Art Terms — G

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A glossary of art vocabulary and definitions beginning with G.

A room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited.
From the French word meaning “kind” or “genus.” A realistic style of painting that depict scenes of everyday life. Dutch artworks of peasant and tavern scenes are considered typical genre paintings. Click for more information about genre art.
A mixture of plaster, chalk, or gypsum bound together with a glue which is applied as a ground or coating to surfaces in order to give them the correct properties to receive paint. Gesso can also be built up or molded into relief designs, or carved. Click for more information about gesso.
(Pronounced “zee-clay”) a printmaking process usually on an IRIS inkjet printer to make reproductions of a photograph of a painting; the printer can produce a very wide range of colors resulting in prints that are of very high quality.
An acronym for “Graphic Interchange Format”, an image format type generated specifically for computer use. Its resolution is usually very low (72 dpi, or that of your computer screen), making it undesirable for printing purposes.
Gild the Lily
A phrase meaning to add unnecessary ornamentation to something already beautiful.
The application of a gold finish. It can be achieved by applying gold leaf, or by using metallic powders.
A thin layer of translucent acrylic or oil paint applied to all or part of a painting, to modify the tone or color underneath. Glazing is the process of using this technique.
Gold Leaf
An extremely thin tissue of gold used for gilding.
Good Design Principles
The basic building blocks an artist uses to organize or arrange the various elements that comprise a design or composition within a work of art. The principles are: Balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, proportion, space, unity, and visual economy. Also referred to as the principles of design or the principles of composition. For more information on this subject, please see the discussion on each of the composition principles.
A type of watercolor paint, made heavier and more opaque by the addition of a white pigment (chalk, Chinese white, etc.) in a gum arabic mixture. This results in a stronger color than ordinary watercolor.
Graffiti Art
Refers to forms of art (or vandalism) where images or text have been spray-painted, sketched, or even scratched onto walls, sidewalks, or other publicly accessible areas. Public response to graffiti is not always favorable. Aficionados say that unauthorized or illegal art comes from a desire to make cityscapes more interesting by painting over blank or barren walls.
Graphic Art
Two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, engraving, etching and illustration in their various forms.
Graphic Design
The applied art of arranging image and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, such as print, digital media, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and signs. Graphic design as a practice can be traced back to the origin of the written word, but only in the late 19th century did it become identified as a separate entity.
A soft, black, lustrous mineral made of carbon used in lead pencils, paints, crucibles, and as a lubricant.
Refers to the range of gray tones between black and white (see illustration).


GreenOne of the secondary colors that is created when the two primary colors of blue and yellow are mixed together. See Secondary Colors. The complement or opposite of the color red. Part of the RGB color model used on television and computer screens.
grid enlargingRefers to a series of crossed lines that meet to form a boxed pattern used in the predetermined placement of photographs and graphic elements on a canvas. Useful in creating compositions.
Grid Enlarging
The process of using a grid to enlarge an image; for copying very precisely, another image, on the same or a different scale, usually larger; used in scaling an image by drawing (see illustration). For more information on how to use this method, see article titled “Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas“.
Monochrome painting generally employing shades of gray executed in a black pigment and an inert white pigment in oil, gouache or tempera; a stained glass window incorporating muted tones as opposed to bright colors.
Guerrilla Art
Street art by Banksy.

A term often used interchangeably with “street art”. Guerrilla art is a form of art making which entails the artist installing unauthorized works of art in public places. This form of art expression provides a way for the artist to anonymously express their views and opinions to a large audience. Such statements can be either political or merely to call attention to one’s surroundings. Guerrilla art differs from other forms of art. It is environmental and is not created on traditional supports such as a canvas. Such traditional forms of art can be moved from gallery to gallery without any affect on the piece or its meaning, however, this is not so with street art. The surface to which street art is applied to can be as fundamental to the piece’s meaning as the image itself.

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UPDATED: 22 April 2021

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