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Art vocabulary

Page history last edited by Michelle Lampinen 9 years, 2 months ago

Key Terms in Visual Art

Computer Applications – Hercek/Lampinen


Abstract; An abstract image can be grounded in an actual object or it can give visual form to something inherently non-visual, such as an emotion or sensation.


Abstract expressionism; An aspect of abstract art in which the physical subject is abandoned for one which is purely emotional; i.e. the artist expresses a feeling or idea solely by means of form, line, or color without direct reference to subject matter.


Acrylic; A synthetic plastic resin used as a binder for paint.


Aesthetic; Having to do with the pleasurable and beautiful as opposed to the useful or scientific. An aesthetic response is the perception and enjoyment of a work of art.


Aesthetics; The branch of philosophy having to do with the nature of beauty and its relation to human beings.


Background; In art, those things that seem most distant, as if in the back of the picture.


Balance; An equal arrangements of elements within a composition. Elements could include color, line, shape, or texture etc. for example.


Canvas; A tightly stretched cloth surface on which to paint. Many different fabrics can be used. Linen and cotton are most common. Canvases are usually mounted on wooden frames called stretchers. A canvas is usually prepared for painting by coating it with gesso.


Collage; From the French word collerwhich means "to paste". A collage is any artistic composition made by gluing assorted materials to a flat surface.


Color; Color is light. When a beam of white light is diffused by a means of a crystal prism, a spectrum of the entire range of pure colors is made visible. Every color we normally see is light which has either been reflected from or transmitted by a colorant, such as a pigment or dye.


Hue; The property that gives colors a name, such as red.


Saturation; The purity, vividness or intensity of a color


Value; The technical name for shading, which gives color the quality of seeming light or dark.


Shade; When black is added to a color to make it darker, the resulting color is referred to as a shade.


Tint; When white is added to a color to make it lighter, the resulting color is referred to as a tint.


Cool Colors; Any color that suggests something cold. Any hue can be made cooler by adding white.


Warm Colors; Any color that suggests something warm. Darkening a hue tends to make it warmer.


Primary Colors; In painting, those colors - blue, red, yellow - that cannot be made from mixtures of other colors. White and black are not primary colors. Strictly speaking, white is not a color; it results from a surface on which there is no pigment for light to reflect off of. Black results from a surface absorbing all the colors of the spectrum.


Secondary Colors; The combination of any two primary colors results in the creation of a secondary color. Yellow and red create orange. Yellow and blue create green. Blue and red create violet.


Composition; In the visual arts, the structure or organization of a work.


Contrast; The amount of darkness or brightness between colors.


Criticism; The process of describing, analyzing, interpreting, and judging works of art; often incorrectly used to mean censuring or fault-finding.


Cubism; An art movement which came into being c. 1909, led by Picasso and Bracque. It was an attempt to represent fully and exquisitively on a flat surface all aspects of what the artist saw in three dimensions.


Culture; A set of learned ways of things and acting that characterizes a decision-making human group.


Drawing; The art or act of representing something on a surface by means of lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, compasses, etc. Also, a sketch, plan, picture or design made with such materials.


Ethnographic; Pertaining to the branch of anthropology that deals descriptively with specific cultures.


First Nations; Is the preferred term when referring to the original inhabitants (Inuit, Metis, Native) of Canada. This change in terminology is a reflection of our recognition and support of Canada's First Peoples in re-establishing control over their own self-determination.


Foreground; In art, those things that seem closest, as if in the front of the picture.


Genre art; A style of painting that depicts a scene from everyday life.


Gesso; A white mixture of chalky pigment combined with glue used to prepare a canvas for painting.


Graphic Design; A term used to describe the field of commercial printing, including text as well as illustration.


Graphics; A form of artistic expression, usually on paper, through emphasis on lines, marks, or printed letters rather than on color. It includes everything from drawing through print-making of all kinds including the art of typesetting and book design. It also refers to illustrations, diagrams or designs accompanying printed matter.


Installation; A term used to describe an assemblage or environment constructed in the gallery specifically for a particular exhibition.


Inukshuk (plural, inuksuit); Stone constructions which act in the capacity of a human or inuk. They were constructed by Inuit for practical purposes such as navigational or hunting aids, for pleasure, and sometimes for reasons that are still not well documented. Some inuksuitare thought to have spiritual significance.


Landscape; A work of art that depicts a scene in nature.


Material Culture; Includes those objects or art forms that have relevance or are significant to a particular culture group.


Medium(singular)/Media(plural); Used in the broadest sense to describe the various methods and materials used by an artist. Painting, drawing and sculpture are three different medium and oil and acrylic are two media of painting.


Mixed media; A painting or other work of art in which more than one medium and/or material is used; e.g. using acrylic, watercolor and pen in a single work.


Palette; A thin panel (often with a thumb hole) on which a painter mixes pigments. The terms can also be used to describe the range of colors chosen by an artist.


Panel; Usually, a flat wooden surface used instead of canvas for painting.


Performance art; An art form combining elements of theater, music, and the visual arts.


Perspective; A system for representing three-dimensional space on a flat surface.


Photography; The art or practice of producing images of objects upon a photosensitive surface by the chemical action of light, discovered c. 1840.


Pigment; Any substance used as a coloring agent. A powdery coloring matter mixed with oil, water, glue or other diluting materials to make paints, crayons, pastels and the like. Most pigments are now produced synthetically but historically they have been made from a variety of animal, plant and mineral sources.


Portrait; An image of a person, usually representing some aspect of their character.


Printmaking; Art made by transferring an image from an original source to another surface, usually paper. Most forms of printmaking involved a press by which one applies pressure to a metal plate, stone or wooden block, allowing the transfer of the image to the surface. Printmaking allows an artist to produce multiple images from one original source.


Edition; A set of identical prints that are numbered and signed by an artist. Two numbers usually appear on a signed print. The first number indicates the number of the print and the second number indicates the total number of prints in the edition.


Intaglio Printing; By carving into the surface of a metal plate an image can be created. The metal plate is usually made of copper or zinc. Ink is applied to the plate and is absorbed into the grooves produced by carving. The surface of the plate is then rubbed clean. Paper is place on top of the plate and is run through a press. The pressure of the press releases the ink within the grooves of the plate onto the paper thereby creating the image.


Relief Printing; An image is carved out of a block made of a rigid material. The remaining image is printed by applying ink to the surface of the block, placing paper on top of it and then either rubbing the back of the paper or running the block and paper through a press.


Lithographic Printing; An image is created directly on a specially prepared smooth, flat stone with a greasy (known as a tushe) pencil. After the image is drawn or transferred onto the stone it is dampened and rolled with ink. This process uses the natural repulsion of oil and water to separate the areas that receive and reject ink to create the printed image.


Stencil Printing; This type of printing is different from the others in that paint or ink is not actually printed from a surface but applied to the paper manually with a stippling brush, through cut-out openings in stiff paper. The other difference is that in this method of printing each print is unique whereas other methods can produce multiples of the same image.


Scale; The size of an object as compared to other objects or to its environment, or as compared to the human figure.


Sculpture; A three-dimensional work of art made by carving (cutting in wood, stone, etc.) modeling (a building up of a soft material such as clay or wax), or making a construction or arrangement of material such as an assemblage.


Serigraph/Silkscreen; A general term used for silkscreen printing, a method of reproducing a design by using a series of screen designs to add or mix colors.


Sketch; A rough drawing or painting usually used by an artist as means of recording or outlining an image in preparation for a more finished work.


Space; In art space is created through illusions. One of the primary methods an artist can use is the placement of objects in relation to another objects to give a feeling of depth or shallowness. Another method is scale. By making an object larger it may appear to be closer to the viewer thereby creating the illusion of a shallow space. Overlapping objects in a composition can also help an artist create a sense of space.


Style; Style in art history is rooted in the belief that artworks from a particular era share certain distinctive visual characteristics. These include size, material, color, and other formal elements, and also subject and content.


Technique; The way in which an artist uses a material in the creation of an artwork.


Textiles; Woven materials or any cloth.


Texture; The actual or implied quality if a surface, such as rough or smooth, slick or grainy, hard or soft.


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