A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
abstract art Art that departs significantly from natural appearances. Forms are modified or changed to varying degrees in order to emphasize certain qualities or content. Recognizable references to original appearances may be slight. The term is also used to describe art that is nonrepresentational.
achromatic Having no color or hue; without identifiable hue. Most blacks, whites, grays, and browns are achromatic.
acrylic (acrylic resin) A clear plastic used as a binder in paint and as a casting material in sculpture.
analogous colors or analogous hues Closely related hues, especially those in which we can see a common hue; hues that are neighbors on the color wheel, such as blue, blue-green, and green.
armature A rigid framework serving as a supporting inner core for clay or other soft sculpting material.
Baroque The seventeenth-century period in Europe characterized in the visual arts by dramatic light and shade, turbulent composition, and exaggerated emotional expression.
binder The material used in paint that causes pigment particles to adhere to one another and to the support; for example, linseed oil or acrylic polymer.
calligraphy The art of beautiful writing. Broadly, a flowing use of line, often varying from thick to thin.
chiaroscuro Italian for "light-dark." The gradations of light and dark values in two-dimensional imagery; especially the illusion of rounded, three-dimensional form created through gradations of light and shade rather than line. Highly developed by Renaissance painters.
color wheel A circular arrangement of contiguous spectral hues used in some color systems. Also called a color circle.
complementary colors Two hues directly opposite one another on a color wheel which, when mixed together in proper proportions, produce a neutral gray. The true complement of a color can be seen in its afterimage.
composition The bringing together of parts or elements to form a whole; the structure, organization, or total form of a work of art. See also design.
Conceptual art An art form in which the originating idea and the process by which it is presented take precedence over a tangible product. Conceptual works are sometimes produced in visible form, but they often exist only as descriptions of mental concepts or ideas. This trend developed in the late 1960s, in part as a way to avoid the commercialization of art.
Cubism The most influential style of the twentieth century, developed in Paris by Picasso and Braque, beginning in 1907. The early mature phase of the style, called Analytical Cubism, lasted from 1909 through 1911. Cubism is based on the simultaneous presentation of multiple views, disintegration, and the geometric reconstruction of objects in flattened, ambiguous pictorial so space; figure and ground merge into one interwoven surface of shifting planes. Color is limited to neutrals. By 1912 the more decorative phase called Synthetic (or Collage) Cubism, began to appear; it was characterized by fewer, more solid forms, conceptual rather than observed subject matter, and richer color and texture.
earth art; earthworks Sculptural forms of earth, rocks, or sometimes plants, often on a vast scale and in remote locations. Some are deliberately impermanent.
eclecticism The practice of selecting or borrowing from earlier styles and combining the borrowed elements.
encaustic A painting medium in which pigment is suspended in a binder of hot wax.
engraving An intaglio printmaking process in which grooves are cut into a metal or wood surface with a sharp cutting tool called a burin or graver. Also, the resulting print.
etching An intaglio printmaking process in which a metal plate is first coated with acid-resistant wax, then scratched to expose the metal to the bite of nitric acid where lines are desired. Also, the resulting print.
fauvismA style of painting introduced in Paris in the early twentieth century, characterized by areas of bright, contrasting color and simplified shapes. The name les fauves is French for "the wild beasts."
fine art Art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation. Painting and sculpture are the best known of the fine arts.
folk art Art of people who have had no formal, academic training, but whose works are part of an established tradition of style and craftsmanship.
fresco A painting technique in which pigments suspended in water are applied to a damp lime-plaster surface. The pigments dry to become part of the plaster wall or surface.
gouache An opaque, water-soluble paint. Watercolor to which opaque white has been added.
impasto In painting, thick paint applied to a surface in a heavy manner, having the appearance and consistency of buttery paste.
intensity The relative purity or saturation of a hue (color), on a scale from bright (pure) to dull (mixed with another hue or a neutral. Also called chroma.
intermediate color A hue between a primary and a secondary on the color wheel, such as yellow-green, a mixture of yellow and green.
local color The actual color as distinguished from the apparent color of objects and surfaces; true color, without shadows or reflections.
medium (pl. media or mediums) 1. A particular material along with its accompanying technique; a specific type of artistic technique or means of expression determined by the use of particular materials. 2. In paint, the fluid in which pigment is suspended, allowing it to spread and adhere to the surface.
mixed media Works of art made with more than one medium.
monochromatic A color scheme limited to variations of one hue, a hue with its tints and/or shades.
mural A large wall painting, often executed in fresco.
neutrals Not associated with any single hue. Blacks, whites, grays, and dull gray-browns. A neutral can be made by mixing complementary hues.
nonrepresentational Art without reference to anything outside itself-without representation. Also called nonobjective-without recognizable objects.
oil paint Paint in which the pigment is held together with a binder ofoil, usually linseed oil.
pigment Any coloring agent, made from natural or synthetic substances, used in paints or drawing materials.
polychromatic Having many colors; random or intuitive use of color combinations as opposed to color selection based on a specific color scheme.
prehistoric art Art created before written history. Often the only record of early cultures.
primary colors Those hues that cannot be produced by mixing other hues. Pigment primaries are red, yellow, and blue; light primaries are red, green, and blue. Theoretically, pigment primaries can be mixed together to form all the other hues in the spectrum.
prime In painting, a first layer of paint or sizing applied to a surface that is to be painted.
secondary colors Pigment secondaries are the hues orange, violet, and green, which may be produced in slightly dulled form by mixing two primaries.
shade A hue with black added.
subtractive sculpture Sculpture made by removing material from a larger block or form.
symmetry A design (or composition) with identical or nearly identical form on opposite sides of a dividing line or central axis; formal balance.
tempera A water-based paint that uses egg, egg yolk, glue, or casein as a binder. Many commercially made paints identified as tempera are actually gouache.
vehicle Liquid emulsion used as a carrier or spreading agent in paints.
wash A thin, transparent layer of paint or ink.
watercolor Paint that uses water-soluble gum as the binder and water as the vehicle. Characterized by transparency.