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GLOSSARY OF ART TERMS


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abstract art non-representational, purely autonomous and making no reference to an external world
acetate transparent cellulose sheet in matt or gloss finish
acrylic polymer based synthetic resin, quick drying and retaining brightness. It permits effects of transparency and impasto. Most paints with an acrylic emulsion base can be mixed and diluted
with water and dry to a tough, flexible, waterproof finish.
amorphous without clarity of definition, formless, indistinct, and uncertain dimension
aquatint acid bitten tone created with particles of a resist (rosen or asphaltum) adhered to a plate surface, often used in conjunction with other etching methods; print made from a metal plate coated with a porous resin on which the design has been ‘stopped out” ( painted with a resist varnish) to prevent it being dissolved by the acid.
archival paper paper with a neutral pH value of 7. 2 to 3% buffers of base chemicals calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are added to counteract future acidic contamination
artist proof prints that the artist receives from the publisher as partial compensation that is apart and in addition to the regular edition, generally amounting to 10% of the number of prints in the regular edition.
balance feeling of equilibrium in weight, attention, or attraction of the elements in a composition
bleed image that extends to the edge of the paper; image without margins
bon a tirer literally “good to print”; print used as an example and to which other impressions in the editions strive to match in appearance
brayer small diameter roller used to spread ink on a plate
buffer substance that reduces the effect of another substance
calligraphy writing with rhythmic, flowing lines
canvas coarse unbleached cloth woven from hemp, cotton, or flax used as a support for painting; stretched over a wooden support frame and primed with neutral colored paint
chiaroscuro arrangement of light and dark parts, often blended, to render depth and volume, creating the illusion of 3 dimensions on a 2 dimensional surface
chine colle thin, exotic, and different colored paper collaged onto the support paper during the printing process
classical forms characterized by a rational, controlled, clear, intellectual approach
collage composition made by gluing pieces of paper, cloth, etc. on a canvas or other substrate
color quality of visible phenomenon whose perception is the response of vision to the wavelengths of light striking a surface that absorbs some wavelengths and reflects others. Definable properties are hue (name of color), value (degree of light or dark), intensity (brightness)
composition act or result of organizing elements into a unified whole; each element should have characteristics that create interest but
function such that the whole is more important than its parts
content sensory, psychological, or emotional properties in artwork as opposed to the perception of its descriptive aspects
contour outer edge of an object or shape; most often defined by a line (outline), also indicated by extremities of value, texture, color
couching process of transferring a freshly made sheet of paper from the mold onto another surface such as a felt
craftsmanship aptitude, skill, or manual dexterity in the use of tools and materials
curvilinear use of curved lines in composition
deckle irregular edge of handmade paper formed by the seepage of the fibrous liquid under the edge of the frame (deckle); frame that rests on or is hinged to the mold which confines the pulp on the screen as the water is drained through the mesh 
diptych a picture or relief on two panels
distortion any change made by an artist to the size, positions or general character of forms
dominance emphasis on one main element of a composition, other elements assuming less importance
drypoint technique of printmaking in which a metal plate is scratched with a pointed tool
dye soluble chemical that bonds with the surface of a fiber and colors it
edition total number of impressions printed and published
engraving incised design; print made from an engraved plate
etching design on a metal plate treated with acid to dissolve areas unprotected by the application of a ground; print made from the etched plate
expressionistic largely realistic in form but strongly emotional or intellectual in content resulting from a desire to express what is felt rather than perceived or reasoned 
fantasy departure from accepted appearance or relationship for the sake of psychological expression; freely interpreted or invented
figurative art depictions of the visible world, not necessarily including human or animal figures
filet narrow ornamental strip placed at the inner border of a mat
frame generally a four sided structure which provides the support to hold the mat, glazing, and artwork
gallery room used for the display of artwork
genre subject matter that portrays everyday life, domestic scenes, sentimental family relationships
giclee print created by the use of archival quality dyes applied by a sophisticated inkjet printer
gilding coating with gold, gold leaf, or a gold colored substance
glass hard brittle material, usually transparent and often translucent, made by the fusion of silica (sand, flint, quartz) at high temperature aided by an alkaline flux (potash, soda) and various other substances such as limestone or potash of lead. In its molten state it is ductile and can be drawn into very long thin threads or blown into bubbles which are shaped with shears and tongs or formed by molds; colored by the addition of metallic 
oxides to the frit (basic materials before they are fused). 
glaze in painting the transparent film which modifies the color over which it is applied. in pottery the glossy waterproof surface produced by the vitrification of silica present in the clay by a flux
glazing glass or acrylic sheets which fit within the frame and on top of the mats and artwork, providing protection from dust and moisture; some varieties reduce the damaging effects of fading caused by excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and fluorescent lamps
gouache opaque watercolor in which pigments are mixed with white lead, bone ash, or chalk
graphics products of arts which depend on drawing rather than color, but including all forms of printmaking
ground thin coating made form pitch, gummatic, asphaltum, and beeswax which protects the non-image bearing parts of an image from the action of the acid
halftone image composed of dots; the combination of 4 colored inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, black ) applied to the dots can produce the appearance of realistic color 
handmade paper characterized by irregular deckled edges and slightly unevenness in thickness
harmony repetition of characteristics that are the same or similar
hatching parallel lines indicating shadow in a drawing
hue name of a color
illusion imitation of visual reality created on the flat surface of the picture plane by use of perspective with light and dark shading
image mentally envisioned object given concrete appearance through the use of an art technique; general appearance of 
an object
impasto paint thickly applied
ink fluid or viscous liquid in various colors used for writing or printing
intaglio incised carving; a print produced from an incised figure created below the level surface of the plate; impression from it produces an image in relief and in reverse
intuitive space illusion of space resulting from the exercise of the artist’s instincts in manipulating space producing devices such as overlapping, interpenetration, inclined planes, transparency, and disproportionate scale
lacquer waterproof substance made from the sap of a Chinese tree; used primarily as a protective decorative covering
lift ground ground painted or drawn on a plate to achieve painted tonal areas or linear designs of less regularity than are made by scratching into hard ground
limited edition edition of prints limited to a specific number, each print individually signed and numbered in pencil by the artist; frequently refers to prints made in halftone by offset lithography
line mark made by a tool as it is drawn across a surface usually made visible by a contrast in value with the surface upon which it is drawn; trace of a moving point used to create a silhouette or define a contour to represent mass or volume
lithography printing based upon the principle that oil and water do not mix. An image is drawn with a grease pencil or tusche on a smoothly polished slab of fine grained limestone or a metal plate. The drawing is fixed onto the surface by applying an acidic solutuion of gum arabic. The surface is dampened with water, then ink is rolled on, which adheres only to the greasy areas and is repelled by the water. Paper is laid on the surface of the plate and pressure is applied by passing the plate through a press with a moving bed.
mass in graphic art, a three dimensional form that appears to stand out from the space surrounding it; in sculptural art, the physical bulk of a solid body of material
mat thick sheet of paper with a window opening surrounding artwork placed in a frame, used to enhance the presentation and protect and preserve the artwork
medium material and tools used by the artist to create the visual elements perceived by the viewer; any paint, dye, or coloring agent used to cover a surface; binding agent that holds a pigment together (linseed oil in oil paint, gum arabic in watercolor, egg yoke in tempera) which enables it to be applied evenly and fixes it to the substrate
mezzotint intaglio printing process producing a range of tone; print made from a metal (copper, zinc) plate on which an overall burr has been raised and then smoothed in places which will carry less ink and records the image in a range of tones
mold wooden frame covered with a sieve like mesh on which paper is formed
monotype print made from transferring an image painted on a plate to paper; only one unique impression of the design can be transferred
motif visual element repeated in a composition making it the dominating feature
moulding shaped strip of wood or metal used in the construction of a frame
negative shape unoccupied or empty space left after the positive shapes have been applied. Since they have borders, they also function as shapes in the composition
non objective entirely imaginative visual designs not derived from anything ever seen. The shapes, their organization, and their treatment by the artist are personalized and not associated by the viewer with any previously experienced natural objects
offset lithography method of lithography by which the image is not printed directly form the plate but “offset” first onto a rubber covered cylinder (blanket) which performs the printing operation
oil paint pigments mixed with linseed oil which harden when dry into a transparent film, usually applied opaquely
paint pigments ground and mixed with a liquid medium
painterly characteristic of forms which are defined by tone rather than line
palette range of colors used by an artist; a wooden board or other support on which painters arrange their colors ready for use
paper thin sheets made from plant fibers; large scale production utilizes chemically and mechanically altered wood pulp while handmade paper uses refined portions of cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp or banana
pattern repetition of elements or combination of elements in a readily recognizable systematic organization
perspective pictorial system for creating the illusion of 3 dimensional space and objects on a 2 dimensional surface. atmospheric perspective uses value, texture, and color modification to suggest or enhance the effect of space. linear perspective refers to drawing objects in line to suggest their 3 dimensionality and effect of existence in space. geometric perspective is a drawing system based upon geometry used for creating the illusion of 3 dimensional space and objects in the 2 dimensional surface of the picture plane.
picture frame outermost limits or boundary of the picture plane
picture plane flat surface on which the artist creates a pictorial image; also the transparent plane of reference used to establish 
the illusion of forms existing in 3 dimensional space
pigment colored matter in powder form that remains insoluble when mixed in a medium
plane shape that is 2 dimensional, having height and width
plein air painting created out of doors rather than in a studio
pochoir artwork created by brushing into or rolling through open areas of a stencil which is not attached to a screen
porcelain clay fired at a high temperature (1250-1350 degree C) causing the mixture of kaolin (white china) and a feldspathic rock called china stone (silicate of potassium and aluminum) to fuse to a 
glassy matrix.
positive shape enclosed areas forming shapes
primary color colors which cannot be produced by a combination of other colors but when mixed with other primary colors produce almost all other colors; painter’s primaries are red, blue, yellow;
printer’s and dyer’s primaries are magenta, cyan, yellow 
primer coating applied to a surface which is to be painted
print product of a printing process, usually an image on paper in multiple copies
proof print taken at any stage of the printing process to enable the artist or printer to evaluate the appearance
proportion  comparison of elements in terms of size, quality, and degree of emphasis; size can be expressed in terms of a ratio
pulp suspension of beaten fiber in water used for the production of paper
quilt padded coverlet, usually for a bed, made of a layer of padding sewn between two pieces of fabric by stitches
which pass through the three layers
rag cotton or linen cloth used for paper pulp; strong durable paper composed of the longest fibers of cotton and linen
registration proper alignment of an image with respect to the paper or to previous printed images
relief printing all areas of a design to be printed are left untouched while the remaining portions of the surface of the wood or linoleum block are carved away. The raised (relief) portions are rolled with ink, paper is placed on the block and pressure applied by a press or by burnishing the back of the paper to transfer the image.
repousse relief design on metal produced by hammering from the back side
repetition use of the same visual pattern numerous times
resist process or material which prevents the effect of an applied substance
rhythm flow or feeling of movement produced by repetition of visual units
romantic characterized by spontaneity of expression, intuitive imagination, and picturesque rather than a carefully organized, rational approach (classical)
sculpture art of shaping expressive 3 dimensional forms
screen print alternate name for serigraph
serigraph print produced by pressing ink through a screen; the printing process (“seri” meaning silk, refers to the original fabric) uses a mesh like screen stretched across a frame. A stencil is applied to the screen to seal the non printing areas and ink is scraped thru the openings of the stencil by a squeegee to produce an image
shade hue plus black
shading darker value on the surface of a form that creates the illusion that a certain portion is hidden from the source of light
shape area separated from the adjacent or surrounding space because of a defined boundary or a difference in value, color, or texture
size material that acts as a barrier around the fibers of a paper decreasing absorbency and acts as an adhesive to strengthen the sheet; synthetic, animal (rabbit skin glue), or vegetable (potato starch) 
silkscreen alternate name for serigraph
simultaneity use of separate views, representing different points in time and space, which are brought together to create an
integrated image
space boundless and unlimited extension in all direction, void of matter. Artists use the term to describe the interval (measurable distance) between established points. 3 dimensional space possesses thickness or depth as well as length and width. 2 dimensional space possesses only length and width
spectrum blended arrangement of colors resulting from white light being segregated into its component parts; refers to a wide range 
spit bite etching technique to make wash like effects by painting with acid, generally more effective when the image is first defined with a lift ground; depth of tone is controlled by fineness of the ground as well as the length of time the plate is exposed to the acid
squeegee tool with a flexible blade set into a handle, used in serigraphy to spread ink across the screen and press it through the mesh in an even layer onto the paper underneath
state term used to distinguish groups of prints, mainly etchings and drypoints, made from the same plate at different stages of its execution and reworking
stencil barrier to ink; portions which have open areas allow ink to pass though and be deposited upon the paper beneath
still life representation of inanimate objects such as flowers, fruit, or household articles, grouped together in a composition
stylus sharp pointed implement used for scratching and scraping a printing plate
symbol image used to represent a quality or situation
technique manner and skill with which artists use tools and materials to achieve a predetermined expressive effect
texture tactile feeling of an object or the representation of surface character
three dimensional sensation of space that seems to possess depth as well as length and width
tint hue plus white
tone hue plus gray; character of color or value of a surface that is determined by the light reflected from it
tusche greasy lithographic ink used to draw on a plate
tympan smooth flat sheet placed between the blotter and scraper bar on the printing press
value relative degree of lightness or darkness of an area by the amount of light reflected from it
varnish solution of resin applied as a protective coating over a painting, sometimes tinted to modify the colors of the pigments beneath
volume three dimensional shape that occupies a quantity of space
watercolor pigments mixed with a gum which dissolves in water providing a transparent medium for application to an absorbent surface, usually paper
waterleaf completely unsized paper
watermark translucent section of a sheet of paper formed by placing the pattern of a symbol into the mesh of the mold
woodcut relief printing method using a smoothed surface of fairly soft wood with the grain running parallel to the surface; areas not intended to print are cut away below the surface of the block leaving a raised image that can be inked
wood engraving relief print made from carving the end grain of a block of very hard wood
 
 

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