Art Terms 


Ever wondered what all those "Art Terms" used by Artist's mean? Here are some for you to learn:


ACRYLICS-Almost like oils but more durable, quicker to dry and you can paint on any unprimed surface and will not crack over time.

ASYMMETRICAL BALANCE-A Kind of balance in which the 2 sides of the design are very different.

BALANCE-An arrangement of parts so that they have equal force.

BACKGROUND-The shapes that appear behind the foreground.

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

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

BALANCE-An arrangement of parts so that they have equal force.

BACKGROUND-The shapes that appear behind the foreground.

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

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

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

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

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

CANVAS- A prepared cloth surface used for painting.

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

CAST- A form for reproducing (making copies) of something. A mold.

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

CERAMICS- Referring to the technique of shaping and firing clay.
CHROMA-Chroma is the quality that distinguishes a strong, dark color from a weak one. The intensity of a color.

COLLAGE- The technique of building up a picture in two-dimensional form by using newspaper, magazines, wallpaper, and wood. Sometimes drawn or painted sketches where done over a collage background.
COLOR VALUE-The color value is the position in reference to the amount of white and black. 

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

COMPOSITION- The plan, placement or arrangement of the elements of art in a work, usually according to the principles of design.
CONTE- A soft drawing tool made by adding clay and pigment to graphite.

CONTRAST-Opposites placed next to or near each other in a picture.

CLOISONNE- An object having an enamel coating.

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

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

DADA-A reaction to the rationalization, rules and conventions of mainstream art.

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

DELINEATE- To draw or trace the outline of a sketch out.

DEPTH-How deep or three-dimensional an artwork looks. The illusion of space can be created using color, line, and shape.

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

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

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

DYE- A substance used to color materials.

EASEL- A stand that artists paint on.

ELEMENTS OF ART-The building blocks of art such as lines, shapes, form, texture, space, value and color.
ENAMEL- A protective or decorative coating baked on metal, glass, or ceramic ware that dries to a hard, glossy finish.
ENCOUSTIC-This type of artwork was done with beewax.

ENGRAVING-You draw with a steel needle on a metal plate.

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

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

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

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

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

FOCAL POINT (or center of interest)-The part of an artwork you look at first.

FOREGROUND-The first shapes that appear in front of a picture.

FORM-The shape of an object that has many sides and viewpoints.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GLAZE-Used by puting a transparent color over anathor dry color.

GLOSSY- Having a smooth, shiny, lustrous finish.

GRAPHIC-ART- The art of drawing and printmaking.

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

GOUACHE-This is watercolor paint that chalk was added to make it opaque.

HORIZON LINE-The line where the earth meets the sky.

HUE-The name of the color.

IMPLIED LINES-Lines you cannot see.

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

INDIA INK-A Black pigment that is lightfast and water resistant.

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

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

INTERMEDIATE COLOR-A color made by mixing a secondary color with a primary color.

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

IRREGULAR SHAPE-Not geometric as most shapes in nature.

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

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

KINETIC-Any artwork with parts that move.

LACQUER- A glossy, resinous material, used as a surface coating.

LANDSCAPE-Outdoor scenes like city, sea, sky or land.

LIMITED EDITION-The specific amount an artist will print of her artwork

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

LINEAR PERSPECTIVE-The way the eye perceives objects. Closer objects appear larger and they get smaller with distance.

LINSEED OIL-Made froma seed of the Flax plant.

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

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

MAT-This is a way to protect your artwork and making it more attractive when framing it.

MATTE- A dull, often rough finish.

MASTIC-This resin is used to make varnishes.

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

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

MEDIUM-The kind of material from which an artwork is made.

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

MIXED-MEDIA-A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition.

MODERN ART-This artist used new art movements instead of the traditional art. For example: Expressionism and Surrealism.

MONOCHROMATIC-Variation of one hue.

MOOD-The feeling created by an artwork.

MODEL-A person who poses for a work of art.

NONOBJECTIVE-Having no subject matter nor definable objects.

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

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

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

OVAL- Like the shape of an egg.

OVERLAP-When parts of a picture lie on top of other parts.

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

PALLET- An object designed to hold paints which the artist lays out and mixes colors on.

PALLET-KNIFE- A tool, the working end of which is flat and is used especially for mixing and/or applying paint.

PASTELS-Pastels are sticks of color used for drawing. The texture of pastels can be chalky or oily depending on what the pigment is mixed with. They are bright, portable colors with no drying time.

PATTERN-You can create it by repeating a line, shape or color over and over again.

PERSPECTIVE- The technique artists use to project an illusion of the three- dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface to create a sense of depth.

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

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

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

PORTRAIT-A likeness of a particular person or animal.

PRIMARY COLORS-All other colors are made from these and they cannot be made by mixing other colors. They are red, yellow and blue.

PRINCIPLES OF ART-These are balance, contrast, proportion, pattern, rhythm, emphasis, unity, and variety.

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

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

PURE COLOR-A color that has not been mixed with another color.

REALISM-The exact way the an object really looks.

RENAISSANCE-Naturalistic styles were the interest and and formal rules of composition.

REPRESENTATION-Very close to the way an object really looks.

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

RHYTHYM-A repeated part or pattern in a picture.

SCULPT - The act of sculpturing.

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

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

SECONDARY COLOR-A color made by mixing 2 primary colors as green, orange and violet.

SHADE-The color made by mixing a pure color with black.

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

SICCATIVE-Metallic salts used to make a paint dry faster.

SKETCH- An drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study, not the final artwork.

STILL LIFE-Inanimate objects grouped indoors.

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

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

SYMBOL-Something that represents another thing.

SYMMETRICAL BALANCE-A kind of balance in which both sides of design are exactly alike.

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

TERRA COTA-A redish-brown baked clay.

TEXTURE-Appears or feels rough or smooth.

THREE-DIMENSIONAL-Objects have height, length & width.

TINT-The color made by mixing a pure color with white.
TONE-When a color is mixed with gray.

TWO-DIMENSIONAL-FLat, 2 sides only.

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

UNITY-When the parts of a picture come together.

VALUE-Refers to the lightness and darkness of what is seen.

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

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

VISUAL-ART- Any art for that can be viewed.

WASH-A Very thin coat of paint.

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

Copyright © 2000 (to present date) Happy Scribbles, Inc.  All rights reserved.