Abstract – derived from or representing an actual thing in the world but, departing significantly from natural appearances. Forms are simplified, distorted, exaggerated.
Additive: The process of adding or joining parts and/or visual elements together to create a work of art (as opposed to subtractive).
Aesthetic: Aesthetic has often been used interchangeably with the word beauty, but this is not accurate. Anything that can be perceived by human beings with any sense has aesthetic characteristics and the aesthetic of a thing refers to the nature of experiencing it.
Analogous: closely related colors; a color scheme that combines several hues next to each other on the color wheel.
Art criticism: An organized system for looking at the visual arts; a process of appraising what we want students to know and be able to do.
Assemblage: A three-dimensional composition in which a collection of objects is unified in a sculptural work.
Asymmetry: (informal) – two sides are not the same but still balance each other.
Atmospheric or aerial perspective – creates the illusion of distance by reducing color saturation, value contrast, and detail to imply the hazy effect of atmosphere between the viewer and distant objects. Things appear paler, more blue-gray, less distinct as they approach the horizon.
Background: area within a composition that appears further away from the viewer. objects appear smaller with less detail.
Balance: The way in which the elements in visual arts are arranged to create a feeling of equilibrium in an artwork. The three types of balance are symmetry, asymmetry, and radial.
Cast Shadow: A shadow that goes from one object to another
Chiaroscuro – Italian word meaning light/dark. The gradations of light and dark values in a two-dimensional imagery; especially the illusion of rounded, 3-dimensional forms created through gradations of light and shade rather than line.
Collage An artistic composition made of various materials (e.g., paper, cloth, or wood) glued onto a surface.
Complementary colors: Colors opposite one another on the color wheel. Red/green, blue/orange, yellow/violet are complementary colors.
Composition The overall placement and organization of elements in a work of art, as well as the interrelationships between individual elements.
Content The representations, messages, ideas, and/or feelings expressed in a work of art.
Contrast Differences between two or more elements (e.g., value, color, texture) in a composition; juxtaposition of dissimilar elements in a work of art. Also refers the degree of difference between the lightest and darkest areas of an image.
Contour line – line that delineates the edges of forms, separating each volume or area from neighboring ones.
Contrapposto – Italian for counterpose. When weight is placed on one foot causing the hip and shoulder lines to counterbalance each other – often in a graceful
Cool colors Colors suggesting coolness, blues, greens, violets and their variants
Core of a shadow – the darkest part of the shadow.
Crop – cut off
Cross contour – the edges of the object you are drawing go one way the lines you use for describing the object go the opposite way, giving the object a 3-dimensional look.
Cross-hatching – drawing one set of hatchings over another in a different direction so that the lines cross.
Design The plan, conception or organization of a work of art; the arrangement of independent parts (the elements of art) to form a coordinated whole.
Distortion The condition of being twisted or altered from a usual or regular shape. In visual art, distortion is often used as an expressive technique.
Dominance An emphasis of one aspect, characteristic or quality in an image in relation to all others.
Elements of art: line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space.
Emphasis – used to draw our attention to an area or areas. Position, contrast, size can be used to create this.
Expressive content Content expressive of ideas and moods in a work of art.
Figurative The representation of people, subjects, and scenes from everyday life.
Figure/ground relationship (or positive/negative shapes) figure or positive shape refers to the subject or dominant shapes. The ground or negative shape refers to background areas.
Focal point The place in a work of art at which attention becomes focused because of an element emphasized in some way.
Foreground: in a scene or artwork, the part that seems closest to you. Objects appear larger and more detailed.
Foreshortening – the representation of forms on a 2-dimensional surface by shortening the length in such a way that the long axis appears to project toward or recede away from the viewer.
Form (1) The particular characteristics of an artwork’s visual elements (as distinguished from its subject matter or content). (2) A three-dimensional volume or the illusion of three dimensions; related to shape (which is 2-D).
Full value range – use of values from lightest to darkest in a work.
Function: Purpose and use of a thing.
Gestural line – line that shows the movement inherent in the object or figure, usually very fluid looking.
Harmony The principle of design that creates unity within a work of art.
Hatching – lines are placed in parallel series to darken the value of an area.
High key - exclusive use of light or pale values in a work.
Highlight – where the light hits the object portrayed. It will be white of the paper.
Line - a mark with length and direction, created by a point that moves across a surface. Line qualities can vary in width, length, gesture, color, direction, etc.
Line-of-Action: designates the movement or action of a character in a drawing
Linear perspective – based on the fact that parallel lines or edges appear to converge and objects appear smaller as the distance between them and the viewer increases.
Low key – exclusive use of darkest values in a work.
Mass The outside size and bulk of an object, such as a building or a sculpture; the visual weight of an object.
Media (1) Plural of medium referring to materials used to make works of art. (2) Classifications of artworks, such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, film, etc.).
Middle Ground: part of a composition that appearing between the foreground and background.
Mixed media An artwork in which more than one type of art material is used
Mood: emotion portrayed within an artwork
Motif A repeated pattern, often creating a sense of rhythm.
Negative Space: area around an object.
Neutral colors: Black, white, gray, and variations of brown. They are included in the color family called earth colors.
Nonrepresentational, nonobjective, nonfigurative – Having no recognizable object or subject; also, nonrepresentational.
One point perspective – a full side of the object is parallel with the picture plane and orthogonal (parallel lines that move away from the picture plane) recede to the fixed point on the eyelevel line.
Organic: Refers to shapes or forms not of geometric shape, having irregular edges, surfaces or objects similar to natural forms.
Pattern A design, image, or shape repeated in a predictable combination.
Perspective – a means for showing the illusion of 3-dimensional depth on a 2-dimensional surface.
Atmospheric or aerial perspective
One point perspective
Two point perspective
Picture plane – the flat picture surface.
Point of view The angle from which a viewer sees the objects or scene in an image.
Positive / Positive Space: Shapes or spaces in an image that represent solid objects or forms.
Principles of design A design concept describing the ways in which the elements of an image are arranged (i.e. balance, contrast, dominance, emphasis, movement, repetition, rhythm, variation, unity).
Printmaking The transference of an image from one surface (plate or block) to another (usually paper) using ink.
Primary colors Red, yellow, and blue. From these all other colors are created.
Proportion – size relationships of parts to a whole within the composition.
Reflected light – light that bounces up from surrounding surfaces and on to the object in areas that are in shadow.
Representational, objective, figurative (naturalistic) – refers to art in which the artist presents again (re-presents) a particular subject, something you recognize: a tree, a person, a house, etc.
Rhythm Repetitive visual elements that achieve a specific effect.
Scale: Size relative to the viewer's size. Ex: life-size, miniature, etc.
Secondary colors Colors that are created by the mixture of two primary colors, i.e. red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, blue and red make violet, etc.
Shade : a color mixed with black
Shading graded markings that indicate light or shaded areas in a drawing or painting
Shape A two-dimensional area or plane that may be open or closed, free form or geometric. It can be found in nature or created by humans.
Space The area between, around, above, below, or contained within objects. Spaces are areas defined by the shapes and forms around them and within them, just as shapes and forms are defined by the space around and within them.
Still life A specific type of visual artwork representing one or more inanimate object.
Structure The way parts are arranged or put together to form a whole.
Style A set of characteristics of the art of a culture, a period, or school of art; the characteristic expression of individual artists or groups.
Subordination – neutral areas of lesser interest in a composition that keep us from being distracted from the area of emphasis.
Subtractive Artistic method accomplished by removing or taking away from the original creative material, (the opposite of additive).
Symmetry (formal)or bilateral symmetry – Near or exact matching of left and right sides of a composition.
Texture The surface quality of materials, either actual (tactile) or implied (visual). It is one of the elements of art.
Theme A subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation
Thumbnail Sketch: a small, quick drawing used to get your ideas on paper
Tint: a color mixed with white
Tone: a color mixed with grey
Two point perspective – one edge (usually vertical) of the object is parallel with the picture plane. Orthogonals (parallel lines that move away from the picture plane) recede to two vanishing points one on either side of the fixed point and on the eyelevel line.
Unity/variety – unity provides oneness. Variety shows diversity
Value (or tone)– transition from light to dark across the surface of the artwork. White is the lightest value, black is the darkest. The value halfway between the two is called middle gray.
High key - exclusive use of light or pale values in a work.
Low key – exclusive use of darkest values in a work.
Full range – use of values from lightest to darkest in a work.
Vanishing point In perspective drawing, a point at which receding lines seem to converge.
Variety A principle of art concerned with combining one or more elements of art in different ways to create interest.
Volume Describes the space within a form, such as that of a container or building.
Warm colors Colors suggesting warmth, such as reds, yellows, and oranges.
Wash – a thin transparent layer of ink, watercolor, acrylic, oil paint.
Watercolor A transparent pigment used with water. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolors.