Art Terms — U

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A glossary of art vocabulary and definitions beginning with U.

Ultramarine
UltramarineA deep blue to purple-blue pigment originally made from ground lapis lazuli. The name comes from the Latin ultramarinus which translates “beyond the sea”. During the 14th and 15th centuries, ultramarine was the finest and most expensive blue used by Renaissance painters.
Umber
A natural 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. Umber is not one precise color, but a range of different earth colors. The name comes from the Italian terra d’ombra (or “earth of Umbria”),  named after a mountainous region in central Italy where the pigment was originally extracted.
Underdrawing
Preliminary drawing that lies under the final painted or inked image.
Underground Art
A term used to describe a subculture of art that operates outside of conventional norms in the art world, like graffiti, street art or visionary art. Any form of art that mostly occurs on public property.
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 where typesetters once 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: 22 April 2021


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