Art Terms and Definitions — L

art terms reference


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


Refers to a clear or colored finish material that dries to a hard, glossy finish. Usually applied with a sprayer, lacquer dries too quickly for smooth application with a brush unless specially formulated.

Land Art (Earth Art)

An art movement that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States and Great Britain as a response to the commercialization of art. It involved works made directly in the landscape, sculpting the land itself into earthworks or making structures in the landscape using natural materials found on-site, such as rocks, twigs, and soil. Land art sites were often far from metropolitan areas, emphasizing a connection to nature. Also known as Earth art, environmental art, and Earthworks.


landscape art with covered wagon
Covered Wagon on The Prairie by Teresa Bernard

A painting, drawing, or photograph that depicts outdoor scenery, featuring mountains, valleys, meadows, trees, rivers, woodlands, the sky, and weather. They can even include farms and structures in the countryside. Fencing, bridges, barns, windmills, and farmhouses are examples of what one could expect to see in landscape art. For more on landscapes, click here.


In typography (rhymes with heading), the space between lines of type, often measured from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the next and less frequently measured from ascender to ascender. The term “leading” originates from the era of hot metal typesetting, where strips of lead were inserted between lines of type to establish line spacing.

Life Drawing (Figure Drawing)

A form of art that involves drawing the human figure from live models, aiming to encapsulate the essence, spirit, and emotions of the subject, rather than just the physical appearance. It’s a practice that allows artists to study anatomy, proportions, and movement, honing their skills by observing real-life models in a classroom setting or during sessions with hired models.

Light Table (Light Box)

art terms reference

A table that has a translucent top with a light shining up through it, made especially for working with negatives, viewing transparencies and slides, and pasting up artwork. Light tables are a staple in the graphic design industry, especially for the creation of cartoons and comics. They are indispensable for tracing artwork, examining film negatives, and reviewing photolithographs, or any other work that requires a detailed inspection on a flat surface.


Refers to a paint’s ability to resist fading under ultraviolet light, determining the pigment’s retention of its original color. To determine the lightfastness of your oil paints, check the label and look for the official American Society for Testing and Materials Standard (ASTM) rating.

Lightfastness ratings are:

    • ASTM I—Excellent
    • ASTM II—Very Good
    • ASTM III—Not Sufficient


Refers to the similarity in appearance, character, or nature between persons or things.

Limited Edition

A limit placed on the number of prints produced in a special edition to create a print scarcity. Limited edition prints are signed and numbered in sequence by the artist. Once the edition is sold out, the digital file is deleted by the Giclée Printmaker to ensure the edition’s uniqueness. The artwork will never be replicated in that format.

Limited Palette (in painting)

limited palette still life
Still Life with Clay Pottery by Teresa Bernard is a painting done in earth tones using a limited color palette.

Refers to using a small selection of pigments, typically three to five, to create a wide range of colors. This technique, which involves restricting color choices, allows an artist to achieve a greater sense of harmony and unity within their work. Artists like John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, and Claude Monet utilized this method. The pigments selected depend on the desired effect: muted tones, intense contrasts, or maximum color variations with minimal tubes of paint.


A long, narrow mark connecting two points. It has one dimension — length. When two ends of a line meet, a shape is created. Lines can also create textures and patterns when combined with other lines. There are different types of lines they include: horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curved, organic, contour, geometric, and implied. An implied line is the path that the viewer’s eye takes as it moves along a path from form, color, or shape within a work of art.

Line Drawing (Line Art)

A drawing style that uses a pencil, pen or brush to create distinct straight lines or curves of a shape or form on a simple background. Line art is often one color and is used to depict two- or three-dimensional objects with no hue or shade variations.

Linear Perspective

vanishing point

A graphical system used by artists for creating the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface. The system is based on a scientifically or mathematically derived series of actual or implied lines intersecting at a vanishing point on the horizon. As objects move away from the viewer, they appear to grow smaller and converge toward the vanishing point. The vanishing point may be in any direction the viewer looks, including up, and may also be visible (on the canvas) or imaginary (somewhere off the canvas). Linear perspective determines the relative size of objects from the foreground to the background.

Linseed Oil

The most popular drying oil used as a painting medium. The medium hardens over several weeks as components of the oil polymerize to form an insoluble matrix.


Uses the principle that oil, and water don’t mix as the basis of the printing process, a method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose non-image areas repel ink. Non-image areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

Local Color

An object’s true color. The actual color, distinguished from the apparent color of objects and surfaces, is true color without shadows or reflections.


In typography, small letters of a typeface, as opposed to capital or uppercase letters. Derived from the location of the type cases where typographers used to store metal or wood letterforms.


An American landscape painting movement that flourished from the 1850s to the 1870s. It was characterized by a focus on the effects of light in serene, tranquil environments. Luminism had a significant influence on later American landscape art. It was instrumental in clearing the path for later art movements that also honored the American wilderness, such as the Hudson River School.


The illusion of light emanating from within a painting, creating a sense of brightness, glow, and radiance. It organizes scenes, defines detail, and conveys emotion. Artists use various methods to create luminosity, such as layering transparent paints or glazes, applying hard edges and soft highlights, or using chiaroscuro.

You May Also Like

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

ladybug insect art
Ladybug #1 – Hanging on Tight (2016)
6″ w x 6″ h
farm country oil paintings
Life In Texas — Round Hay Bales (2013) 
16″ w x 20″ h
wildlife painting
The American Bison
24″ w x 18″ h

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art terms reference 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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