Art Terms and Definitions — U

art idiolect

An art idiolect of words and definitions. Terms relating to art beginning with the letter “U”. The list below starts with ULTRAMARINE and finishes with URBAN REALISM.

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

Art Idiolect: “U” Words

Ultramarine Blue

art idiolect

A deep blue to purple-blue pigment initially made from ground lapis lazuli. The name comes from the Latin ultramarinus, which translates “beyond the sea.” During the 14th and 15th centuries, ultramarine was the finest and most expensive blue used by Renaissance painters.


A natural pigment of brown or reddish-brown color used in painting. In its natural form, it is called raw umber, but when it is heated, the color becomes more intense and is called burnt umber. Umber is not one precise color but a range of different earth colors. The name comes from the Italian terra d’ombra (or “earth of Umbria”), named after a mountainous region in central Italy where the pigment was originally extracted.


A term that refers to preparatory sketch or drawing made on a painting surface before paint is applied. The underdrawing acts as the first layer of an artwork and is widely used by oil painters.

Underground Art

A term used to describe a subculture of art that operates outside conventional norms in the art world, like graffiti, street art, or visionary art. Any form of art that mainly occurs on public property.


The preliminary layers of paint in a painting that render the basic outline of the composition before the final paint layers are added to complete the work.


A subdued or muted tone of color, specifically a color seen through and modifying another color.


The hallmark of a successful design, where all elements work harmoniously to create a satisfying sense of belonging and relationship, ensuring that all aspects complement each other rather than competing for attention.


The uppercase or capital letters in a typeface. In typography, the term refers to the capital letters that were named after the standard location where typesetters once stored them.

Urban Landscape

A premise of urban planning arguing that the best way to organize cities is through the design of the city’s landscape rather than the design of its buildings. Also referred to as landscape urbanism.

Urban Realism

See “Social Realism.”

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shade tree painting
Under The Shade Tree
12″ w x 9″ h
stairsteps landscape paintings
Up the Steps
9″ w x 12″ h
wildlife paintings
Snail #3: Out on a Limb (2021)
6″ w x 6″ h

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art idiolect 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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