Speaking the “Lingo” of Oil Painting Artists

How do you define art?

One unknown source says “art is what artists do”. Another defines art as the skillful manipulation of materials and techniques under creative (intellectual or emotional) guidance and aesthetic principle in visual form. Still another definition describes art as the accomplished work of an artisan which is the manifestation of creativeness or imagination or both, that depicts a mood, feeling or tells a story. Also the use of skill and imagination in the creation of visually pleasing artistic objects to be shared and admired by others. For more information see the blog “What Is Fine Art?


TX Hay bales Oil on canvas“Life in Texas — Round Hay Bales”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 20″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


How ever you define creativity, it will be helpful to know a few definitions and the “lingo” of art.

Artist — An artist is a practitioner in the arts generally recognized as a professional by their critics and peers.

Masterpiece — This refers to a creative work by an artist that has been fashioned with extraordinary skill and has received much critical praise. Generally a masterpiece is considered an artist’s greatest work of art.

Composition and Design

Composition — This is what artists create when they organize or arrange the various elements that go into a painting so they fit together to form a pleasing composition. The arrangement is based both the visual and emotional experience to give unity and consistency to a work of art and to allow the observer to grasp the purpose and meaning of the artwork.

an introduction to the principles of good design.Design — This is what the artist does when they arrange the various design elements to create a single effect. An effective design is one in which all the elements and principles of art have been combined in such a way as to achieve an overall sense of unity within the artwork. Unity is the ultimate goal of the designer.

Center of interest — Sometimes referred as the focal point, is a specific area or element of the painting that dominates a work of art and captures the viewer’s eye. The viewer’s eye is usually drawn there first.

rule of thirds exampleRule of thirds — This is a composition rule borrowed from photography that also works well to help artists compose their paintings. What it does is to divide the scene into three rows and three columns using horizontal and vertical lines. The rule states that the painting is much more interesting if the focal point is not in the center of the canvas but located at one of intersection points.

Perspective — This is a way to make flat two-dimensional objects appear to have volume or three-dimension. It is also beneficial in making a flat painting appear to have actual space and give the effect of distance.

Vanishing point — A technique used in perspective-this is the point on the horizon line in the distance where receding parallel lines appear to meet and visibility ends. The number and placement of the vanishing points determines which perspective technique is being used.

Negative space — Also called “white space”, negative space is the unoccupied or empty areas between elements in a composition and also function as shapes themselves in the total design. It helps to specify the element(s) and works best when there is a visual balance between the positive and negative spaces. Negative space also acts to attract the eye to the focal point.

Positive space — The area or space that is occupied by an element or a form in a painting. For example, it can cup and saucer in a still life painting, a person’s head and shoulders in a portrait, the ship and seagulls of a seascape painting.

Color

basic color wheelColor wheel — A round diagram or circle that shows the position of color hues around a circle that shows relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors, etc. “Color schemes” are often created using the color wheel.

Color schemes — Logical combinations of colors on the color wheel used to create style and appeal. A color scheme can be created using as few as two colors that look appealing together or more for advanced color schemes involving several color combinations.

color oppositesComplementary (opposite) colors — Two colors that are  directly opposite one another on the color wheel. When placed side-by-side, they are intensified and often appear to vibrate. If they are mixed together, a neutral color (brown or gray) is created. Some examples of complementary colors are red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet. Red-violet and yellow-green, red-orange and blue-green, and yellow-orange and blue-violet are also opposites.

Cool color — Blue, green and violet are considered cool colors because their visual temperatures make them appear cool. When you envision a cool lake or iced over pond, your mind’s eye will see cool colors.

Warm color — The warm colors consist of those who’s visual temperatures make them appear warm. Red, orange and yellow are regarded as being warm colors because they are colors you find in fire.

primary colors on the color wheelPrimary colors — Red, yellow and blue are the primary colors of oil painting. They are called primary because they are the only colors which can not be made from mixing other colors. With these three colors, along with black and white, all other colors of the color wheel can be made.

secondary colors on the color wheelSecondary colors — The secondary colors consist of green, purple and orange. These three colors are derived from mixing equal amounts of two of the three primary colors. For example, mixing red and yellow yields orange. When you mix blue and yellow the result is green. Red and blue mixed together makes purple.

tertiary colors on the color wheelTertiary colors — These colors are also called intermediate colors. They are made by mixing one primary and one secondary color. Red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet are all tertiary colors.


dancer painting“The Ballerina”
Dancer painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


Oil Painting

tube of oil paintOil paint — A type of paint made with pigment and linseed oil that dries more slowly than water based paints. This makes it easier to blended from dark to light creating the illusion of three-dimension. Oil paint has been the medium of choice for most artists since the Renaissance era.

Underpainting — This is the first layer of paint applied to a canvas, which serves as a base for subsequent layers of paint. This layer gets its name “underpainting” because it is a layer intended to be painted over (see overpainting) as the first of several layers of oil paint. Underpaintings can be monochromatic or multi-color.

Overpainting — The final layer of paint that is applied over the underpainting layer after it has dried. The purpose of an underpainting is to specify the basic shapes of the elements in a composition and the overpainting fills in the details of the oil painting.

Original oil painting — An original is a “one-of-a-kind” fine art piece created totally by hand to include drawings, paintings, handmade prints and sculpture. Not all hand painted oil paintings can be considered original if it is a painted copy of another work, in which case it is considered a reproduction.

This is just a small sampling of art terms and definitions. More art vocabulary words can be found in the Art Glossary.

Index of Art Articles

Jump to articles about:

Art Glossary  |  Art Lessons  |  Art Resources  |  Art Supplies  |  Art Tips  |  Artist Blog  |  Business of Art

• Art Appreciation

5 Tips on Choosing an Oil Painting for Your Home or Office

A Practical Guide To Caring For Your Oil Paintings

Becoming an Artist of Space Paintings

Classification Of Fine Art Paintings By Genre

Evening Sky Captured in a Sunset Oil Painting, The

Everyone Loves Wildlife Art

Floral Canvas Art In Your Home

Flower Art Through The Ages

Flower Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, The

Flower Paintings of Vincent van Gogh, The

For The Love of Flower Oil Paintings

From Flower Gardens to Flower Paintings

Importance of Varnishing Oil Paintings, The

Know Your Art Painting Styles: 7 Most Popular

Many Types of Oil Painting Surfaces, The

Notes on Becoming an Artist of Flower Oil Paintings

Paintings of Sunsets by Claude Monet

Proper Care of Your Sunset Oil Paintings

Some Things To Consider When Buying Oil Paintings For Your Home

Speaking the “Lingo” of Oil Painting Artists

What Are The Classifications of Art?

What is Art Appreciation?

What is Fine Art?

Why Space Paintings Are Loved By So Many


Auvers, France church painting“Van Gogh’s Church at Auvers, France”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 24″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


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Art Glossary

Glossary of common art terms and their definitions.
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yellow rose flower painting“Yellow Rose of Texas”
Flower Art by Teresa Bernard
18″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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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

Can You Name These Famous Paintings From History?

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

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


western sunset oil painting“Cowboy Sunset”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


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• Art Resources

Art Movements From A – Z

Bible Scripture and Visual Art

Blog and Article Topics for Fine Artists

Career Options For The Fine Artist

More Places To Sell Your Art Online

Some Famous Places Around The World That Would Make A Great Sunset Painting

Some Popular Beaches Around The World That Would Make Fabulous Oil Paintings

Some Unearthly Landscapes Around The World That Would Make Extraordinary Space Art Paintings

Where To Sell Your Art Online


painting with covered wagon“Covered Wagon on the Prairie”
Western landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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• 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


national park wall painting“Monument Valley”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 12″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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• Art Tips

10 Tips for Painting Mountains

10 Tips for Photographing Your Own Paintings

10 Tips for Taking Artist Reference Photos

Creating Better Compositions In All Your Paintings

Creating Depth On A Flat Surface

Creating Depth in Your Paintings via Atmospheric Perspective

Flower Oil Paintings From Reference Photos

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 the Fine Artist

Photographing the Setting Sun for Your Sunset Paintings

Rules of Perspective, The

Tips For Creating Stunning Sunset Paintings

Two Composition Techniques to Use in Your Paintings

Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas

Using Linear Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

Using Photographs As Reference Material to Paint Flower Oil Paintings


bonnie and clyde car painting“Forgotten Roads of Bygone Days”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


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Artist Blog

A Painting In The Making

Bible Lands Collection

Christian Art Collection

Developing An Art Style of Your Own

Feedback From Across The U.S.

Feedback From Around The World

Feedback From Art Teachers and Art Students

Feedback From Fellow Artists and Art Galleries

Life In Texas Collection

My Oil Paintings Index

Oil Paintings of Texas Sunsets

Paintings of Sunsets Collection

Peggy’s Cove Collection

Space Art Collection

Why I love Sunset Oil Paintings


dancer painting“The Ballerina”
Dancer painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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• Business of Art

Marketing Your Space Paintings Online

Pricing Your Artwork — Taking A Two Step Approach

Ways To Market Your Artwork


Art Terms — A

From “ABC Art” to “Atmospheric Perspective”


river side paintingAlong The ICW
Marine art by Teresa Bernard
12″ x 9″
Oils on canvas panel board

>> More info


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 artAbstract art
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 certain elements 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”).
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Art
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?
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 deco
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.
Art movement
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.
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.
ASCII art
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.
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 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.
Astronomical art
See “space art“.
Asymmetrical balance
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.
Atmospheric perspective
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.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count:  903

Art Terms — B

From “Balance” to “Brushwork”


Bunratty Ireland canvas panelBunratty Ireland
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
12″ x 9″
Oils on canvas panel board

>> More info


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 as a means of accomplishing 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 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”.
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.
Bristol board
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.bright art brush
Bright brush
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).
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.

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UPDATED: 31 May 2016
Word Count: 433

Art Terms — C

From “Calligraphy” to “Cubism”


African artCamelthorn Trees of Africa
Landscape painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 24″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


Calligraphy

example of calligraphy
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, developed to 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 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.
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 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.
Charcoal
Compressed burned wood used for drawing.
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 to the love of the exotic.
process colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, blackCMYK
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 permanence
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.
Letter code Degree of color permanence
AA Highest
A Standard
C Less than permanent, though fairly durable
C Fugitive
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 certain applications.
basic color wheel 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 the purposes of 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 certain work of art or set of artworks.
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 greatest 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 to 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 software called 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 colorsCool color
Colors 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 or 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.
C is for CyanCyan
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.


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UPDATED: 02 February 2017
Word Count: 897

Art Terms — D

From “Decorative Arts” to “Drawing”


white dog pet portraitThe Large White Dog
Pet Painting by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 20″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


Decorative arts
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, 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.
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 principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.
Designing
The process of relating the elements whether they are similar or contrasting and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.
Dominance
The emphasis placed on a particular area or characteristic of a work, with other areas or aspects given subordinate or supporting roles.
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 “side loading”.
Drawing
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.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 373

Art Terms — E

From “Easel” to “Expressionism”


sunset oil paintingCalvary at Sunset
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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 is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Exhibition
A public showing of a piece or a collection of objects. Also called an exhibit.
Expressionism
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.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 354

Art Terms — F

From “Ferrule” to “Fugitive Colors”


bonnie and clyde car paintingForgotten Roads of Bygone Days
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


Ferrule
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.)
Filbert
Brushes used to create soft edges, blend colors, and has the shape of a flower petal or leaf. (See filbert brush illustration.)
Filigree
A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Fine art
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?”
Fixative
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.
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 of its 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 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 naive 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 that are 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 backwards into space.
Fractal
fractal art illustrationA 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.)
Frame
Something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclose in a frame, as of 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: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 561

Art Terms — G

From “Gallery” to “Grisaille”


Garden Tomb, Jerusalem paintingThe Garden Tomb at Sunset
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
12″ x 9″
Oils on stretched canvas

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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 depict 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 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.
Giclee
(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.
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 can be 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.
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.
Graphite
A soft, black, lustrous mineral made of carbon used in lead pencils, paints, crucibles, and as a lubricant.
Grayscale
Refers to the range of gray tones between black and white (see illustration).

grayscale

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. 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“.
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.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 654

Art Terms — I

From “Icon” to “Industrial Design”


Irong Age Pottery Still LifeStill Life with Iron Age Pottery
Still life by Teresa Bernard
14″ x 11″
Oils on stretched canvas

>> More info


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 make clear 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 as a support for pencil, pen, watercolor, collage, etc.
Illustrator
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.
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/or 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.
Industrial design
The design of the mass-produced products of our everyday environment, from sinks and furniture to computers.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

UPDATED: 25 April 2016
Word Count: 385