Don't try reading this from start to finish unless you're one of those people who likes to peruse the dictionary. The assorted terms, techniques, materials and abbreviations commonly used in the art world can make your head spin, especially when some are misused so often. Although simplified I'm hoping this appendix of commonly used terms will be of use to you whenever you wonder what the hell I'm talking about.

Nick ......



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ABSTRACT ART This general term refers to works executed in accordance with the principle that lines, forms and colors possess aesthetic values which may be arranged into pleasing COMPOSITIONS devoid of normal subject matter. The principle is very old and can be traced back to Plato.


ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. As the name implies this refers to a combination of ABSTRACT and EXPRESSIONIST styles whereby an artist allows his subconscious to create involuntary shapes with splatters and dribbles of paint. It is best typified by the paintings of Jackson Pollock.


ABSTRACT IMPRESSIONISM Principally the same thing as ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM applied with uniform, IMPRESSIONIST like brush strokes. De Kooning said of it, "...the Impressionist manner of looking at a scene but leaving out the scene."


ACRYLIC Acrylic vinyl polymer paint. This uniquely versatile plastic emulsion was frowned upon when it emerged in the late 50's but it is now generally estimated to be the most resilient MEDIUM and is widely accepted in museum circles.


ACID FREE - pH neutral. The discoloration of paper derived from wood is caused by the interaction of lignin, (the gummy substance that binds the cellulose fibers together), acidity and sunlight. By buffing the paper with calcium carbonate a pH neutral balance can be achieved, thereby preventing discoloration. Such papers, (and rag paper which has no lignin), are termed ACID FREE. Prints made on ACID FREE paper will last for centuries provided that they are (i) treated with care, (ii) matted with archival mats, (iii) are protected from acid migration from the backboard by an acid free barrier sheet.


AESTHETIC Belonging to the appreciation of the beautiful and in accordance with the accepted principles of good taste.


AIRBRUSH Mechanical device similar in appearance to a pen and similar in application to a miniature spray gun which allows the artist to propel paint or ink onto to the SUPPORT in minute quantities. Good airbrushes are "double action" and allow the artist to control both the quantity of paint being applied and the quantity of air propelling it using the "x" and "y" axis of a single lever.






APPLIQUÉ A work composed of pieces of material sewn together.


AQUATINT An 18th century ETCHING technique used to imitate WATERCOLOR washes. See INTAGLIO.


ART DECO 1930's style of decoration reminiscent of ART NOUVEAU.


ARTIST'S PROOF. An IMPRESSION taken from the PRESS prior to the main PRINT run to satisfy the artist in regard to color and quality .


ART NOUVEAU. The words mean "new art" but this 1890's movement was mainly a style of decor and architecture. Most popular in Belgium and England, it was known in Germany and Austria as "Jugendstil" and in Italy as "Stile Liberty". It featured stylish figures and flat patterns of writhing vegetable forms often with heart shaped holes in furniture. It's had no immediate art counterpart but much of it's lavish stylization. was incorporated into the works of Klimt and Beardsley.

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BAROQUE A 17th Century union of painting, sculpture and architecture associated with Catholicism designed to emotionally overwhelm the spectator. Subjects were generally religious (such as the agonies and ecstasies of the saints) richly executed in an unidealized, naturalistic style.


BLOCK (aka PLATE) The surface which contains the image that is to be printed. It may have been worked directly by the artist, it may have been mechanically produced by photographic methods, either way it is contained within the PRESS, receives the INK and carries the image onto the PAPER.


BODYCOLOUR Originally a type of opaque water soluble paint used during the 15th - 19th Century which was made opaque by the inclusion of lead white. This term is currently used as a general description for any opaque water color.


BRUSH STROKES These are the marks left in the paint by the passage of the brush. Stiff bristle brushes charged with thick paint leaves a special texture and quality of handling which is generally considered to be anesthetically pleasing in itself, independent of the form it represents. A painter's brush work is as personal as his handwriting, but harder to imitate.

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CANVAS Strong cloth made from flax or hemp used as a SUPPORT for paintings.


CANVAS BOARD Canvas mounted on board used as a SUPPORT for paintings.


CARICATURE A drawing, often comical, created on the principles of exaggerated characteristic features with the intention of stressing traits of personality .


CARTOON This has nothing to do with Disney or Loony Toons. It's a drawing of the principle forms of a COMPOSITION drawn to the same scale as the final painting.


CAST PAPER Hand made paper applied to a mold to produce a picture in relief within the main body of the paper.


CHALK Originally this term referred to chalks found in nature which were used for drawing purposes. The chalk was broken into small lumps and inserted into metal holders. This term has also come to refer to colored pigments made into sticks with a binder. See PASTEL.


CHARCOAL Wood reduced to carbon in an oxygen starved heated chamber made into sticks or pencils.


CLASSIC ART (aka ROMANTIC) This term is used to refer to forms of art derived from the study of antique and scholarly art.


COLLAGE A COMPOSITION of shaped pieces of paper or material, usually painted, drawn or printed, glued to a supporting surface.


COLOR SEPARATIONS Transparent gels (usually 4 or 6) which isolate the information relating to each color to be run on a printing PRESS. These are used in photomechanical printing to produce the PLATE for each color. Modern presses run all color plates simultaneously.


COLOR WHEEL A means of visualizing the theory of how colors relate to one another. To construct a color wheel draw a circle and place an equilateral triangle within it so that the corners of the triangle touch the circle. Each corner represents a PRIMARY COLOR. Write "red" beside one, "blue" beside the second and "yellow" beside the third. When these colors are mixed equally they form gray, so write "gray" in the center of the wheel. The outside of the wheel represents the most vivid form of any color which progressively becomes grayer as you approach the center of the wheel. The mixture of any two colors can be theoretically projected onto a line which is drawn between those colors, the exact location on that line will depend upon the proportions used. In the case of PRIMARY COLORS this will fall somewhere on the triangle. A mixed color is always less vivid than the colors it originated from since the line between them always passes closer to gray. The color wheel can also be used to determine COMPLEMENTARY COLORS which influenced POINTILLIST and the NEO- IMPRESSIONIST theory of creating shades through OPTICAL MIXTURES.


COMPLEMENTARY COLORS. When relating to any color this term refers to the corresponding color on the opposite side of the COLOR WHEEL. E.g. for each PRIMARY COLOR, red, yellow and blue, the complimentary color is formed by an equal mixture of the other two. It was considered part of the IMPRESSIONIST theory that figures painted in PRIMARY COLORS had the complimentary color contained within the shadow that figure cast, thus a red object contained green in its shadow.


COMPLEMENTARY PALLET. Collection of colors chosen based upon their ability to complement one another based upon the theory of COMPLEMENTARY COLORS .


COMMERCIAL ART Not FINE ART. Artwork produced in the course of, or in respect to, commercial endeavor.


COMPOSITION. This is loosely used to refer to the arrangement of the parts of a picture, but is more properly applied to the art of arranging elements of a work of art into a visually satisfying whole. A well composed picture is made up of elements which may be figures or objects or simply shapes, which form a harmony which is anesthetically pleasing when regarded simply as a two dimensional pattern on a flat ground. The word is also used loosely to mean a work of art.


CONTOUR. The outline of any element of a COMPOSITION which defines it in relation to the rest of the work and represents an expression of the degree of fullness of forms, variety of texture and density of matter.


CRAQUELURE. The network of cracks on the surface of an old painting, caused by shrinkage and movement of the GROUND.




CUBISM This apparently abstract art form first emerged amidst a flood of controversy in 1907. Started by Picasso and Braque and derived from the work of Cézanne the art form is concerned with analyzing the interaction of stylized forms with regard to their position in space (and to some extent time.) Self proclaimed as a realist movement , it materialized in the form of superimposed multiple views that influenced all abstract work thereafter.

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DECORATIVE ART. A general term used to describe paintings or prints which have been produced for the specific purpose of being used for decoration (often in association with an Interior Decorator). They usually incorporate a popular interior decor color scheme. Passive, inoffensive subjects. This kind of art is considered to be KITSCH by purists.


DIPTYCH. A work in the form of two related paintings or panels placed side by side.




DRY MEDIUM. This term is used to describe all forms of drawing materials, CHALK, CHARCOAL, GRAPHITE, PASTEL, etc.


DRYPOINT. A form of INTAGLIO printing using a similar process to ENGRAVING. The principle difference being that the graver is pulled across the PLATE and not pushed.

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EDITION The entire number of IMPRESSIONS of a particular PRINT. An OPEN EDITION is one without restrictions. The artist is free to produce millions of impressions if he so wishes and may reprint at any time. LIMITED EDITION refers to the practice of limiting the number of impressions made of a particular print and creates a rarity value for the benefit of collectors. The impressions are signed by the artist and numbered. A number such as 50/300 would indicate that the impression is number fifty of a total of three hundred produced. This should not be confused with what are known as SIGNED AND NUMBERED PRINTS. See INSCRIPTIONS.


ENGRAVING A form of INTAGLIO printing whereby an image is created by scoring a metal PLATE with a sharpened rod, [a graver]. The inked PLATE transfers the image in reverse onto the PAPER. However this term should only be applied when the graver is pushed across the plate and not pulled. See DRYPOINT.


ETCHING A general term referring to a number or INTAGLIO print making techniques where lines marked on a prepared metal PLATE are eaten away [etched] by acid.


EXPRESSIONISM Characterized by exaggerated line and color this art movement abandoned realism in search of expressiveness and emotional impact. It's roots are in the simplified outlines and vivid colors of Van Gogh but it also has clear affinities with FAUVISM. Renowned exponent - Toulouse-Lautrec.

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FAUVIST This term relates to a group of artists whose works were hung in one room of the Paris Salon in 1905. The works were, for that time, very loose, violently colored and full of exaggerated lines. These artists were dubbed "Les Fauves", (the wild beasts). The group included Matisse, Marquet, Roualt and Vlaminck. Later Braque and Metzinger exhibited with them, but the group, which was never very coherent, had disbanded by 1908. Although ridiculed at the time this disorganized group influenced the development of EXPRESSIONISM.


FINE ART(S) Those referred to by scholars as being chiefly concerned with the mind and imagination. In short, art for art's sake. Not created for decorative, illustrative or commercial purposes.


FIXATIVE. A lacquer used to fix drawings made in DRY MEDIUM.

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GEL MEDIUM A thick, clear ACRYLIC MEDIUM used to produce IMPASTO paintings. See MEDIUM.


GESSO A primer, usually containing gypsum or pumice, used to prepare a the SUPPORT to receive paint.


GICLEE A modern high quality digital print which can be made on PAPER or CANVAS. Surprisingly devised in the early 1990's by rock musician Graham Nash & and his associate Mac Holbert, millions $$$ has been invested by archival printer manufacturers into the ongoing develop the technique. Today the technology in equipment, media, inks and craftsmanship have advanced immeasurably and the process has taken the fine art industry by storm. Because INKS are sprayed onto the SUPPORT the resolution if GICLEE prints is higher than traditional printing. Because they can be produced one-at-a-time, they offer the artist the ability to publish very low editions a few at a time, combining state of the art technology with traditional craftsmanship.


GLAZING. Originally applied to OIL PAINTING. This term refers to the application of a transparent layer of color over a solid one so that the color of the first is profoundly modified, e.g. a transparent layer of red over yellow will produce the effect of orange whilst providing the benefit of additional depth to the color. This technique was used by most of the OLD MASTERS.


GOUACHE. Water soluble paint made opaque by the addition of chalks or whites plus a gum or resin binder which is popular amongst designers.


GRAPHIC ARTS. Those such as drawings and engravings which depend upon line and not color to achieve their effect.


GRAPHITE. A crystalline allotropic form of carbon used in "lead" pencils.


GROUND. This is the surface which is applied to the SUPPORT as a foundation for the paint, usually Gesso, occasionally white paint. Some artists do not bother with a GROUND, painting directly on to the SUPPORT. According to the DICTIONARY OF ART AND ARTISTS (Penguin Books) "...on canvas this practice is always, eventually, fatal". Prepared canvasses come with the GROUND already applied.

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HANDLING. This is the name given to the most personal aspect of a painting - the execution. Certain features of a work, such as color, subject or COMPOSITION can be used to identify a painting within a given School or period. The way in which an artist handles his tools and medium is highly personal and the hardest thing to plagiarize.


HATCHING. This is a form of shading using parallel lines; CROSS HATCHING is shading with two layers of parallel lines, one laid across the other at opposing angles.


H.C.P. stands for HAND COLORED PRINT and refers to a print, usually made in one color, that then has extra colors added by hand. See INSCRIPTION





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ICON. Originally a 6th or 7th century picture of Christ on a religious panel conforming to shapes and images prescribed by the orthodox church this term has been widely accepted into modern dialogue to refer to an esteemed person or image which represents a specific time or place. Marilyn Munroe is an icon of glamour and femininity... Jimi Hendrix is an icon of the drug culture of the 60's. In this context modern artists will often refer to "personal icons" to describe images or symbols that have special meaning for them and which are common to their work.

ICONOGRAPHY. Classically the knowledge of the meanings attached to pictorial representation . In modern terms it is often used as a broad term to refer to an artist's symbolic use of personal icons

IDEAL ART. This has been the subject of many philosophical debates over the centuries. The concept is based upon the premise that IDEAL ART does not represent a particular thing, rather the thought of all such things. For example, if an artist paints a chair rather than being preoccupied with the details of the particular chair in front of him, he should paint a chair which represents the idea and spirit of such chairs. This issue has been clouded by the art school training exercise of making detailed paintings and drawings of particular objects. Such studies in form and color are exercises in gaining representational skills and are not generally considered to be works of art.

The theory of IDEAL ART is based upon the writings of the great nineteenth century critic John Ruskin who defined IDEAL ART as follows: "Any work of art which represents not a material object, but the mental conception of a material object, is in the primary sense of the word ideal; that is to say, it represents an idea and not a thing. Any work of art which represents or realizes a material object is, in the primary sense of the term, un-ideal." Ruskin was undoubtedly influenced by Plato who expounded the theory that the only true realities are ideas and everything perceptible to the senses is merely an imperfect realization of the primary idea.


ILLUSTRATIVE ART. A general term used to describe paintings or prints which have been produced as illustrations of popular subjects (such as cars or animals) or activities or advertising. It is almost always NATURALIST and considered by purists to be non intellectual.


IMPASTO. A technique whereby thick, expressive, layers of paint are applied to the SUPPORT. When the paint stands up in lumps leaving clearly evident BRUSH STROKES. It is said to be "heavily impasted."


IMPRESSIONISM. Described as "wretched", and "insulting", when it first emerged in 1874, this movement was ridiculed, and critics compared the paintings to the scribbles a child might produce. The term, derived from a picture by Monet "Impression, Sunrise" (1872), was intended to be derogatory. Nevertheless, this small band of artists were uniquely important and emerged as the first movement of MODERN ART.

Impressionism was a reaction against classical and academic values. For many hundreds of years paintings had depicted scenes of historical, intellectual, or classical subjects. The elements of these works were clearly outlined and the compositions strictly adhered to academic principles. Public thought regarding art and good taste was dictated by the academies. Impressionism started out as a search for less contrived works, a more naturalistic approach, where contours are blurred by light and atmospheric conditions, depicting ordinary, every day subjects, rather than the heroic or romantic. Compositions did not immediately reflect art theory, although they were usually well balanced and pleasing to the eye. The Impressionist's main interest was in the reflection of light and their vivid colors were influenced by contemporary scientific theory as to the nature of light. However, the very nature of the impressionists excited, patterned, brush strokes and their vivid colors made the viewer instantly aware of the surface of the paintings and opened the door for the many theories of modern art which followed.

There were only eight Impressionist exhibitions. The first in 1874 and the last in 1886. The principle exponents were Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Cézanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Boudin and B. Morisot.


IMPRESSIONS. The proper term used to refer to one of many copies of a particular image, usually printed on a sheet of paper (often inaccurately refered to as a PRINT). The term PRINT is correctly applied to the whole EDITION in so much as an artist may be credited as making 10 PRINTS when he has in fact made 500 IMPRESSIONS of 10 images.


INK Dense transparent fluid used for writing, drawing and printing.


INSCRIPTIONS. Once the IMPRESSIONS of a PRINT have left the PRESS they may still be subject to variation. The artist may decide to sign them or mark them with one of a number of INSCRIPTIONS. This term refers to any writing on a print or its margin that is not a signature. The following are the most commonly used: A.P. stands for ARTIST'S PROOF. H.C.P. stands for HAND COLORED PRINT. H.T.P. - HAND TINTED PRINT. S/N - SIGNED AND NUMBERED PRINTS. REMARQUE.


INTAGLIO PRINTS. All manner of printing where the PAPER receives the INK from incised lines on a metal PLATE and not from the surface of the PLATE. The PRESS often uses rollers to push dampened PAPER into the scored lines on the PLATE and thereby pick up the INK. This type of printing is typified by a PLATEMARK depression in the PAPER. The principle INTAGLIO printing techniques are: AQUATINT. DRYPOINT. ENGRAVING. ETCHING. MEZZOTINT.





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KITSCH. This is a derogatory term used to describe works created specifically in order to pander to public demand; works executed entirely for commercial purposes and not as an instrument of self expression. This term highlights a dilemma that faces many artists since the majority want their works to sell. The onus is upon the intent. If an artist executes a work in consideration of those qualities generally held, in art circles, to be necessary in a work of art but the subject, or style, or manner of execution, is incidentally popular with the general public, it is not considered to be Kitsch.

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LINSEED OIL Oil extracted from the seed of flax, commonly used as the base for OIL PAINT


LITHOGRAPHY. A printing process based upon the repulsion of water by grease. Areas not to be printed are treated with a greasy medium. Water based INK applied to the plate does not stick to the treated area and is therefore not carried onto the paper. The IMPRESSION produced is a mirror image of the original. This process originally used a stone PLATE and was executed by hand however in a modern context this term is often used to refer to OFFSET LITHOGRAPHY.

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MAISONITE Compressed board commonly used as a SUPPORT for painting.


MEDIUM. Originally this term referred to the substance used to bind pigments to make paint. However it has consequently come to refer to the various types of painting techniques and materials, thus "........... works in this medium are typified by ......"


MEZZOTINT. A form of INTAGLIO printing whereby the whole PLATE is roughened to produce a burr which will carry INK. The artist then scrapes down the burr in proportion to the degree of lightness required. Very few IMPRESSIONS can be taken from this type of delicate PLATE before it becomes damaged.


MODELING PASTE An additive used to make ACRYLIC paints sculptable.


MODELLO. A drawing of a principle form of a composition made on a reduced scale in preparation for a larger work.


MONOTYPE PRINTING. This refers to a means of producing original works by painting directly onto a PLATE (sometimes a sheet of glass) with INK and applying it to the PAPER before the INK dries.

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NAIVE ART (aka INTUITIVE) Art produced in a childlike manner by untrained artists living in relatively modern societies, (commonly confused with PRIMITIVE ART). It is admired for its genuineness and the purity of artistic impulse. Renowned exponents include Rousseau and "Grandma" Moses.


NATURALISM the non-stylized representation of objects derived from making an accurate likeness of reality.


NEO CLASSICISM A mid 18th Century art movement started in Rome and aimed at recreating the art of ancient Greece and Rome. It was a reaction to the excesses of Baroque and Rococo and part of a Classical revival that prevailed into the 19th Century.


NEO IMPRESSIONISM This term refers to a group of artists, most prominently Seurat but also Signac and Pissarro, who moved from Impressionism to optical mixtures in the form of POINTILLISM. They were first seen in 1884. This movement had a strong but passing effect on Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec to name but a few.


NEUTRAL TONES The tones created by mixing a PRIMARY, SECONDARY or TERTIARY color with it's COMPLEMENTARY color, (in such proportions that neither color is predominant).


NON OBJECTIVE ART The purist form of abstract art containing no reference to real objects and consisting only of shapes textures and colors.

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OIL PAINT. Powdered pigment mixed to a thick consistency with linseed, poppy or nut oil which remains wet for long periods and therefore encourages wet on wet techniques. Gradual oxidization of the linseed oil causes the paint to harden. Full cure can take many months. Introduced in the 15th Century, this slowly supplanted TEMPERA as the most popular painting technique. There are two principle oil painting methods. The first comprises of direct application to the canvas and is known as ALLA PRIMA. This manner suits ABSTRACT works but does not utilize the full potential of the MEDIUM. The second method is that preferred by the old masters. involving a tonal monochromatic underpainting to which color is applied in transparent GLAZES. Final tonal adjustments are made with the addition of opaque paint or SCUMBLING.


OFFSET LITHOGRAPHY A printing process based on the same principle of the repulsion of water by grease as LITHOGRAPHY. However, the inked image is transferred to a drum before being printed on the PAPER which allows the final image to be printed in the same direction as the original.


OLD MASTERS. This term refers to the great painters of past centuries. Artists who, with the benefit of hindsight, scholars hold to be exemplars of FINE ART.


OP ART An art movement based upon the creation of optical effects which encourage the viewer to see visual illusions.


OPAQUE. Solid. As applied to paint it refers to color which cannot be looked through and completely covers other colors over which it may be placed.




OPTICAL MIXTURES. Intermingled dots or flecks of colors, placed side by side, which are combined in the viewer's brain to apparently produce a color that is not there, (See POINTILLISM).


ORIGINAL. One of a kind. The first, (having served as a pattern), novel in character or style, inventive, creative, not derivative, not imitative, not a copy of another. In art the term "an original" is gernerally used to refer to a work of art that is executed by hand and is not derivative of another work. However it can also refer to artwork in any medium (including photography, original printing or electronic mediums) that are one of a kind and not derivative.


ORININAL PRINT. A printed image that was created by working the PLATE to create a piece of art that is not imitative of, or generated from, another work. Examples of such PRINTS would be AQUATINTS. DRYPOINTS. ENGRAVINGS. ETCHINGS, MEZZOTINTS, MONOPRINTS, LINOCUTS & WOODCUTS.

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PAINTERLY. A description referring to the HANDLING of a painting whereby the presence of the artist is clearly visible in the work by means of brush strokes and interpretation. Such works are usually a free representation of form in patches of colored light and shade.


PALETTE. Principally a flat or shallow receptacle for holding and blending paint, this term has also come to refer to the specific selection of colors used by a particular artist. Hence: "...... using a blue/green palette" meaning a selection of blues and greens.


PALETTE KNIFE. Originally used by artists for scraping up and mixing the paint from the palette, this implement has been adopted for the application of heavily impasted paint which is spread thickly like butter.


PAPER. Substance used as a SUPPORT for writing, drawing, painting and printing made from interlaced fibbers. It is believed to have been invented in China at the beginning of the second century AD.

The essential ingredient of most papers is a cellulose fiber (although many modern papers also contain synthetic fibers). Cellulose occurs in nature and, together with a substance called lignin provides the structural support for all plants. Until the 19th century the only source of fiber for paper was cotton and linen rag. At the beginning of the 19th century, wood began to replace rags as the source of fiber for paper. This resulted in papers which are often brittle and which quickly discolored. This is largely because the lignin, which is left in the unrefined wood pulp paper, tends to oxidize as a result of the interaction of acidity and sunlight. Chemical treatments involving bleach and calcium carbonate minimize this problem.

Rag paper, being ACID FREE (pH neutral) does not discolor and is therefore widely used for conservation quality prints and artworks.


PASTEL. DRY MEDIUM comprising of compressed pigment combined with just enough gum to bind it together. Most notable exponent - Degas


PASTICHE. An imitation of a renowned artist's work consists of a number of motifs copied from authentic works combined into a new work in such a way as to give the impression of being a newly discovered original by that artist.




PLASTICITY. Quality of a painting, sometimes referred to as plastic values, when the figures depicted appear to be exceptionally three dimensional.




POINTILLISM. A NEO-IMPRESSIONIST technique akin to OPTICAL MIXTURES, whereby closely intermingled dots or flecks of vivid colors, placed side by side, are combined in the viewer's brain to apparently produce a new color which is more vivid than if that color had been produced by blending. This term was disliked by the NEO IMPRESSIONISTS who preferred the term DIVISIONISM.


POP ART Art movement based upon the premise of accepting artifacts of popular culture as valid art forms in themselves. First popular in England in the mid 50's with artists such as David Hockney, the movement reached its height in the 60's with American artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Wesselmann, Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg. It is sometimes claimed to have developed as a reaction to ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM.


POST IMPRESSIONISM The movement that followed NEO-IMPRESSIONISM deriving from an exhibition in London England in 1910. The movement is best typified by a renewed desire to stress the importance of the subject. Principle figures were van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne.



PRINTING PRESS. The press is the machine on which the IMPRESSIONS are produced. It mechanically transfers the original image onto the SUPPORT which is, in modern times, usually PAPER. The PRINTING PRESS is purported to have been invented in the 17th Century but undoubtedly methods of transferring images from one surface to another existed long before that.




PRIMARY COLORS. Red, yellow and blue.


PRIMITIVE ART Commonly misused to refer to NAIVE (aka INTUITIVE) ART, this term is more accurately applied to artifacts of primitive cultures.


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RAG PAPER Paper derived from rags which is widely used for CONSERVATION QUALITY prints and artworks because of it's ACID FREE qualities.


REALISM Considered by purists to be the repudiation of IDEAL ART and the search for the squalid and depressing as a means of life enhancement it is also regularly used to refer to the non-stylized representation of objects derived from making an accurate likeness of reality, which many purists refer to as NATURALISM.


REMARQUE. An original sketch made by the artist on the margin of a print which by virtue of its originality is intended to greatly increases the value of the print.


RENAISSANCE Vague term referring to the revival of art influenced by classical models during the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries. The term is generally considered inadequate to describe a period covering the works of Giotto, Donatello, Michealangelo, Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci and Titian.


RELIEF SCULPTURE. A sculpture which, intended to be viewed from one side, which is carved or modeled from a flat tablet or plaque.


ROCOCO A style of European interior design (1715 - 1740) originating with the death of Louis 14th. Typified by gaiety and comfort, C scrolls, counter curves and asymmetrical arrangements. It produced some spectacularly beautiful ornate churches, (especially in Germany and Austria), and featured artists such as Hogarth, Guardi and Goya.



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SCUMBLING. Is an opaque version of GLAZING. It consists of working a layer of opaque paint over another layer of a different color or tone creating an uneven broken effect so as not to entirely obliterate the lower layer.


SECONDARY COLORS Orange, green and violet, the colors created as a result of mixing PRIMARY COLORS.


SERIGRAPH [SILK-SCREEN PRINT]. In its finest form, this is generally considered to be the highest quality of hand pulled reproduction. A series of screens are produced, one for each color or shade being used. This can sometimes involve as many as 100 screens each of which must be hand applied individually to each sheet of paper. Sometimes an artist will finish the work by hand painting some areas.




SKETCH. Preliminary, rough drawing often used to record details, likenesses or potential COMPOSITIONS during the development of a work of art.


S/N. SIGNED AND NUMBERED PRINTS. This term refers to a limited number of IMPRESSIONS set aside from an OPEN EDITION to be signed by the artist. This is indicated by the prefix S/N. An INSCRIPTION such as S/N 10/200 indicates that out of an unlimited number of IMPRESSIONS only 200 were signed and this is the tenth. Not to be confused with a LIMITED EDITION.


STILL LIFE. Although popular in the ancient world STILL LIFE did not emerge as a primary subject until the seventeenth century. In general terms it describes compositions entirely comprised of inanimate objects. Such works can be broken into four groups:

1. The Vanitas type, religious works where the objects chosen are arranged to remind the viewer of the transience and uncertainty of mortal life. These might include skulls dying flowers hourglasses, candles etc.

2. The Symbolic type, where objects portrayed have a significance beyond their individual appearance. These might include bread, wine, water, and other religious references.

3. Collections of objects, usually luxurious, arranged to show off the painter's virtuosity.

4. Tutorial exercises designed to help art students develop their representational skills and examine theories of color and composition. These are not generally considered serious works of art.

SUPER-REALISM Art movement of the early 70's that emerged as a reaction to

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM that produced non-emotional non-stylized representations akin to NATURALISM that appear at first glance to be photographs.


SUPPORT The material or surface that a work is drawn or painted on.


SURREALISM Defined by Breton as "the process of thought free from the exercise of reason and every aesthetic and moral preoccupation", this 1924 hallucinatory art movement was a development of the irrational dictates of the subconscious mind. Renowned exponents include Dali and Magritte.


SYMBOLISM A late 19th Century art movement that would use a material object to represent something sacred or immaterial. A good example would be a lamb as a symbol of Christ. Principle exponents include Moreau, Redon, Gauguin, and Rodin.

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TEMPERA A type of paint incorporating dry color, (usually chalk or powder), a glutinous substance, (such as egg yoke or gum), and water. Tempera was the most commonly used medium until the introduction of OIL PAINT.


TERTIARY COLORS The colors created by mixing a PRIMARY COLOR with an adjacent SECONDARY COLOR. For example, turquoise is a TERTIARY COLOR which is derived from mixing the PRIMARY COLOR, blue, with the SECONDARY COLOR, green.


TEXTILE ART A general term used to describe works of art created using textiles.


TRIPTYCH. A set of three associated paintings displayed side by side.

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UNDER PAINTING. A tonal painting, (sometimes monochromatic), over which additional paint, SCUMBLES and GLAZES are applied to produce additional depth. This is a common practice even with opaque paints which rarely cover in one coat.

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VARNISH AND LACQUERS Clear protective coating usually applied to completed artworks.

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WATERCOLOR. A vivid water based paint, usually applied to paper, which provides outstanding brilliance and translucence. Purist techniques demand the application of thin glazes without recourse to BODYCOLOUR. However the four most acclaimed exponents, Cozens, Girtin, Turner, and Cotman all used unconventional methods including mixed MEDIUM.


WOODCUTS AND LINOCUTS. One of the oldest types of printing is the WOODCUT where an image is drawn on the surface of a wooden BLOCK, the areas to remain white are cut away. INK is applied to the remaining surface and the image is transferred in reverse onto the PAPER. This can be done either by hand or by using a PRESS. The modern equivalent uses linoleum instead of wood and is called a LINOCUT.





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