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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A vivid blue to purple-blue pigment originally made from ground lapis lazuli. French ultramarine is an artificial substitute.
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.
Preliminary drawing that lies under the final painted or inked image.
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.
A subdued or muted tone of color; specifically a color seen through and modifying another color.
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.
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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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.
A water-based paint that is a translucent wash of pigment; a painting produced with watercolors.
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.
A painting of or including a body of water. It might otherwise be called a marine picture, a seascape, or a riverscape, etc.
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.
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.
(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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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.
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 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“.
An image or painting where the borders are undefined and seem to fade away gradually until it blends into the background.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
A printing process that uses zinc plates instead of stones plates made from fine lithographic limestone.
Zinnober green
Another name for chrome green.
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