Art Terms and Definitions — F

visual art vocabulary words

An art vocabulary list beginning with the letter “F” includes over 30 art-related terms and definitions from FAN ART to FUNCTIONAL ART.

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

Art Vocabulary List: “F” Words

Fan Art (or Fanart)

visual art vocabulary words
Fanart of a popular 1960’s TV sci-fi series, “Spock” of 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 that are hand-drawn, painted, or digitally produced using a computer program. Fanart is considered a form of artistic expression for fans to convey their love and appreciation for the cultural icon they are creating artwork for. They are neither commissioned works of art nor endorsed by the creators of the fictional work the fan art depicts.

Fan Art Brush

visual art vocabulary words

A flat brush with a thin layer of hairs spread out in the shape of a fan and a flat ferrule on a long handle. This brush is excellent for smoothing, blending, and feathering. The synthetic hairs are perfect for painting highlights and flowing strands of hair, grasses, leaves, and thin branches on trees, creating textural effects, and blending the soft edges of clouds. A word of caution, though: be careful not to make identical or repetitive marks that look unnatural.

Fantasy Art

A genre of art that combines fantasy or one’s imagination and reality, and frequently features mythological, magical, and supernatural themes. Fantasy art is the product of an artist’s vivid imagination and can be figurative and naturalistic rather than abstract.

Fat Over Lean Rule

A technique used in oil painting that dictates that each successive layer of paint be applied with slightly more oil and that ‘leaner’ paint is layered beneath ‘fatter’ paint. Lean paint is paint that has been mixed with a paint thinner. Fat paint is paint that has a higher oil content by adding an oily medium such as linseed oil which makes it more flexible and takes longer to dry. This technique helps prevent the paint from cracking in the finished work since the lower oil content in the initial layers dry faster. Following this rule ensures proper paint adhesion to the canvas, ensuring the painting’s durability and longevity.


An art movement that flourished around the turn of the twentieth century in France, comprised of a group of artists known as Les Fauves (the wild beasts), whose painting style stressed high-contrast colors and aggressive brushwork, displaying a more raw and less natural manner of expression. Fauvism is characterized by its use of bright colors, textured brushwork, and non-naturalistic portrayals. André Derain and Henri Matisse were the movement’s leaders.

Federal Arts Project

A government initiative designed to create jobs for American artists during the Great Depression. The program, part of the New Deal, was established in 1935 and dissolved in 1943.


Refers to the metal or plastic devise that aligns and anchors paintbrush bristles or hairs in an adhesive. Ferrules can be made from tin, aluminum, brass, copper alloys, nickel, or chrome plated. Quality brushes have a brass or copper alloy ferrule. The ferrule is attached to the handle by crimping or by binding wires. High-quality ferrules won’t rust or come loose. Also see “Brush Anatomy.”

Figurative Art

See Representational Art.

Figure Drawing

An art form that involves sketching the human figure in various shapes and postures, often done live with a nude model. This art form can take various forms, from highly detailed renderings to loose and expressive sketches. The term can also refer to the act of producing such a drawing.

Filbert Art Brush

A flat, oval-shaped brush with medium to long chiseled, rounded edge hairs and a thick, flat ferrule on a long handle. This brush is ideal for blending soft, rounded edges, like flower petals. Its curved tip allows for easy control of blending and softening edges. It creates thin lines when used on its side, and broad brushstrokes when used flat. By varying the pressure as you use the brush, you can create a tapering mark.


A technique used to produce delicate, intricate patterns in metal such as metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.

Fine Art

ballet dancer fine art
The Ballerina by Teresa Bernard

A visual expression of human creativity, involving technical skills and imagination, created for aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation. Painting and sculpture are the best-known of the fine arts. For more information on this topic, see blog article “What is Fine Art?”

Fine Artist

A practitioner (such as a painter or sculptor) of the fine arts who earns a living from their artistic creations. When an artist has mastered their craft and their work is highly valued, they are regarded as fine artists.


A liquid, similar to varnish, is sprayed over a finished piece of artwork to preserve it better and prevent smudging. Artwork media requiring fixatives include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel.

Flat Art Brush

visual art vocabulary words

A brush with a flat-shaped end, like a screwdriver, having a flat ferrule and medium-to-long brush strands. The strands are arranged in a rectangular shape that is longer than wide. Looking at it from the side, it is narrow. This brush is ideal for bold, sweeping strokes, washes, filling wide spaces, and impasto. It can also be used for fine lines, straight edges, and stripes. Used flat produces broad brushstrokes, while turned on the narrow edge produces thin strokes. Flat art brushes are primarily used for covering large areas with flat strokes and blending.

Fluorescent Colors

Refers to colors that absorb and reflect more light than conventional colors. As a result, these pigments are brighter and more intense than normal colors. They are so saturated that they feel as if they might continue to glow without a light source. Fluorescent colors emit a vivid brightness that makes them seem like they emit light, especially when viewed under a blacklight. Fluorescent colors react to ultraviolet light and convert light to a dominant wavelength or color. There are six fluorescent colors, they are: blue, green, orange, pink, red, and yellow. Some people refer to fluorescent colors as neon. All fluorescent colors are “fugitive.”

Flower Art

flower art
White Calla Lilies on Blue by Teresa Bernard

A broad term for a style of artwork that encompasses various artistic mediums featuring flowers or floral motifs. It can include paintings, drawings, sculptures, and even digital or computer art. There are many different styles of flower artwork, ranging from realistic to abstract. For more on flower art, click here.

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 are 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.


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 characters and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys.


The field of font design. A person who designs fonts is a “fontographer.”


The area of a painting that visually appears closest to the viewer. It is often located on a lower plane or bottom of the canvas.


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.


The visible shape and volume of a three-dimensional work, including unfilled areas that are integral to the work as a whole.

Fractal Art

visual art vocabulary words

A 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.


Something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclosed in a frame, as a picture.

Freehand Drawing

The art of drawing without the use of tools or mechanical devices like grids, rulers, and compasses. To draw something freehand, you must not use any aids such as tracing or measuring either. Freehand artists draw using only their hands, relying on their observational skills to measure and depict what they observe.

French Curve

A versatile drawing tool used by artists, draftspersons, and designers to create smooth curves that don’t strictly follow the circle’s curve. A French curve is a thin, clear, hard material template, often made of plastic, with several different curves and shapes in a scroll or curved form. These curves allow for more organic and varied shapes, adding a touch of fluidity and naturalness to artistic compositions. Also called a drawing curve, irregular curve, or airplane curve.


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.

Frottage Art

An art technique developed by Max Ernst in 1925. The technique entails placing a sheet of paper on top of a rough or textured surface and rubbing a soft pencil, graphite, chalk, crayon, or other medium over it to obtain an impression of the surface texture of the material underneath the sheet. The French word for rubbing is “frottage.”

Fugitive Colors

Short-lived pigments capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances.

Functional Art

A genre of art that combines form and function, creating objects that are both beautiful and useful. This includes high-quality, artistically crafted objects like dishes and clothes, as well as aesthetic objects like furniture, lighting, and books. Also known as “utilitarian art.”

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Monument Valley
16″ w x 12″ h
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Red and White Cosmos (2023)
6″ w x 8″ h

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art vocabulary list 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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