Art Terms and Definitions — H

art glossary

An art glossary of terms and definitions starting with the letter “H” is provided below. This list includes more than 10 terms, ranging from HALFTONE to HYPERREALISM.

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

Art Glossary: “H” Words


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. The opposite of blending. This technique consists of rough, straight edges that are geometrically uniform and encompass rich solid colors, neatness of surface, and the arrangement of forms all over the canvas.

Harmonious Colors

art reference glossary
Color Wheel

Colors 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 related colors are also considered to be harmonious.


The unity of all the visual elements of a composition achieved by the repetition of the same characteristics or those that are similar. Harmony serves to bind the various parts into a whole.


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.

Hierarchy of the Genres

A ranking system introduced by the great European Academies in 1669 in the wake of the Italian Renaissance. It comprised five painting-genres that were based on a genre’s prestige and cultural value: (1) History painting (narrative compositions); (2) Portraiture; (3) Genre-Painting (everyday scenes featuring human subjects); (4) Landscape Painting (scenic views); and (5) Still Life (arrangements of domestic objects).


An artwork, usually a painting, that is 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. The term “heptaptych” is not a widely used, however, it is used in the visual arts. Also called “septych” in Latin. Also see “polyptych.”

HEX Color System

A way of representing colors from various color models through hexadecimal values. The term “hex” comes from the word “hexadecimal.” A hexadecimal color follows the format #RRGGBB, where RR represents red, GG represents green, and BB represents blue. A hex code is made up of six digits, usually preceded by a hashtag (#). The numbers in this code correspond to the amount of red, green, and blue in the color.


(Pronounced hex-ap-tick). A work of art consisting of six panels or sections where each panel depicts a different but related scene. These six panels can be connected to form a larger composition or display as separate images. The term itself comes from the Ancient Greek words “hexa” (meaning “six”) and “ptychē” (meaning “fold”). Also see, “polyptych.”


An area of intense brightness that reflects the most light. A technique used in art to direct attention or to emphasize through the use of pigment or color.

Historical Paintings (or History Paintings)

art reference glossary

Artwork that incorporates a theme from classical history, mythology, or the Bible. They can represent a wide range of historical events, subjects, or themes. History paintings often portray a scene from a significant event from the past. This classification should not be confused with genre paintings. The example shown is a historical painting depicting the death of General Wolfe.

Horizon Line

fence post and meadow horizon line
Fence Post in The Meadow by Teresa Bernard

A level line in a painting where the earth’s surface (or sea) and the sky appear to meet. It defines the farthest distance of the background and is the place where a central vanishing point is established. The horizon line will ALWAYS be at eye level, regardless of whether you are at ground level or standing on a mountaintop. It changes as you change positions. The line at the top of mountains or buildings is not the horizon line; these objects “rest” on the horizon line. Sometimes hills, trees, buildings, or other objects can hide it from view, but the horizon line will always be present.

Horizontal Balance

The components within an art composition that are balanced left and right of a central axis.

Hudson River School

A prominent American art movement from 1825-1875, formed by a group of landscape painters who emphasized the beauty and significance of the American wilderness. Their meticulously portrayed landscapes, often idealized, captured the ruggedness and sublimity of the Hudson Valley.


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, which is the main attribute of a color that distinguishes it from other colors.


See “photorealism.”

You May Also Like

This art glossary 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 reference glossary and lexicon online. Simply click or tap the thumbnail link of any Teresa Bernard oil painting to view additional details.

rural landscapes artwork
9″ w x 12″ h
wildlife portrait
The Texas Horned Lizard (2018)
6″ w x 6″ h
ocean view sunset painting
Sunset in The Tropics
6″ w x 6″ h

Art Glossary Quick Links

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H     |     I       |     J     |     K     |     L     |     M     |     N

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art glossary 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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