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Art Glossary For Drawing and Painting

This is an art glossary for drawing and painting.

Art has its own jargon and, as you learn more and more in your own artistic education, you'll come across many new art terms.

I have compiled this art glossary for your convenience.

Feel free to scroll down and check out the growing amount of terms I include in this page.

Alternatively, you may want to click on the starting letter of the term you are looking for.

If you can't find an art term in relation to drawing and painting, you can also use the search box below.

Just enter the term you're looking for, and click on the "Google Search" button.

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-A -


Abstract Art: Painting that purports to be completely non-objective, with no reference to nature whatsoever. The 2 main forms practiced are Hard Abstract and Soft Abstract. Hard Abstract has a basis in geometry and Soft Abstract no basis whatever. According to some art educators, Abstract art is useful for designing textiles and wallpapers!

Accent: The emphasis of dark or light in a drawing, or of color in a painting.

Acrylics: A relatively new water soluble pigment made from plastic. It dries faster than oils, and when dissolved, they can be used as water colors.

Alia Prima: A method by which a painting is usually completed in one sitting�painting in a direct manner.

Aniline: A derivative of coal tar used to produce brilliant, but not necessarily permanent, colors.

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-B -


Blending: To merge together or soften.

Breadth: The suppression of the smaller shapes, details, tones for the benefit of the whole.

Bright: A brush with short-haired bristles.

Broken Color: A color that is broken by another color.


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-C -


Cast Shadow: The shadow that is cast from one form onto another.

Chiaroscuro: Literally light and dark, shading. A form of expression favoured by Rembrandt and his school.

Classical: Established ideals of perfection.

Coat: A layer of paint.

Collage: Making up a picture with newspaper, cardboard and stuffs as well as paint. It's lots of fun to do!

Chroma: The element in color that indicates its degree of saturation.

Cubism: Said to have evolved through a chance remark of Cezanne that all nature consisted of the cone, the cube and the cylinder, but has since been accepted as a new way of breaking up reality and reassembling it in terms of paint and canvas. It has been the inspiration of all the mainstreams of all modern art and designing. Picasso and Georges Braque were the originators of the movement.


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Design: The planned composition of a work of art.


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-F -


Fat: Rich in oil content.

Ferrule: The metal band encircling a brush and holding the hairs.

Fixatif: (also spelt "fixative" ) A thin varnish of watery consistency, used to keep drawings from smudging.

Flat: A brush with long-haired bristles.

Flat Color: An even or uniform area of color.

Form: Broadly speaking, the way a picture welds together; in a narrow sense, it is the way a shape has been rendered or seen.

Fresco Painting: Most often employed in warm, dry climates, is painting freshly spread plaster before it dries. No binder is used with the color, the plaster binds as it dries

Futurism: A now defunct movement associated with Italian Fascism. A term often erroneously applied to anything new or old.


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Genre: A type of realistic, story-telling painting.

Gesso: A plaster like material spread upon a surface to prepare it for painting.

Glaze: Transparent painting over a light under painting. A transparent film of color usually painted over a lighter area of paint to give it more brilliance and sparkle.

Gouache: 1. A painting with opaque or body colors. 2. Non-transparent.

Graduated Color: The range of color from light to dark or from warm to cool that results in a gradually changing effect.

Grisaille: The painting of the subject in gray colors, used as an under painting.


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-I -

Impasto: 1. Thick application of pigment. 2. The pigment so applied. 3. The surface of the paint; any thick or well brush marked paint.

Impressionism: Loosely applied to a group of artists who purported to break up their color into pure dots of pigment to capture the rightness of pure color in nature. Instead of mixing their colors on the palette they expected the eyes to mix them on the canvas. Painters like Renoir, Degas, Monet, Pissaro, Seurat, Signac, and Sisley, were associated with the movement.


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-L -


Laying-in: The first painting on a canvas; the under-painting.



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-M -


Mat: The surrounding area between the frame and the picture.

Matte: A dull surface.

Medium: 1. The means of drawing or painting oil, water color, pen and ink, and so on are media. 2. The binder for the pigments, the vehicle. 3. A liquid such as oil or water or varnish in which the paint is prepared. It also means the sort of paint or materials used.

Monochrome: A painting executed with one color.

Motif: The theme or source.

Murals: Paintings done directly on to a wall, usually for religious, decorative, or commercial purposes. Mainly done in tempera or fresco.

Muted Color: Restricted or suppressed rather than the full range of color.


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Neutral Color: A color without definite identification.

Nocturne: A night scene.


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-O -


Opaque: Heavy or non-transparent.


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-P -


Palette: 1. A rectangular- or oval-shaped flat surface used for mixing colors. 2. The selection of colors used by an artist.

Prime: To make ready. The preparatory coating.


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-R -


Rabbet: The recess or groove of a frame for holding the picture.

Reflected Light: The shadowed part of an object which is lightened by the reflection from an adjacent object.

Renaissance: The term applied to the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries in Italy. It was called so because of the "rebirth of ideas after the restrictions of thought in the middle ages".

Realism: A loosely applied term used to describe a painting that looks "real" or has a strong or unpleasant subject.


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- S -


Saturation: The greatest possible intensity of the color.

Scumbling: Dragging paint in a broken manner over a previously painted dry surface.

Sketch: 1. A brief statement of the subject. 2. A drawing complete in itself.

Study: 1. A comprehensive drawing or painting. 2. A detail that can be incorporate into a finished painting.

Stretcher: The wooden frame on which canvas or paper is stretched.

Support: The surface material on which the paint is applied.

Surrealism: A movement in painting popular in the 1930s, concerned with the world of dreams. It was vaguely funded on the ideas of the psychoanalyst Freud.


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-T -


Tacky: Sticky, partly dried.

Tachisme: Art up-to-date, you merely let the paint do all the work. Splashing, sprinkling and riding over it with bicycles are the most popular forms.

Tint: A light hue of color.

Tooth: The textural surface quality of the white canvas, varying from rough to smooth.

Tone: The changes of color achieved by lightening with white or darkening with black.


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-U -





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-V -


Value: The difference in effect due to light and dark.

Vision: The innate quality of a true artist. One who sees with an inward and outward eye.



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-W -


Wash: 1. The application of color in a thin, fluid manner. 2. Diluted pigment.


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Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez

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