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Art Terminologies

Art A product of human effort in which materials are skillfully ordered to communicate a human experience
Asymmetrical Balance A form of balance attained when the visual units of either side of a vertical axis are not identical but are place in position within the pictorial field so as to create a "felt" equilibrium of the total concept
Balance A feeling of equality in weight, attention, or attraction of the various visual elements within the pictorial field as means of accomplishing organic unity.
Biomorphic Shapes Shapes which are irregular in form and resemble the freely developed curves of organic life.
Cast Shadow The dark area created on a surface when another form is placed to prevent the light from falling on that surface.
Chiaroscuro Literally, "light-dark". In painting and drawing the use of dark and light value areas to represent the effects of light and shadow
Composition The act of organizing all the elements of work of art into a harmoniously unified whole. Each element used may have intrinsic characteristics which create interest, but must function in such a way that "the whole is more important than its parts."
Concept A comprehensive idea or generalization which brings diverse elements into some basic relationship
Content The essential meaning, significance, or aesthetic value of an art form. The psychological or sensory properties one tends to feel in art forms as opposed to the visual aspects of a work of art.
Contrast The comparative relationship between two or more relatively opposed elements or forces.
Craftsmanship Aptitude, skill, and manual dexterity in the use of tools and materials.
Design A framework or scheme of pictorial construction on which the artist bases the formal organization of this total work. In a broader sense, it may be considered synonymous with the term form.
Esthetics The study of the nature of beauty and the response to it.
Eye Level The height of the viewer's eyes above the ground plane.
Figure-Ground A phrase referring to a visually ambiguous relationship between two or more color forms on one surface. Their spatial positions may appear to alternate, one then the other closer to the observer.
Fine Art Traditionally the non-applied arts in the visual arts, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and, in some estimates, architecture
Formal Balance A symmetrical arrangement of the visual weights in a work of art
Foreshortening The representation of forms on a two dimensional surface so that the long axis(es) appears to project toward the viewer.
Form In the broadest sense, the total physical characteristics of an object, event, or situation.
Format Basic layout or proportions of a work being presented
Ground The background in two-dimensional works--the area around and between figure(s). Also, the surface onto which paint is applied.
Mass A distinct body of material, form, or group of forms. The physical bulk, weight, and density of a three dimensional object occupying space.
Medium 1. The technique, methodology, or technology used by an artist as the means for the production of a work of art. 2. The material used to dilute paint, water/watercolor, oil/oil paint.
Modeling Arranging bits of pliable material into 3D forms. Form of additive sculpture. Effect of light falling on a 3D object so that its forms are defined & dramatized by highlights and shadows--painting areas of varying tonalities to represent such.
Negative Shape A background or ground shape produced by its interaction with foreground or figure shape(s).
Non-objective An approach to art in which the visual signs are entirely imaginative. Do not derive from anything seen by artist. Shapes, organization,& treatment by artist are entirely personalized & not associated by observer w/ any previous experienced natural forms
Objective an impersonal statement of observed facts. In art, the exact rendering by the artist of surface characteristics without alteration or interpretation of the visual image.
Perspective mechanical system of creating illusion of a 3D space on a two dimensional surface. Linear perspective is primarily linear in treatment. Aerial or atmospheric perspective uses value and color modification to suggest or enhance the effect of space/
Picture plane an imaginary vertical plane assumed to be at the front surface of a painting.
Pictorial space the implied or illusionary space in a painting or other two dimensional work as it appears to recede backward from the picture plane.
Positive Shapes Enclosed areas which represent the initial selection of shapes planned by the artist. May suggest recognizable objects or merely be planned nonrepresentational shapes.
Proportion size relationship of parts to a whole and to one anotehr
Shape configuration of a two or three dimensional form. synonym for 2D form
Space volume occupied by form. measurable linear/angular relationships between forms. volume enclosed by limiting walls/boundaries. area of 2D plane which painter places forms. representation of 3D spatial relationships on 2D surface.
Unity quality of similarity, shared identity, or consistency that can be recognized in the relationships between parts of a composition. a logical connection between separate elements in a work of art.
Value the tone quality of lightness or darkness given to a surface or an area by the amount of light reflected from it. the characteristic of a color in terms of lightness and darkness. determined by the amount of quantity of light reflected by a color.
Visual Weight psychological response to a form with regard to its importance in a composition. the weight is a function of the size, shape, texture, and color of the form, its position relative to the other components of the structure, and its metaphoric content.
Volume the space occupied by an object
Encaustic Technique of painting with pigments dissolved in hot wax
Fresco Technique of painting on moist plaster with pigments ground in water so that the paint is absorbed by the plaster and becomes part of the wall itself.
Tempera Painting Painting made with pigments mixed with egg yolk and water.
Oil Painting a painting executed with pigments mixed with oil applied either to a panel prepared with gesso or to stretched canvas primed with a coat of white paint and glued.
Watercolor painting on paper with pigments suspended in water.
Acrylic a plastic binder medium for pigments taht is soluble in water (developed bout 1960)
Gouache Opaque watercolors
Collage A composition made of cut and pasted scraps of materials
Mosaic Decorative work for walls composed of small pieces of colored materials set in plaster or concrete
Solvent Paint thinner
Gesso a smooth mixture of ground chalk or plaster and glue used as a basis for tempera painting and oil painting
Impasto thick application of paint
Glaze thin application of paint, layering
Alla Prima A painting technique in which pigments are laid on in one application with little or no under painting.