ART GUIDE - Glossary




art guide
Last Updated: June 2012

Glossary

A la Poupee
When coloured ink is applied directly to a surface of a plate, and worked into the area of design using cotton daubs called dollies or poupée in French, the impression printed off this surface is known as la poupée

 

Abrasion
General wearing of the surface, as a result of constant contact with foreign substances like dirt.

 

Abstract Art
Art which does not represent reality as we see it, though it may be based on an actual individual, emotion or object. Taking its inspiration from the real world astract art uses lines, patterns, shapes, texture and colour for expression.

 

Abstract Expressionism
A post-World War II American art movement based in New York, and often referred to as action painting. Major practitioners include Jackson Pollock, Hans Hoffmann and Willem de Kooning.

 

Accent
The emphasis given to certain elements of an art work to attract attention.

 

Acid Free Paper
Paper that has a neutral or basic pH value (7 or higher) and does not react with environmental agents, thus making it durable and increasing the longevity of art works created on it. Same as archival paper.

 

Acrylic Paint
Paint that uses a synthetic medium instead of a natural one, thus drying quickly.

 

Action Painting
Any painting style that calls for vigourous physical activity, like Abstract Expressionism.

 

Aesthetics
The study of subjective sensory values, often referred to as appreiation or taste. It is a branch of the philosophical discipline axiology and is closely related to the philosophy of art.

 

Alla Prima
Italian for 'at the first'. A painting style where the entire art work is completed at one go, without any underpainting.

 

Allegory
A form of representation in which the presented image is emblematic of something else, generally abstract, like a feeling or state. Allegorical figures are human forms used to represent abstract concepts like love and death.

 

Antique Print
An impression printed and published earlier than 1900 is considered an antique print. In some instances, original prints made before World War II are also considered antique. A modern reproduction of an old print is not in itself an antique print.

 

Aquatint
A print using the same technique as etching, but where the areas between the etched lines are protected from the acid by a layer of resin powder, which results in a granular effect.

 

Arches Paper
Air-dryed paper that is available in hot-pressed, cold-pressed and rough varieties. It is favoured for its durability and manufactures at the Arches Paper Mill in Lorraine, France.

 

Archival
Any material like ink or paper that meets certain criteria for durability. These criteria include light-fast and water-resistant (for ink), and acid-free, lignin-free and alkaline-buffered (for paper), etc.

 

Archival Reproduction
The process of digitally and photographically reproducing art prints, with archival inks on archival photo paper, art paper, or canvas.

 

Armature
A rigid frame, often made of steel or wood, that supports a sculpture or installation during its creation.

 

Art Deco
An artistic and architectural style pioneered in the 1920s and 30s based on geometric patterns and repetition.

 

Artist's Proof
An additional print, outside of the edition number usually retained by the artist for personal use.

 

Assemblage
A sculptural techinique based on the joining together of several individual pieces to create the final sculpture.

 

Atelier
French for 'studio' or 'workshop'. Often refers to the studio of an established artist where several other artists, apprentices and assistants may work.

 

Avant Garde
French for 'vanguard'. A group of people or a work of art that challenges norms through innovation in subject, medium, style, or technique, often with revolutionary or trendsetting consequences.

 

Baroque
An artistic, architectural and musical style pioneered in Europe around the mid-1500s and characterized by heavy and gaudy ornamentation, and curved lines rather than straight ones.

 

Bas Relief
A sculpture with little depth where forms project only slightly from the background. These usually appear flat and are also known as low relief sculptures.

 

Bauhaus
An artistic and architectural school founded in Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Bauhaus artists like Klee and Kandinsky attempted to reconcile fine art and design with the mass production culture of industrial Europe.

 

Bedding Plane
The surface on which a sculpture is installed. Almost always refers to an outdoor installation where the bedding plane is a natural surface like the top layer of soil.

 

Biennale
Italian for 'every other year'. Used most often to describe major art exhibitions that take place every two years like the Venice Biennale. The English word biennial is often substituted.

 

Binder
The organic or synthetic substance in paint that adheres particles of pigment to each other and to the support, including linseed oil, acrylic, egg etc.

 

Biodegradation
The process by which living organisms break down organic or biodegradable substances including paper, clay, etc.

 

Bird's Eye View
A downward perspective in a painting, giving the viewer a feeling of elevation in relation to the art work. Also known as aerial view.

 

Bitmap
A way in which digital images are stored by mapping their pixels in the smallest unit of memory, a bit.

 

Blind Stamp
A blind stamp or chop mark as it is also known, is a seal imprinted or embossed onto a print. It serves as a distinguishing mark of the artist, institution, publisher or collector.

 

Brass
An alloy of copper and zinc. It has a dull yellow colour, like gold and is relatively resistant to tarnishing.

 

Bronze
An alloy of copper and tin, often with a little zinc mixed in, that has been used extensively to cast sculptures. Bronze varies in colour from a silverish grey to a deep copper red.

 

Brushwork
The indivdual way in which each artist applies paint to the support with various tools like brushes.

 

Burin
A chisel-like engraving tool with a sharply beveled, V-shaped point.

 

Burnisher
A tool with a smooth, flat end used in printmaking to flatten rough surfaces and thus lighten lines and areas.

 

Burnishing
The act of rubbing clay and earthenware with a smooth surface in order to polish and tighten its surface.

 

Bust
A sculptural portrait that includes the head, neck, shoulders and part of the chest of the subject. Busts are figurative, but not necessarily realistic.

 

Calligraphy
The printing and drawing term referring to the free use of lines for design and emphasis. Also refers to stylized lettering or handwriting in ink, created using various tools.

 

Canvas
Closely woven cloth used as a support on which paint can be applied.

 

Carving
The process of making a sculpture by removing material from a given source like stone, such that it takes the form desired by the artist.

 

Casting
The process of making a sculpture by pouring a material like clay or metal in its liquid form into a mould. On hardening the material takes the form of the mould.

 

Ceramics
The technique of firing or baking clay objects in a kiln to create sculptures amongst other things.

 

Charcoal
A soft, black and brittle substance acquired when water and other volatile substance are removed from organic matter like wood. It is used for drawing, and is available in various forms (powder, compressed sticks, and natural) and consistencies (soft, medium and hard).

 

Chiaroscuro
The rendering of forms through the interplay and contrast of light and dark areas in an art work, thus creating the illusion of depth and space.

 

Chine Colle
A printmaking process where the image is is impressed onto a thin sheet of China paper (other similar surface), which is backed by a stronger, thicker sheet. China paper was originally used because it takes an intaglio impression more easily than regular paper, enabling the visibility of greater detail. Also known as Chine Applique.

 

Chop Mark
See Blind Stamp.

 

Chromolithograph
A colour lithograph created with several different stones or plates, one for each colour.

 

Clay
An organic material formed over time by processes of erosion and composed of fine-grained minerals. Clay is maleable depending on its water content, and can be hardened through drying or firing in a kiln.

 

CMYK
Abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the colours used in a four-colour printing process.

 

Cockling
A contraction in the support, most often paper, that causes wrinkles at its edges.

 

Collage
A work of art created through pasting various materials on a support like canvas, paper or board.

 

Collography
A printmaking process where various materials are applied to a board or metal plate and the entire collage is inked (by any method) and printed onto paper or another support. The different depths of the plate result in various shadow and tonal effects, and the materials applied to the plate create textures on the print.

 

Colour Field Painting
A style of painting popular from the 1950s to 70s, where large areas of a single colour dominated the art work with the intention of evoking an aesthetic response through colour alone.

 

Colour Wheel
A circular representation of colours, based on colour theory and showing the relationship of complimentary and opposite colours.

 

Complimentary Colours
Colour pairs like red and green or yellow and violet that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, and are thought to be at their most intense when paired with each other. When mixed they produce a neutral colour.

 

Composition
The way in which the elements of a two-dimensional art work are organized on the surface to achieve balance.

 

Conceptual Art
Works of art in which the intangible concept and technique of execution are more important than the final, tangible product.

 

Conisseur
French for 'acquainted with'. A person with much experience and knowledge in a particular field. Art conisseurs exhibit a deep understanding of art works and artists, and their aesthetic judgement is respected. Their opinions are often sought on matters of appraisal and authenticity.

 

Construction
A term for site-specific installations, or works of art that are created in the space where they will be exhibited, and are often disassembled after the exhibition.

 

Conte
Initially a French crayon brand name. Now refers to crayons that have a chalk binder and are free of grease, often used in lithography.

 

Contour
A lines that separates one area or object in an artwork from another.

 

Contrapposto
Italian for 'counterpoise'. A way in which the human figure is portrayed, particularly in sculpture, such that the body follows an S-curve and looks relaxed, graceful and mobile.

 

Craquelure
A network of fine cracks that may appear in applied paint over time for various reasons.

 

Crayon
A stick of coloured material like wax or charcoal used in drawing, which may be water soluble. When the material used is oild chalk, the crayon may be called an oil pastel.

 

Critic
From the Greek for 'one who discerns'. A professional or amateur who offers observations, analysis, judegement (both subjective and reasoned) and interpretation of the work of others. The responses and reviews of critics are usually published.

 

Cross Hatching
A technique used to create a sense of depth or three-dimensionality on a flat surface through areas of closely spaced crossed or intersecting lines.

 

Cubism
An artistic style pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the early 20th century, where forms are fragmented into their various geometric planes or facets. These planes are rearranged such that each form may be simultaneously viewed from several differnent angles.

 

Curator
Latin for 'overseer' or 'guardian'. A specialist responsible for either a single exhibition, or for an institution's collections and their cataloging.

 

Cut Out
A shape cut from a sheet of wood, metal or other material, based on an artist's sketch. The cut-out is a template based on which the same shape can be reproduced in multiples.

 

Dada
An anti-establishment artistic movement that emerged in Europe during the First World War.The provocative and frequently nonsensical work of the Dadaists challenged the artistic norms and tastes of the period.

 

Deckle
The naturally rough, irregular or untrimmed edge of handmade paper.

 

Decollage
A term coined by Wolf Vostell, the process of decollage is associated with the New Realism movement of the 1960s. It is the opposite of collage, involving the creation of new images through a removal of some parts of the original image rather than by putting parts together.

 

Decoupage
The process of cutting various forms out of paper and applying them to a support to create a collage.

 

Digital Art
Art works that have either been created on a computer in digital form or significantly modified by a computing process.

 

Diptych
An art work created across two separate surfaces. Traditionally referring to painted alterpieces that were hinged together.

 

Distortion
A conscious change made by an artist to the size, proportion or general nature of forms in an artwork. All subjective interpretation of forms involves a certain degree of distortion.

 

Drawing
The process of marking a surface by applying pressure on a tool and moving it across the surface. It differs from painting in that pigments suspended in a liquid medium are not used.

 

Drypoint
An intaglio printmaking process, much like engraving, where a pointed stylus is used to lightly draw on a plate. The stylus or needle raises a thin ridge of metal which creates soft lines on the printed surface.

 

Earthenware
A form of porous, permeable pottery that is fired at low temperatures. One form is terracotta.

 

Easel
A stand or support used to hold a painting during its creation and for display.

 

Edition
In printmaking, sculpture and photogrophy the number of images or pieces that the artist authorizes can be made from a single plate, negative or mould.

 

Embossing
The process by which three-dimensional images are created on certain ductile surfaces using a metal die and counter die that fit together and create impresions on the surface sandwiched between them, according to their mould. In printmaking, the pressure and heat are exerted by a letterpress machine and can be done in conjunction with coloured inks.

 

Encaustic
A process where pigment is mixed with molten wax or resin and applied to the surface when hot to literally burn in the image.

 

Engraving
A printmaking process in which a burin or other sharp tool is used to scratch lines into the plate from which prints are made.

 

Etching
A printmaking process where acid is used to etch lines into the plate from which prints are made. The plate is covered with acid-resistant coating into which the desired design is scratched by a needle or other tools. The acid only affects the scratched parts, and the depth of the etched lines is related to the strength of the acid bath and duration for which the plate is immersed in it. The term also refers to the images created by employing this process.

 

Exhibition
A private or public showing of art works.

 

Expressionism
An artistic style pioneered in Europe in the early 20th century, stressing the artist's emotional response to subject over realism and often involving the use of bright colours and distortion.

 

Fauvism
An artistic style that emerged briefly in France during the early 20th century, where bold colours, unrelated to the natural forms they described were arbitrarily used. The most major practicioner was Henri Matisse.

 

Fibergalss
A composite polymer made from extremely fine fibers of glass that is cast and moulded to create sculptures.

 

Figurative Art
Art that is inspired by the natural or visible world and uses tangible forms and objects to convey the artist's message. The human form or figure is the most common subject.

 

Fine Art
Art that is created on aesthetic rather than decorative grounds, to be understood and responded to on its own, without relation to anything else.

 

Firing
The process of baking pottery or clay sculpture in a kiln or open fire to dry and mature the clay.

 

Fixative
A solution genally composed of shellac and alcohol, sprayed onto finished artworks to prevent the medium from smudging or detaching from the support.

 

Folk Art
Art created by untrained artists in the common tradition of their community, often reflecting their way of life.

 

Foreshortening
A technique used to portray three-dimensional forms on two-dimensional surface such that they appear project or recede from the surface and have volume.

 

Forging
The process of shaping metal with various tools while it is hot.

 

Foxing
The occurrence of brown spots and the general browning of aged paper. The name derives from the fox-like colour of the spots, which look like rust stains.

 

Fresco
An artistic technique that uses pigments loosely dispersed in water that are applied to a damp plaster wall. The plaster acts as both binder and support.

 

Futurism
A shortlived artistsic movement founded in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized the dynamism of modern life.

 

Gallery
A space for the exhibition of works of art. Also, a large collection of art works, or a narrow passage with openings into a large room, or an exterior corridor open to the outside.

 

Genre
French for 'sort'. A broad category with no defined boundaries that has been formed by various conventions. In art, landscape would be a genre.

 

Gesso
A mixture of plaster and chalk or gypsum, bound with glue that is applied to supports as a first or ground layer to help them receive paint. Gesso can also be carved and moulded for structure.

 

Glass
A brittle , hard and non-crystalline substance. It is made by fusing silica and an alkali such as potash or soda.

 

Glaze
A thin, transparent layer of paint, which may or may not be coloured, that is used to alter the finish of a painted surface. In ceramics, glazes are applied to clay and then fired to give the piece a glassy finish.

 

Gloss
An optical property of a surface which makes it appear smooth and lustrous through its ability to reflect light in a particular way.

 

Gold Leaf
Gold that has been beaten into tissue thin sheets. It is used for gilding, and available in a range of shades and karats.

 

Gothic
An artisitic and architectural style popular in Europe during the medieval period. Gothic art emphasised power and presence, and in architecture was most commonly used in cathedrals, universities and castles.

 

Gouache
Watercolour paint that uses gum as a binder with an opaque white filler, giving a chalky finish to art works.

 

Graphics
The visual presentation of information and images on any surface for functional or purely artistic purposes. Traditionally graphic art refers to drawing and printmaking, where the emphasis is on line rather than mass.

 

Grisaille
A work of art created in monochrome or with a very limited range of colours, and where differences in tone are used to define form.

 

Ground
A surface that has been prepared to receive paint. Can also refer to the support of an art work such as canvas or paper.

 

GSM
Abbreviation for grams per square meter. A measure of the thickness of paper through its weight.

 

Gum Arabic
A product of the acacia tree, used to add dept or texture to a print by applying it to the surface. The glaze created by gum arabic can be seen when the print is held up to the light at an angle.

 

Half Tone
A process where gradations of tone in an art work are converted into individual steps or pixels intentionally or during the process of commercial printing.

 

Harmony
The condition where all the visual elements of a composition are in unity or have the same characteristics.

 

Hatching
A technique used to create a sense of depth or three-dimensionality on a flat surface through areas of closely spaced parallel lines.

 

Heliogravure
A printmaking process that preceded photogravure, where a photogaphic print is projected onto the plate used for making prints.

 

Hologram
A photographic print that creates a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional surface.

 

Hue
The exact colour of an object.

 

Icon
The artistic representation of holy or divine beings like saints in painting, sculpture or other forms of art.

 

Iconography
The objects and forms that make up an art work along with the representations and customs that are invested in them by the artist and culture in general.

 

Illumination
A hand drawn or painted illustration or decoration that accompanies text, particularly medieval manuscripts.

 

Impasto
The techinique of thickly applying paint to a support like canvas or board that emphasizes texture and three-dimensionality.

 

Impressionism
An artistic style that emerged in 20th century Europe and concentrates on portraying the effects of light and colour on a scene through irregular brushstrokes, impasto and other techniques.

 

Indigo
A natural or synthetic dye with a distinctive blue colour. Also refers to the colour between blue and violet on the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

Inkjet Print
A print created by a class of digital printers known as inkjets, which have very small nozzles that deliver precisely coloured, exact prints of the original image.

 

Installation
A relatively large, sculptural or mixed media form of art that consists of a variety of elements.

 

Intaglio
Any printmaking technique where the image is created from a design scratched into a metal plate, including etching, drypoint, and aquatint. When the plate is inked, the ink remains in the created grooves and is transferred to moist sheets of paper during printing.

 

Intensity
A measure of the clarity and purity of a coulour. Also referred to as saturation or chroma.

 

Kiln
An oven or furnace that is used to fire pottery, glass and sculpture.

 

Kinetic Art
Any work of art that includes natural or mechanical movement as one of its defining properties or as part of its intended expression.

 

Lacquer
A clear or coloured coating applied as a durable finish, ranging from matte to gloss, to various objects.

 

Lalit Kala Akademi
India's national academy of fine art, founded soon after independece to support fine art in the country. It is an autonomous organization funded by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

 

Landscape
A two-dimensional art work where the subject matter is an external vista. Also refers to a specific physical orientation of a two-dimensional art work, where the width is greater than the height.

 

Lift Ground
A printmaking technique where a solution of India Ink and sugar is used to paint directly on the plate before it is coated an acid resistant resin. The plate is then placed in warm water, melting the ink and sugar solution, which lifts off the plate along with the resin directly above it. When the plate is immersed in an acid bath, the desired image is burnt into it and then it can be inked and printed.

 

Limited Editions
Prints that are only produced in a fixed number under the artist's supervision, due to the limitations on the quality of impressions with some printmaking techniques and also because of market forces.

 

Linear Perspective
A technique used to depict depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface by depicting forms that are meant to be distant as smaller than those that are meant to be closer, and basing the composition on parallel lines that converge at a vanishing point on the horizon as they recede into the distance.

 

Linoluem Cut
A printmaking technique where a relief print is carved into linoleum rather than wood.

 

Linseed Oil
One of the most popular drying oils used as a medium for pigment in oil paint.

 

Lithograph
A printmaking technique where a greasy material is used to make a drawing on a zinc plate or limestone block. The plate is then wet and a greasy ink is applied to it. The ink sticks only to the lines that have been drawn. A moist paper is applied to the plate and a special press is used to make a print. The term also refers to the images created by employing this process.

 

Lost Wax Process
A technique of casting sculptures where the plaster and clay mould is made around a wax model. The wax is then melted out of the mould through a vent, allowing molten metal to be cast in its place.

 

Maquette
A sculptural term referring to a small, preliminary model made in wax or clay prior to beginning work on the final piece. Also known as bozzetto.

 

Masonite
A type of hardboard support invented by William Mason formed out of wooden chips that have been steamed into long fibers and then put together and pressed and heated to form a board without the use of glue or any other material.

 

Matrix
The single original surface from which any process of printmaking is initiated. The matrix varies from process to process - blocks of wood for woodcut; linoleum for linocuts; metal plates (usually copper or zinc) for engraving or etching; stone for lithography; and fabric for screenprinting.

 

Matte
An optical property of a surface which makes it appear dull or not-glossy because of its inability to reflect light in a particular way.

 

Medieval Art
The various forms of art produced during the Middle Ages, from around 500 A.D. until the 14th century and the beginnings of the Renaissance.

 

Medium
The liquid in which pigment is suspended along with the binder. For example, with oil paints, linseed oil is usually the medium. Also refers to he substance used by an artist for giving expression to his art. For example, a sculptor may use stone or bronze as his medium of expression.

 

Metal Cut
A printmaking technique where a relief print is carved into metal, and the surface rather than the grooves are inked to create the print.

 

Mezzotint
A printmaking technique where the plate is textured with various tools, such that different areas will hold different amounts of ink and result in a print with rich tonal differentiation.

 

Miniature
A small scale art work or reproduction.

 

Minimalism
An artistic and architectural style of the mid 20th century, where a minimum of colour, line and decoration is used emphasising sparseness.

 

Mixed Media
A 20th century artistic style in which different types of physical materials are combined together. Also refers to an art work which represents a combination of various media into one production akin to modern day multimedia.

 

Mobile
A certain type of ceiling-mounted kinetic structure that depends on equilibrium for structure and wind or direct contact for movement. The inventor and most important artist associated with this type of sculpture is Alexander Calder.

 

Modelling
In three-dimensional art, referring to the shaping of form from some malleable or plastic material. In two-dimensional art, referring to the simulation of light and shadow on a flat surface to create the appearance of depth or three-dimensionality.

 

Monochromatic
Having only one colour, or one predominant colour with variations in hue and tonality.

 

Monogram
A symbol or motif formed out of two or more letters, most often the initials of a name.

 

Monograph
A comprehensive publication on a single subject or artist.

 

Monoprint
A printmaking technique where each impression that is printed is made unique by hand colouring the paper before the print is taken, or altering the paper during or after each print is taken. Thus only part of the final image is the result of a printmaking process.

 

Monotype
A printmaking process where only one impression is taken from a painted glass sheet or polished plate by pressing a sheet of paper against it while the paint is still wet. The term also refers to the images created by employing this process.

 

Montage
An art work composed of other existing images from any source that are arranged such that they create a new image, much like a collage.

 

Mosaic
An art form in which small, variously coloured pieces of tile or glass are put together against a support to create a design or image.

 

Motif
French for 'pattern'. A repeated image or theme in a work of art, used for decorative or narrative purposes and may or may not have iconographic significance.

 

Mould
The shaped, hollow container used in sculpture casting to give its form to the molten substances like bronze that are placed within it. Moulds can either be in one single piece ans used only once, or in several pieces that can be taken apart and put together again to cast another sculpture.

 

Mural
A large format wall decoration created using any single art form like painting or mosaic, or a combination of various art forms.

 

Mylar
A trade name for polyester sheets that are used by artists as supports or printmaking tools.

 

Narrative Painting
A painting that tells a story through its forms, or where a story line is a prominent feature.

 

Naturalistic
An art work whose forms closely resemble those in the visible or natural world that they are based on. Also referred to as representational.

 

Negative Space
The space in an art work around or between the depicted objects.

 

Neo Expressionism
An artistic style of the Post World War II period in Europe and the 1980s in America, where vivd colours and unconventional techniques were used to portray intense emotions, furthering the work of the Expressionists.

 

Neo Classicism
A Western artistic style of the late 19th century that centered on a revival of ancient Greek and Roman classical styles, which included sharp lines, reticence rather than emotion, cool colours and exact composition.

 

Neutral
Having no hue (black, white and gray). Neutral colours are also those obtained by mixing two complementary colours.

 

New Media Art
Art works that are created with the aid of new media technologies, including computers, robotic applications, and various biotechnologies, rather than traditional methods like painting, drawing and sculpting.

 

Non Objective
An art work that is not representational or naturalistic. Also referred to as abstract.

 

Offset Lithography
A printmaking technique where the image is lifted off the plate or stone using a rubber roller, and then rolled onto a sheet of paper with the same. This double printing, reverses the image twice, so that the final impression is not a mirror image.

 

Oil Paint
Paint that uses natural drying oils like linseed as their medium.

 

Op Art
Optical Art, an artistic style of the 1960s, where optical principles, colour interations and illusions of movement through line and colour were emphasised.

 

Open Firing
A ceramic technique where clay pottery or sculpture is fired, but not in a kiln.

 

Over Firing
In ceramics, the problem of firing clay pottery or sculpture above a certain temperature, leading to defects like blistering and warping.

 

Overlap Effect
A spatial relationship achieved in two-dimensional art by placing an object in front of another, obscuring it slightly and creating a sense of depth.

 

Paintbrush
Tools used for applying paint to a support like canvas, usually made by clamping natural or synthetic bristles to a handle with a ferrule. They can have several different shapes, lengths and sizes depending on the type of application they are used for.

 

Painting
The process of marking a surface by applying pressure on a tool, most often a paint brush, and moving it across the surface. It differs from drawing in that pigments suspended in a liquid medium are used.

 

Palette
The flat tray on which an artist spreads out and mixes his colors while painting. Also used to describe a particular artist's choice of colours.

 

Paper
A thin support made of natural vegetable or synthetic fibers that have been amalgamated. The most common fibers are derived from wood pulp. Other sources are cotton, rice, polypropylene, etc.

 

Papier Mache
French for 'chewed paper'. A sculptural technique where forms are created out of a mixture of paper pulp and glue which can be painted after it has dried.

 

Pastel
A stick of dry pigment bound with gum. Also refers to the art works created using these sticks, and to certain soft, light shades of colours.

 

Patina
A surface layer of film or encrustation that forms on copper and bronze as a result of weathering, oxidataion or chemical treatment.

 

Pen and Ink
An artistic technique where ink, black or coloured, is applied to a support with a pen or other stylus.

 

Pencil
A drawing or writing instrument made by encasing a stick of graphite in wood or metal. Traditionally refers to an artist's brush.

 

Pentimento
A condition where one of the lower layers of a painting is visible beneath an upper translucent layer. This can be deliberate or due to the fading of lead-containing paints over time.

 

Performance Art
Works of art that do no consist of tangible objects, but rather a series of performed events by the artist for an audience.

 

Perspective
A technique used to represent spatial relationships and three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional or flat surface.

 

Perspex
A transparent acrylic resin, which is formed into sheets that are used by artists as supports.

 

Photograph
An image created when light falls on a photo-sensitive surface, either film or an electronic chip. Most photographs are created using a camera that focuses visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the eye sees on such a surface.

 

Photogravure
A printmaking technique where photographic images are printed through an intaglio process. The negative of an image is projected onto a photo-sensitive surface which is then transferred to a copper plate, which is washed, dissolving areas that correspond to the image. The plate is then put through an acid bath, and impressions are printed as with a regular etching.

 

Photorealism
A style of painting and drawing which emerged in the mid 20th century and involves depictions so exact or naturalistic that the art work resembles a photograph.

 

Pictorial Space
The space between forms in a two-dimensional work of art that appears to recede backwards, creating an illusion of depth.

 

Picture Plane
The foreground of a two-dimensional or flat work.

 

Pigment
A natural or synthetic colouring substance that is mixed with various mediums and binders to create different kinds of paints, inks, or pastels.

 

Planographic
A printmaking technique where the impression is printed off a flat stone or plate surface. The design is drawn on to this surface using a grease crayon. The printing ink is absorbed by the image created by the crayon, leaving the remaining areas clear of ink. The image is then transferred onto the paper under light pressure.

 

Plaster of Paris
A kind of plaster that is made up of dehydrated gypsum mixed with water, and is popularly used for carving and making casts.

 

Plate
The surface used as a matrix for intaglio prints and some lithographs. It is a flat metal plate usually made from copper, zinc or steel.

 

Platemark
The rectangular impression left on the paper caused by the edge of the plate used for intaglio prints. Unlike other printmaking techniques, intaglio prints are printed under extensive pressure.

 

Pochoir
A printmaking technique related to serigraphy, where ink is brushed through the openings of stencil templates, but without using a screen.

 

Pointillism
An artistic style closely related to Impressionism, where the optical mixture of colour was emphasised over mixture on the palette or surface. Thus entire art works were created using tiny, separated dots of colour, and forms could only be made out at a distance. The inventor and most important artist associated with this type of painting is George Seurat.

 

Polychromatic
Having many colours.

 

Pop Art
An artistic style that emerged in Americal during the 1950s and 60s, which was inspired by the commerce and mass culture of the time. Major practicioners include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, etc.

 

Porcelain
A ceramic product that is fired to very high temperatures and usually has a fine, glossy glaze.

 

Portrait
A two-dimensional art work where the subject matter is a human figure. Also refers to a specific physical orientation of a two-dimensional art work, where the height is greater than the width.

 

Positive Space
The space in an art work occupied by the depicted objects.

 

Post Impressionism
An artistic style of late 19th century France that rejected the princples of Impressionism, instead emphasising form and significant subject matter.

 

Posthumous
An event, publication, award that occurs or is given after one's death.

 

Postmodernism
An artistic period of the latter half of the 20th century that followed Modernism, breaking from its rigourous formality. One of the movements associated with Postmodernism is Pop Art.

 

Potter's Wheel
A pottery tool that consists of a rotating wheel, either driven manually or electronically, on which clay is shaped into various forms.

 

Primary Colours
Any colour that cannot be created by mixing other colours (red, yellow and blue).

 

Print
An image of which many copies are present. The image is typically made from one of several printmaking processes including lithography, serigraphy and woodblock, or developed from the negative of a photograph.

 

Printmaking
A category of fine art processes in which single or multiple impressions are made from the same plate or screen. These processes include lithography, serigraphy, woodcut, aquatint, etc.

 

Proof
An initial impression of a print, often referred to as working proof in the case of unfinished prints.

 

Proportion
The relation of one part of a work of art to the whole. Also refers to the relative size of each form in a work of art.

 

Provenance
The source or origin of a particular object, and the history of its various owners.

 

Realism
An artistic style developed in 19th century France and influenced by the advent of photography, where reality and the artist's direct surroundings were expressed without any romanticisation.

 

Registration
A printmaking technique used to precisely align colours when taking a multicolour impression from several different plates or screens.

 

Relief
A sculpture in which forms project from a flat background. Also refers to any print where the impression is taken from the raised portions of the plate or block.

 

Renaissance
French for 'rebirth'. The period in Europe from the 14th to 16th centuries, following the Middle Ages, where classical art, architecture, music, literature and philosophy flourished.

 

Retrospective
From Latin for 'look back'. An exhibition that allows viewers to look back at the career of a particular artist or a certain artistic period or movement.

 

Reverse Painting
An artistic technique where paint is applied to one side of a transparent sheet of glass, plastic or acrylic, and the art work is meant to be viewed through the sheet from the other side.

 

Rococo
An artistic and architetural style that flourished in 18th century France, where frivolous and leisurely themes were communicated through ornamentation, pastel shades and shell-like, curved forms.

 

Romanticism
An artistic style of the 19th century that opposed Neo Classicism through the use of intense colours, emotional themes, complicated composition and soft lines.

 

Resolution
A photographic term describing the quality of an image, both on film and digital.

 

Salon
A private gathering of artists, conisseurs, and intellectuals from other fields. Also the name given to state sponsored exhibitions of art in Paris.

 

Satin Glaze
A glaze that is not very reflective, and lies between matte and gloss on the scale .

 

Screenprint
A printmaking technique where ink is forced through a screen of stretched fabric onto a any surface below it. Parts of the fabric mesh are blocked to create the desired image.

 

Sculpture
A three-dimensional art work created by shaping material in one of several ways including assemblage, casting, and carving.

 

Scumbling
An artistic technique resembling glazing that consists of applying a thin, opaque layer of light coloured paint over a darker, dry painting to slightly alter its appearance. The alteration is a result of an optical mixing of colours rather than their actual mixing in the painting.

 

Secondary Colour
A colour that is obtained by mixing two primary colours (red, yellow and blue). Secondary colours are orange, violet and green.

 

Serigraphy
A printmaking technique where ink is forced through one or more selectively blocked screens of stretched silk to achieve a multi-coloured, complex image.

 

Sfumato
From the Italian for 'smoke'. A technique where paint is applied in thin layers to achieve a hazy effect and frequently to portray distance.

 

Silhouette
The outer shape or outline of an object.

 

Silver Print
A general term for any print made on paper that is coated with silver compounds or salts.

 

Soft Ground
A printmaking technique where the plate is covered with a malleable ground into which various designs can be pressed to hold ink and create specific effects.

 

Sprigging On
A sculptural and ceramic technique of adding small additional forms onto the surface of existing sculptures or pottery.

 

Steel
A commercial grade of iron alloyed with small amounts carbon. It is highly malleable and frequently used in sculpture.

 

Still Life
A two-dimensional art work where the subject matter is an arrangement of objects like vases, fruits, etc.

 

Stippling
A technique used to create a sense of depth or three-dimensionality on a flat surface through areas of closely spaced dots or marks.

 

Stretcher
The wooden frame on which a canvas is stretched and mounted before framing.

 

Study
A work of art that is an initial attempt or part of the final work, but not the final work itself.

 

Sulphur Ground
A printmaking technique where suphur dust or a basic sulphur compound is applied to the plate to hold ink and create a specific effect.

 

Support
The material or surface on which a work of art is created like canvas or paper.

 

Surrealism
An artistic style pioneered in the early 20th century where spontaneity and fantasy or dream-like imagery was central, often resulting in irrational compositions.

 

Symmetrical
The condition where two halves of an artwork around its central vertical axis (which may be imagined) correspond to each other in terms of size and shape.

 

Tapestry
A type of weaving where the yarn is woven such that it forms a design or image.

 

Tarpaulin
A strong, flexible and waterproof material, usually made by coating cloth with latex or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

 

Tempera
A paint made by suspend pigment in a medium traditionally but not always made with egg. Tempera dries rapidly and generally produces a smooth but matte finish.

 

Tertiary Colour
A colour that is obtained by mixing one primary colour (red, yellow and blue) with one secondary colour (orange, violet and green).

 

Texture
The nature of the surface of an art work.

 

Transfer Paper
A paper with a soluble surface layer, used in lithography. Drawings on transfer paper can be transferred to a litho stone or plate with the heat and pressure of a printing press.

 

Triennale
Italian for 'every third year'. Used most often to describe major art exhibitions that take place every three years. The English word triennial is often substituted.

 

Triptych
An art work created across three separate surfaces. Traditionally referring to painted alterpieces that were hinged together.

 

Trompe L'oeil
French for 'deceiving the eye'. A work of art rendered such that is tricks the viewer into believing it is something else. Most frequently used when a two-dimensional art work appears realistic and three-dimensional as a result of the artist's technique and skill.

 

Turpentine
An organic material used as a paint thinner and solvent.

 

Underpainting
Also referred to as 'laying-in'. The initial stage in oil painting where the surface is covered with a layer of neutral colour to serve as a base for the painting.

 

Value
The relative lightness or darkness of a hue or of a neutral colour between absolute white and absolute black.

 

Vanishing Point
In art work with a linear perspective, this is the point on the horizon at which parallel lines seem to converge.

 

Varnish
A hard, transparent protective coating that is made of dissolved resin. Varnish usually adds a glossy finish to an art work.

 

Vehicle
The entire liquid contents of a paint, including the medium and often the binder.

 

Vignette
In printmaking, an image without a definite outline is known as a vignette. The term also refers to a smaller image, which makes up a part of a larger print.

 

Viscosity
The ability of a liquid to flow, depending on its thickness.

 

Wash
The technique of broadly applying thin layers of dilute pigment to a surface, giving an almost transparent effect. Usually used with watercolours.

 

Watercolour
A transparent paint made with water soluble pigment and water as the medium and gum-arabic as the binder.

 

Watermark
An embossed design used as an identification of the paper or papermaker. The embossing is done during production and can be seen when the paper is held up to the light.

 

Woodcut
A printmaking process where relief prints are made using a piece of carved wood instead of a plate.

 

Yellowing
A change in colouration of an art work caused due to the use of varnishes or mediums that yellow with age or the accumulation of dirt in the top layer of paint or varnish.

 

Zincograph
A lithograph that has been made using a zinc plate rather than a litho stone.