Art Terms and Definitions — E

art termsA vocabulary list of art terms and their meanings that begin with the letter “E”. The following are more than 10 general words that artists use on a regular basis to express their art. Words range from EASEL to EXTERNAL FOCUS.

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


art termsAn 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. Artists’ easels come in various sizes and shapes, from sturdy studio easels to portable options for painting trips.

Ecological 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. Also called “eco-art.”


art termsA 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 medium that is created by mixing pure, ground pigments with 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. In any form of art, at least one of these elements is used.


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 a single area or focal point within an artwork. Emphasis is used when an artist wants to draw attention to a specific feature or area of a painting by giving it dominance and making it stand out. Without it, a composition is simply a collection of features presented in equal importance. When a composition lacks emphasis, nothing stands out.

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.”

Encaustic Painting

A technique where colored pigments are mixed with melted beeswax, creating a molten mixture that is applied to a surface, typically wood or canvas. Also known as hot wax painting.


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.


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.”


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. 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.

External Focus

In the realm of art, refers to an approach where artists draw inspiration from the physical world around them. When artists adopt an external focus, they observe and depict their surroundings. his external perspective frequently results in the development of objective art, which is perceived by viewers rather than originating solely from the artist’s mind or emotions. Opposite of “internal focus.”

Art Glossary Links

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

This art dictionary is a work in progress. New terms and definitions are added on a regular basis. If you know of an art term and definition that isn’t already listed in it, 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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