Art Terms and Definitions — W

War Artist     |     WYSIWYG

A dictionary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter W.

War Artist

Artistic individuals who document first-hand experiences of war through illustrative or depictive records, often commissioned by governments, publications, or are self-motivated. They explore the visual and sensory dimensions of war, often absent in written histories. Their artwork reflects the experiences of those who endured it, collecting and distilling their experiences, and influencing how subsequent generations view military conflicts.

Warm Color

Art Terms and Definitions -- WColors whose relative visual temperature makes them seem warm. Warm colors include red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow.

The characteristics of warm colors include:

      • are made with red, orange, or yellow, and combinations of them.
      • tend to feel warm, reminding us of heat and sunshine.
      • tend to advance into the foreground, i.e., come toward the viewer.
      • may feel more energetic, attention-grabbing, and aggressive.


Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting to describe a broad, thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made using this technique.


A transparent or opaque water-based painting compound suspended in a natural gum arabic binder. Watercolor is a moist paint that comes in a tube, is thinned using water, and is mixed on a dish or palette. Use them on paper and other absorbent surfaces that have been primed to accept water-based paint. Use soap and water for easy cleanup. Also refers to a painting produced with watercolors.


A watermark is a design embossed into a piece of paper during its production and used to identify the paper and papermaker. The watermark can be seen when the paper is held up to light.


A painting of or including a body of water. It might otherwise be called a marine picture, a seascape, a riverscape, etc.


A painting technique that is well-known as being the primary method of painting used by Bob Ross. Since lighter colors will usually mix with darker colors if laid over the top of them while wet, the technique relies on painting from light colors up. This gives the painting a soft look and allows the colors to be blended to the painter’s desire.


The lightest of all colors. White objects fully reflect and scatter all the visible wavelengths of light. It is often argued that white is not a color because it is achromatic (having no hue); however, since color results from human perception, many individuals consider white as a color. The compliment or antagonist of black.

Wildlife Art

Flamingo and Chick painting
Flamingo and Chick by Teresa Bernard

Artwork that depicts the natural world and the animals that live in it, whether wild or domesticated. This genre is one of the earliest forms of art, dating back to prehistoric cave paintings. Portraits of animals, insects, or fish (whether wildlife or family pets) would fit into this genre. For more on wildlife art, click here.

Wildlife Artist

A skilled artist who creates artwork depicting animals and wildlife in their natural habitats. They aim to capture the essence of wild animals and their interactions with the landscape. Many wildlife painters focus on a specific type of animal or wilderness. They use mediums like oil paints, watercolors, and pastels to create realistic and detailed images of animals, and some specialize in sculptures of animals.


A relief printing technique in printmaking that dates back to 8th-century China. It involves printing an image from the surface of a block of wood. The image is carved into the wood using tools such as chisels, gouges, and knives. Raised areas of the image are inked and printed, while cut away or recessed areas do not receive ink and appear blank on the printed paper.

Word Art

Any art that includes words or phrases as its primary artistic component appearing in various media, including painting and sculpture, lithography and screen-printing, and applied art (T-shirts, mugs, etc.).

Worm’s-eye View

As if seen from the surface of the earth or the floor looking up from below. A variation on a landscape painting where the horizon is placed very low in the painting or outside of it entirely.


(Pronounced “wizzy-wig”). An acronym for What You See Is What You Get and is used in computing to describe the seamlessness between the appearance of edited content on the monitor and the final product.

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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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