Art Terms — S

From “Sable brush” to “Symmetrical Balance”


Holy Lands wall artSea of Galilee at Capernaum
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on stretched canvas

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Sable brush
An artist’s brush made of sable hairs.
Sacred art
See “religious art.”
Sans serif
san serif graphic In typography, a typeface, such as Helvetica, that does not have a serif (crossline) decorating the main strokes of the characters. Sans is French for “without” (see illustration).
Sculptor
An artist who creates sculptures.
Sculpture
Any three-dimensional form created as an artistic expression. Sculpture is primarily concerned with space: occupying it, relating to it, and influencing the perception of it.
Seascape
A painting or work of pictorial art that depicts the sea or a scene that includes the sea; a painting representing an expansive view of the ocean or sea; picture or painting depicting life around the sea. Click for more information about seascapes.
secondary colors on the color wheelSecondary colors
Green, purple, and orange. These three colors are derived from mixing equal amounts of two of the three primary colors (see illustration).
Self portrait
A portrait an artist makes using himself or herself as its subject, typically drawn or painted from a reflection in a mirror. Also a portrait taken by the photographer of himself, either in a mirror, by means of a remote release, or with a self timer.
Sepia
A reddish-brown hue sometimes applied to black-and-white pictures which gives the finished print an antique appearance often associated with monochrome photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Serif
In typography, serifs are the small features at the end of strokes within letters (see san serif illustration above).
Shade
A color produced by adding black to a pigment.
shading graphicShading
Showing change from light to dark or dark to light in a picture by darkening areas that would be shadowed and leaving other areas light. Shading is often used to produce illusions of dimension and depth (see illustration).
Shape
An area which stands out from the space next to it or around it because of a defined boundary or because of a difference of value, color, or texture.
Sienna
A form of limonite clay most famous in the production of oil paint pigments. Its yellow-brown color comes from ferric oxides contained within. As a natural pigment, it (along with its chemical cousins ochre and umber) was one of the first pigments to be used by humans, and is found in many cave paintings.
Silhouette
A dark image outlined against a lighter background.
Simplicity
The understanding of what is and is not important in a design. Details that do not have a major impact to the design are omitted to keep it uncluttered.
Sketch
A rough drawing used to capture the basic elements and structure of a situation often used as the basis for a more detailed work.
Space
The interval or measurable distance between pre-established points.
Space art
A modern day art movement still in its infancy. Sometimes referred to as astronomical art. Space art strives to show the majesty of the universe by depicting interstellar and interplanetary elements as its subject matter.  Click for more information about space art.
stained glass graphicStained glass
Glass that has been colored or stained through different processes. This term is also used to refer to the art of cutting colored glass into different shapes and joining them together with lead strips to create a pictorial window design (see illustration).
Statue
A sculpture representing a human or animal.
Stencil
Stiff paper (or other sheet material) with a design cut into it as a template for shapes meant to be copied. Also a method of applying a design by brushing ink or paint through a cut-out surface.
Still life
A painting or other two-dimensional work of art representing inanimate objects such as bottles, fruit, and flowers. Also, the arrangement of these objects from which a drawing, painting, or other art work is made. Click for more information about still life art.
Stippling
A drawing technique consisting of many small dots or flecks to construct the image; technique of using small dots to simulate varying degrees of solidity or shading; to paint, engrave, or draw by means of dots or small touches of the brush, pen, or other tool.
Stomp
A kind of pencil consisting of a tight roll of paper or soft leather, or of a cylindrical piece of rubber or other soft material used for rubbing down hard lines in pencil or crayon drawing, for blending the lines of shading so as to produce a uniform tint.
stretcher bars graphicStretcher frame
A wooden frame over which the canvas of a painting is stretched (see illustration). For information about stretcher bar frames click on link.
Subject matter
The topic dealt with or the subject represented in a work of art. The subject matter is what the artist has chosen to paint, draw or sculpt.
Support
The material providing a surface upon which an artist applies color, collage, etc.
surrealism artSurrealism
An art style developed in Europe in the 1920’s, characterized by using the subconscious as a source of creativity to liberate pictorial subjects and ideas. Surrealist paintings often depict unexpected or irrational objects in an atmosphere of fantasy, creating a dreamlike scenario; An art movement in which one’s dreams, nightmares, sub consciousness and fantasy inspired the final works. Click for more information about the surrealism art style.
Symmetrical balance
The placing of identical forms to either side of the central axis of a work to stabilize it visually.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 932

Art Terms — T

From “T-square” to “Typography”


dancer paintingThe Ballerina
Dancer painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

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T square graphicT-square
A guide for drawing horizontal lines on a drafting table. It is also used to guide the triangle that draws vertical lines. Its name comes from the general shape of the instrument where the horizontal member of the T slides on the side of the drafting table (see illustration).
Texture
The tactile surface characteristics of a work of art that are either felt or perceived visually.
tertiary colors on the color wheelTertiary colors
Also called intermediate colors, these are blends of primary and secondary colors. Colors such as red-orange and blue-green are tertiary colors.
Three-dimensional
Occupying or giving the illusion of three dimensions (height, width, depth).
Three-dimensional space
A sensation of space which seems to have thickness or depth as well as height and width.
Three-quarter view
A view of a face or any other subject which is half-way between a full and a profile view.
Thumbnail sketch
Crude, small pencil drawings used to develop the initial concept for a design.
TIFF
Acronym for Tagged Image File Format, a standard graphic image file format usually generated by scanners. Developed by Aldus and Microsoft.
Tint
A hue with white added. Pink is a tint of red.
Titanium
An oxide used as a white pigment of great permanence and covering power. Usually extended with other whites to improve its brushing and drying properties.
Tole
Decorative painting on tin objects.
Transition
The change or passing from one condition, place, thing, or activity to another; the passage linking one subject, section, or other part of a composition with another.
Trompe l’oeil
French for “fool the eye.” A two-dimensional representation that is so naturalistic that it looks actual or real (three-dimensional.) This form of painting was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago in frescoes and murals.
Turpentine
A high quality oil paint thinner and solvent.
Two-dimensional
Having two dimensions (height and width); referring to something that is flat.
Two-dimensional space
A measurable distance on a surface which show height and width but lack any illusion of thickness or depth.
Typography
The study and process of typefaces; how to select, size, arrange, and use them in general. In modern terms. typography includes computer display and output. Traditionally, typography was the use of metal types with raised letterforms that were inked and then pressed onto paper.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Coutn: 427

Art Terms — U

From “Ultramarine” to “Urban Landscape”


marine nautical still lifeBoat Fenders
Marine still life by Teresa Bernard
9″ x 12″
Oils on canvas panel board

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Ultramarine
A vivid blue to purple-blue pigment originally made from ground lapis lazuli. French ultramarine is an artificial substitute.
Umber
A natural earth pigment of brown or reddish-brown color used in painting. In its natural form, it is called raw umber, but when it is heated, the color becomes more intense and is called burnt umber.
Underdrawing
Preliminary drawing that lies under the final painted or inked image.
Underpainting
The preliminary layers of paint in a painting that render the basic outline of the image before the final paint layers are added to complete the work.
Undertone
A subdued or muted tone of color; specifically a color seen through and modifying another color.
Unity
An organization of parts so that all contributed to a coherent whole. It is the combined result of all principles of design. See Principles of Good Design discussion on unity for more information.
Uppercase
In typography, capital letters, which gained this alternative name from the standard location in which typesetters stored them.
Urban landscape
A premise of urban planning arguing that the best way to organize cities is through the design of the city’s landscape, rather than the design of its buildings. Also referred to as landscape urbanism.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Count: 253

Art Terms — W

From “Wash” to “WYSIWYG”


painting with covered wagonCovered Wagon on the Prairie
Western landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on stretched canvas

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Wash
Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique.
Warm color
Colors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem warm. Warm colors or hues include red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow.
Watercolor
A water-based paint that is a translucent wash of pigment; a painting produced with watercolors.
Watermark
A watermark is a design embossed into a piece of paper during its production and used for identification of the paper and paper maker. The watermark can be seen when the paper is held up to light.
Waterscape
A painting of or including a body of water. It might otherwise be called a marine picture, a seascape, or a riverscape, etc.
Wet-on-wet
A painting technique that is well-known as being the primary method of painting used by Bob Ross. Since lighter colors will usually mix with darker colors if laid over top of them while wet, the technique relies on painting from light colors up. This gives the painting a soft look, and allows the colors to be blended to the painter’s desire.
Wildlife art
Works of art which portray the natural world and the wildlife or domesticated animals that inhabit it. Click for more information about wildlife art.
Woodcut
Illustrations produced when the original printing plate was engraved on a block of wood. One of the oldest methods of printing, dating back to 8 th century China.
Worm’s-eye view
As if seen from the surface of the earth, or the floor looking up from below. A variation on a landscape painting where the horizon is placed very low in the picture, or outside of it completely.
WYSIWYG
(Pronounced “wizzy-wig”) is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, and is used in computing to describe a seamlessness between the appearance of edited content on the monitor and final product.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Count: 374

Art Terms — V

From “Value” to “Volume”


Auvers, France church paintingVan Gogh’s Church at Auvers, France
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 24″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

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Value
The lightness or darkness of a color; contrasts between light and dark. For more information see blog article titled “Basic Art Element — Value“.
linear perspectiveVanishing point
In perspective, the point on the horizon in the distance where two lines seem to converge and visibility ends.
Vector graphic
A graphic made up of mathematically defined curves and line segments called vectors. Vector graphics can be edited by moving and resizing either the entire graphic or the lines and segments that compose the graphic. Vector graphics can be reduced and enlarged (zoomed in and out) with no loss of resolution.
Vermilion
Scarlet red, a variable color that is vivid red but sometimes with an orange tinge.
Vertical balance
The distribution of visual weights in a piece in such a way that top and bottom seem to be in equilibrium.
Viewfinder
viewfinder graphicA tool used to look through to compose an image. This tool is helpful in selecting the most interesting composition to be found in a larger image by cropping out unwanted perimeters. In photography a viewfinder is what the photographer looks through to compose, and in many cases to focus, the picture (see illustration). For more information see article titled “Making and Using a Viewfinder to Compose Better Paintings“.
Vignette
An image or painting where the borders are undefined and seem to fade away gradually until it blends into the background.
Viridian
A blue-green pigment composed more of green than blue. Viridian takes its name from the Latin viridis meaning “green”.
Visual communication
The communication of ideas through the visual display of information. Primarily associated with two dimensional images, it includes: alphanumeric, art, signs, and electronic resources. Recent research in the field has focused on web design and graphically oriented usability.
Visual economy
As used in art, a paring down to only the essential elements required to achieve the desired effect; a.k.a. simplicity.
Volume
The mass of three-dimensional shapes in space.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 372

Art Terms — X

From “X-Radiography” to “Xylography”


western canvas artTexas Flag Barn
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

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X-Radiography
A medical diagnostic tool used extensively by conservators to determine how artists applied different layers of paint to create an image. The X-rays penetrate through multiple layers of paint to image on film the atomic weight or density of the various materials that are present. It can easily detect if repairs have been made to tears in the canvas, if there are holes in the panel support, and other such occurances. This information is extremely valuable to conservators as it helps to determine the best proceedures to use in preserving the image. It can also assist art historians in the interpretation of the art work and more
specific dating.
Xerography
Photographic process which uses an electrically charged metal plate. On exposure to light the electrical charge is destroyed, leaving a latent image in which shadows are represented by charged areas. A powdered pigment dusted over the plate is attracted to the charged areas, producing a visible image. Also called photocopying or xerocopy, a lesser used term.
Xylography
An early form of wood engraving, was first seen in China in the 1st century. It is the oldest known engraving technique.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Count: 240

Art Terms — Y

From “Yellow Ocher” to “Yellowing”


yellow rose flower paintingYellow Rose of Texas
Flower Art by Teresa Bernard
18″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

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Yellow Ocher
A yellow pigment often used by artists that usually contains limonite, a yellowish-brown oxide of iron; a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide, which ranges in color from yellow to deep orange or brown.
Yellowing
A discoloration that can occur over time in oil paintings due to excessive use of linseed oil medium; applying any of the varnishes that are prone to yellow with age; or most often – an accumulation of dirt embedded into the varnish.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 130

Art Terms — Z

From “Zackenstil” to “Zoomorphic”


still life oil paintingThe Study
Still life by Teresa Bernard
14″ x 11″
Oils on stretched canvas

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Zackenstil
A 13th-century German word meaning “jagged style.” Zackenstil is used to describe a zig-zag style used in sculpture, painting, stained glass and manuscript illumination.
Zenga
A style of Japanese calligraphy and painting, done in ink. Often both calligraphy and image will be in the same piece of art.
Zinc white
A common white pigment, zinc white is a brilliant white synthetically derived from the metal zinc.
Zincography
A printing process that uses zinc plates instead of stones plates made from fine lithographic limestone.
Zinnober green
Another name for chrome green.
Zoomorphic
Describes forms of art and ornaments based on the shape, form or likeness of an animal.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Count: 156