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Thread: Glossary of Art Terminology
November 25th, 2009 #1
Glossary of Art Terminology
I'm posting this thread because at present it seems that CA lacks a definitive list of art terminology and I believe it could do a lot of less experienced young artists a lot of good to be able to have a quick reference to look back to when they are given advice and critiques as relating to their artwork, but just aren't familiar yet with the associated jargon. Each separate post will be a different letter in the alphabet, just for easy reference. This is the first post, so all terms will be under the letter A, the 10th post will contain terms under the letter J, and so on like that. Easy huh?
I don't have time to list all letters in one go, so I'll be doing a little now and a little later and I am pulling these terms from different locations so that people who are confused about discrepancies in meanings can cross reference them for better understanding. The two websites I'm primarily pulling from are
Rex Art was kind enough to supply their entire list of art terminology.
And Arlex Technologies is allowing use of terms from their Glossary of Fine Art Terms
Currently a glossary of art terminology does exist on this site, but to me it doesn't seem completely relevant as a quick reference to modern art jargon because as the thread title suggests it is more a study of the history of the terms, and is by no means complete ALTHOUGH it is a great read for learning a little about art history and I suggest you read it if you are serious about becoming familiar with the meanings of some of the terms used in art today. That thread can be found here and if you are interested in helping make that list more comprehensive this website is a good place to find histories of words in the English language
With the links posted I'm satisfied for the moment. I have contacted site administration at both websites and after receiving their permission to post the information listed on their websites here I will go through and begin making a comprehensive list of terms for reference.
Edit: I have obtained permission from both websites to use their definitions here for quick reference. Big thanks to them. Thanks to their cooperation I can now begin populating this thread with the necessary information. Again, this list is not complete, and when I have time I will be sorting through other sources to try to build a more complete list, but I encourage all users who have information they would like added to this thread to contact me via P.M. with the definition and if you found the definition online, the source of the definition and I'll be glad to add it to the list to help make it more complete.
A chalk ground which absorbs oil and is used in oil painting to achieve a matt effect and to speed up drying.
A water dispersion of polymers or co-polymers of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, or acrylonitrile. Acrylic emulsions dry by evaporation of the water and film coalescence.
A solution of acrylic resin in a volatile solvent. Paints made with an acrylic solution binder resemble oil paints more than those made with acrylic emulsion binders.
color that results from the mixture of two or more colored lights, the visual blending of separate spots of transmitted colored light.
Synthetic resin used in paints and mediums. As a medium Liquin from Winsor and Newton works as a binder that encapsulates the pigment and speeds the drying time. In Paints W&N Griffith paints are good example of alkyd paints.
Technique in which the final surface of a painting is completed in one sitting, without under painting. Italian for "at the first".
Free from water.
Refers to materials that meet certain criteria for permanence such as lignin-free, pH neutral, alkaline-buffered, stable in light, etc.
The American Society for Testing and Materials. An independent standard for certain paint qualities, adopted by most manufacturers.
Last edited by Sepulverture; November 30th, 2009 at 09:30 AM.
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November 30th, 2009 #2
The nonvolatile adhesive liquid portion of a paint that attaches pigment particles and the paint film as a whole to the support.
A brown, transparent pigment.
In artwork, the effect of a dark color seeping through a lighter color to the surface.
Smoothing the edges of two colors together so that they have a smooth gradation where they meet.
A dull, progressively opaque, white effect caused on varnished surfaces by damp conditions.
Opaque paint, such as gouache, which has the covering power to obliterate underlying color.
The characteristic way each artist brushes paint onto a support.
November 30th, 2009 #3
Closely woven cloth used as a support for paintings.
Other than what we watch on TV it is a planning device in mural painting, often a full-scale line drawing of the design, without color and tone.
A natural protein obtained from cow's milk. Produces a flat, water-resistant film.
Term is used to describe the effect of light and shade in a painting or drawing, especially where strong tonal contrasts are used.
More than one set of close parallel lines that crisscross each other at angles, to model and indicate tone.
The relative intensity or purity of a hue when compared to grayness or lack of hue.
Wrinkling or puckering in paper supports, caused by applying washes onto a flimsy or improperly stretched surface.
A technique of picture making in which the artist uses materials other than the traditional paint, such as cut paper, wood, sand, and so on.
The arrangement of elements by an artist in a painting or drawing.
A polymer in which the molecule is of more than one type of structural unit.
A hard resin used in making varnishes and painting mediums.
November 30th, 2009 #4
A resin from conifer trees, used in making oil mediums and varnishes.
A term for colors used in underpainting.
The ragged edge found on handmade papers.
The act of cutting out paper designs and applying them to a surface to make an all over collage.
Best quality Gouache paints, often used in commercial art.
Liquids, such as turpentine, used to dilute oil paint, the diluent for waterbased media is water.
Applied to paint, a smooth, homogeneous mixture of ingredients; the process of dispersal, in which pigment particles are evenly distributed throughout the vehicle.
A blend of glue, chalk and water-based paint, used mostly for murals and posters.
A material that accelerates or initiates the drying of an oil paint or oil by promoting oxidation.
An oil that, when spread into a thin layer and exposed to air, absorbs oxygen and converts into a tough film.
November 30th, 2009 #5
A liquid in which small droplets of one liquid are immiscible in, but thoroughly and evenly dispersed throughout, a second liquid. eg. Acrylic Emulsion
Literally, to burn in. A painting technique in which the binder is melted wax
November 30th, 2009 #6
A term used to describe paints which have a high oil content.
Inert pigment added to paint to increase its bulk, also called extender.
A thin coating or layer of paint, ink, etc.
A solution, usually of shellac and alcohol, sprayed onto drawings, to prevent their smudging or crumbling off the support.
A painting technique in which the pigments are dispersed in plain water and applied to a damp plaster wall. The wall becomes the binder, as well as the support.
Pigment or dye colors that fade when exposed to light.
November 30th, 2009 #7
A white ground material for preparing rigid supports for painting. made of a mixture of chalk, white pigment, and glue. Same name applied to acrylic bound chalk and pigment used on flexible supports as well as rigid.
A very thin, transparent colored paint applied over a previously painted surface to alter the appearance and color of the surface.
Opaque watercolors used for illustrations.
A monochromatic painting, usually in gray, which can be used under colored glazes.
coating material, usually white, applied to a support to make it ready for painting.
A plant substance that is soluble in water.
A gum, extracted fro Acacia trees, used in solution as a medium for watercolor paints.
November 30th, 2009 #8
A technique of modeling, indicating tone and suggesting light and shade in drawing or tempera panting, using closely set parallel line.
The perceived color of an object, identified by a common name such as red, orange, blue.
Absorbing or attracting moisture from the air.
November 30th, 2009 #9
A style of painting characterized by thick, juicy color application.
A thin, veil of paint, or paint-tinted size, applied to a ground to lessen the ground's absorbency or to tint the ground to a middle value.
The purity and brightness of a color. Also called saturation.
November 30th, 2009 #10
November 30th, 2009 #11
Used to describe the prevailing tone of a painting. A predominantly light painting is said to have a high key. In contemporary mural painting, the key is the result of scratching a walls surface to prepare for final layer of plaster - similar to "tooth"
Last edited by Sepulverture; November 30th, 2009 at 09:08 AM.
November 30th, 2009 #12
A dye that has been chemically or electrically attached to a particle and does not bleed or migrate.
A dispersion in water of a solid polymeric material.
The process of drawing out excess liquid through a porous substance.
Used as an adjective to describe paint thinned with a spirit, which therefore has a low oil content.
A method of water-washing pulverized pigments to clear the particles of dissolved salts or organic matter.
Resistant to fading or other changes due to light.
The actual color of an object or surface, unaffected by shadow coloring, light quality or other factors.
Canvas that has not been primed, sized or otherwise prepared beforehand for painting.
A dispersion in water of a solid polymeric material.
Last edited by Sepulverture; November 30th, 2009 at 09:07 AM.
November 30th, 2009 #13
A technique for attaching, with glue, mural size painting on paper or fabric to a wall.
The top tone or body color of a paint seen only by reflected light.
A stiff cardboard with a window cut out of the center, attached to a backboard.
Flat, nonglossy; having a dull surface appearance. Variant spelling - matt.
The liquid in which pigments are suspended. Also a material chosen by the artist for working. Plural is media.
The action of a pigment or dye moving through a dried film above or below it.
In drawing and painting this refers to the use of different media in the same picture.
A material with low molecular weight that can react with similar or dissimilar materials to form a polymer.
Picture making technique using small units of variously colored materials (glass, tile, stone) set in a mortar.
Also referred to as wall painting. this word describes any painting made directly on the wall.
Multi ply board made of cotton rags or buffered cellulose to ensure chemical stability and neutrality.