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Creative Holidays Spain - Glossary of painting terms
Category: History and Culture > Glossary of painting terms
Date & country: 12/11/2010, USA
Words: 87

A detail, brushstroke, or area of color placed in a painting for emphasis.

Acid Free
Acid free refers to papers without acid (pH) in the pulp when manufactured. High acidity papers degrade quickly.

Paint made from pigments and a synthetic plastic binder, water-soluble when wet, insoluble when dry. This popular alternative to oil paint can also duplicate many of watercolour's unique characteristics when used in a fluid manner.

Analogous colours
A grouping of related colours next to each other on the colour wheel. Example Yellow, Yellow Green, and Green.

The French term for the process and product of painting in transparent watercolour.

Archival Paper
Archival watercolor paper is any pure 100% rag , cotton, or linen watercolor paper of neutral or slightly low ph, alkaline (base) vs. acidic, and pure ingredients. Some synthetic papers are archival in nature but have unique working properties.

Atmospheric perspective
Suggesting perspective in a painting with changes in tone and colour between foreground and background. The background is usually blurred and hues are less intense.

Back runs
When your fresh brush stroke hits a still damp wash it will force the original wash out in a irregular, often fractal manner. This can totally mess up what you are intending to do, unless you do it intentionally.

The area of a painting farthest from the viewer. In a landscape this would include the sky and horizon. In a still life or portrait it could be a wall or room interior.

That which holds the paint together, such as linseed oil for oil painting, polymers for acrylics, gum arabic for watercolours and gouache.

Fusing two colour planes together so no discernable sharp divisions are apparent.

Blocking in
The simplifying and arranging of compositional elements using rough shapes, forms, or geometric equivalents when starting a painting.

using an absorbent material such as tissues or paper towels, or a squeezed out brush, to pick up and lighten a wet or damp wash. Can be used to lighten large areas or pick out fine details.

Blow Dryer
For rapid painting production, the electronic hair drying can speed up the process of producing a piece of work.

Carpenter's Pencil
A graphite pencil that features a flat ovoid wooden grip surrounding a wide graphite core capable of creating chiseled thick and thin pencil lines. Used for sketching and drawing. Must be hand sharpened and shaped.

A water-soluble protein found in milk that is used as a binder for creating casein paints. Casein is sometimes used as an underpainting for oil or acrylic painting.

Cast Shadow
The dark area that results when the source of light has been intercepted by an object.

Used for drawing and for preliminary sketching on primed canvas for oil painting. Natural vine charcoal is very soft and can be easily rubbed off with a soft rag. Natural willow charcoal is harder than vine charcoal and gives a darker line. Compressed charcoal is available in several forms. You can choose from stick form, wood-encased pencils, and peel-as-you-go paper wrapped pencils

Cold Pressed
Watercolour paper that is Cold Pressed (CP) or 'Not' Pressed (NP) has mildly rough texture. It takes colour smoothly but the tooth allows for slight irregularities and graining in washes.

A composition made of cut and pasted pieces of different materials, sometimes photographs or drawn images are used.

Colour Temperature
Colours are warm, hot or cold in appearance; orange, red, blue. This is true within each category of colour. There are hotter and colder colours in every category.

Complimentary Colours
Red and green; blue and orange; yellow and purple... Colours that are opposite one another. When placed side by side they will intensify one another, making each more vibrant.

The arrangement of elements of form and colour within an artwork.

Using fine overlapping planes of parallel lines of colour or pencil to achieve texture or shading. Used in traditional egg tempera technique; drawing in pencil, chalk, pen and ink; and engraving, etching, and other printmaking techniques.

The tapered rough edges of watercolor and drawing papers, also referred to as "barbs".

Dry Brush
Any textured application of paint where your brush is fairly dry (thin or thick paint) and you rely on the hairs of your brush, the angle of attack of your stroke, and the paper's surface texture to create broken areas of paint.

A stand or resting place for working on or displaying a painting. A simple easel can be a tripod with a cross bar for the painting to sit on.

Ebony Pencil
A drawing pencil that features a thick core of graphite formulated to be very black and smooth. Capable of a wide tonal range with rich darks. for sketching and drawing.

Encaustic paints a blend of oil paint and beeswax and must be heated for use.

The metal cylinder that surrounds and encloses the hairs on a brush. Customarily made of nickel or nickel-plated base metal.

A resinous or plastic spray used to affix charcoal, pencil, or pastel images to the paper. Used lightly it protects finished art (or underdrawing) against smearing, smudging, or flaking.

Flat Colour
Any area of a painting that has an unbroken single hue and value.

Flat Wash
any area of a painting where a wash of single colour and value is painted in a series of multiple, overlapping stokes following the flow of the paint. A slightly tilted surface aids the flow of your washes. Paper can be dry or damp.

The area of a painting closest to the viewer. In a landscape this would include the area from the viewer to the middle distance.

The technique of representing a three dimensional image in two dimensions using the laws of perspective.

The development of patterns of brown or yellow splotches (stains) on old paper. Caused by a type of mold, foxing is often removed by treating with diluted bleach.

Meaning "fresh" in Italian, fresco is the art of painting with pure pigments ground in water on uncured (wet) lime plaster. An ancient technique used world wide by artists of many ages and cultures. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel is a famous example fresco painting. Durability is achieved as the pigments chemically bind with the plaster over time as it hardens to it's natural limestone state.

Thin transparent or semi-transparent glazes rubbed into the ground in the initial phases of an oil painting. From the French term "frotter", meaning "to rub".

Ground plaster, chalk or marble mixed with glue or acrylic medium, generally white. It provides an absorbent ground for oil, acrylic, and tempera painting.

Glazes are transparent colours applied thinly over an opaque colour. It's usually brushed over a lighter hue. Glazes will intensify a colour or subdue a colour.

A water-based paint, much like transparent watercolour but made in opaque form.

Graded Wash
A wash that smoothly changes in value from dark to light. Most noted in landscape painting for open sky work, but an essential skill for watercolour painting in general.

The basic structure of the surface of paper, as in fine, medium and rough grain.

A type of carbon used for pencils, transfer sheets and as a dry lubricant. Synthetic graphite is made from carborundum

Gum Arabic
Gum arabic is produced from the sap of the African acacia tree and is available in crystalline form or an already prepared solution. It binds watercolour pigments when used with water and glycerine or honey.

A point of intense brightness, such as the reflection in an eye.

Hot Pressed
Hot pressed (HP) watercolour paper is pressed for an extremely smooth work surface. Excellent for mixed ink and watercolor techniques.

This is the name of a colour within a spectrum colour. For example, Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue are all blues which are close in hue. When describing close or similar colours, the word hue is often used.

Thickly applied oil or acrylic paint that leaves dimensional texture through brushstrokes or palette knife marks.

India Ink
1. A black pigment made of lampblack and glue or size and shaped into cakes or sticks.

Inert Pigment
A powdered paint additive that does not change the shade or hue, but extends or otherwise imparts a special working quality to the paint. Fillers are used in lower and student grade paints as extenders, making the paint cheaper to produce, but of lower quality.

Colors place side by side.

A pigments resistance to fading on long exposure to sunlight. Watercolours are rated lightfast on a scale of I-IV. I and II ratings are the most permanent.

Masking fluid
A latex gum product that is used to cover a surface you wish to protect from receiving paint. Miskit by Grumbacher and Art masking fluid by Winsor & Newton are two such products. Also referred to as liquid frisket.

1) The type of art material used pencil, ink, watercolor, oil, acrylic, egg tempera, etc. 2) The liquid mixed with paint to thin, aid or slow drying, or alter the working qualities of the paint.

Non-staining colors
Pigments that can be lifted cleanly (wet or re-wet) with little or no discoloration of the underlying paper fibers.

A dense paint that obscures or totally hides the underpainting in any given artwork.

Ox Gall
Derived from the bile of domestic cows or other bovines, ox gall is added to paint as a surfactant or wetting agent to allow paint to flow more freely.

1) The paint mixing and storing surface of various shapes and being made of plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, or enameled trays for watercolor. Glass, palette paper, formica, and oiled wood are used for oil painting; and glass, metal, styrofoam, and palette paper are used for acrylic painting palettes.

1) Ground pigments, chalk, and binder formed into sticks for coloured drawing.

Representing three-dimensional volumes and space in two dimensions in a manner that imitates depth, height and width as seen with stereoscopic eyes.

Poly=many, chrome or chroma=colours. Can refer to artwork made with bright, multi-coloured paint.

Primary colours
Red, yellow, and blue, the mixture of which will yield all other colours in the spectrum but which themselves cannot be produced through a mixture of other colours.

Receding Colours
Pale or cool colours tend to recede into the background, thus they give us the impression of distance.

The apparent or actual (impasto, collage) projection of three-dimensional forms.

Any material, usually wax or grease crayons, that repel paint or dyes. Lithography is a grease (ink)and water (wet stone or plate) resist printing technique. Batik is a wax resist fabric artform.

Rough watercolor paper has a coarse rough texture. This surface allows for maximum graining of washes and accidental highlights and texture.

A Scumble is a semi opaque or opaque colour applied thinly over a darker colour. Like glazing, Scumbling is transparent, which is optically mixed with the colour under it to produce a third colour.

Secondary Colours
Green, Orange and Purple. The combination of two primaries results in a secondary colour. Red and Yellow makes Orange.

A rough or loose visualization of a subject or composition..

Staining Colours
Colours that cannot be fully removed from your paper. Staining colours permeate the fiber of the paper and leave a permanent tint..

Still life
Any work whose subject matter is inanimate objects.

A comprehensive drawing of a subject or details of a subject that can be used for reference while painting.

The surface on which a painting is made - canvas, paper, wood, parchment, metal, etc.

Pigments mixed with egg yolk and water. Also, a student-grade liquid gouache.

Tertiary Colors
This is a mixture of a primary and secondary colour. Red and Orange makes Red-Orange.

The actual or virtual representation of different surfaces, paint applied in a manner that breaks up the continuous colour or tone.

A colour is referred to as a tint when white is added, e.g. by adding white to red, a tint of pink is created.

The light and dark values of a color.

Trompe l'oeil
A term meaning "Fool the eye" in French. It involves rendering a subject with such detail and attention to lighting and perspective that the finished piece appears real and three-dimensional.

The first, thin transparent laying in of colour in a painting.

Variegated Wash
A wet wash created by blending a variety of discrete colours so that each colour retains it's character while also blending uniquely with the other colours in the wash.

A painting which is shaded off around the edges leaving a pleasing shape within a border of white or colour. Oval or broken vignettes are very common.

A transparent layer of diluted colour that is brushed on.

Painting in pigments suspended in water and a binder such as gum arabic. Traditionally used in a light to dark manner, using the white of the paper to determine values.

A technique used in painting in which the colours flow together. There's a risk of creating a muddy look when painting in this manner. Many brilliant masterworks have been painted using this technique. It's often used by Oil Painters.

Painting over a dry layer of paint. It's much easier to control than wet-in-wet. Most acrylic painters use this technique.