Artist's Resources∼Artist's Dictionary A

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A   Symbol used on a tube of paint indicating a standard degree of color permanence.
AA   Symbol used on a tube of paint indicating the highest degree of color permanence.
Abbozzo   A Sketch or rudimentary drawing, a "First draft" or Underpainting.
ABC Art   A 1960' American Movement related to the non-Art theories of DuChamp, in which the Artist's means are reduced to an apparent minimum; closely related are the bare surface paintings of Frank Stella, and the publicized wrapping of buildings and Islands, Mountains by Christo.
Abrasive   A substance that wears away or smooths a surface. In Graphic Arts, this would include "engraver's charcoal, Jewler's rouge, pumice powder, and snake slip". In Photography, "rotensions".
Absorbent Ground   A ground or base on a surface to be painted that absorbs the liquid from the paint.
Abstract Art   An Art form in which the essence of a subject is stated in a brief or simple manner, with the emphasis on design and little or no attempt to represent forms or subject matter realistically. See also"Design elements; Nonrepresentational Art"
Abstract Expressionism   A style of non-geometric abstract Art that started in the 1940's and became more popular in the 50's. Paintings were usually large and forceful. Wassily Kadinsky, Arshile Gorky, and Jackson Pollock are among others who were classified in this style.
Academician   1. An elected member of an Academy.
2. One who follows the princibles of the conservative academic tradition.
Academy Blue   Pigment; a mixture of viridian and ultramarine blue.
Academy Board   A cardboard once used by students in Oil painting, replaced by Canvas Board.
Academy Figure   A nude figure (life drawing or painting) about half life size, used for instruction and not considered a Work of Art.
Acanthus   A plant with thorny leaves seen on capitals of Corinthian columns and elsewhere as a decorative motif.
Accent   To emphasize by drawing attention to an area in the picture. This is usually accomplished by stressing in a limited area one or more of the design elements such as value or color contrasts, textures, etc.
Accidental Color   Color that "happens" without concious preliminary planning during the painting process.
Acetate   A strong, transparent or semi-transparent sheet of plastic; available in various thicknesses and used in covers for ArtWorks, in color seperation, retouching and in animation drawings.
Acetate Color   Opaque, waterproof paint that does not crawl or peel when used on acetate, foil, glass, or other slippery surface.
Acetate Ink   A special ink that can be used with pen or brush on slippery surfaces without a crawling effect.
Acetic Acid   In graphics, a liquid used to clean a plate just before the Mordant is applied.
Acetone   A flammable, volatile solvent, mildly toxic, often used in the restoration and cleaning of old Paintings.
Achromatic   Without color, as in white, black and any gray made from the mixture of black and white.
Acid Bath   In the etching process, an acid or acid mixtures in which a plate is immersed to be "bitten" or etched.
Acid-Free   Said of paper with a 7 PH ideal∼ Above 8.5 PH or below 6.5 PH is not considered acid-free.
Acid-resist substance   A stop-out substance used to block the action of acid.
Acra   Pigment; a violet color with a decided reddish-pink cast when reduced; permanent.
Acrolith   A statue made of more than one material.
Acrylic flow improver   A medium used with acrylic paint to improve its flow without the loss of color strength.
Acrylic Inks   A variety of toxic, flammable synthetic inks used in silk-screen process on acetate and acrylic sheets such as Lucite and Plexiglass.
Acrylic Paints   Synthetic paints with a water base, fast-drying, lightproof, waterproof, non-fading; used on any non-oily surface. Can be used opaquely or impastoed as with oils, or thinned and applied transparently as with watercolors; thinned with water or special painting emulsions, cleaned up with soap and water.
Acrylic Retarder   A medium added to acrylics to slow the drying time.
Acrylic Sheets   Crystal-clear sheets of plexiglass (trade-marks, Lucite, Plexiglas) that can be carved, sawed, cemented or molded.
Acrylic Varnish   A final varnish used on oil Paintings to protect them and give them a uniform finish. See Damar.
Action Lines   In cartooning, extraneous lines used to suggest action.
Action Painting   Imageless, spontaneous Painting, marked by drips, splashes, and splatters; represented by Jackson Pollock, Mark Toby, Franz Kline and others.
Additive Color mixing   The scientific method of adding colors in the form of light rays to create mixed hues of light important in color photography; in painting, the use of small points of color placed in close proximity and mixed by the Artists' eye, as in pointillism. Also see Subtractive Color mixing.
Adhesive Mounting Spray   A fast-drying spray adhesive for mounting papers permanently or temporarily.
Adjustable triangle   A triangle that has one adjustable arm that can be clamped at differnt angles, with a protractor between the adjustable arm and the main area of the triangle.
Advancing Colors   Colors that appear to move forward or "closer" to the viewer, usually red, yellow or orange.
Adventure Strip   A realistically treated cartoon strip that deals with a continuing adventure story; usually syndicated in newspapers.
Adz, Adze  In sculpture and woodcarving, a cutting tool used to rough-shape wood.
Aegean Painting   Painting of Crete, Mycenae, and the Cyclades, 2600-1200 B.C.; colorful, stylized, but with a strong feeling for naturalism.
Aerial perspective   In Painting, achievement of an effect of atmosphere and apparent distance by receding values and indistinctiveness of color.
Aerugo   1. A thin deposit if posionous pigment, often greenish or brownsih, caused by corrosion or age, that appears on Bronze or Copper Artworks. 2. Also the name given to a mellowing with age; and may be imitated in Painting with glazing; also called Patina, Aes ustum, Verdigria.
Aestheticism   A doctrine whereby art exists solely for its own sake; the nineteenth-century aesthetic movement.
African Art   Ceremonial sculpture, masks, and crafts derived from African tribal cultures.
Afterimage   An optical image that continues after its source is removed; often tends toward the complemetary color of the original image.
Agate   In Printing, a small-size type, approximately 5 1/2-point.
Agate line   A unit of measurement for depth of a column of printed advertising, in which fourteen agate lines equal one column inch.
Agent   A business representative for an Artist.
Agglutinant   An adhesive used as a binder in watercolor paints, pastels and some inks.
"Air"   A term used to indicate 1. Atmosphere in a landscape or waterscape. 2. Space in a Painting around objects or Potraits. 3. Open, unprinted space in printed materials.
Airbrush   A miniature precision spray gun attached to an air compressor, carbon dioxide tank, or other means of air pressure; used by commercial Artists to create a smooth application of paint gradiations in value and color; frequently used in photo retouching and sometimes in Illustration and other types of Painting.
Airbrush Lithography   A lithography technique in which the airbrush is used to draw directly on the stone or plate.
Air Eraser   A tool similar to the airbrush; uses an abrasive in a fine, controlled spray to erase ink or paint; sometimes used to blend highlights and shadows in Drawings or Paintings.
Air Gun   See Airbrush.
Alabaster   A whitish semitranslucent gypsum that can be carved and cut into sculpture.
A la Colle   A matte-finish paint process using powdered pigment mixed with water-base glue size for large areas such as walls and stage sets; popular around 1900; Poster and Showboard colors, but not tempura paints, are offshoots of this process; also called "Distemper."
A la Poupee   In Intaglio, a means of printing several colors at one time by applying each color to the plate separately with a pad of felt.
Alexandrian Blue   A pigment very close to cobalt blue, also called Egyptian blue.
Alexandrian Style   A soft and sentimental style developed by Lellenistic Artists of the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C. (Ptotlemaic period).
Alizarin Blue   Pigment; a clear transparent lake generally used in printing inks and for semi-permanent ArtWork; close to indigo on the color chart.
Alizarin Brown   Pigment; a reddish transparent brown, permanent; close to burnt sienna on the color chart.
Alizarin Green   Pigment; a clear transparent lake generally used in printing inks and for semi-transparent ArtWork.
Alkyd Colors   Artists' paints similar to oils but with a faster drying time, distributed by Windsor and Newton; can be used with any medium used with Oil paints.
Alla Prima Painting   Italian, "the first time". Method of direct painting (usually in oil) often in one sitting, with minimal or no underpainting.
Almohad Style   An Art style introduced into Spain by the Almohads, a Morracan Berber Moslem dynasty, in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Alto-Rilevo   Italian, "high-relief". In Sculpture, a type of relief where the design projects almost entirely away from the surface.
Amarna Art   Egyptian, during the time of Akhenaten, a religious reformer (1375-1358 B.C.); a more natural than stylistic art, based upon expressing the truth.
Amberlith   A transparent, amber colored masking film used in making mechanicals and in the film processes of photolithography.
American Gothic   A hard-edge, realsitic type of Painting associated with the American Painter, Grant Wood; title of a popular Painting by that Artist.
American Indian Prints   Geometric patterns often in horizontal or vertical stripes.
A.N.A.   Associate member of the National Academy of Design.
Anaglyph   Sculpture or decoration (such as a cameo) in relief.
Analogous Colors   Colors that are closely related, such as blue, blue-green, and green; 3 or 4 colors that are adjacent (touch one another) on the color wheel.
Anglo-Saxon Art   An Art Style of the 5th to 11th centuries in England, characterized by interlaced motifs. Also see Arabesque.
Angular Perspective   Also called Two-Point Perspective, it is a type of perspective in which object in a picture viewed on an angle will have two vanishing points, with verticals remaining parallel to the sides of the picture plane.
Aniline Colors   Colors that are made from coal tars; a disparaging term for synthetic dyes and pigments that are not sufficently lightfast for an Artists' use.
Anthemion   A decorative design of honeysuckle or palm leaves.
Anthropomorphic   Attributing human characterics to nonhuman beings or things.
Anti-cerne   A white space in the form of a line between two areas of color in a picture; frequently used by the Fuave Artists; the opposite of a black line.
Antimony Colors   Pigments; bright ornage and vermillion, now generally replaced by cadmiums.
Antiquing   Using a glaze of burnt or raw umber over a Work of Art to create an appearance of age.
Apex   The highest point or Summit.
Applique   In design, one material cut out and applied to another.
Aqua fortis   Latin, nitric acid In etching, the mordant or solution used to etch the plates, diluted for use with one to five parts water.
Aquagraph   A monoprint made by painting with a water medium on a metal, glass, or plastic plate and pulling one print from that plate; additional colors can be printed by aligning the paper to the plate design.
Aquarelle brush   A particular style of watercolor brush, used for flat or large areas and on the edge for fine lines.
Aquatint   An intaglio printing process which tones can be etched, rather than just lines, and rich darks as well as transparent tints can be produced; often resembles a wash drawing.
Aquatint mezzotint   In etching, a plate is first bitten in a solid aquatint, then a design is worked on top of the aquatint with a scraper and burnisher, producing a result similar to mezzotint.
A.R.A.   British Associate of the Royal Academy of Art.
Arabesque   An interlaced ornamental design, floral and/or geometric.
Arc-en-Ciel   A brand name of pastels made without fillers.
Archaic   1. Retaining the character of earlier Art. 2. Old-fashioned.
Arches or D'Arches   Tradename of a popular 100% rag watercolor paper made in France; available in various weights and textures; hot and cold press.
Architectural sketch paper   see Trash Paper.
Armory Show, The   In 1913, innovative and avant-garde Artists from America and Europe held a show at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City; the public derided the Works. Nonetheless; the impact on American Art was lasting. "The Armory Show" has beome an historical benchmark in America, seperating earlier modes of Art from "Modern Art".
Arrangement   A setup or composition of items/objects used for a still life in painting and drawing.
Art Brut   (French, art in the raw) Jean Dubuffet (early 1900's) patterned his Art after the primitive works of children and the insane. He found it to have directness and vitality.
Art Buyer   The person who is a link between an Agency and Freelance Artist; buys ArtWorks for the Agency.
Art Deco   A geometric, sleek, elegant style of decorative Art popular in the 1920's and the 1930's.
Art Director   One who directs or supervises the Work of other Artists.
Art engage   (French,"art involved in life") Art with a social or political significance.
Artgum   An eraser that crumbles as it erases, not scratching or discoloring the ArtWork.
Artists' Bridge   A tool used to balance the hand and keep it clear of the working surface while drawing or painting delicate passages.
Artists' Proof   One of the first proofs of a limited Edition of prints, for the Artists' own copyright use; marked as Artists' Proofs (A.P.) and not numbered; may draw a premium price. May also be marked "E.A." (epreuve d' artiste) instead of A.P.
Art Nouveau   (French, "the new art") Art movement popular in the 1890's and early 1900's in Europe and America, a busy, decorative style characterized by flowing vines and flat shapes (as seen in Tiffany glass) and undulating line (seen in Toulouse-Lautrec posters) Aubrey Beardsley and Gustav Klimt are among the other noted Artists with the movement, but its beginnings are attributed to William Morris. It is also known as "Jugendstil" and "Yellowbook" style.
ASAP   (As Soon As Possible) Often found in a listing of specifications for the return of ArtWork.
Ascender   The part of a lower case letter that projects above the main line, as in "d, f, h, k, l, t.
Ashcan School   An early 20th century American Art movement started in opposition to established academic forms; the name was coined by a Reporter when describing the groups' realistic city-type subject matter. The Founders were known as "The Eight" and included Robert Henri, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur B. Davies, Ernest Lawson, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, George Luks and William Glackens.
Asphaltum   1. In etching, a liquid used on plates as a soft ground and on the backs of plates to protect them from the mordant. 2. In lithography, used to chemically process the drawing. 3. An old Oil color, destructive to Paintings.
Assemblage   A technique of combining together pieces of "this and that" to create a 3-D ArtWork.
Asturian Art   A 9th Century Gothic style with Moorish derivation used in Spanish churches in the Asturias region.
Asymmetry   An informal balance arrived at by the informal ditribution of elements; balance similar to that of a steelyard scale, or that of a Mobile.
Atectonic   In Sculpture, describes shapes or forms that tend to reach out into open space.
Atelier   French for Artists' Studio, Workshop. Pronounced "at-aah-lay".
Atlantes   In Sculpture, supporting columns carved in the form of heroic men. See also Caryatid
Atmospheric Perspective   See "aerial perspective".
Attribution   Crediting a Work of Art to an Artist, or denying attribution, by studying brush strokes, paint quality, clay application, or other identifiable mannerisms to make a determination.
Au premier coup painting   (French, at first blow). See Alla prima painting.
Aureole   The halo, or nimbus, painted around the head of a holy person as seen in Medieval and Rennaissance Art.
Autographic Ink   A greasy ink used in lithography.
Automatic Drawing   See "Automatism" below.
Automatism   A surrealist technique of closing the eyes and letting the hand draw without concious direction; sometimes called "automatic drawing".
Autone prints   Trademark, in commercial Art, for color or metallic-based photoprints.
Avant Garde   (French, "vanguard") A term applied to Art that is considered ahead of its' time, innovative and experimental.
Avignon School   Late 15th and early 16th Century School of painting centered around Avignon, France; influenced by Italian and Flemish styles.
A.W.S.   Abbreviation for "American Watercolor Society".
Axis   1. A real or imaginary area in a picture that serves as a fulcrum in visually balancing the elements of the composition. 2. An imaginary line to which a Work of Art sre referred to for measurement.
Axonometric projection   In mechanical drawing, includes isometric, dimetric, and trimetric projection; used to represent 3-D objects, not for an illusion of reality, but to show dimensions and other geometric information. See also Oblique projection".