Art Terms and Definitions — E

art definitions dictionary


Quick links to more art terms and definitions are located at the end of the list.

Earth Art

See “Land Art.”


art terms

An upright support, typically a tripod, used for displaying items. It is commonly used to support an artist’s canvas while painting or to exhibit a finished painting. Artists’ easels come in a range of sizes and styles, from sturdy studio easels to lightweight, portable designs suitable for plein air excursions.

Ecological Art

(Also called “eco-art.”)
A contemporary art genre and artistic practice created by artists worldwide concerned about local and global environmental situations. Artworks that are made from recycled and natural materials.


art dictionary

A color similar to that of unbleached linen. Once considered a shade of beige, it has now 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 permanent, fast-drying painting medium used for fine art, restoration, and icon painting. It consists of pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder, typically egg yolk. This was a very common medium before the invention of oil paints.

Elements of Art

The fundamental “building blocks” of artmaking. They are color, form, line, shape, texture, and value. Without them, it would be impossible for an artist to create art.


A process in printing to create a raised surface during the printmaking processes by means of engraved dies or plates.


A design principle that draws attention to a single area or focal point within an artwork, giving it dominance and making it stand out. Without emphasis, a composition is merely a collection of equally important features, and nothing stands out when it lacks emphasis.

En Plein Air Painting

(Also called “Plein air painting.”)
Refers to creating artwork outdoors, directly in the natural environment. Instead of working in a studio, artists venture into the open air to capture scenes, landscapes, and people using natural light. This approach allows them to observe changing weather conditions, light, and atmosphere firsthand. The French Impressionists popularized plein air painting, emphasizing spontaneity and the immediacy of perception. Notable artists who practiced this technique include Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley.

Encaustic Painting

(Also known as hot wax painting.)
A technique that involves applying a heated wax medium infused with colored pigments to a surface, often using wood or canvas. The medium consists of beeswax and damar resin, mixed with oil paint or ink. Metal tools and specialized brushes shape the medium as it cools, while heat lamps or torches fuse and bind the layers. This technique allows for sculpting and layering materials within the wax.


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. Enneaptych is not a widely used term, although it is used in the visual arts. It comes from the Greek words “ennea” (meaning “nine”) and “ptychē” (meaning “fold”). Also see “polyptych.”

Entomological Art

See “insect art.”

Environmental Art

Artistic works intended to enrich or blend in with the surrounding natural environment. It includes historical perspectives on nature as well as more contemporary ecological and political works that seek to improve the environment, integrate with it, or make a statement about environmental challenges.


A printmaking technique that creates an impression on a metal plate by incising an image through an acid-resistant coating, then submerging the plate in acid to corrode exposed areas.

Ethnographic Art

See “Tribal Art.”


A public showing of a piece or a collection of artworks. Also called an exhibit.


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. Expressionism is marked by its use of distorted lines and shapes, along with exaggerated colors, to evoke emotional resonance. Vincent van Gogh is highly regarded as a pioneer of this artistic movement.

External Focus

In the realm of art, this term refers to an approach where artists draw inspiration from the physical world around them. Artists with an external focus observe and depict their surroundings. This external perspective often leads to the creation of objective art, which is experienced by viewers rather than emanating solely from the artist’s internal thoughts or emotions.

Opposite of “internal focus.”

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This dictionary of art definitions is provided as a valuable resource for art enthusiasts. If you like the information here and find it helpful, please consider purchasing a painting. Your support helps to cover the cost of keeping this art terms lexicon online. Simply click or tap the thumbnail link of any Teresa Bernard oil painting to view additional details.

ballerina paintings
Ballerina Feet En Pointe (2022)
6″ w x 8″ h
astronomy painting
Little Star Gazer
9″ w x 12″ h
rural locations art piece
The Garden Cottage (2020)
6″ w x 6″ h

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art definitions dictionary is a work in progress. We regularly add new terms and definitions. If you know of an art term and definition that isn’t already listed, but you believe it should be, send it to us and we’ll consider adding it. We’ll let you know if we do. Thanks!

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