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Art Terms

Abstract Art

Artistic content depends on internal form rather than pictorial representation. Abstract Art can be a representation having no reference to concrete objects or specific examples. Pablo Picasso is known for his abstract art creations. Accents Artwork that has a distinctive feature or quality, such as a feature that accentuates, contrasts with, or complements a decorative style.

Aquatint

A process of etching capable of producing several tones by varying the etching time of different areas of a copper plate so that the resulting print resembles the flat tints of an ink or wash drawing. Prints are produced by the same technique as an etching, except the areas between the etched lines are covered with a powdered resin that protects the surface from the biting process of the acid bath.

Artist’s Proof

An Artist’s Proof is a trial impression, as from type, taken for correction or examination; also known a proof sheet. By custom, artists will retain a proof for personal use and/or to sell.

Art Deco

A decorative and architectural style of the period 1925-1940, characterized by geometric designs, bold colors, and the use of plastic and glass.

Atelier

French term for a studio, especially for an artist or designer (E.g. avant-garde painters; an avant-garde theater piece.)

Avant-Garde

A group active in the invention and application of new techniques in a given field, especially in the arts. Relating to, or being part of an innovative group, especially one in the arts.

Bon a Tirer (B.A.T.)

Bon a Tirer means “good to pull.” Once artists have completed a graphic from a finished plate, they’ll ask their printer to pull one perfect graphic, then mark it Bon a Tirer (good to pull). Once completed, the printer will compare the graphic in the edition with the B.A.T. and then submit it to the artist for final approval and authentic signature.

Bronze

Any of various alloys of copper and tin in various proportions, sometimes with traces of other metals such as phosphorus and zinc. Colors will vary from silvery hue to a deep coppery red. The US standard for bronze is 90% copper, 7% tin and 3% zinc.

Ceramics

The art of making and decorating pottery derived from clay that’s fired in a kiln. Ceramics consist of porcelain, earthenware and certain sculptures. Ceramic art pieces can also be decorated with slip, englobe and/or glaze.

Certificate of Authenticity

A formal document certifying the authenticity of an individual piece (e.g. artwork, statue, an autograph, etc.) and stating its current market value on the open market.

Chiaroscuro (Ke-ära-skooro)

The technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation used in drawing, painting and the graphic arts. Both Rembrandt and Leonardo Da Vinci used this technique in their artwork to create an illusion of depth and space.

Etching

To produce, as figures or designs, on mental, glass, or the like, by means of lines or strokes eaten in or corroded by means of some strong acid on a plate. The plate is first covered with varnish, or some other ground capable of resisting the acid, and this is then scored or scratched with a needle, or similar instrument, so as to form the drawing; the plate is then covered with acid, which corrodes the metal in the lines to create the art.

Foreshortening

To shorten the lines of (an object) in a drawing or other representation so as to produce an illusion of projection or extension in space. Foreshortening refers to the depiction of a single object, whereas “perspective” depicts an entire scene.

Fresco

In the fine arts, fresco is the art of painting on freshly spread plaster, before it dries. Murals can also be created with watercolors on wet plaster.

Genre

A style of painting, sculpture, or other imitative art, which illustrates everyday life and manners.

Gicle’e

‘Gicle’e’ (jee-clay) is French for “to spray or to flow. Gicle’e fine art editions are printed on many fine art media such as watercolor papers or even art canvas. At the artist’s discretion, they can choose to reproduce their art on media other than the original, making it hard to distinguish between them.

Gouache

A method of painting with opaque colors, which have been ground in water and mingled with a preparation of gum; also, a picture thus painted. A gouache painting with watercolors has displays stunning light reflections different from transparent watercolors.

Hors Commerce (H.C.)

Hors Commerce (Not for Trade) is a term used in the past by where an artist would pull his graphics and mark them for business use only. Artwork would be entered in to competition and exhibitions. Virtually all artists will now introduce their graphic back into distribution through regular channels.

Impasto

With an Impasto painting, the application of thick layers of pigment to a canvas or other surface is applied. The thickness of the layer or body of pigment applied by the painter to his canvas will usually reference to the juxtaposition of different colors and tints in forming a harmonious whole.

Limited Edition

An edition, as of a book or print, restricted to a specified number of copies. Artist can restrict the number of printed reproductions available to the general public for any particular piece of artwork.

Lithography

The art or process of putting designs or writing, with a greasy material, on stone, and of producing printed impressions therefrom. The process depends, in the main, upon the antipathy between grease and water, which prevents a printing ink containing oil from adhering to wetted parts of the stone not covered by the design. When creating color lithographs, the artist creates separate drawings

Manifesto

Occurs when a person, usually in a leadership or high-ranking position, will claiming large powers, showing his intentions, or proclaiming his opinions and motives in reference to some act done or contemplated by him. During the first half of the twentieth century, artists (and groups of artists) would reveal their opinions and motives through their artwork.

Maquette

A usually small model of an intended work, such as a sculpture or piece of architecture. Sculptors and artist will sometimes create a mini-replica of what they intend to create, on a larger scale, for a client. The term Bozzetto, simply is defined as “small sketch”.

Montage

A picture composed of various proportions of existing images (artwork). A montage creation is used widely with photographs; multiple pictures are joined together and blended in to create one new image. It’s very common to create a montage using computers to blend digital photographs.

Monotype

A unique (one-of-a-kind) print made by pressing paper against a painted or inked surface. Can also be created by painting colors on a sheet (or slab of glass), transferring the wet painting to a sheet of paper or a polished plate. Monotypes can be printed either by hand or transferred through an etching press.

Museum

A building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value. Museum comes from the Latin word “muses, meaning ” source of inspiration” or “to be absorbed in one’s thoughts.”

Pastel

A drawing medium of dried paste made of ground pigments and a water-based binder that is manufactured in crayon form. Pastel is the simplest and purest method of painting, since pure color is used without a fluid medium and the crayons are applied directly to the pastel paper. Pastels are known as painting, rather than drawings, because color are applied in quantity rather than drawn in lines.

Patina

A thin greenish layer, usually basic copper sulfate, that forms on copper or copper alloys, such as bronze, as a result of corrosion. You can apply a chemical solution to derive different colored patinas on new bronze. Bronzes can be painted with lacquer and acrylic.

Perspective

The effect of distance upon the appearance of three-dimensional objects, by means of which the eye recognized them as being at a more or less measurable distance. Also defined as the appearance of things relative to one another as determined by their (the object’s) distance from the viewer.

Pochoir

A stencil-brush process used to create multicolor prints, for tinting black and white prints, and for coloring reproductions; especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand coloring or hand illustration.

Pointillism

A postimpressionist school of painting was exemplified by Georges Seurat (1859-1891) and his follower, Paul Signac (1863-1935), in the 19th-century France Pointillistic paintings are characterized by the application of paint in small dots and brush strokes. Most images are clearly visible from a distance when the viewer’s eye can blend colors to create visual masses.

Realism

The representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form.

Remarque

A current practice of some artists is a small mark or personalized drawing near a signature in the lower margin of a painting.

Repoussoir

Repoussoir is derived comes from the French verb meaning to push back. Repoussoir is a means of achieving perspective or special contrasts by the use of illusionistic devices such as the placement of a large figure. An example would be Schafer. Schafer’s paintings typically have three distinct appeals. The primary one is a strong artistic merit, arising from a good sense of composition and color, and an overall feeling of having succeeded in capturing the impression and mood of the original scene.

Serigraph

Serigraphy (also referred to as ‘silkscreen’ or ‘screen-print’) is defined as an original color print made by pressing pigment (with a squeegee) through a “silk” screen stencil; in this case a non photographic hand painted stencil.

Stippling

Stipple may be defined as the application of dots and flecks instead of lines as the ink-retaining hollows in copper plate intaglio printing. By varying the size and proximity of the dots it was possible to achieve the most delicate gradations of tone. The obvious reason for its enthusiastic acceptance was the new importance that the 18th century gave to the drawings as distinct from paintings of such fashionable artists as Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard.

Tirage

A formal document that provides background information on the graphic edition such as edition size, printer, technique, year of execution.

Trompe L´oeil (Tromp´- loy)

A French term meaning “deception of the eye.” A style of painting that gives an illusion of photographic reality. It may fool the viewer into thinking that the objects or scene are in fact real, rather than painted.

Vellum

A fine parchment made from calfskin, lambskin, or kidskin and used for the pages and binding of books.

Wash

Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and can be used in oil painting to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique.