do you wonder about what the artist said or what the art terms mean?

This art glossary will answer many of your questions. Find the art terms used by many of today's painting artists.

color terms

Color makes our paintings sing. It attracts people to our paintings. It's is the reason many of us paint.

Color Wheel:
The color wheel is a circular illustration of twelve colors and their relationship to each other.

Primary Colors:
All colors are made from the primary colors of red, yellow and blue. Primary colors cannot be mixed from any other colors.

Secondary Colors:
The three secondary colors, orange, purple and green each are a mixture of two primary colors.

Tertiary Colors:
The six tertiary colors are a mix of a secondary color and a primary color.

Analogous Colors:
Analogous colors are three or more colors next to each other on the color wheel.

Complimentary Colors:
Complimentary colors are located directly across the color wheel from each other; yellow and violet, red and green, then blue and orange.

Hue:
Hue is the color group of a colors. For example a 'Blue Hue' is a blue color, 'Red Hues' are red, etc.

Warm Colors:
Red, yellow and orange are warm colors.

Cool Colors:
Blue, green and sometimes violet are considered cool colors.

Shade:
Mixing a color with black makes it a darker shade.

Tint:
Any color mixed with white makes a color tint.

Tone:
Tone is the purity of a color. Adding grey to a color lowers its tone.

Saturation, Chroma and Intensity:
This is getting into real technical stuff for this art dictionary. It just means the color is more intense, brighter and pure.

paint art terms

All paints are made with the same color pigments. The vehicle used to carry the pigments gives us the paint names.

Professional paints have more pigment in them. They cover better and have more brilliant color than the student paints.

Art terms for today's painting artistsHoneymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

Acrylic Paint:
The pigments of acrylic paints are suspended in acrylic polymer. Acrylics are thinned with water and they dry very fast.

Oil Paint:
The pigments of oil paints are suspended in linseed oil. They are slow drying. Thin them with mineral spirits or turpentine.

Alkyd Paint:
Alkyd paint has its pigments suspended in alkyd resin.

They dry overnight and use the same solvents as oil paints.

Watercolor Paint:
Watercolor paints have their pigments suspended in gum Arabic. They are thinned and cleaned up with water.

Tempera:
Tempera has the paint pigments mixed with egg yolks. So it may also be called, egg tempura.

Tempera is fast drying and permanent. It is not flexible, so it needs to be painted on a rigid surface.

Casein:
Casein is a similar to egg tempura, but it is mixed with milk instead of eggs. It is thinned with water. It is used for painting murals.

Gouache:
Gouache is a painting medium that has been around for centuries. The pigments are combined with gum arabic (or dextrin) and white paint. This makes gouache is an opaque medium. It is a water-based medium that dries fast.

Many modern artists consider gouache the best painting medium for design work, comics and illustrations. Gouache is used in airbrushes.

Pastel:
Pastels have been used by artists since the 1400s. They are come in a stick form similar to crayons. There are soft pastels and hard pastels depending upon how they are manufactured.

Pastels produce a lot of dust while you are using them. Their paintings are subject to fading. However, they are fast and fun to use.

A spray fixative may be used, but the fixative will dull the colors slightly. Finished pastels need to be framed under glass.

Encaustic:
Encaustic painting is done with melted wax.

Mixed Media:
Mixed media is two of more types of mediums used in one artwork.

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art terms of supplies

Paint Palette:
The palette is the place to lay out your paints with space for mixing colors.

Oil painters use a wood, glass or disposable paper palette. Watercolor artists use ceramic, plastic or disposable plates. Acrylic artists often use a disposable paper palette over a moisture retaining base.

Many artists place their palette into a covered container between painting sessions to keep the paint moist.

art terms for brushes

The different painting mediums use different brushes. Select the brushes for the painting media you are using.

  • Don't use the same brushes for watercolor, acrylic and oil painting. You will run into cleaning problems because oil does not mix with water.

Oil Painting Brushes:
Brushes for oil painting can be either stiff or soft.

The traditional hog bristle brushes are stiffer. They produce a painterly effect that is good for landscape painting.

Animal hair brushes, like sable and synthetic brushes are softer. They are good for smoother work like portrait painting.

Watercolor Brushes:
Watercolor brushes are softer. They may be made out of sable or soft synthetic fibers.

Acrylic Brushes:
Acrylic brushes are made from synthetic materials because water will make the natural hair bristles swell.

Round Brushes:
Round brushes have their bristles inserted into a round metal ferrule.

Rigger/Script Liner:
Rigger and script liner brushes are round brushes with extra-long bristles that make flexible. They are good for painting fine lines such as tree branches.

Flat Brushes:
Flat, bright and filbert brushes have their bristles secured in a flat metal ferrule, normally on a wooden handle.

Flats have long bristles. They carry a good amount of paint.

Brights:
Brights are like a flat with short bristles. The stroke of a bright brush tends to leave raised areas on the edge of the stroke.

Filbert Brushes:
Filbert brushes are a flat brush with rounded corners. They make a softer stroke without raised edges.

art terms of painting supports

Support:
What we paint on is called a painting support. It can be made of paper, a panel, canvas, wood, plastic, glass or even metal.

Canvas:
Canvas is the traditional support for oil or acrylic painting. There are also, watercolor canvases available now-a-days.

The linen or cotton canvas may be stretched around a wooden frame. Stretched canvas paintings last for years.

Canvas boards have the canvas attached to a hard paper support. These are good for practice and student paintings, but they tend to warp with age.

Art Panels:
There are a number of hardwood and pressed wood panels available for paintings.

Why do I use art panels for my watercolor paintings?

Watercolor Paper:
Watercolor paper is normally made out of cotton. It is sized with rabbit glue to prevent the paint from soaking down into the paper.

There are different weights. 140# paper is common in tablets. It will buckle from a lot of water, so it will need to be stretched.

300# paper is heavier, it resists buckling and it does not need stretching.

Drawing Papers are usually made from wood pulp. Water will make them fall apart. But they are great for drawing.

Newsprint is just like it sounds. It is recycled from newspapers. Use it for sketching out ideas and student work.

Graphite Paper has graphite on the backside. It can be used for transferring your drawing to the painting support.

Carbon Paper is not suitable for transferring drawings. It will not erase well. It can show thru in your final painting.

painting art terms

These are general art terms used across the spectrum of mediums.

Fine Art:
Fine art is the art term for beautiful art, as opposed to functional art such as illustrations.

Medium:
Medium is the type of painting material or a substance mixed into paint to thicken, thin or otherwise alter the paint. It is also used for the type of art, such watercolor, sculpture, drawing, etc.

Media:
Media is the plural of medium. Mediums is another plural form of medium.

Sketch:
A sketch is a simple drawing without much detail.

Foreground:
The foreground is the part of the painting that looks the closest to the viewer.

Background:
A painting's background looks the farthest away, usually toward the top of the painting.

Hard and Soft Edges:
A hard edge occurs in painting when the change from one color to another is abrupt and sharp.

Hard edges attract the viewer's eye and are good in the focal area.

  • See the hard edge on the hummingbird's head.

Soft edges are created by blending the juncture of two different paint applications together.

  • See the soft edge on the cactus leaf.

Soft edges attract less attention, so they don't draw the eye away from the focal point.

Values:
The art term values refers to how light or dark a color is.

Yellow is the lightest color value. Purple is the color with the darkest value.

Focal Point or Focal Area:
The focal point of a painting is the area that grabs the viewer's attention. It is the main subject of the painting.

How to paint a focal point.

Composition:
Composition is the arrangement of the elements in a painting.

Good composition attracts the viewer into your painting. It makes a painting stand out from others.

The Rule of Thirds is the easiest way to a good composition.

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oil painting art terms

Alla Prima:
Painting alla prima is an art term for artwork that is painted 'wet into wet' paint.

As opposed to waiting for a paint layer to dry before you add the next layer of paint.

This is my favorite way to paint oils.

Alla prima painting gives you the chance to blend colors and edges while the paint is still workable.

Underpainting:
Traditional oil painting is done with an underpainting.

The first layer of painting is painted thin to establish the color and value of each area of the painting. After the underpainting is dry, more layers are painted to complete the painting.

Glazing:
After one layer of paint is dry, thin, transparent color is painted over the previous color. The bottom layer shows thru. The two colors combine visually to produce a new color.

The art term glazing is also used with watercolor.

Scumbling:
Scumbling is done over a previous dry layer of paint. Paint is used on a dry brush and rubbed on with the side of the brush. Normally opaque colors are used for scumbling. The original, dry layer still shows thru.

Splattering:
Splattering may be done with oils, acrylic or watercolor to produce the effect of sand, for example.

Splatter paint off of a toothbrush. Or knock the paint off of a paint brush by knocking the brush handle against the forefinger of the opposite hand.

Small droplets or pieces of paint fly onto the painting surface to create the desired effect.

watercolor art terms

Watercolor Wash:
A watercolor wash of diluted paint is applied over a large area.

Wet Wash:
A wet on wet wash is applied to a wet area. The paint moves smoothly covering a large area such as a sky.

Mix your color ahead of time. Dampen the paper before you apply the color. Apply with smooth even strokes. The water moves the paint.

Dry Wash:
A watercolor wash on dry paper will give you a crisper effect. You have more control over the paint. You move the paint with your brush.

Dry Brush:
Applying watercolor with a somewhat dry brush onto dry paper - gives you the effect of a scumble in oil painting. It produces a lot of texture.

Watercolor Blossoms of Back-runs:
When you apply more paint to a painted area that is not completely dry, the paint will run to the edge. Where it collects on the edge of the new paint application is called a back-run.

Glazing:
When one layer of paint is dry, a layer of transparent paint is painted over the dry layer.

Frisket:
Liquid frisket is a rubbery type substance that can be applied to your watercolor support. The art term masking fluid is another name for frisket.

Watercolor paint does not penetrate the areas covered with frisket. After the paint is dry, remove the frisket.



I hope this glossary of art terms gives you a better understanding the common terms of today's painting artists.

It is my pleasure to share with you.

You can find more art information on Wikipedia.

go and create beautiful paintings



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