Glossary of Some Art Terms

Art Dictionary

Hello there! Welcome to my little space here in HubPages. How did the search engines treat you. Hectic or cool? Well, you are here now in this hub titled Glossary of Art Terms. Hope you got here safely bypassing those promise-and-fail marketers that fills the cyber space these days.

Anyway I trust Google to soon throw them into cyber bin in a matter of time. So now that you are here I know you are looking up meanings to some art jargon like chiaroscuro, impasto, perspective, squeegee, etc. Don’t worry, I’ll give them to you here live! But with a promise *giggle*. Yes you’ll promise me to click and buy at least one of the products or services advertised here. What do you think? Am I here just typing and eyeing the pc monitor for countless hours both day and night for a complement? Then you must be joking lol. So dear here we are. But first I am going to give you the definition of Art Terminology for the delights of those of you who are art students and are new in this career.

“Art Terminology is the study and usage of certain words and phases in the teaching, appreciation and criticism of works of art among students, teachers and art professionals.” Huh, ain’t that sounds professional? I can feel my head swell up now listening to the applause coming from your heart.

In order to make this hub less boring I have decided not to arrange the terms chronologically. I will just mix them up huh. Waste no time, get the full dose now and I promise it will help you when preparing for those rear art interviews from the media guys.

Meaning of Vanish, Kiln, Louver, Masterpiece, Stitching, Altar piece, etc.

Horizon is an imaginary line indicating where the earth and the sky appear to meet.

Abstract Art refers to all artworks composed of geometrical forms such as circles, cubes, cylinders, squares, semicircles, stars, trapeziums, etc.

Varnish is a resinous preparation used for painting a dried oil painting preferably after six months as a means of protection and preservation. It becomes yellow and cracks with time and care must be taken to remove it from the painting.

Stitching is the passing of a needle and thread in and out of a piece of cloth as in sewing and knitting.

Academic is usually used to suggest conventional accuracy in a work of art apart from its expressive character or originality.

Spinning is the art of forming thread by twisting wool, cotton or silk.

Academy means both School of Art and a Society of Artists. The first Academy of Art was the Guild of St. Luke, founded in Venice in 1345.

Impasto is the used of thick color in the light area of a picture especially in oil painting to give the effect of solidity and strength.

Kiln is an oven for the burning, baking and drying of pots and bricks.

Legibility refers to the simplicity and readability of letters. This means that good contrast should be given to the letters and the background.

Altar piece is an altar decoration consisting of a painted panel or panels in most cases with an elaborate carved or sculptured frame. This form of art was introduced by many great works or religious art during the Gothic period. – is a good example of an Altar piece art work.

Armature is an object used as a frame to support the outer layout or surface. For example, the wood or metals found inside a sculptural piece is an armature. It can be likened to the metal rods used as the frame of a pillar of a building.

Bisque This is the point when clay work has its first firing solidity in the kiln. At this point, you can no longer mix it with water or even modify its shape. Although at bisque stage, the clay work may still be permeable to water. That is, it may still drip out water or liquid if not completely fired or glazed.


Meaning of Icon, Illumination, Louver, Masterpiece, Lithography, etc.

Hue is another name for color. It is strictly the color obtained by mixing the three primary color together.

Icon is a painting, mosaic or carving of a scared person used by the Eastern Church.

Idealize is to make a painting or a sculpture of a person very beautiful by removing facial or other features that would make it ugly.

Illumination is a painting heightened by the use of a precious metal such as gold which would accompany a manuscript on vellum or parchment.

Louvre is the great art gallery of Paris formerly the royal palace containing the collections of the French monarchs from the time of Francis I and other additions. it also combines the functions at the London National Gallery and the British Muslim, being rich both in antiquities and pictures.

Masterpiece is a work in which a young artist proves his skill in craftsmanship and, there fore, admitted as a master. The term now refers to the main work of any individual artist or the work of un-debated greatness in character and execution.

Appliqué is the method of making dresses by the application of cut out shapes from one colored material unto the surface of another. Binding and stitching is combined in the process.

Outline is the essential element of a drawing. It is the definition of an object by a line round it.

Assemblage / Collage work means the collection of scraps or materials and their use to to compose pictures. It is sometimes called Collage.

Illustration is a term applied to drawings or pictures mechanically reproduced or engravings done to supply the pictorial aspects of a book.

Lithography is a compound word formed from two French words Litho meaning stone and graphia meaning drawing. it is a method of drawing with greasy ink or chalk on stone or a prepared zinc plate and used for printing.

Line is a convenient descriptive convection associated with the drawing of diagrams and to describe shapes.

Little Masters is a term associated with a number of 16th century engravers who were followers of Durer and worked on a very small scale.

Local Color is a term applied to the particular or real color of an object e.g. blue cup.


Meaning of Loom, Basketry, Bitumen, Basketry, Museum, etc.

Loom is a machine for weaving. it is a prepared weaving frame on which a set of threads or strips is fixed vertically to form the warp and another passed over and under the warp to form the weft.

Medium (Media - plural) is a liquid vehicle or substance such as water or oil with which pigments or plants are mixed for use

Modeling is the art of using clay, cement or paper mache e. t. c., to mould figure and objects either in the round or in relief. When used in collection with painting and drawing, it means the indication of planes in such a way as to give the effect of a rounded or three dimensional effects.

Balance in a painting refers to the equilibrium between forms or areas of light and shade in the artwork.

Monochrome means the use of one color in painting. This means that different tones of the color are used.

Basketry is the art of making different types of vessels, baskets or containers from some types of grases, palm fronds and canes.

Mosaic is a picture made by fixing small bits of colored stones, glass or marbles side by side. it is usually done on walls in schools. This can be done on a piece of hard board or unto paper.

Background is the part of a view of a scene that serves as a setting for the chief or prominent objects.

Bistre is a brown tint made from wood called soot and is used for drawing by art masters of old.

Symbolic is a work of art that expresses the idea or the belief shared by the artist and the viewer.

Naturalistic refers to any artwork done to the exact imitation of the original object or object like still-life drawings or paintings and portrait paintings.

Old Masters is a term usually applied to the great painters of the past in Europe especially during the period of Renaissance.

Bitumen is an art medium made from pitch used to add richness to oil paintings. It makes pictures darkened and crack as they get older.

Motif is the shape, symbol or unit formed from objects, or geometric forms and is usually repeated at regular intervals in pattern making.

Mounting is the art of fixing a finished artwork onto another support or ground.

Museum is a building or house where artworks are displayed. Art works displayed in a museum are not for sale.

Painting is the art of expressing on a flat surface of the light and shade of objects and space. Painting is a two-dimensional art.

Meanings of Palette, Calligraphy, Typography, Mural, Cartoon Drawing, etc.

Palette is a square or an oval shaped tray usually with a hole for holding it with the thumb on which colors are mixed for painting.

Symbolism is the representation of a material object by not merely showing its beauty but an expression of an abstract idea.

Calligraphy is the art of making beautiful handwriting. The letters used for this art are round-hand, Gothic or Old English text, scripts (marine or joint) and Madonna Ronde or cursive. There are specially made pens for calligraphy. They are italic, or round hang containing between ten to twelve nibs of different sizes in a packet. Stick pens can however be made and used for calligraphy.

Typography is the art of fixing already prepared block letters into bigger blocks used for printing.

Cabinet picture is a small picture is a small picture that is not intended to occupy one fixed and permanent position.

Temporal is a painting done with an opaque color mixed with egg medium.

Cartoon drawing was originally the large scale design traced by the old fresco painters on a wall surface. It is still used to denote any preparatory work to be used for a finished artwork. In the 19th century, it came to be used to mean political drawings in newspapers and any other periodicals.

Mural is a painting or decoration done on a wall. Mural is executed with mere painting on the wall, fresco and mosaic.

Tone is the quality of brightness and dullness of a particular color. it is the different tints and shades of color.

Caricature is a picture trying to imitate something or a person’s behavior by stressing certain features of the person to amuse people.

Carvingis a subtractive method of sculpture in relief in the round mostly from wood and stones.

Casting is the art of pouring liquid metal or other liquid media into a solid mould which solidifies into the desired shape.

Chiaroscuro is the treatment of light and shade in a picture to convey the effect of three dimension.

Classical Art Period is the term applied to the great period of Greek art in the 5th century B.C.

Complementary Colors are colors opposite each other in the color wheel. It is the effect produced when a primary color is combined with a secondary color. Thus red is complementary to green, yellow is complementary to purple and blue complementary to orange.

Composition in art means the weaving or putting together of the various visual elements in a picture to give a well balanced effect. It may be divided into linear composition, spatial composition and color composition. Linear composition is the arrangement of lines and silhouettes without the illusion of depth while spatial composition is the arrangement of lines, silhouettes and color with the illusion of depth.

Decorative is the term usually applied to paintings designed to fit a particular scheme of interior decoration and the style of other subjects.

Meanings of Stained Glass, Stick-pen, Tie-dyeing, Totem, Vanishing Point, etc.

Stained glass is art made by mixing transparent colors into it during the process of manufacturing. A stained glass window is a window made of different stained glass stuck together to make a design in the window.

Stick-pen is a pen made from bamboo, reed or any other stick and used for calligraphy.

Terra-cotta is a modeled clay which has been hardened by baking so that it becomes reddish-brown in color.

Texture is the roughness or the smoothness of the surface of an object.

Three dimensional defines artworks that can be seen in the round, that is, the works you walk round and see all the outer sides. They are works that have width, length, and height. They include all sculptural works, pottery, metals-work and basketry.

Tie-dyeing (tie and dye) is a method of tying or stitching fabric together to prevent the absorption of dye.

Tint is the color to which white has been added. This makes the color to have a lighter value or tone.

Totem is a natural object considered to have a close connection with a family group and carved or painted for such purpose.

Two dimensional works are artworks done with pencil or paint on a flat surface such as paper or canvas. They are works that have only width and length. They include drawings, paintings and designs.

Vanishing point is an imaginary point represented with a dot in any eye level line to indicate the point at which all receding parallel lines converge.

Warp refers to the vertical threads or strips of a loom in weaving.

Wash is the layer of paint usually diluted with water used in connection with drawing an d sometimes in water –color painting.

Water color refers to pigment bound with gum and diluted with water. It is a form of painting on paper with transparent colors.

Wax is usually the soft yellow substance produced by bees; any kind of substance similar to beeswax and purified for making candles; the application of substance on to a cloth before dyeing as in batik.

Weft refers to the horizontal threads or strips passed over and under the warp of a loom in weaving.

Design in traditional usage means the preliminary drawing for a picture. Generally, it is the art of organizing or arranging lines, shapes, motifs, symbols, images and color to communicate an idea or ideas.

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