Index of Art Articles, Lessons, and Quizzes

An index of art-related articles, information, and lessons.

Art Appreciation

ACEO and ATC Collectables (a.k.a Art Cards)

index of art articlesBible Scripture and Visual Art

Choosing the Perfect Oil Painting for Your Home or Office

Classification Of Fine Art Paintings By Genre

Flower Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, The

Flower Paintings of Vincent van Gogh, The

Importance of Varnishing Oil Paintings, The

Know Your Art Painting Styles: 7 Most Popular

Many Types of Oil Painting Surfaces, The

Paintings of Sunsets by Claude Monet

What Are The Classifications of Art?

What is Art Appreciation?

What is Fine Art?

Art Glossary

Glossary of standard art terms and their definitions.
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Art Lessons

Basic Elements of Art, The

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

Art Supplies

About Artist Stretcher Bar Frames

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 1

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 2

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 3

Anatomy of The Artist Paint Brush

Artist Grade or Student Grade Oil Paint, Making a Choice

Common Paint Media Used By Artists

Complete List of Art Supplies for The Beginning Oil Painter

There Are Palette Knives, and Then There Are Painting Knives

Taking The Mystery Out of Mahl Sticks

Types of Artist Brushes for Oil Painting

Types of Canvas Available for Painting

Types of Bristles for Oil Painting Brushes

What Every Oil Painter Needs to Know About Artist Oils, Part 1

What Every Oil Painter Needs to Know About Artist Oils, Part 2

What to Know About an Artist’s Oil Painting Palette — Part 1

What to Know About an Artist’s Oil Painting Palette — Part 2

What to Know About Gesso

Art Tips

10 Tips for Painting Mountains

Creating Better Compositions In All Your Paintings

Creating Depth On A Flat Surface

Is It Really Okay For Artists To Use Reference Photos? Part 1

Is It Really Okay For Artists To Use Reference Photos? Part 2

Making and Using a Viewfinder to Compose Better Paintings

Naming Your Artwork — Tips for Fine Artists

The Rules of Perspective Drawing

Two Composition Techniques to Use in Your Paintings

Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas

Using Atmospheric Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

Using Linear Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

Test Your Knowledge Of Art

Can You Name These Famous Paintings From History?

Do You Know The Definition Of These Art Terms?  

Test Your Knowledge of Art Appreciation

Test Your Knowledge of COLOR Theory

Test Your Knowledge of Fine Art: Elements and Principles of Design

Test Your Knowledge of Fine Art: Painting

Who are the Artists of These Famous Paintings?

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If you have a question about this index of art-related articles, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Other Art Indexes

Artist Blog Index

Index of Art Articles, Lessons, and Quizzes — You are here.

My Oil Paintings Index

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UPDATED: 16 March 2022

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Art Terms and Definitions — A

A dictionary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter A.

ABC Art
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.
Abstract Art 
Art Terms and Definitions -- AA genre of 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.
Abstract Expressionism
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.
Academic Art
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.
Accent
To stress, single out as important. As applied to art, it is the emphasis given to some aspects in a painting that allows them to attract more attention. Details that define an object or piece of art.
Accession 
A process of increasing an art collection by addition; something added to what you already have (“the art collection grew through accession”).
Achromatic
Colors having zero saturation (free from stain; lacking hue), such as neutral grays, from white to black, or colorless to black (see illustration).

Art Terms and Definitions -- A

Acrylic Paint
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.
Aerial Perspective 
Refers to creating a sense of depth in a painting by imitating how the atmosphere makes distant objects appear less distinct and more bluish than they would be if nearby. Also known as atmospheric perspective.
Aerial View
Refers to viewing a subject from above, looking downward. Also called “birds-eye view.”
Alla Prima
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.
Altarpiece
A work of art, such as a painting, sculpture, or relief, depicting a religious subject (holy personages, saints, and biblical subjects) that decorate the space above and behind the altar in a Christian church.
Analogous Colors
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.
Applied Art
The use of the principles and elements of design to create functional pieces of works of art.
Approximate Symmetry
The use of forms that are similar on either side of a central axis. They may give a feeling of the exactness or equal relationship but are sufficiently varied to prevent visual monotony.
Art
The completed work of an artist that 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?
Art Appreciation 
An understanding of the qualities that identify all great art. It involves having a knowledge of art movements, art history, and art styles or techniques. For more information, see blog article titled “What is Art Appreciation?
Art Brut
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.
Art Cards, Editions, and Originals (ACEO) Cards
ACEOs are tiny handmade original paintings measuring 2.5 in x 3.5 in, the size of a sports trading card. They are created to sell on eBay and other venues and are highly collectible. For more info.
Art Deco 
A style of design and decoration popular in the 1920s and 1930s characterized by geometric designs and uses highly intense colors to reflect the rise of commerce, industry, and mass production.
Art Movement 
A group of artists who agree on general principles or ideals regarding artistic styles and tendencies within a specific period of time.
Art Nouveau 
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.
Art Period 
A distinct phase, stage, or juncture in the development of the creative work of an artist, groups of artists, or art movement.
Artist  
A practitioner in the arts, generally recognized as a professional by critics and peers.
Artist Portfolio
See Portfolio.
Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)
ATCs are tiny-sized original paintings created by artists strictly for handing out, swapping, or trading with other artists and are not intended for selling. They may be in any medium (oils, acrylics, pencil, ink, etc.) using any technique, whether painting, drawing, or collage. There is only one rule the cards must adhere to a specific size; 2.5 in x 3.5 in. For more info.
ASCII Art 
A text-based visual art created from 95 printable characters that use 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.
Ashcan School
A realist art movement in early twentieth-century America best known for depicting everyday life in the poorer neighborhoods of New York City.
Assemblage Art
A form of sculptured art, either three-dimensional or two-dimensional, composed of “found” objects and arranged in 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.
Astronomical Art
See “Space Art.”
Asymmetrical Balance
Placement of non-identical forms to either side of a balancing point so that the two sides seem to be of the same visual weight.
Atmospheric Perspective 
A technique used by painters to represent 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 how distant objects appear to the human eye. Also called aerial perspective.

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Art Glossary Links

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Updated: 19 January 2022

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Art Terms and Definitions — B

A list of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter B.

Balance 
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 to accomplish unity. Read more.
Barbizon School 
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.
Baroque 
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.
Birds-Eye View 
Seeing from the point of view from an altitude or a distance; a comprehensive view in a downward direction; also called an “aerial view.”
Bitmap Image
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.
Black 
An achromatic color, without hue, that results from the absence or complete absorption of any visible light. The darkest of all colors and the opposite or complement of white. It is often argued that black is not a color because it lacks any hue or wavelength of light. However, since color is the result of human perception, many commonly perceive black as a color. One of four primary ink colors used in the printing industry (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).
Blue
Art Terms and Definitions -- BOne of the three primary colors of pigments used in painting and the complement or opposite of the color orange. In painting, blue is used to create a multitude of colors when mixed with other hues.
Body Art
A type of contemporary art that uses the human body as the “canvas.” The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings.
Bright Brush
bright art brushRefers to a brush with the same shape as a “flat”; however, the hairs are not as long as those on the flat brush. (See illustration).
Bristol Board
A high-quality heavyweight 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.
Brush 
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.
Brushstroke
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.
Brushwork
The distinctive technique in which an artist uses to apply paint with a brush onto a medium, such as canvas.
Bust
In sculpture, a representation of the upper part of the human figure, including the head, neck, and part of the shoulders and breast. The bust is a portrait intended to record the appearance of an individual and usually (but not always) is mounted on a base or column.

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Art Glossary Links

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UPDATED: 24 March 2021

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Art Terms and Definitions — C

A vocabulary list of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter C.

Calligraphy
Art Terms and Definitions -- C
Calligraphy

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 style, developed as an art form itself, used to enhance the artistic appeal and visual beauty of handwritten papers and manuscripts.

Canvas 
A heavy, closely woven fabric; an oil painting on canvas fabric; the support used for an acrylic or oil painting typically made of linen or cotton, stretched very tightly and tacked onto a wooden frame. Linen is considered far superior to heavy cotton for a canvas. Click for more information on the different types of canvas available for painting.
Caricature
A rendering, usually a portrait, of a real person showing the features of the subject in a simplified or exaggerated way but still retaining a likeness.
Center of Interest 
An emphasized area of the composition. Also called the focal point.
Ceramics 
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 several methods, including resist, Mishima, and snag gam. Pots can be made by the coil, slab, some other manual technique, or a potter’s wheel.
Charcoal
Compressed burned wood used for drawing.
Chiaroscuro
An artistic technique that employs strong contrast between areas of light and shade in a composition to define three-dimensional objects.
Chromatic
Pertaining to colors or color; being or having or characterized by hue. A color perceived to have a hue saturation greater than zero.
Cityscape 
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.
Classicism
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 the love of the exotic.
CMYK
process colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, black
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black

The abbreviation for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and, black (K). These are the four primary colors used in process printing.

Collage
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.
Color
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.”
Color Groups
Groupings of colors of a particular hue; sometimes called color families.
Color Harmonies
Colors or color groupings that look aesthetically pleasing side-by-side, as opposed to colors that clash with one another.
Color Permanence
Refers to a pigment’s lasting power. Tubes and other paint containers are sometimes labeled with a code indicating a color’s degree of permanence.
Letter code Degree of color permanence
AA Highest
A Standard
C Less than permanent, though fairly durable
C Fugitive
Color Properties
The three primary qualities of color: Hue (the name of the color), Chroma (the purity and strength of the color), and Value (the lightness or darkness of the color). Also called hue, saturation or intensity, and lightness.
Color Scheme
The overall selection of colors used in a design or artwork.
Color Separation 
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 specific applications.
Color Theory
Practical guidelines that govern the ideas, principles, and applications of color in art and design. Color theory consists of three components: the color wheel, color harmony, and color application or context, which can all be used by visual artists to create logical structures in their designs and compositions.
 Color Wheel
Art Terms and Definitions -- C
Color Wheel

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.

Commercial Art 
Refers to art that is made for commerce. The term is somewhat obsolete and is currently being replaced in many colleges with the term “Visual Communication.”
Commission
Refers to the act of hiring someone to execute a specific work of art or set of artworks.
Complementary Colors
color opposites
Complementary Colors

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 most significant degree of contrast. Red-violet and yellow-green, red-orange and blue-green, and yellow-orange and blue-violet are also complementary colors.

Composition
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 allow the observer to comprehend its meaning.
Computer Graphics
Refers to visual images made with the assistance of computers. Computer graphics are often made with drawing, painting, illustrating, and photographic programs or applications.
Contrast
The difference between elements or the opposition to various elements. A principle of good design. See more info.
Cool Color
Cool colorsColors whose relative visual temperatures make them seem cool. Cool colors generally include green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, and violet.
Cropping
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 to fit a given space requirement.
Cubism 
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.
Cyan
C is for CyanOne 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.

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UPDATED: 29 June 2022

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Art Terms and Definitions — D

A glossary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter D.

Decaptych
An artwork consisting of ten panels or parts where each panel depicts a different but related depiction. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side to make one large image.
Decorative Arts
Art Terms and Definitions -- D
Decorative Art

Collective term for such art forms as ceramics, enamels, furniture, glass, ivory, metalwork, and textiles, especially when they take forms used as interior decoration.

Decoupage 
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, while 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 the depth of field.
Design
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 design principles have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.
Designing 
The process of relating the elements, whether similar or contrasting and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.
Digital Art
example of computer art
Computer Art

Artworks created using software on a computer platform. This includes images done entirely on a computer or photographs and hand-drawn illustrations that have been scanned into a computer and manipulated or finished using software programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Other terms used to describe this art-making process include computer art, multimedia art, and new media art.

Diptych
(Pronounced dip-tick). A work of art consisting of two painted or carved panels where each panel depicts a different but related scene. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side.
Dominance
The emphasis placed on a particular area or characteristic of a work, with other areas or aspects given subordinate or supporting roles.
Doodle
A drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be composed of random and abstract lines.
Doodling
To draw or sketch aimlessly, especially when preoccupied.
Double Exposure 
A technique used in film and photography to expose two images onto one negative or sheet of photographic paper.
Double Loading
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 “sideloading.”
Drawing 
The act of representing an image on a surface by adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. It also refers to a hand-drawn illustration.

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UPDATED: 08 November 2021

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Art Terms and Definitions — E

A dictionary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter E.

Easel
Art Terms and Definitions -- E
Artist Easel

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 works or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.

Ecological Art
A contemporary art genre and artistic practice created by artists worldwide concerned about local and global environmental situations. Artworks made from recycled and natural materials. Also called “eco-art.”
Economy 
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.
Ecru 
EcruA color similar to that of unbleached linen. Once considered a shade of beige, now it has become more precisely defined as “a grayish-yellow that is greener and paler than chamois or old ivory.” Ecru comes from the French word écru, which means “unbleached.”
Egg Tempera 
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 fundamental elements are color, form, line, shape, texture, and value. In any form of art, at least one of these elements is used. For more information about this subject, please see the discussion on the basic elements of art.
Embossed
A process in printing to create a raised surface during the printmaking processes by means of engraved dies or plates.
Emphasis 
The stress placed on a single area of a work or a unifying visual theme. For more information, see Good Design Principle: Emphasis.
En Plein Air
French for “in open air” used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors rather than in the studio. Also called “Plein air.”
Enneaptych
An artistic work consisting of nine panels or canvases where each panel depicts a different but related scene. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side to make one large image. Also, see “polyptych.”
Environmental Art
Artistic works intended to enhance or become part of the environment or make a statement on conservation issues. Art which forces us to consider the consequences of our behavior on the environment.
Etching
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.
Ethnographic Art
See “Tribal Art.
Exhibition 
A public showing of a piece or a collection of artwork. Also called an exhibit.
Expressionism
Post-World War I European art movement that emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than a solely realistic portrayal. This art form emphasizes 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.

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UPDATED: 22 April 2021

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Art Terms and Definitions — F

A list of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter F.

Fan Art (or Fanart)
Art Terms and Definitions -- F
Fanart of a popular 1960’s TV sci-fi series character known as “Spock” from Star Trek. Artist unknown.

Artwork created by the fans of popular fictional books, TV shows, movies, comics, etc. Such works are typical of favorite characters or scenes which are hand-drawn, painted, or digitally produced using a computer program. They are not commissioned works of art nor endorsed by the creators of the fictional work the fan art depicts.

Ferrule
Refers to the metal or plastic device 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 filbert brush illustration below.)
Figurative Art
See Representational Art.
Filbert
Brushes used to create soft edges, blend colors, and have the shape of a flower petal or leaf. (See illustration.)
Filigree 
A technique used to produce delicate, intricate patterns in metal such as metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Fine Art 
Art created purely for 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?”
Fine Artist
A practitioner (such as a painter or sculptor) of the fine arts who makes a living from their creative works. An artist is considered a fine artist when their work is considered highly valuable, and they have mastered their technique.
Fixative 
A liquid, similar to varnish that is sprayed over a finished piece of artwork to preserve it better and prevent smudging. Artwork media requiring fixative include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel.
Flat Brush
flat brush imageA brush with a flat-shaped end like a screwdriver. (See illustration.)
Foam Core 
A strong, stiff, resilient, and lightweight board of polystyrene laminated with paper on both sides used as backing for art prints before framing. Also referred to as “foam board.”
Focal Point 
A specific area, element, or principle that dominates a work of art; the area in a work in which the eye is most compellingly drawn. The viewer’s eye is usually drawn there first.
Folk Art
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 naïve style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed.
Font
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.
Fontography
The field of font design. A person who designs fonts is a “fontographer.”
Form
The volume and shape of a three-dimensional work, perhaps including unfilled areas integral to the work as a whole.
Foreshortening
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 backward into space.
Fractal 
fractal art illustrationA mathematically generated pattern that is reproducible at any magnification or reduction. A geometric pattern repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. (See illustration.)
Frame 
Something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclosed in a frame, as a picture.
Fresco 
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.
Fugitive Colors 
Short-lived pigments capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances.

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UPDATED: 30  March 2021

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Art Terms and Definitions — G

A vocabulary list of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter G.

Gallery 
A room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited.
Genre 
From the French word meaning “kind” or “genus.” A realistic style of painting that depicts scenes of everyday life. Dutch artworks of peasant and tavern scenes are considered typical genre paintings. Click for more information about genre art.
Gesso 
A mixture of plaster, chalk, or gypsum bound together with glue which is applied as a ground or coating to surfaces 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.
Giclee
(Pronounced “zee-clay”) a printmaking process usually on an IRIS inkjet printer to make reproductions of a photograph or painting. The printer can produce a vast range of colors resulting in prints that are of exceptionally high quality.
GIF
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.
Gilding
The application of a gold finish. It is achieved by applying gold leaf or by using metallic powders.
Glaze
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.
Gouache 
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. Enthusiasts say that unauthorized or illegal art comes from a desire to make cityscapes more attractive by painting over blank or barren walls.
Graphic Art
Two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, engraving, etching, and illustration in various forms.
Graphic Design
The applied art of arranging images 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.
Graphite 
A soft, black, lustrous mineral made of carbon used in lead pencils, paints, crucibles, and lubricant.
Grayscale
The range of gray tones between black and white (see illustration).

Art Terms and Definitions -- G

Green
GreenOne of the secondary colors created when the two primary colors of blue and yellow are mixed. See Secondary Colors. The complement or opposite of the color red. Part of the RGB color model used on television and computer screens.
Grid
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. Helpful 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 using this method, see the article titled “Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas.”
Grisaille
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 that entails installing unauthorized works of art in public places. This form of art expression allows the artist to express their views and opinions to a large audience anonymously. 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 art forms can be moved from gallery to gallery without any effect on the piece or its meaning; however, this is not so with street art. The surface to which street art is applied 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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Art Terms and Definitions — I

A dictionary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter I.

Icon 
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.
Illustrate 
To create designs and pictures for books, magazines, or other print or electronic media to clarify or explain the text or show what happens in a story.
Illustration 
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.
Illustration Board
Heavy paper or card appropriate for pencil, pen, watercolor, collage, etc.
Illustrator 
A graphic artist who specializes in enhancing the 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.
Implied Line
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 juxtaposition. Click for more information about implied lines.
Impressionism 
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.
India Ink
A simple black or colored ink, made from a black pigment consisting of lampblack and glue, used for drawing and outlining, especially when inking comic books and comic strips.
Industrial Design
The design of the mass-produced products of our everyday environment, from sinks and furniture to computers.
Ivory Carving 
Art Terms and Definitions -- IThe carving or shaping of ivory into sculptures, ornaments, and decorative articles using animal tusks and teeth, notably from elephants, whales, and walruses, by using sharp cutting tools, either mechanically or manually.

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UPDATED: 25 March 2021

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Art Terms and Definitions — H

A glossary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter H.

Halftone
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.
Hard-Edge Painting
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.
Harmonious Colors
Art Terms and Definitions -- HColors that go well together and 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.
Harmony 
The unity of all the visual elements of a composition achieved by the repetition of the same characteristics or those which are similar. Harmony serves to bind the various parts into a whole.
Hatching 
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.
Heptaptych
An artwork, usually a painting, divided into seven painted or carved panels where each panel depicts a different but related scene. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side. Also called “septych” in Latin.
Hexaptych
A work of art consisting of six panels or sections where each panel depicts a different but related scene. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side to make one large image.
Highlight 
An area of intense brightness which reflects the most light. A technique used in art to direct attention or to emphasize through the use of pigment or color.
Horizon Line
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.
Horizontal Balance
The components that are balanced left and right of a central axis.
Hue 
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.

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UPDATED: 22 March 2021

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