHADOW – a shadow placed behind a form within an image which gives the illusion that the form is near its background
DROSTE EFFECT – the placement of a small image into a larger version of itself, where a similar picture might realistically be expected to appear – this smaller version may depict an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on; a recurring image or narrative
DRY BRUSH – paint applied brokenly over a surface with little or no added vehicle or moisture
DRY POINT – a non-acid etching process in which lines are incised with a sharp steel point into a metal plate for printing; the resulting print; compare: engraving, mezzotint
DYE – a pigment dissolved in liquid; the application of liquid color to a surface or substance for staining
DYE SUBLIMATION PRINT – a continuous-tone print made by heating celophane-embedded dyes, which vaporize and permeate the surface of a printing surface, then cool and re-solidify; thermal dye print
DYE TRANSFER PRINT – a print made from dyed images which have been transferred onto separate-color matrices from an original image
EARTH TONES – heavily muted, neutral-ish hues occurring naturally and commonly in earthen materials; made with pigments found in the earth; reddish brown, yellowish gray etc.
EASEL PAINTING – painting executed on an easel or portable support, usually on a panel or canvas, and typically in oil or acrylic
ECLECTIC – a combination of elements selected from various styles
EDITION – the total number of identical copies of a single design in any medium, and approved by the artist
EFFIGY – a representation of a person, especially in sculptural form
EGG TEMPERA – paint in which an emulsion of egg with water or oil is used as a medium to produce a durable matte finish
ELECTRO LUMINESCENT WIRE – e.l. wire; glow wire; copper wire covered with phosphorus and wrapped with two thin transmitter wires, sealed in a plastic skin; continuous 360-degree light-emitting flexible wire that glows like neon and generates no heat; see: cool neon
ELEMENTS OF ART – visual parts which make up the whole of an artwork; color, line, texture, shape, form, light, scale, dimension, proportion etc.
ELEVATION – a geometrical rendition, as of a building, drafted without perspective
EMBELLISH – to make beautiful, as with ornamental details; to decorate; compare: remarque
EMBLEM – a symbol representing an abstract idea; a design or object representing a quality, type, or group
EMBOSS – to make a raised or sunken design in relief on a pliable surface by pressing a three-dimensional form into its back side (for raised) or front side (for sunken)
EMBROIDERY – decorative needlework in which designs and pictures are made by stitching with thread, wool, yarn, or etc. onto a layer of another material
EMPHASIS – a combining of artistic elements which dynamically stresses differences between those elements, and creates one or more centers of interest in an artwork
ENAMEL – a glossy paint that settles into a smooth coat as it dries, usually opaque, vitreous and fused to a metal, glass, or ceramic surface; compare: glaze
ENCAUSTIC – a painting made with wax (usually beeswax), resin, and pigments, applied either either in melted form, or in firm sticks which melt onto a heated surface
ENGRAVING – a print made from a metal plate which has been cut into with a sharp, traditionally steel needle; see: dry point
EROTIC ART – non pornographic art containing images which may stimulate lustful arousal
ETCH-A-SKETCH ™ – a sketching device with which designs are produced by turning dials that drag a magnet across a screen, attracting magnetized graphite (contained within) to its path, and leaving drawn trails on the screen
ETCHING – a metal plate which has been cut into with a sharp point, or through a protective shield partly scratched away, then submerged in acid, which erodes the exposed areas, making them receptive to ink for printmaking; the resulting print
EXHIBIT – to present to view; to display something for public viewing and appreciation
EXHIBITION – the act or instance of exhibiting; something presented to view in a public showcase
EXPRESSIONISM – art based on communicating an artist’s emotions through brushwork, color, composition etc.
EYE APPEAL – pretty or pleasing to the eye; the appearance of a thing in relation to its actual condition
FAT – a relatively high quantity of oil mixed with a given color, implying increased drying time and a glossy finish
FAT OVER LEAN – the concept and practice of using more oil medium with each successive layer of oil paint to retard drying and prevent crazing or cracking
FAUVISM – wild-ism, art emphasizing bold, often distorted forms in pure, vivid colors in nonnaturalistic juxtapositions, with color usually irrelevant to the contours of the area defined; compare: cloisonnism
FAUX FINISH – false finish; a painted imitation of natural or synthetic material such as fur, marble, or brick, applied to the surface a more mundane object
FEATHER – to soften the edges of a painted form by thinning them out gradually into reduced, broken color
FENG SHUI – flowing water; the art or practice of positioning objects based upon favorable effects of the flow of subtle energies, air currents, psychological responses, etc. in a given location; a respect to chi regarding spatial arrangement and orientation
FERRULE – a metal sleeve used for joining bristles to the handle of a paintbrush
FESTOON – a curved swath or garland of flowers, leaves, fruits, and/or ribbons, usually festive and hung as a decoration
FIBER ART – natural or synthetic filaments or cloth used in the construction of textiles or works of art
FIELD INDEPENDENT VISION – an ability to see an objects’ fundamental inherent properties independently of its environment, such as distinguishing a level surface in a tilted room
FIGURATIVE ART – concerning or including the shape of the human form in drawing, painting, etc.
FIGURE-GROUND – the relationship in an artwork between the principal forms or figures and the background
FIGURINE – a small carved or molded figure; a statuette
FILIGREE – delicate or fanciful ornamental work, such as of fine lines or wires, especially of a jeweler’s lacy scrolls and arabesques; compare: tracery
FINE ART – art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplative experience, and having no utilitarian function; painting, drawing, sculpture, literature, music, etc.
FINIAL – a sculpted ornamental terminating part, often in the shape of a leaf or flower, such as at the top of a post, gable, or pinnacle
FIRE – to apply heat to a clay or porcelain object in order to harden it and impart longevity and utility, and to prevent hygroscopy
FIRE AND ICE – intense red and blue which, when placed next to each other, appear to vibrate or jiggle
FIXATIVE – a varnish painted or sprayed on a finished drawing to hold dry pigment particles, such as graphite or charcoal, in place and prevent smudging
FLASH – ostentatious display; gaudy showiness; small additions of contrasting color or value within a painting which excites the eye without commanding focus
FLIP BOOK – a small book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, each page representing a fraction of an event, so that when the pages are flipped through rapidly the pictures appear to animate
FLOAT – a picture framed so as to not be in contact with the support behind it; an image displayed between two clear sheets of glass or plastic
FLOWING RHYTHM – visual pattern created by repeating wavy lines; see: reticulated
FLUORESCE – the absorption, and subsequent emission, of light of shorter wavelengths than visible light, such as X-rays or ultraviolet light, which persists after the stimulating radiation discontinues
FLUORESCENT – color in its brightest, most vivid state
FLUXUS – flow, change, dadaistic art embodying spontaneity, humor, and avoidance of limiting art theories; experimentation mixed with social or political activism, as in guerilla or street theater, emphasizing an artist’s opinions, actions and personality
FOAMING – small air bubbles which may form in some water based paints during application or as they are mixed on the palette
FOCUS – a state or quality of visual clarity and definition, the adaptation of a device to conditions of light and distance for an ability to clearly see or capture a scene, an area of visual interest or attention
FOCAL POINT – that part of an artwork which attracts the first or most attention of a viewer
FOLK ART – regional, traditional works of art made without formal training; see: naïve art
FOLLY – an often extravagant picturesque building erected to suit a fanciful taste; architectural anomaly
FLUTED – channel, groove or furrow, as on the shaft of a column
FOREGROUND – those areaa of a picture which appear to be closest to the viewer (typically at the base in landscape paintings)
FORESHORTEN – to represent a form on a two-dimensional surface in such a way that the long axis appears to project toward or recede away from the viewer, giving the illusion of proper relative size; to present in condensed form or reduced scope while retaining essential elements
FORGE – to form metal by heating and hammering, or with a mechanical or hydraulic press with or without heat; a furnace or workshop where metals are heated or wrought; smithy
FORM – an element of art which is or appears to be three-dimensional and voluminous with length, width and depth; compare: object
FORMAL BALANCE – an evenness or relative equality of visual elements in a work of art achieved by the precise arrangement of forms, i.e. by formula
FORMAL/ISM – an emphasis on the organization of forms within an artwork, and a formulaic structure of visual relationships
FORMULAIC – unoriginal, clichéd art produced in accordance with a closely followed rule or style, rather than through inspiration or creativity; predictable; slick
FOUND OBJECT ART – an assemblage of common or discarded items in the creation of an artwork
FOUNDRY – an establishment where the art or process of casting metals is carried out
FOXING – brown or yellow patchy discoloration of paper caused by the action of mold on iron salts
FRACTAL – irregular curves or shapes within a mass or form in which any chosen part is similar in shape to a larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced, as in a cauliflower
FREEHAND – executed by hand without guiding instruments, tracing or other aids
FREESTANDING – a sculpture which stands solidly on the floor, without a base, hanger or support; typically for viewing in the round
FRESCO – water media painted onto a freshly applied moist plaster surface, usually on a wall or ceiling
FRETWORK – an ornamental network or openwork, often in relief, consisting of small straight bars intersecting one another at right or oblique angles; an ornamentation of an interlocking geometric motif
FRIEZE – a decorative band bearing designs, lettering, sculpture, etc.
FRISKET – a masking device of paper, film or other material used to shield areas of an artwork from spray, ink, light or other working elements
FRONTISPIECE – an illustration preceding and usually facing the title page of a book or magazine; the principal front of a building or decorated pediment over a portico or window
FUGITIVE – impermanent color prone to fading or mutation as a result of pigment or manufacturing qualities
FULL LENGTH PORTRAIT – a figure painting or drawing which depicts the entire height of the subject, from head to toe and usually beyond
FUMAGE – a technique of singeing wet oil paint after application to create nebulous, smoky textures
FUNCTIONAL ART – art and artisanry which serves a utilitarian purpose, as opposed to fine art; see: craft
FUTURISM – movement, energy, change, and dynamism portrayed in an artwork, as through the use of tracers, force lines, repetition, or blurring.
GALLERY – a room, space, or building dedicated to the display and sale of art works
GENRE – a category of subject matter, style or medium
GENRE PAINTING – the representation of subjects and scenes from common everyday scenes in life, especially domestic and peasant life; ukiyo-e
GEOMETRIC – characterized by or decorated with common, regular shapes and lines
GESSO – gypsum, chalk, or plaster of Paris mixed with glue, and applied to a surface as an absorbent primer for paint, gilding etc.
GESTALT – a unified whole; a configuration, pattern or organized grouping with an effect or message that cannot be derived from the contemplation of its component parts when separated
GESTURE DRAWING – a quick sketch capturing the overall movement or position of a figure, object or arrangement
GICLEE – squirted, an inkjet printing process in which colored inks are finely sprayed onto a printing surface; an inkjet reproduction of a digital image
GILDING – paper-thin leaves of metal affixed to a surface which give the effect of solid or inlaid metal
GLARE – the reflection or shine of a harsh, uncomfortably brilliant light
GLAZE – to coat a painted surface with a thinned, semi-transparent color, which modifies the original color; a gloss or mat protective coating baked onto clay in high heat
GLOSSY – a superficial luster or shine
GLOW – to emit a steady light without reflection or flame; compare: fluoresce
GLYPTIC – a sculpture made from a larger object by removing excess material; carved; reductive
GOLDEN MEAN – golden section; a harmonious standard in art and nature of proportions globally and historically used by artists in the composition of aesthetically pleasing art; see: phi, golden ratio
GOLDEN RATIO – a visually harmonious ratio obtained by dividing a line so that the short segment has the same proportion to the long segment (phi = 1 to 1.618; approx 5:8) as the long segment does to the length of the original line
GOLD LEAF – a very thin, pliable gilding of gold applied to the surface of an artwork; gold flake
GOTHIC – a quality of mystery, gloom or horror in a medieval setting; ancient, barbaric, transcendental; exaggerated vertical elongation of form and carved decoration in architecture
GOUACHE – watercolor paints made opaque or semi-opaque with white paint or chalk
GRADATION – the smooth transition of shades or tints from one value or hue to another; a blend
GRAFFITI – scratches, scribbles, paintings, drawings or inscriptions made on a wall or other surface, usually on publicly visible surfaces
GRAND MANNER – a style of painting which emphasizes and exalts a larger-than-life figure through sumptuous dress, bold posture and/or the simplification and reduction of background elements
GRAPHICS – the art or science of drawing a representation of an object on a two-dimensional surface, as a picture, map, or graph, used for illustration; crisply rendered images or words generated by hand or computer
GRAPHITE – a soft black or gray lustrous form of carbon used in pencils
GRAVURE – intaglio
GRAYSCALE – the conversion of color within an artwork into shades of gray which accurately mimic the original values of the colored artwork
GREENWARE – unfired ceramics
GRID – a uniform pattern of intersecting vertical and horizontal lines
GRISAILLE – grayness, a monochromatic painting in shades of gray, often used as an under painting
GROUND – a foundation or solid surface which receives layers of paint
GUERILLA ART – an anonymous art piece or installation left in a public place, often without permission
GUILD – an association of skilled artists or artisans practicing a common art or craft
GUM ARABIC – a water-soluble gum obtained from the acacia tree and used in the manufacture of inks and adhesives
HAITIAN FLAG – see: vodou flag
HALFTONE – areas along the contours of a form where shade and light visibly mix; compare: penumbra
HARDBOARD – see: masonite
HARD-EDGE PAINTING – contours and forms painted with definite, sharp edges as opposed to broken or soft edges
HARMONY – a pleasing and congruous design and execution through which a work of art is unified and balanced; an emphasis of similarities between separate but related parts
HATCHING – small, grouped, parallel lines in a drawing or engraving which darken the value of an area
HERALDRY – a colorful obsequious ceremony adulating an individual or group
HERITAGE – of interest or value to a culture or community; objects and practices maintained, preserved, and passed from generation to generation as a legacy with local, regional, national, and or global significance
HEROIC PROPORTIONS – a larger than life figure, often with the head depicted proportionately smaller in relation to the rest of the figure
HERRINGBONE – a pattern of rows of convergent slanting lines, forming repeated V and inverted V shapes; compare: chevron
HEX SIGN – a colorful, typically geometric sign designed to bring good, or prevent bad, fortune, painted on a wooden disk or directly onto the side of a structure
HIERARCHICAL PERSPECTIVE – a relative importance of content portrayed by variations in size and placement within a picture
HIEROGLYPHICS – pictographic script of conventionalized symbols; hard-to-decipher or read symbols or figures
HIGH ART – an ideal or plateau of harmony, design, techniques, and principles inherent in a work of fine art
HIGH KEY – pale or light values predominant within a given area or artwork
HIGHLIGHT – the point or points at which an object reflects the most light
HOLOGRAM – a three-dimensional image or photographic record of an interference pattern produced by a split beam of radiation, as of a laser
HOLOGRAPHY – the science or practice of making holograms
HORIZON LINE – an implied or actual line or edge in nature where the sky meets the land or water (horizontal line) at the greatest distance from the viewer
HUE – a specific, named wavelength of visible light as refracted by a prism such as orange, green, indigo; a pure shade or tint of a spectral color
HUMANITIES – academic areas of study which include arts, languages, philosophy, geography, culture, and other human domains
HYGROSCOPIC – readily absorbing moisture, as from the atmosphere
ICON – a graphic symbol whose form suggests its meaning or available function; a representation of a sacred or broadly recognized entity
IDEOGRAM – a written symbol representing an idea or object
IKEBANA – a formal style of flower arranging with the goals of harmony, balance, and aesthetic pleasure
ILLUSTRATION – a design or picture in a book, magazine, or other literary medium which explains or complements the text
ILLUSTRATION BOARD – strong, heavy paper or card used as a support for painting, drawing, collage, etc; bristol board made with a close weave
IMAGE – a physical likeness or representation of a person, place, event, or idea made visible though an art process.
IMAGINATION – a mental sense or formation of something neither perceived as real nor present to the senses; an ability or tendency to form such constructs
IMBRICATIONS – a decoration or pattern overlapping in sequence, as shingles or fish scales
IMPASTO – paste, the application of thick layers of paint, typically oil, to a painting surface; the paint so applied
IMPRESSIONISM – a painting style which aims to capture a momentary glimpse of a subject, especially to reproduce changing light effects, and their play on various objects, by applying short, unblended strokes of pure color; compare: optical color mixture
IMPRIMATURA – a base coat or prime coat of color applied as a ground for a painting
INDIA INK – a black pigment consisting of lampblack mixed with glue or size and water to make it liquid
INDUSTRIAL ART/DESIGN – the technical design, formal rendering, and mechanical fabrication of wood, metal, and plastic objects, as applied to mass production; smithing, masonry, joinery, etc.
INFORMAL BALANCE – the casual organization of design elements in such a way that, while various parts of an artwork differ from others in content, line, color or etc, the overall composition retains balance, unity, and harmony
INKJET PRINTER – a printer which pressurizes and sprays ionized colored inks onto a printing surface; see: giclee
INLAY – to adorn with flat pieces of wood or other material set into prepared slots on a surface; to rub, beat, or fuse (as wire) into an incision in metal, wood, or stone; see marquetry
INSIGNIA – a distinguishing mark or sign of something
INSPIRATION – in breathe, a stimulus or incitement which gives an animating, quickening or exalting influence; a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul
INSTALLATION – a 3d arrangement of sculptural and design objects set up, usually in a specific site, for viewing and passing through by the public, and dismantled after viewing
INTAGLIO – cut in, a printmaking technique in which lines and areas to be inked and transferred to paper are recessed below the surface of a metal printing plate; compare: etching, engraving, dry point, mezzotint, and aquatint
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY – a product of the human mind and talents that is unique, novel, and has market value; legally protected property which stems from the exercise of the intellect, such as patented, trademarked, copyrighted and designed products
INTENSITY – the relative saturation or purity of a hue, on a scale from bright (pure) to dull (muted with another hue); chroma
INTERIOR DECORATION – the art of decorating a room to achieve a certain look, feel, ease of use, and harmony with the existing architecture; a design field which may include wallpaper, paint, furniture, fixtures, and art choices
INTERIOR DESIGN – the manipulation of the architectural integrity of an interior space with consideration of lifestyle experience and human behavior
INTERMEDIATE COLOR – tertiary color
INTERPRET – a conscious response to art through identification of feelings, moods, and ideas elicited by it; the investigation of influences of time and place upon an artist in relation to their work
IN THE ROUND – a sculpture surrounded by 360 degrees of open space, to be viewed from all sides
IRIDESCENCE – a lustrous, attractive, rainbowlike display of colors, as on an oil slick or insect wing, which changes with viewpoint
JUVENILIA – artworks produced during an artist’s youth, art which embodies artistic immaturity
JUXTAPOSITION – the relative placement of elements and forms within a work of art
KALEIDESCOPE – a instrument containing loose bits of colored material, such as plastic or glass, between a flat transparent plate and a mirror, placed so that positional changes of the bits of material are viewed in various reflected patterns
KAMAGRAPHY – a printing process which reproduces the texture of a painting’s brushstrokes as well as its color
KAOLIN – a fine smooth clay used in ceramics, and as a filler or coating for paper and textiles
KATAGAMI – a process of repetitively dying patterns onto textiles using paper stencils
KEYING – the insertion of wedges into the interior angle slot of a stretcher bar – the key is forced outward into the slot to expand the stretcher bar and tighten the canvas
KILN – a furnace used for firing clay or melting metal or glass
KINETIC ART – art made up of or containing moving parts
KITSCH – cheap, sentimental, vulgar, commercial or pretentious art; bad taste; see: schlock
KNIFE PAINTING – a technique of applying paint, usually impasto, to a surface with a palette knife
LACQUER – a clear or colored resinous coating applied to a surface to impart a sleek, high gloss; compare: varnish
LACUNA – a missing part or gap; a small, flaked off section or chip in a painting’s surface; compare cratering
LAMINATE – a compressed thin plate of material, usually used for covering another material in order to give the illusion of a solid piece of the thin overlay; two or more layers of material joined or sandwiched together with heat and/or pressure-activated adhesive
LANDSCAPE – artwork depicting a large swath of natural terrain scenery, with all of its visible features, often considered in terms of its aesthetic appeal; the orientation of an artwork, page, or illustration set to be viewed wider than it is high
LANDSCAPE DESIGN – the art of arranging or modifying features of a landscape or urban area for aesthetic or practical purposes with consideration of form, texture, color, line, density, ornamentation, and mass
LASER PRINTING – laser printers use toner cartridges which are dyes that melt onto the paper
LASER ENGRAVING – a print made by beams of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation in which lines are cut at different depths, perhaps by more passes, for tonal variation, or in which radiation bounces off a mirror onto a drum, drawing an image on its surface by burning a grayscale negative charge in the shape of the mirrored object
LEAN – a relatively low quantity of oil mixed with a given paint color, imparting a matte finish and decreased drying time
LI – balance and beauty in organic, non-geometrical flowing patterns as seen in wood grain, moving water, flames, marble etc.
LICENSE – permission given by an artist to use copyrighted material in a production, publication or other artistic endeavor
LIFE DRAWING – drawing or attempting to draw an actual scene, model, or arrangement as it appears in reality
LIGHTFAST – a pigment’s ability to withstand exposure to daylight and climatic changes without fading; permanence
LIGHTSHOW – a spectacle of colored lights that move and change, especially at an entertainment event
LIKENESS – a resemblance to; the quality or state of being like a particular subject, as in a portrait
LIMITED EDITION – a specified amount of prints made of an image, usually signed and numbered by the artist, after which no more prints are made or that image
LIMN – to draw or paint on a surface; to outline in clear sharp detail; delineate
LINE – a mark made on a surface by a moving point in continuous or sporadic contact with the surface
LINEAR PERSPECTIVE – a mathematical system for representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions by means of lines radiating from one or more points combined with horizontal and vertical lines, creating an illusion of volume and depth on a flat surface
LINEN – a smooth, durable canvas woven from flax threads
LINER – a brush with long thin bristles used for making fine lines
LINOCUT – a print made from a design carved in relief into a block of linoleum; linoleum block print
LINSEED OIL – a traditional oil painting vehicle and medium pressed from flax seeds
LITE BRITE ™ – an electric toy with which one creates a backlit picture by poking multi-colored translucent pegs into opaque black paper illuminated from behind
LITHOGRAPH/Y – stone writing, a printing process in which an image is drawn with an oily or waxy medium on the surface of a smooth stone or metal plate plate, which is then exposed to acid, etching the portions of the stone left unprotected by the grease-based image
LOCAL COLOR – an area of color unadulterated by accidental influences, as of reflection, shadow, or metamerism
LOGO – logogram; a symbol or emblem designed to identify an artist, business, or company
LOST WAX – a casting process in which a ceramic shell is applied around a wax sculpture to form a mold, then the wax then being melted out. a molten metal, typically bronze, is then poured into the cast
LOUPE – a magnifying glass from 2 to 20 power which may fit over the eye socket for close viewing of slides, photographs, and small art pieces
LOW ART – decorative and applied arts which cater to popular taste or mass culture
LOW KEY – dark values within a given area or artwork
LUCIGRAPH – light writing, an image made by incident, projected, refracted, or reflected light rays
LUMINISM – the realistic depiction of light, especially dramatic effects of light on particular objects, forms, and places
LUSTRE – a soft sheen or glow, especially from a partly reflective surface
MACABRE – gruesome, horrifying, or ghastly; representing life’s grimmer aspects, such as death
MACRAME – a coarse lace or fringe made by knotting threads or cords in a geometrical pattern
MAGAZINE – A folded and center-stapled paper publication with articles, art, advertisements, and specific subjects or areas of interest
MAHLSTICK – a long light stick with a padded end used to rest and steady the hand for painting or drawing; compare: bridge
MANDALA – a disk displaying an intricate geometrical design, often with radial symmetry, in sections which represent multiple views of an image or idea to symbolize a system, such as the cosmos
MANGA – ‘indiscriminate picture,’ a stark, expressive, often achromatic style of Japanese cartooning, comic books, and graphic novels
MANNERIST – a style characterized by spatial incongruity and excessive elongation of human figures
MAQUETTE – a usually small preliminary model made by an artist before undertaking a larger work, as of a sculpture, stage set, or building
MARBLE – crystallized limestone ranging from granular to compact in texture, polishable to a smooth surface
MARBLEIZING – faux marbling; the preparation and treatment of a surface to imitate a resemblance to polished marble
MARINE PAINTING – a painting of sea life, oceans, pelagic range, ocean floor, coastal and harbor scenes: compare: seascape
MARQUETRY – an artwork of variously colored woods or other materials finely cut and inlaid into a larger, typically wooden surface; see: inlay
MASONITE – bits of shredded wood glued together in panels with their own natural adhesive, lignin
MAT – an acid free cardboard or cotton fiber border around a two dimensional work of art, framing it within a larger frame to prevent its direct contact with glass, and impart additional importance
MATRIX – womb, a surrounding or containing structure, such as a mold or stamp, on or inside of which a material is placed in order to be formed, transferred, or printed
MATTE – a dull finish; a non-glossy surface
MEDIEVAL – art characterized by iconic, barbarian, or pagan images or themes, often with an iron age, bucolic, sensuality
MEDIUM – a substance or material used to make a work of art, such as paint, clay, film, or fibers; a liquid with which dry pigments are mixed to make paint viscous for application to a surface, or to achieve a desired effect
METAMERISM – the property of a painted or printed color to appear different under altered viewing conditions as, for example, matte or glossy, darker or lighter; see: dichroism
METAPHOR – the representation of a concept or arrangement in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them, often found in dreams; a visual construct with a coherent structure portraying a process or idea with allegorical elements, thereby making sense of an experience or idea
MEZZOTINT – a tonal intaglio engraving process in which an entire plate is roughened with small holes, then areas are burnished to hold less or no ink; mezzoprint; black manner
MIDDLE GRAY – a gray tone exactly midway between black and white
MIDGROUND – those areas in an artwork which appear to lie between the foreground and background
MID KEY – medium values, neither dark nor light, within a given area or surface
MIMETIC – art which mimics or imitates nature and may be highly realistic
MINIATURE – a small or tiny work of art, or a reduced-scale replica of a larger existing or intended artwork
MINIMALISM – an art style in which few elements are used to portray a subject, idea or emotion, often consisting of simple shapes or masses; compare: bauhaus
MISE EN ABYSME – placed in an abyss, to put a copy of an image within itself, often with or suggesting multiple recurrences; a narrative within a narrative
MIXED MEDIA – an artwork made with two or more different types of materials, apart from the surface to which they are applied
MOBILE – a sculpture suspended and in the round, with dangling parts that can be set into motion by air currents
MOCK-UP – a full-scale structural model, as of a sculpture, built as a working sample for studying and testing format, content, harmony, and display qualities
MODEL – a miniature or simplified representation of san artwork to be made; a person or thing that serves as a pattern for an artist, especially by posing; an archetype or analogy used to help visualize something not directly observable, as an atom; to sculpt with a tangiblec material, such as clay; to render an illusion of volume on a two-dimensional surface by shading
MODELED – to shape or construct a form with tangible materials, such as quilling paper or clay
MODERNISM – contemporary art which may present concepts, issues, an emphasis on individual style, artistic process, and the cultivation of diverse approaches, formats, and experimentation; includes abstraction, cubism, fauvism, expressionism, Dada, impressionism, pop art, and surrealism
MODULATE – to adjust to or keep in proper measure or proportion; to pass gradually from one state, motif or object to another by means of intermediary shapes or colors or that have some relation to both states
MOKO, TA MOKO – to strike, to tap, a tattoo of complex symbolic designs carved into the skin, especially on the face, indicating a wearer’s rank, genealogy, tribe, and individual traits
MOLD – a hollow container used to shape a material or substance which is pressed or poured into it, such as papier maché or wax
MONOCHROME – an artwork in which only one hue is used in varying tonal degrees; compare: grisaille
MONOGRAPH – decorative initials embroidered or printed on an item
MONOPRINT – a print from an edition made unique through an additional printing process, such as a superimposed monotype
MONOTYPE – a unique print transferred directly from a wet painting on a glass or metal plate to a printing surface
MONTAGE – a composition made up of pictures or parts of drawings, paintings, photographs, or cinematic clips, into a larger art piece
MORPH – to change gradually from one form or quality to another
MOSAIC – small pieces of tessera embedded in a background material such as plaster or mortar
MOTIF – a repeated form, design or element predominant in an ouvre or a work of art
MOTTLED – having colored spots or blotches
MOVEMENT – design elements of art arranged or executed to produce a look of motion, or to cause the viewer’s eye to sweep over the art work in a certain manner
MUDDY – color which appears over-mixed and neutralized by excessive manipulation of the paint in its application
MUDEJAR – of or denoting an Islamic/gothic flair in art, architecture, and utilitarian objects which may include delicate tile work, intricate designs, dazzling geometric patterns, and symbols 
MURAL – a painting or drawing made directly on a wall or ceiling, covering all or much of the surface area
MUSEUM – a venue dedicated to the display and commerce of art which is of public, thematic, or historic interest
MUSEUM PAPER – thin sheets of acid free paper between which artworks on paper may be archivally stored and protected
MUSEUM QUALITY – archival quality; an artwork processed or prepared to standards necessary for long-term preservation and care; art which appreciates in value or is of public interest
MUTED COLOR – a hue which has been toned down and made into a more neutral or subdued color; a non-intense hue
NAIVE ART – works of art created in the absence of formal art training, yet appealing for their bright colors, originality and freshness; compare: primitive art, folk art
NARRATIVE ART – art which relays a story or represents key features or events of a story
NATURALISM – the subjective interpretation of visual reality which retains, if not mimics, the natural appearance of the forms and scenes depicted
NEEDLEPOINT – an embroidered canvas or cloth resembling tapestry; lace woven into a cloth with a needle over a drawn or paper pattern
NEGATIVE SHAPE – a background area which appears as a shape between and through depicted forms, such as a gap between an arm and torso; compare: sky holes
NEGATIVE SPACE – the empty space or apparent shapes surrounding and integrated with a three-dimensional forms, or appearing to surround two dimensional forms
NEOCLASSICISM – modern art and architecture inspired by the classical style of ancient Greece and Rome, and by ideals of harmony, clarity, reason, and idealized realism
NEON – a chemically inert glowing gaseous element
NETSUKE – a small, carved, ornament of wood or ivory, sometimes suspended from a Japanese pocketless garment so that items could be carried by it
NEUTRAL COLOR – a color, or non-color, made by mixing complementary hues, and not associated with any single hue; black, white, grays, browns
NEWSPRINT – a thin, off-white, acidic paper used for drawing practice with dry media such as charcoal and pastels
N.F.S. – not for sale
NIB – a pen point; a sharp point for cutting material or for applying color extruded from a container
NOIR – black, art with predominantly dark values, often featuring tough characters in bleak, sleazy settings, and suggesting danger
NONOBJECTIVE – without recognizable objects or reference to anything outside itself; see: nonrepresentational
NONREPRESENTATIONAL – art which does not portrayobjects or scenes from reality; see: nonobjective
NON-SPECTRAL COLORS – achromatic or neutral colors, and non-rainbow colors such as pink, tan and olive
NUANCE – a subtle variation of color, value, or concept; an expression of delicate shades of meaning or feeling
OBJECT – a form within an artwork which represents a material or tangible item
OBJECTIVE – art which is not influenced by an artist’s opinions, emotions, or values
OFFSET – an image printed directly from a still-moist print or from a freshly printed flexible plate, such as rubber, so that the (second generation) image is reversed
OFFSET PRINTING – a printing process in which an inked impression from a plate is first made on a rubber-blanketed cylinder and then transferred to the paper being printed
OGIVE – ogival arch; a diagonal rib of a Gothic vault; a pointed arch; a distribution curve in which the frequencies are cumulative
OIL INDEX – a manufacturer’s list of the relative oil content within in each tube or mixture of paint
OIL PASTELS – painting or drawing sticks of an oil and wax based composition, with darker and typically more intense hues than chalk pastels
ONE-POINT PERSPECTIVE – linear perspective with one vanishing point in the composition, typically at the center of the horizon line
OPAQUE – a layer of paint or material through which no light passes
OP ART – art in which lines, forms and space are organized to give optical illusions, such as the appearance of movement
OPEN EDITION – an unlimited or unspecified number of prints made from an image initially, or to be made subsequently, plus all proofs of that image
OPEN FORM – a form or object depicted with broken or feathered contours; forms with non-specific boundaries as opposed hard edges; compare: painterly, fumage
OPENWORK – a perforated or pierced work of art which includes openings through its substance, such as wrought-iron or lace
OPPOSITE COLORS – see: complementary colors
OPTICAL COLOR MIXTURE – a color blending effect in which interspersed, isolated brush strokes or dots of color mix in the eye of the viewer as opposed to on a palette or in its application; see: op art, impressionism
OPTICAL ILLUSION – an image or scene that deceives the visual system into perceiving something that is not present, or into incorrectly perceiving what is present, so that its true nature is misinterpreted
ORGANIC – a curvilinear, irregular, non-geometric form or scene which occurs, or could occur, in nature
ORIGAMI – paper intricately folded into three dimensional shapes representing objects such as flowers, animals, etc.
ORIGINALITY – a freshness of idea, design, or style resulting from independent thought, experience, or constructive musing or imagination
ORIGINAL PRINT – a printed reproduction of an image made by, or under the supervision of, the creator of the original image
ORMOLU – an alloy of copper and zinc used to imitate gold; a gilded metal, especially brass or bronze
ORTHOGONAL – lines, edges and planes in a painting or drawing which are perpendicular to the picture plane and appear to recede into the picture
OUVRE – work, the entire output of a single artist
OVERWORK – to work too much on an artwork, causing loss of aesthetic quality such as muddiness, or loss of freshness in brush strokes
PAINTERLY – a visual quality characterized by openness of form, loosely defined contours, and a directness of applied colors and brush strokes; compare: open form
PALETTE – a tray or surface for mixing paints; specific colors used in a particular work of art
PALETTE KNIFE – a thinly bladed tool used for mixing paint, traditionally oil, or for applying it to a surface
PAPERBOARD – cardboard or pasteboard
PAPIER MACHÉ – paper softened in liquid paste and molded over a supporting structure, which becomes durable when dry
PARABLE – an image or narrative which illustrates a concept or lesson outside of its subject matter; compare: metaphor
PAREIDOLIA – a tendency to perceive a specific, perhaps meaningful image within a random, ambiguous, or non-representative visual pattern; a type of illusion or misperception of something vague or obscure as something clear and distinct
PARODY – an imitation of an artist’s style or of a genre of art, which is deliberately changed or exaggerated for comic effect
PARQUET – flat patterned work, usually geometric, of wood or inlay, especially for floors
PASTEBOARD – solid cardboard or paperboard with a smooth paper facing which may be acid free for fine art use
PASTEL – ground pigment mixed with gum and formed into a dry, chalky crayon; a soft, pale shade of any color
PASTICHE – a work of art that imitates the style of some previous work, artist or period
PATINA – a mottled film which forms on a surface, usually copper, brass or bronze, after long exposure to air, or by artificial means such as the application of acids
PATRON – one who regularly buys fine art, or otherwise materially supports an artist
PATTERN – a repetitive design composed of elements or objects arranged in a regular or formal manner
PENTIMENTO – lostness, the slightly visible ghost of an underlying image which shows through an alteration made to an area already painted, especially one which has bled through the covering layer over time
PENUMBRA – a small area of semi-shadow along the outside edge of a darker shadow
PERSPECTIVE – the depiction of scenes or objects in such a way as to show them on a two-dimensional format as they might appear in reality, as by converging lines, (linear perspective) or changes in hue and clarity, (atmospheric perspective)
PETROGLYPH – a carving or inscription on a rock surface
PHI – a universal harmonious standard in art and nature; phi = 1.618033988749895; the reciprocal of phi and also phi minus 1; see: golden mean
PHOTOGRAPHY – light writing, the production of images on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light, gamma rays, x-rays or other forms of radiant energy
PICTOGRAPH – a pictorial symbol used to convey an idea; a graph, chart or record composed of symbolic pictures
PICTORIAL SPACE – an illusionary space appearing to recede backward into depth from a picture plane
PICTURE PLANE – the flat surface of a two-dimensional art work
PIGMENT – finely ground natural or synthetic colored powders used to make paints and dyes when mixed with liquid media and binders
PINEAL GLAND – a gland in the center of the brain related to visualization, dreams and conjuration
PLASTER OF PARIS – gypsum cement; calcium sulphoid powder mixed with water and hardened into a durable solid for making frescoes, sculpture and casts
PLASTICINE – plastic paste used for making models and sculptures
PLATERESQUE – richly ornamented sculpture or architectural facades in low releif, suggestive of silver work
PLEIN AIR – open air, a painting of an outdoor scene made on location rather than in the studio
PMMA – polymethylmethacrylate; a clear rigid plastic material used in lenses, paints, and optical fiber
POINTILLISM – a painting executed with tiny separate dots or points of color; compare: dot paintings
POLYCARBONATE – a synthetic resin of linked carbonate groups used in the manufacture of film and molding materials
POLYCHROMATIC – multicolored
POOR PERSON’S COPYRIGHT – a documentation of artwork placed in an envelope, mailed to oneself through the regular post, and left unopened
POP – an optical effect caused by a high contrast in hue, value or texture
POP ART – painting and sculpture based on subject matter, visual clichés and an impersonal style of popular mass-media imagery, often executed with commercial art techniques
POP UP ART – art condensed or smashed within a container, such as between the pages of a book, which expands and displays when the container is opened
POP UP EXHIBITION – a temporary, informal display of art, often in a fleetingly available venue where other exhibition spaces are limited or restricted; compare: salon
PORCELAIN – a hard, fine-grained, nonporous and usually translucent white ceramic ware consisting essentially of kaolin, quartz, and feldspar fired at high temperatures
PORTFOLIO – a portable carrier for hard copy images of a finished body of work which shows an artist’s output and artistic merit
PORTRAIT – a representation of a person or animal, especially of the face and upper body; the orientation of an artwork, page, or illustration set to be viewed higher than it is wide
PORTRAY – to depict or represent something
POSER – one who desires to be perceived as an artist, while likely lacking artistic experience, skill, or merit
POSTER – a mass-produced, typically nonarchival print
POSTMODERNISM – art which disregards traditional formal elements of art, and emphasizes an awareness of and concern for societal, cultural, environmental, and political issues; art for society’s sake
POUNCE PATTERN – an image transfer process in which small holes are punched along the main lines of a drawing and a dry, loose material such as charcoal, is rubbed through the holes onto another working surface, imparting a rough outline of the original image
PRE-RAPHAELITE – an artist honoring the depiction of nature with style and imagery suggestive of medieval; one seeking to restore early Renaissance methods or ideals, with an expression of seriousness and sincerity in their work
PRETENTIOUS – the affectation of greater skill, depth, and talent by an artist, or more importance in an artwork, than is actually possessed or inherent
PRIMARY COLORS – blue, yellow, and red; the colors from which all others may be derived
PRIME – to cover a surface with a preparatory absorbent coat of sizing, gesso, or other primer to make a surface receptive to paint or other liquid media
PRIMITIVE ART – simple or crude fine art made by a naive or unschooled artist; see: folk art, naïve art
PRINCIPLES OF ART – formal standards and organization of art elements pertaining to balance, harmony, unity, technique, variety, proportion, rhythm, and movement
PRINT – produce (books, newspapers, magazines, etc.), especially in large quantities, by a mechanical process involving the transfer of text, images, or designs to paper an indentation or mark left on a surface or soft substance by pressure, especially that of a foot or hand.
PRINTMAKING – the design and manufacture of one (monoprint) or a series (edition) of images on a flat surface, such as by relief block (woodcut, linoleum), intaglio (etching, engraving, gravure), stencil (silkscreen), digital (giclee), or lithographic process (serigraph)
PROFILE – the representation of an object or figure as seen from the side, particularly in portraiture
PROGRESSIVE RHYTHM – a visual rhythm in which the motif changes slightly each time it is repeated
PROJECTOR – a device which emits light rays through translucent images and lenses onto a surface for viewing
PROOF – a trial print examined by the artist for color and value accuracy, so that corrections may be made prior to the printing of an edition
PROPORTION – a reference to size relationships between two or more sets of dimensions, between various elements of art to each other, and to the composition as a whole
PROVENANCE – an unbroken record of ownership for a work of art, ideally from the time it left the artist’s studio to its present location
PSYCHEDELIC – mind manifesting, a depiction the inner psyche, usually polychromatic, characterized by hyperconsciousness, aliveness, or presence, possibly dream-like or hallucinatory; art inspired by mind-expanding experiences which may portray kaleidoscopically swirling patterns or spiritual viewpoints inspired by insights derived from altered states of consciousness
QUATREFOIL – four-leafed, a four-pointed figure, especially decorative, as in an architectural ornament, also; trefoil, cinquefoil etc.
QUILL – the tubular hollow portion of a feather, or porcupine or hedgehog spine which may be loaded with ink or dye and used for drawing or writing, to form into small cylindrical strips
QUILLING PAPER – paper filigree; thin paper strips which are rolled, shaped, and glued together or onto a surface to make designs or forms
QUILT – to stitch designs through padded layers of cloth, fastening them; to stitch, sew or cover with lines, patterns or designs; a blanket or art piece so made
RADIAL SYMMETRY – a similarity, equality, or balance of form and arrangement in multiple parts about an axis, as in a starfish or flower
RAYOGRAPH – an image made from the reception of parallel streams of particles or radiation, such as light, by a surface which is visibly altered by the streams
REALISM/REALISTIC – art which accurately depicts nature or anything that can be seen in actuality or ordinary visual experience, without distortion or stylization; art depicting real scenes from contemporary life, focused on ordinary, unexalted people, often portraying nonidealized beauty in the commonplace
REBUS – a representation of words by pictures of objects, or by symbols whose names sound like the intended words; a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols
RECTILINEAR – characterized by straight lines and right angles
RED DOT – sold
REDUCTIVE – carved out or reduced; minimization or lessening of an object in the making of a sculpture; glyptic
REFRACTORY – having the property of altering the course of a light beam’s directness of travel, or of segregating spectral colors from a single beam of light; light-bending
REGIONAL ART – art depicting landscapes or coastal features unique to a specific region, and usually made there; compare: folk art
REGISTRATION – the precise consecutive placement of separate color plates onto one printing surface in order to achieve correct relation or exact superimposition of form, tone, and line
RELIEF – a raised projection or sunken cutout of a form from the supporting ground or plane of which it is a part, varying in depth from low – with little or no undercutting of contours (bas relief) – to high relief, in which half or more of a form’s circumference differs from the plane of the ground; an apparent projection or vividness of contrasting parts in a two dimensional artwork which gives the appearance of three dimensionality
RELIEF PRINTING – a printing technique in which ink-carrying parts of a printing surface are left raised, with remaining areas cut away, as in woodcuts or linoleum block prints
REMARQUE – re-marked, an additional enhancement, detail, or flourish made by the artist on part of an art print within an edition; compare:embellishment, retouch
RENAISSANCE – rebirth, a renewed interest in fine arts, learning, values and exploration which lays intellectual and cultural groundwork for future art, ideas, and styles
RENDER – to depict; to produce or represent a copy or version of something by artistic means, as in drawing
REPLICA – a copy or reproduction or an artwork executed with intended exactitude in all details
REPRESENTATIONAL ART – art which depicts actual forms and objects, especially pertaining to a realistic portrayal of subject matter
REPRODUCTION – a copy, likeness or counterpart of an original artwork done by someone other than, and without the supervision of, the creator of the original
RESIN – a sticky substance obtained from gum or pine trees, or synthetic, used in making varnishes, glues and plastics
RETICULATED – divided, marked, or constructed so as to form a network; resembling a net, especially having a pattern of lines; see: flowing rhythm
RETOUCH – to rework, touch up, or alter in order to produce an improved, more desirable appearance; compare: remarque
RGB – red green blue; the three ‘primary’ pixel colors of electronic and computerized imaging, from which all other colors on a display screen derive
RHOPLEX – a polymer binder used in the manufacture of acrylic paints and plastics
RHYTHM – patterned movement depicted or suggested by the repetition of an element such as color, form, line or content
ROCOCO – characterized by lightness, daintiness, loose brushwork and the use of curving, elegant natural forms in ornamentation, often with brightly colored playful subjects
ROMANTICISM – an artistic style emphasizing feeling, originality, creative imagination, and an artist’s own personality and sympathetic interest in nature; art emphasizing emotion, mystery, freedom of form, and the pursuit of one’s unique path in life, with inspiration drawn from intense personal experience
ROTARY PRINTER – a printing press in which printable images are curved around, or printed from a cylinder
RUBBING – an impression made by laying paper over an incised or sculpted surface and rubbing its surface evenly with charcoal, crayon or the like
RUBENESQUE – a plump or rounded human, usually female form perceived as pleasing or attractive
SALON-STYLE – an art exhibition in which artworks are displayed across walls in multiple vertical tiers to maximize viewing range – often at a private venue and typically representing several artists.
SANDBLAST – an engraving on glass or stone executed with a stream of sand projected by compressed air
SAND PAINTING – a painting made by adhering various colors and tones of sand to a surface
SATIRE – humor, ridicule, or irony presented within an artwork which exposes the idiocy, vices, or dangerous policies of a person or group, especially as they relate to societal, cultural, environmental, political, or religious issues
SATURATION – the chromatic purity of a hue, on a scale from bright (pure) to dull (diluted with another hue); chroma, intensity
SCALE – the represented size of a scene or object as it differs from its actual size, from another representation, or from other forms within the scene
SCENE – a view or representation of an area of space occupied by forms; a narrative sequence which represents an event or incident
SCENIC – an impressive or beautiful actual or represented view, usually of nature
SCENOGRAPHY – the art of perspective representation, especially as applied to the painting of stage backdrop scenery
SCHEMA – chchematic a portrayal or symbol of a concept, thing, or system with no other experience or form represented outside of the thing itself
SCHLOCK – inferior, trashy, annoying art; see: kitsch
SCRATCHBOARD – a gessoed board coated with dark ink or paint into which a design is scratched with a sharp implement to expose the white ground underneath
SCREEN PRINT – silkscreen
SCRIBBLE – a hasty, careless, usually worthless drawing without regard to form; accidental marks made outside of an intended contour
SCRIMSHAW – a carving or engraving usually done on ivory or bone, with ink or pigment rubbed into the etched grooves for contrast
SCROLL – an ornament having a spiral or coiled form; an artwork or text on parchment, silk or paper, to be viewed in open form
SCROLLWORK – ornamentation characterized by scrolls, especially fancy designs cut into wood with a scroll saw
SCULPTURE – a three-dimensional art object; the art or practice of shaping figures or designs in the round or in relief, as by carving, modeling or casting
SCUMBLE – an overlayer of opaque or semi-opaque color applied thinly and lightly with an almost dry brush, as by scrubbing, which leaves parts of the underlayer visible; compare: open form
SECONDARY COLOR – a color made by mixing two primary colors; orange, purple and green
SECONDARY LIGHT SOURCE – an object or element which reflects, or bounces, light received from a brighter source onto a scene or object, as the moon or a wall
SEASCAPE – art depicting a large swath of natural oceanic scenery such as waves, coastline, or harbor; compare: marine painting
SECONDARY MARKET – art sold by the collector or purchaser of an artist’s original work, as opposed to by the artist, original dealer, or publisher
SEPIA – a reddish brown, melanin-containing pigment made from the ink of cuttlefish; a print or photograph of a brownish gray to dark olive, brown, or rust color
SERIGRAPH – silkscreen
SERPENTINE – snakelike, a form or movement resembling or suggestive of a serpent’s locomotion
SFUMATO – smoked, having vague outlines, colors and shades, mingled or gradated to give a hazy, softened appearance
SGRAFFITO – a design produced by scratching or incising through an outer layer of paint or glaze to reveal a contrasting ground
SHADE – to achieve a color value by adding varying degrees of darkness; a color slightly different from the one under consideration; compare: tone, key, value
SHADOW – a dark area or shape produced on a surface by a form situated between light rays and that surface
SHADOW BOX – a shallow box with a clear frontal screen in which objects are displayed and protected
SHAPE – an enclosed area of 2 or 3D space defined at its edges by line, or by changes in value, color, texture, or some combination of art elements which represent contours
SHEEN – a shining brightness, especially on a polished surface; see: lustre
SHONA SCULPTURE – a smooth figurine or sculpture carved in serpentine, verdite, granite or other durable stone, depicting humans and anmals in spiritual and communal themes, suggestive of love, nature, and harmony; stone sculptures hand carved by the Shona of Zimbabwe
SIGHTING – to eyeball a given length or distance, as along a pencil or thumb, held at a fixed distance from the viewer, in determining the proportional relationships between objects and contours for drawing
SIGIL – a sign, word, or device believed to have occult power in systems of magic
SILHOUETTE – a filled-in outline of a solid form on a contrasting background, usually black on white
SILKSCREEN – a printing process in which thin paint or ink is pressed with a squeegee or flexible blade through a stencilled barrier adhered to a permeable fine mesh, typically onto a textile such as silk, or onto paper using a separate stencil for each color; serigraph
SIMULTANEOUS CONTRAST – an optical effect caused by the tendency of contrasting colors to contrast more when placed side by side; see: fire and ice
SIRDS – Single Image Random Dot Stereogram; an image composed of seemingly random colored dots which, when viewed with a focal point just in front of the image’s surface, appears as three-dimensional, previously unperceived scene
SITE SPECIFIC – created, designed or selected for a particular exhibition site
SIZE/SIZING – to coat with a gluelike substance to fill in the pores of paper or canvas before applying wet media; the coating so applied
SKETCH – a rough, usually quick outline or drawing which captures the basic elements and structure of a scene using little detail, and often used as a reference for later work
SKINNING – a thin, drying membrane which forms over a portion of paint on a palette , especially on acrylic paint, after lengthy exposure to air
SKY HOLES – small background areas appearing between and through objects, such as leaves and branches, giving them a spacious, airy effect
SLAG – scum that forms on the surface of molten metal or residual waste or foreign matter from metal sculpting; dross
SLICK – repetitive, formulaic artworks made primarily for the purpose of selling rather than from a creative impulse, self expression, or a communicative desire
S/N, S&N – signed and numbered
SMALTE – colored glass or similar vitreous material, or pieces of such material used in mosaic; see: tessera
SMITHY – a forge or blacksmith’s workshop
SLIDE SHOW – a display of several images projected onto a viewing surface, historically of transparencies on cellulose
SLIP – a semi-fluid mixture of clay particles and other materials floating on water, thinner than slurry, and used for glazing and decorating ceramics
SLURRY – a viscous mixture of clays, pigments, and other materials used for coating or repairing ceramics
SOAPSTONE – a soft, easily carved, flaky rock composed mostly of talc, used for small sculptures
SPACE – real or perceived voluminous areas between or around masses; depth
SPECTRUM – a band of colors produced when sunlight passes through a prism, ordered according to consecutive wavelengths; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet
SPECULAR LIGHT SOURCE – a sharp light source which makes hard-edged shadows; a regular direct reflection, as from a mirror, as opposed to diffuse
SPIRAL – a curve formed by a point moving around a fixed point, while continuously receding from or approaching it
SPIROGRAPH ™ – a set of jagged-edged, gearlike discs of various sizes perforated with multiple holes through which a pen or pencil could be inserted in order to draw rhythmic, patterned lines around other discs, as their own jagged edges guided the path of the traveling (pen-carrying) disc
SPONGING – the application of a medium or color with a sponge
SPRAY PAINT – the application of a fine spray of paint or dye applied from a container and propelled by aerosols or pressurezed air; compare: airbrush
STABILE – a kinetic sculpture mounted on a stationary base
STACKED – flat artworks displayed in two or more vertical rows across a wall, creating a higher and lower – and so larger – viewing range.
STAINED GLASS – glass that has been colored, especially by having pigments baked onto its surface, or by having metallic oxides fused into it
STATUE – a freestanding three-dimensional representation of a form produced by sculpting, modeling or casting
STATUETTE – a small statue, especially smaller than life-size; compare: figurine
STATUTORY COPYRIGHT – an inherent, semi-protected copyright which exists as the result of an artist having created an artwork
STELE – an upright stone slab, pillar, face of a building, rock, etc. bearing commemorative, usually carved, inscriptions and designs, sometimes serving as a monument or marker
STENCIL – a drawing or design cut out of a barrier material, such as paper or cardboard, so that paint or ink can be readily applied to a surface through the cutout
STENDHAL SYNDROME – a dizziness, torpitude, overstimulation, or other nervous condition caused by viewing too many artworks in too short a time
STEREOGRAM/GRAPH – an image produced by the perceptual fusion of two slightly different views of a flat scene, each image being perceived by a different retina, which gives a three dimensional appearance
STILL LIFE – a painting, drawing, or photograph of an arrangement of inanimate objects, such as flowers or fruit
STIPPLE – to paint, draw or engrave with small flecks or dots rather than with continuous lines or broad color areas
STOP OUT – to cover areas of an etching plate with a resistant barrier, typically resin, before immersing or reimmersing it in acid
STRETCHER BAR – a framework upon which a canvas is attached to be painted, or upon which a print is attached for display
STRIATIONS – furrows, stripes, or streaks in parallel arrangement
STUMP – a rubbing tool made of compacted paper, rubber or soft leather, used for blending or spreading dry media on a surface
STYLE – the characteristic handling of art elements and media which identifies an artwork as the product of a particular person, group, art movement, period or culture
STYLIZED – visual forms rendered with contrived and personalized design qualities
SUBTRACTIVE COLOR MIXTURE – a reduction of reflected light resulting from consecutive applications of color over previous layers
SUBJECTIVE – art influenced by an artist’s opinions, emotions, or values
SUBTRACTIVE TEXTURE – the loss of textural paint qualities resulting from repeated brushstrokes
SUMI BRUSH – a soft, absorbent water-media brush used in ink painting, calligraphy, and dye painting
SUMI-E – a trancelike process of creating art without deliberation, characterized by a visceral, in-the-moment application of strokes with no touching up, erasing, or revising
SUNDAY PAINTER – one who dabbles in painting, paints infrequently or does so as a hobby
SURREALISM – art which attempts to portray or interpret the workings of the unconscious mind, as manifested in dreams, characterized by an irrational, fantastic arrangement of material
SYMBOL – a form or image which implies or represents something beyond its immediate appearance; compare: logo
SYMBOLIC SPEECH – communicative non-verbal expression consisting of emblems, symbols, pictures, gestures, or conduct; the keystone of artistic expression
TALENT – a natural or acquired aptitude or skill
TAMP – to lift excess brushstrokes or lumpy media off of a surface by covering it with paper or other absorbent material, then rubbing the back of the paper and lifting it off in order to maintain a smooth, workable surface
TAPESTRY – a heavy handwoven textile with rich, complicated pictorial designs used for decoration, curtains and upholstery
TATTOO – an indelible marking on the skin made by puncturing it and inserting ink, dyes, and pigments
TAXIDERMY – the art of mounting and stuffing the skins of slain animals to give them a lifelike appearance
TEAR SHEET – a page cut or torn from a publication to prove to a client that an advertisement was published
TECHNIQUE – a specific method or approach to art making, including the application of media, the use of tools and equipment, and the manipulation and control of materials; a way of working with tools and materials to create an art object
TEMPERA – a quick-drying, water-resoluble paint used for temporary and disposable art works; poster paint; compare: egg tempera
TEMPLATE – a two dimensional matrix, pattern, or prototype from which similar forms or images can be printed, derived, or copied
TENEBRISM – darkness; a style of painting in which most pictorial elements are engulfed in shadow while a few are illuminated by direct light, usually from an identifiable source; extreme contrasts of light and dark in figurative compositions for heightened dramatic effect; compare: chiaroscuro;
TERTIARY COLOR – a color made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color adjacent to it on the color wheel; blue-green, red-orange etc; see: intermediate color
TESSELATION – the covering of a surface by congruent planar figures without gaps or overlaps, as in a checkerboard
TESSERA – bits of colored glass, stone or ceramic tile, used in mosaics; see: smalto
TEXTILES – artworks created from natural or synthetic fibers, such as weaving, basketry, stitchery, and knitting
TEXTURE – the tactile quality of a nonsmooth surface, or the representation or suggestion of such a quality
THEME – the subject or topic of an artwork or body of work, or the essence of its style
THERMAL DYE PRINT – see: dye sublimation print
THERMOCHROMIC – temperature sensitive pigment, a color that changes with heat or pressure
TIMELESS – a quality in an artwork which is understandable, accessible, or effective across generations, independently of current, local events; compare: universal
3D – the illusion of depth or volume in an image, an exaggeration of volume and depth; compare: holograph, stereograph
3D PRINTING – a three dimensional form digitally transferred to, and manufactured by a computer
THREE-QUARTER PORTRAIT – a portrait with a subject’s face turned one quarter away from the viewer; a portrait showing the figure to the hips only
TIE-DYE – a method of dying textiles in which sections of fabric are bound so tightly that liquid dyes won’t permeate the tied sections when immersed in them
TIKI – the first being, creator; a carved wooden or stone image of a Polynesian supernatural power; a Polynesian style or atmosphere
TINT – a shade of a given color, especially a pale variation; a gradation of a color made by adding white to lessen its saturation; slight coloration, tinge, trace
TOLE PAINTING – a lacquered or enameled sheet metal or metal ware, usually gilded and elaborately painted
TONE – tint, shade; a color combined with varying degrees of light and shade; acolor that modifies another
TOPIARY – the art of training, cutting and trimming shrubs or trees into ornamental or animal shapes
TOTEM POLE – a pillar carved and painted with emblems, such as animals and plants, often representing myths, family lineage or historical events
TRACE – to draw on a translucent or transparent surface by copying the darker portions of a visible image underneath it
TRACER – the appearance of a surviving mark or remnant of an object, fleeting especially into a rhythmic pattern
TRACERY – an ornamental, integrated network of metal, generally in a window where it supports glass pieces suspended within it
TRANSLUCENT – a layer or material through which some diffused light passes
TRANSPARENCY – a transparent picture, as on film, viewed by shining a backlight through it, or by projection
TRANSPARENT – a layer or material through which abundant light passes
TRIADIC – a color group or scheme using three equidistant colors on the color wheel which form an equilateral triangle, such as orange, green, and purple
TRICK – to make forms within a static scene appear integrated through the use of tracers, flowing, rhythmic colors, uncertain contours, an emphasis on matter’s wave nature, and on natural processes which entangle matter and energy over time
TRIPTYCH – a set of three paintings, related in content and displayed side by side, stacked, or otherwise near each other; a painting in three parts
TROMPE L’OIEL – trick the eye, a painting which creates such a strong illusion of reality that the viewer may not be sure whether the thing depicted is real or a representation
TROPE – a familiar motif or element recurring in a body or genre of art
TWO-POINT PERSPECTIVE – linear perspective using two vanishing points in one composition
TWYERHOLES – a thin liquid mixture containing a pulverized substance such as plaster of Paris or clay
TYMOLOGY – anamorphosis; a distorted optical image produced by intentional distortion, as by unequal scale along a particular dimension or axis of an image
UKIYO-E – paintings and prints, originally Japanese, depicting the everyday life and interests of common people; compare: genre painting
UMBRA – the heart or core of a shadow, usually having the darkest value
UNDERPAINTING – a layer or layers of color applied to a surface before the subjective painting begins; a blocked out monochrome image in muted colors and tones which guides the painter in the development of composition, details, value, and color
UNITY – an apparent wholeness or oneness of an artwork, and the quality that all its elements are harmonious, interrelated, and belong; compare: gestalt
UNIVERSAL – a quality in an artwork which is globally understandable, accessible, or effective, and is associated with no particular place, group or culture; compare: timeless
UNVEIL – to display or reveal an artwork for the first time, sometimes by removing a veil or covering
VALUE – the darkness or lightness of tones; white is called ‘high value’ and black is called ‘low value’; ‘middle gray’ lies halfway between these extremes; compare: key
VANISHING POINT – a point at which parallel lines receding from an observer into the pictorial space (orthogonals in one-point perspective) appear to converge
VANITAS STILL LIFE – a still life arrangement with ephemeral or biodegradable objects that remind viewers of the transience and uncertainty of life
VANITY ART – art displayed to enhance the importance or cultural acumen of its owner
VANTAGE POINT – the point at which a viewer’s eye is positioned
VARNISH – a resin dissolved in oil or alcohol and applied over a finished painting to protect it and give it a uniform finish; see: lacquer
VEHICLE – a liquid emulsion, such as oil, mixed with binders, pigments, and other paint components to make paint viscous so that it can be spread onto a surface
VERDIGRIS – green of Greece, a green or bluish pigment consisting principally of copper sulfate, made from the patina formed on copper, brass or bronze surfaces
VIBRANCY – a high degree of chroma, brightness, and saturation of a color, or a pronounced, contrasting brightness among a group of colors
VIEW FINDER – a small, hand-held paper or board with an opening cut into it proportionate to a surface used for painting or drawing which, when looked through, aids an artist in determining and sketching a pleasing composition
VIGNETTE – an ornamental design or illustration in a book or magazine, as at the beginning of a chapter, with no definite border, perhaps shading off gradually at the edges
VINTAGE – photographic print made within a few years of the original negative; one or more of similar works from a specific period
VISION – something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; a manifestation to the visual sense of something immaterial
VISIONARY – one who thinks or communicates in visual terms, or presents concepts or experiences drawn from beyond observable reality, such as from dreams, ideas, imagination, mysticism, archetypes, or psychedelic experiences
VISUAL WEIGHT – the interest or attraction which certain elements in an artwork have for a viewer, as found in areas of high color intensity or contrast, bold contours, texture or salient position
VIVID COLOR – a bright, intense, saturated hue
VODOU FLAG – Haitian flag, drapo; a satin, velvet or rayon flag lavishly decorated with sequins, beads and/or appliqué which may be used in rituals
VOLUTE – a spiral, scroll-like or whorling ornamental protrusion, such as that used on an Ionic capital
WABI SABI – the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, incomplete, modest, humble, unconventional, irregular, intimate, unpretentious, earthy and simple; a scene or arrangement suggestive of natural processess
WARM COLORS – colors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem warm; red, orange, and yellow
WARP – the distortion or twisting of a form; the lengthwise or stationary threads in a canvas or textile, such as those held tense on a loom, which are crossed at right angles by the weft
WASH – a thin, translucent layer of water-based paint, ink or dye
WATERCOLOR – paint for which water is used as a solvent and vehicle
WATERMARK – a faint translucent or bas relief design impressed on paper during manufacture, and visible when the paper is held to light which typically identifies the maker; a metal stamp which produces such a design
WATER MEDIA – wet painting materials; water-based paints such as gouache, watercolor, inks, and dyes
WATER SOLUBLE – readily dissolvable in water
WEAVING – a fiber construction predicated on a right-angle relationship; an array of stationary cords (warp), with flexible fibers (weft) inserted through the warp strings in an over-and-under pattern
WELD – to unite metallic or plastic parts by hammering or compressing, or by heating and allowing the parts to flow together
WEFT – the horizontal, or crosswise threads interlaced perpendicularly through the warp in a canvas or textile; woof; while the over-and-under inserted threads are called the weft, woof, or filler
WHITE BALANCE – the adjustment of a color set using white as a reference to achieve true values based on the lighting situation in which a camera is used
WRINKLE ARTIST – an artist who includes a high degree of detail, such as bony joints, in portrait sketches, cartoon drawings, or other typically sparse sketches
WROUGHT IRON – a tough, malleable, relatively soft iron with low carbon content, mixed with 1 or 2 percent slag, forged or sculpted into a functional and/or decorative form
WOODBLOCK – woodcut
WOODCUT – a image or design carved into a block of wood so that ink may be applied to the raised surfaces and then printed; the resulting print; woodblock; compare: xylography
WOOF – woven fabric, its texture; the horizontal or crosswise threads on a loom over and under which other threads (the warp) are passed to make cloth; weft
WORM’S-EYE VIEW – a perspective in which the vantage point is at or near the nadir
XEROGRAPHY – a photocopying process in which an image formed by a resinous powder on an electrically charged plate is transferred to paper or another copying surface
X-RAY ART – the depiction of an animal or human figure, typically in outline, in which the shapes and locations of internal structures, usually bones, are visible
XYLOGRAPHY – the art of engraving on wood or printing from such an engraving
YELLOWING – a color, varnish or medium which becomes, or causes another ingredient to become yellow over time; compare: foxing
ZEITGEIST – time ghost, the essential spirit of a given time period which permeates thought, sentiment, aesthetics, and values
ZEN GARDEN – a dry, shallow, sculpted landscape garden made of sand, gravel, stone, rock and sometimes grass or other natural elements
ZINE – a small or simple non-commercial magazine, often published by independent writers and artists, with a regional circulation
ZOOMORPHIC – an artistic style or image which represents or suggests an animal form or characteristic