A 1960’s art movement and style that attempts to use a minimal number of textures, colors, shapes and lines to create simple three-dimensional structures. Also known as minimalism.
Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus is on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often “abstract” objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see. Click for more information about abstract art.
Art that rejects true visual representation. It has few recognizable images with great emphasis on line, color, shape, texture, value; putting the expression of the feelings or emotions of the artist above all else.
A style of painting and sculpture heavily influenced by nineteenth century European academies of art. The academies were very conservative resisting advent-garde innovations and expressions of modern art.
To stress, single out as important. As applied to art it is the emphasis given to certain elements in a painting that allows them to attract more attention. Details that define an object or piece of art.
A process of increasing an art collection by addition; something added to what you already have (“the art collection grew through accession”).
A fast-drying synthetic paint made from acrylic resin. Acrylic is a fast-drying water-based “plastic” paint valued for its versatility and clean up with soap and water.
Refers to creating a sense of depth in painting by imitating the way the atmosphere makes distant objects appear less distinct and more bluish than they would be if nearby. Also known as atmospheric perspective.
Refers to viewing a subject from above, looking downward. Also called “birds-eye view”.
The method of oil painting in which the desired effects of the final painting are achieved in the first application of paint as opposed to the technique of covering the canvas in layers with the final painting being achieved at the end.
Any set of three or five colors that are closely related in hue(s). They are usually adjacent (next) to each other on the color wheel.
The use of the principles and elements of design to create functional pieces of works of art.
The use of forms which are similar on either side of a central axis. They may give a feeling of the exactness or equal relationship but ar sufficiently varied to prevent visual monotony.
The completed work of an artist which is the expression of creativity or imagination, or both that portrays a mood, feeling or tells a story; works of art collectively. For more information see blog article titled “What is Fine Art?“
French for “raw art”, the art of children and outsiders (naïve artists and the mentally ill); actually, anyone not producing art for profit or recognition.
A style of design and decoration popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s characterized by designs that are geometric and use highly intense colors, to reflect the rise of commerce, industry and mass production.
A group of artists who agree on general principles or ideals regarding artistic styles and tendencies within a specific period of time. For more information see Art Movements From A – Z.
A decorative art movement that emerged in the late nineteenth century; art characterized by dense asymmetrical ornamentation in sinuous forms, it is often symbolic and of an erotic nature.
A distinct phase, stage or juncture in the development of the creative work of an artist, groups of artists or art movement.
A practitioner in the arts, generally recognized as a professional by critics and peers.
A text based visual art created from 95 printable characters that uses computers for presentation. ASCII art is created using any text editor program and requires a fixed-width font such as Courier for presentation. For more info.
A realist art movement in early twentieth century America best known for depicting everyday life in the poorer neighborhoods of New York City.
A form of sculptured art, either three-dimensional or two-dimensional, composed of “found” objects and arranged in a such a way as to create a work of art. These objects can be anything organic or man-made. The origin of this particular art form dates back to Pablo Picasso, a well known cubist artist.
Placement of non-identical forms to either side of a balancing point in such a way that the two sides seem to be of the same visual weight.
A technique used by painters for representing three-dimensional space on a flat two-dimensional surface by creating the illusion of depth, or recession within a painting or drawing. Atmospheric perspective suggests that objects closer to the viewer are sharper in detail, color intensity, and value contrast than those farther away. As objects move closer to the horizon they gradually fade to a bluish gray and details blur, imitating the way distant objects appear to the human eye. Also called aerial perspective.
One of the Good Design Principles. Balance in art is a feeling of equality in weight, attention, or attraction of the various elements within a composition as a means of accomplishing unity. Read more.
An art movement of the 19th century formed by a group of French landscape painters who sought to promote a more realistic and informal approach in their nature paintings. They were heavily influenced by 17th-century Dutch genre painting and proponents of outdoor painting.
An art movement of the 17th and 18th centuries Europe whose artworks, music and architecture were characterized by exaggerated ornate detail. The style, which was popular with and supported by the Catholic Church, began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread throughout most of Europe.
Seeing from a point of view that is from an altitude or from a distance; a comprehensive view in a downward direction; also called an “aerial view”.
A pixel-based image (.BMP) with one bit of color information per pixel, also known as a bitmapped image. The only colors displayed in a bitmapped image are black and white. Its quality decreases when the image is enlarged.
A high quality heavy weight drawing paper, sometimes made with cotton fiber prepared or glued together, usually with a caliper thickness of 0.006″ and up, used for many types of two-dimensional artwork, including lettering.
Refers to a brush that has the same shape as a “flat” however the hairs are not as long as those on the flat brush. (See illustration).
A tool used to apply paints and inks to a surface, consisting of hairs, or bristles held in place by a ferrule attached to a handle. The quality of the hair determines the brush’s quality and cost. Each type of brush has a specific purpose, and different fibers are used for different mediums.
The mark left by a loaded (filled) brush on a surface. Brushstrokes can be distinguished by their direction, thickness, TEXTURE, and quality. Some artists purposefully obscure individual brushstrokes to achieve a smooth surface. Other artists make their brushstrokes obvious to reveal the process of painting or to express movement or emotion.
The distinctive technique in which an artist uses to apply paint with a brush onto a medium, such as canvas.
A distinctive style of artistic handwriting created by using special pen nibs that allow a calligrapher to vary the thickness of a letter’s line elements; an elegant, decorative writing, developed to an art form itself, used to enhance the artistic appeal and visual beauty of handwritten papers and manuscripts.
A heavy, closely woven fabric; an oil painting on canvas fabric; the support used for an acrylic or oil painting that is typically made of linen or cotton, stretched very tightly and tacked onto a wooden frame. Linen is considered far superior to the heavy cotton for a canvas. Click for more information on the different types of canvas available for painting.
Center of interest
An emphasized area of the composition. Also referred to as the focal point.
The art of making objects of clay and firing them in a kiln. Wares of earthenware and porcelain, as well as sculpture are made by ceramists. Enamel is also a ceramic technique. Ceramic materials may be decorated with slip, engobe, or glaze, applied by a number of techniques, including resist, mishima, and snag gam. Pots made can be made by the coil, slab, some other manual technique, or on a potter’s wheel.
Compressed burned wood used for drawing.
A city landscape; a painting of a city; in art it is the urban equivalent of a landscape. Also called urban landscape. Click for more information about cityscapes.
A form of art derived from the study of Greek and Roman styles characterized by harmony, balance, and serenity. In contrast, the Romantic Movement gave free rein to the artist’s imagination and to the love of the exotic.
The abbreviation for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). These are the four primary colors used in process printing.
Introduced by the Cubists, the technique of creating a work of art by adhering flat articles such as paper, fabrics, string or other materials to a flat surface such as a canvas whereby a three-dimensional result is achieved.
A visual attribute of things that results from the light they emit or transmit or reflect; the visual response to the wavelengths of light, identified as red, blue, green, etc.; primary and secondary colors; warm, cool, and neutral colors, color value; hue; and intensity. For more information about color, see “Basic Art Element — Color“.
Refers to a pigment’s lasting power. Tubes and other containers of paint are sometimes labeled with a code indicating a color’s degree of permanence.
Degree of color permanence
Less than permanent, though fairly durable
A traditional photographic process of separating artwork into component films of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in preparation for printing to ultimately create a full-color printed product. Recent computer innovations have obviated the need for separated film negatives in certain applications.
A round diagram that shows the placement of colors in relationship to each other. It is from the color wheel that “color schemes” are defined. For more information on the color wheel.
Refers to art that is made for the purposes of commerce. The term is somewhat obsolete and is currently being replaced in many colleges with the term “Visual Communication.”
Refers to the act of hiring someone to execute a certain work of art or set of artworks.
Two colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. When placed next to one another, complementary colors are intensified and often appear to vibrate. When mixed, brown or gray is created. Red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet have the greatest degree of contrast. Red-violet and yellow-green, red-orange and blue-green, and yellow-orange and blue-violet are also complementary colors.
The arrangement of the design elements within the design area; the ordering of visual and emotional experience to give unity and consistency to a work of art and to allow the observer to comprehend its meaning.
Refers to visual images made with the assistance of computers. Computer graphics are often made with software called drawing, painting, illustrating and photographic programs or applications.
The difference between elements or the opposition to various elements. A principle of good design. See more info.
Colors whose relative visual temperatures make them seem cool. Cool colors generally include green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, and violet.
The cutting out of extraneous parts of an image, usually a photograph; excluding part of a photo or illustration to show only the portion desired or to fit a given space requirement.
A 20th-century French art movement that uses two-dimensional geometric shapes to depict three-dimensional organic forms; a style of painting created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque whereby the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of pictorial space.
One of the four process colors used in printing, or CMYK, the C is for cyan. Cyan is also a primary color along with magenta, yellow and black.
Collective term for such art forms as ceramics, enamels, furniture, glass, ivory, metalwork and textiles, especially when they take forms used as interior decoration.
A French word meaning “paste up”. The Victorian craft of cutting out motifs from paper, gluing them to a surface and covering the glued on paper with as many layers of varnish as is required to give a completely smooth finish.
Depth of field
In photography, the area in front of and behind the focused point that is sharp. A shallow depth of field is used in portraits to provide a soft backdrop, whilst a greater depth of field is useful for landscapes to ensure everything from the foreground to the background is in focus. Shorter (wide angle) lenses and smaller apertures increase depth of field.
The arrangement of the design elements to create a single effect. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.
The process of relating the elements whether they are similar or contrasting and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.
The emphasis placed on a particular area or characteristic of a work, with other areas or aspects given subordinate or supporting roles.
A technique used in film and photography to expose two images onto one negative, or sheet of photographic paper.
Refers to loading a brush with two colors side by side. This is a technique typical of tole and other kinds of decorative painting. Also known as “side loading”.
The act of representing an image on a surface by means of adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. Also refers to an illustration that has been drawn by hand.
An upright support (generally a tripod) used for displaying something. It is most often used to hold up an artist’s canvas while the painter is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.
The deletion of non-essential details to reveal the essence of a form. Also regarded as an element of good design. Click here for more information about this art principle.
A medium created by mixing pure, ground pigments with egg yolk. This was a very common medium before the invention of oil paints.
Elements of art
Basic components of art-making. These key elements are color, form, line, shape, texture, and value. In any form of art, at least of one of these elements is used. For more information about this subject, please see the discussion on the basic elements of art.
French for “in open air,” used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors, rather than in the studio.
An impression made from an etched plate; an intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed surface.
A public showing of a piece or a collection of objects. Also called an exhibit.
Post-World War I European art movement that emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal. This art form emphasizes the expression of subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist rather than objective reality. It is characterized by distorted lines and shapes and exaggerated colors for emotional impact. Vincent van Gogh is esteemed as the forerunner of this particular movement.
Refers to the metal or plastic device that that aligns and anchors paintbrush bristles or hairs in an adhesive. The ferrule is attached to the handle by crimping or by binding wires. (See brush illustration.)
Brushes used to create soft edges, blend colors, and has the shape of a flower petal or leaf. (See filbert brush illustration.)
A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation. Painting and sculpture are the best known of the fine arts. For more information see the blog “What is Fine Art?”
A liquid, similar to varnish, which is usually sprayed over a finished piece of artwork to better preserve it and prevent smudging. Artwork media requiring fixative include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel.
A brush with a flat shaped end like a screwdriver. (See illustration.)
A strong, stiff, resilient, and lightweight board of polystyrene laminated with paper on both of its sides used as backing for art prints before framing. Also referred to as “foam board”.
A specific area, element or principle that dominates a work of art; the area in a work which the eye is most compellingly drawn. The viewer’s eye is usually drawn there first.
Art created by individuals who have had no formal, academic training in art, but whose works part of an established tradition of style and craftsmanship. It is characterized by a naive style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed.
In typography, a complete set of characters in a particular size and style of type. This includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special character and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys.
The field of font design. A person who designs fonts is a “fontographer”.
The volume and shape of a three-dimensional work, perhaps including unfilled areas that are integral to the work as a whole.
A form of perspective used to create the illusion of an object receding strongly into the distance or background by shortening the lines with which that object is drawn. To shorten an object to make it look as if it extends backwards into space.
A mathematically generated pattern that is reproducible at any magnification or reduction. A geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and/or surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. (See illustration.)
Something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclose in a frame, as of a picture.
The technique of blending wet plaster with water based paint. As the plaster dries it becomes a lasting surface base. The term applies to the technique as well as the painting itself.
Short-lived pigments capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances.
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.
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.
Two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, engraving, etching and illustration in their various forms.
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).
Refers 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.
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.
An artistic visual representation or symbol of anything considered holy and divine, such as God, saints or deities. An icon could be a painting (including relief painting), sculpture, or mosaic. Also refers to a little picture on a computer screen that represents the various functions of the computer. Generally the user clicks on an icon to start an application or function.
To create designs and pictures for books, magazines, or other print or electronic media to make clear or explain the text or show what happens in a story.
A visualization such as drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an Illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article) by providing a visual representation of something described in the text.
Heavy paper or card appropriate as a support for pencil, pen, watercolor, collage, etc.
A graphic artist who specializes in enhancing written text by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text. Also refers to a computer illustration program developed by Adobe Systems, Inc.
A line in a work that is subtlety perceived by the viewer but has no physical form; the overall flow of one line into another in a work, with continuation from one area to the next suggested by their common direction and/or juxtaposition. Click for more information about implied lines.
A loose spontaneous style of painting that originated in France about 1870. The impressionist style of painting is characterized chiefly by concentration on the general impression produced by a scene or object and the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light. Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro were considered leaders of this artistic movement. Click for more information about impressionism art.
The design of the mass-produced products of our everyday environment, from sinks and furniture to computers.
The reproduction of a continuous tone original, such as a photograph, in which detail and tone value are represented by a series of evenly spaced dots of varying size and shape.
Refers to a twentieth century movement in painting in which the edges of shapes are crisp and precise rather than soft or blurred. This technique consists of rough, straight edges that are geometrically uniform and encompasses rich solid colors, neatness of surface, and the arrangement of forms all over the canvas.
Colors that go well together and/or sit next to each other on the color wheel. For example: red and orange, orange and yellow, yellow and green, green and blue, blue and purple, purple and red. Complementary colors, analogous colors, and other such related colors are also considered to be harmonious. For more information on color harmony see: Color, Part 1 and Color, Part 2.
The unity of all the visual elements of a composition achieved by the repetition of the same characteristics or those which are similar in nature. Harmony serves to bind the various parts into a whole.
A technique used in art to create tonal or shading effects by drawing or painting closely spaced parallel lines. When lines are crossed or placed at an angle to one another, the method is called cross-hatching. Artists use this modeling technique, indicating tone and suggesting light and shade, by varying the length, angle, closeness and other qualities of the lines, most commonly used in drawing, linear painting, engraving, and ethnic art.
An area of of intense brightness which reflects the most light. A technique used in art to direct attention or to emphasize, through use of pigment or color.
In a painting, a level line where land or water ends and the sky begins. Vanishing points, where two parallel lines appear to converge, are typically located on this line. A horizon line is used to attain the perspective of depth Click for information about horizontal lines.
The components that are balanced left and right of a central axis.
The name of the color, such as red, green or yellow. Hue can be measured as a location on a color wheel, and expressed in degrees; the main attribute of a color which distinguishes it from other colors.
An acronym for “Joint Photographic Experts Group” is a commonly used standard method of compressing photographic images on the Web. JPEG graphics are capable of reproducing a full range of color while still remaining small enough for Web use.
A color print executed from woodblocks in water-based inks and developed to a high degree of artistry by the Japanese especially in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetics on Western culture, especially Impressionism.
Jewish ceremonial art or artifacts used by Jews for religious rituals or practices.
Three dimensional works of art composed from old or discarded items, such as junk or trash, of little or no value. This form of artwork is deliberately not visually pleasing; unattractive (a.k.a. anti-aesthetic).
In typography, text spaced out between words to create columns with both edges flush or evenly aligned. With narrow columns, justification can create awkward gaps. However, with wide columns, justification can add elegant symmetry.
Fine art works produced by artists during their youth.
The act of placing or positioning items in the image area side by side or next to one another to illustrate some comparison.