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Helpful Terms

We have provided this list of terms and their definitions to help you better understand our use of them in discussing and describing the art and photographs on our website. If you have a question about a term or anything else, let us know - we would be happy to help.

A

acid-free
-
Art materials certified to have a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Acids in papers and framing materials such as mat board can cause paintings and prints to yellow and become brittle over time. Acid-free archival materials and proper framing techniques are used to preserve the art from acid damage. See also yellowing.


acrylic paint
-
Acrylic paint consists of pigments suspended in an emulsion of acrylic resin and mineral spirits. Acrylic paints have the benefits of being flexible, durable, non-yellowing, quick drying.


aquatint
-
An intaglio printmaking technique where a metal plate is etched using a method that produces, in the final print, a granular, continuous-tone appearance similar to that of a watercolor wash.


arches
-
Arches paper is a fine quality French acid free archival watercolor paper widely used and highly regarded in the fine art community. Arches paper also comes in a type designed for printing with the same archival properties as those of the type used for watercolor.


archival
-
Having long-term stability; suitable for archives. Archival art materials are specially engineered to resist the deteriorating effects of aging such as fading and yellowing because of their acid neutral compositions.


archival pigment print
-
Photograph produced by an inkjet printer from a digital file exclusively using permanence rated pigment ink on paper or other media.


art deco
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A style of design, decoration, and architecture widely popular in the 1920's through 1930's. The style is characterized by geometric patterns and bold colors, some of which were inspired by patterns and designs from ancient cultures and civilizations.


art nouveau
-
A style of art, decoration, and architecture popular between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The style is characterized by expressive lines and curves, delicate patterns, and floral motifs.


artist proof
-
Artist's proofs are identified and/or numbered separately from the production of an edition of numbered prints or sculptures. Artist's proofs, however, are produced at the same time as, or subsequent to, the regular edition and are created without change from the regular edition. The artist's proofs are usually retained by the artist for sale or personal use. Artist's proofs are designated by the 'A/P' edition mark on the piece. See also limited edition; proof.


avant-garde
-
A term used to categorize any art that is revolutionary or experimental, either in style, technique, or subject matter. The term is also used to describe artists or critics who produce or promote such works.


B

bas-relief
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A kind of carving or sculpture in which the figures are raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect. The term is French for 'low relief.'


BAT
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The abbreviation sometimes used for 'bon a tirer', a printing term for an artist's approval of the final version or proof of a print. The BAT becomes the example that all examples in an edition must match.


belle epoque posters
-
Posters produced chiefly in Paris but also elsewhere in Europe from the late 19th century until the early 20th century, a period referred to as the Belle Epoque (French, 'beautiful era'). Imagery was often used to promote cabarets and events as well as to market various kinds of products. Stylistically, the influence of Art Nouveau in content, subject choices and typography, was apparent. Images would be printed, usually by employing limestone lithography, often on very grand scale. These would be posted throughout metropolitan areas on walls, at train stations, and other gathering areas to get attention for whatever the poster artists were commissioned to produce by merchants who paid them.


bleed
-
In graphic arts, to print an image up to one or more of a sheet’s edges leaving no margin.


block print
-
An original print made from a single carved block of wood.


bon a tirer
-
The designation of a print that has been produced for an artist's approval before an edition is produced. A bon a tirer, French for 'good to pull', that is labelled as such on the print and signed by the artist for whom the edition will be printed means the print meets all of the standards of the artist. All examples of the edition must then match the bon a tirer. Rather than spelling out the term on the print, sometimes a bon a tirer will bear the initials 'BAT' and then signed by the artist.


bronze
-
An alloy of copper and tin in various proportions, often with trace amounts of other elements such as zinc or phosphorus. Since its discovery, bronze has been used extensively for making cast sculptures due to its strength and resistance to corrosion. It is also highly regarded for its aesthetic qualities, particularly for the patina that develops on the surface of the metal as it ages.


C

c-print
-
A c-print, type c-print or chromogenic color print is a full color photographic print made using chromogenic materials and processes (chromogenic film or paper contain layers of silver halide emulsion and dye medium in their processing chemistry to form a color image). As of 2010, the major lines of professional chromogenic print paper are Kodak Endura and Fujfilm Crystal Archive. The light sensitive material in each layer is a silver halide emulsion—just like black and white papers.


canvas
-
A heavy, closely woven fabric usually made of linen. The term is also used to refer to the support for oil and acrylic paintings made by stretching canvas fabric over a wooden frame.


cast
-
1. The process by which an object is formed with the use of a mold. The mold is fashioned with a cavity or depression in the shape of the object to be produced. After the mold is prepared, the casting material, such as molten bronze, is typically poured into the cavity and allowed to solidify. When the mold is removed the cast object is revealed. The term is also applied to objects produced in this manner. 2. Subtle differences in color; less than a tinge. A cast is often the result of reflected light from a colored surface.


certificate of authenticity
-
A legal document, which serves to certify the authenticity of a piece of art. In the case of original or unique works of art, the certificate declares the title, artist, medium, year executed and provenance. For limited edition art, the certificate declares the same information as for an original, other than provenance, as well as bearing the edition number of the piece being certified, specifying edition information, such as how many total examples were produced. The certificate is typically provided by the dealer or gallery that has sold the work of art and is hand signed by a person of authority in the gallery. A certificate of authenticity usually bears the copyright notice of the artwork.


cibachrome
-
Sometimes known as Ilfochrome, a photographic process used for the reproduction of slides on photographic paper. The prints are made on a a plastic base as opposed to traditional paper base. Since the process employs dyes, the print will not fade, discolor, or deteriorate in normal light and if properly displayed or otherwise cared for. Characteristics of cibachrome/Ilfochrome prints are image clarity, color purity, as well as being an archival process able to produce critical accuracy to the original slide.


conservation
-
Preservation and treatment of art objects.


conté crayon
-
A brand of crayon made of graphite and clay, usually in black, red, or brown.


contrast
-
The relative difference between light and dark areas of a painting, print or negative.


copy
-
An intentional imitation, replica, reproduction, or duplication of an original work of art, usually produced in the same medium. Unlike a fake, a copy generally is intended as an emulation of a model rather than as a deception.


copyright
-
The legal right granted to an artist, author, composer, playwright, programmer, publisher or other entity to the exclusive right of publication, distribution, or sale of a work of art, literature, music, or any other products of the mind. This gives the creator of the copyrighted material full legal protection from use by others without the creator’s explicit permission regardless of use, either commercial or non commercial. Copyright law includes specifications concerning the number of years a copyright will be in force in connection with any protected subject, object or item. Further, international treaties maintain copyright protections and other intellectual property between nations for the benefit of artists, inventors, writers, etc.


crayon
-
A pointed stick or pencil of colored clay, chalk, wax, etc., used for drawing or coloring.


D

deckled edge
-
The rough, unfinished edges on a sheet of paper that has not been trimmed. Fine handcrafted watercolor paper often has deckled-edges.


digital c-print
-
Photographic Type-C print made from a digital file. A digital file is used with an extremely fine laser to expose traditional Type-C photographic paper. The paper is then developed in traditional darkroom chemistry.


digital print
-
A print produced using a digital printing process. Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing from digital sources that are printed using large format and/or high volume laser or inkjet.


drawing
-
A graphic representation by lines of an object or idea, as with a pencil, pen, or crayon; a delineation of form without reference to color.


drypoint etching
-
1. A technique of engraving, especially on copper or zinc, in which a sharp-pointed instrument is used to produce furrows having a burr that is often retained in order to produce a print characterized by soft, velvety black lines. 2. A print made by this technique.


dye transfer
-
A photographic printing process. A dye transfer print is produced by projecting a color transparency or negative onto three separate sheets of film through red, green and blue filters. This produces separation negatives that are then then projected make three relief matrices dyed in cyan, magenta and yellow dyes. Each of the matrices is then brought into registered, aligned, contact with a specialized archival paper which absorbs the dye. The finished print is the result of merging the dye images on a single sheet. The dye transfer process is rare craft that few printers offer, in part because the supply of the paper itself is becoming very scarce. Dye transfer is known for its use in producing rich archival color prints.


E

edition
-
A series of printings, or castings in the case of sculpture, of the same work of art, usually produced in limited number, though sometimes in unlimited quantity.


edition number
-
The number assigned to an individual example of a single limited edition. See also limited edition.


edition size
-
The total number of prints or castings produced in a limited edition.


egg tempera
-
A watercolor medium consisting of pigments ground with pure egg yolk as the pigment’s “binder”.


etching
-
1. The act or process of making designs or pictures on a metal plate, glass, etc., by various instruments or processes from which designs can be inked and printed from onto paper or other material. 2. An impression, as on paper, taken from an etched plate.


expressionism
-
1. A manner of painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., in which forms derived from nature are distorted or exaggerated and colors are intensified for emotive or expressive purposes. 2. A style of art developed in the 20th century, characterized chiefly by heavy, often black lines that define forms, sharply contrasting, often vivid colors, and subjective or symbolic treatment of thematic material executed with a marked artistic spontaneity, vitality, instinctive engagement of the artist with his or her medium.


F

fiber-based paper
-
Photographic paper that is coated with chemicals to participate in image development and retention in the printing process. Most modern papers now use optical brighteners to extend the paper's tonal range as it receives light-transferred imagery. Fiber-based papers are generally chosen as a medium for high-quality prints for exhibition, display and archiving purposes.


flat
-
(of a painting) not having the illusion of volume or depth (of a photograph or painting) lacking contrast or gradations of tone or color. (of paint) without gloss; not shiny; mat.


forgery
-
The production of a spurious work that is claimed to be genuine, as a coin, a painting, or the like, as well as in the case of signatures or autographs.


foxing
-
The presence of brownish or yellowish splotches and markings on paper caused by a species of mold. Foxing occurs frequently when a painting or print is exposed to high-levels of humidity. If the damage is not too advanced, the stains can usually be removed or reduced by a skilled conservator.


fugitive colors
-
Short-lived pigments and dye — capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances; in each case the result of a chemical change.


G

gelatin silver print
-
Black and White Photograph on paper coated with an emulsion of light sensitive silver salts suspended in gelatin and printed traditionally in a wet darkroom.


gesso
-
Any plaster-like preparation to prepare a surface such as that of a canvas for painting, gilding, etc.


giclée
-
1. A modern fine art digital printing process where minute droplets of ink are precisely sprayed onto a sheet of paper or canvas to form a continuous-tone image; the process derives its name from the French word meaning 'to spray.' 2. A work of art produced by this process.


glaze
-
To cover [a painted surface or parts of it] with a thin layer of transparent color in order to modify the tone or simply to “fix” a painting in its current state before an artist resumes painting other aspects of the painting so as not to interfere or affect the previous work done.


gloss
-
Surfaces which are lustrous, shiny, extra smooth.


gouache
-
1. A method whereby watercolor pigments, often mixed with chalk for increased opacity, are applied directly to the paper. Because the opaque pigments are reflective, a gouache painting has an appearance quite different than the luminous quality of typical watercolor paintings. 2. A work of art produced by this method.


H

hard-edge painting
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A style of painting characterized by sharply defined and distinct color boundaries. Often used to describe abstract art, particularly geometric abstraction.


hors commerce
-
In traditional printmaking, selected proofs from the regular edition were reserved by the artist for use in exhibitions, competitions, or other non-commercial purposes; these proofs were marked hors commerce or HC, in French 'outside of commerce' or 'not for trade.' However, today, it is not uncommon to find such pieces in distribution.


I

impasto
-
The laying on of paint thickly.


impression
-
In printing, an individual proof is often referred at as an impression because, traditionally, the print is created by impressing an image upon the paper with a press.


impressionism
-
A style of painting developed in the last third of the 19th century, characterized chiefly by short brush strokes of bright colors in immediate juxtaposition to represent the effect of light on objects. Less of a truly literal objective rendition of a subject in painting than one’s subjective impression and the conveyance of that impression to the viewer by suggestion.


intaglio
-
A process in which a design, text, etc., is engraved into the surface of a plate so that when ink is applied and the excess is wiped off, ink remains in the grooves and is transferred to paper in printing, as in engraving or etching.


iris print
-
A digital process in which the original photographic negative or print is scanned into a computer, then printed to an Iris inkjet printer. The prints can be produced on a variety of artist's papers. The paper is wrapped around the printer's drum, which rotates at a high speed while a set of nozzles distributes inks of the four process colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Iris technology was first developed as a proofing process by commercial offset printers.


J

juxtaposition
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The state or position of being placed close together or side-by-side, so as to permit comparison or contrast.


K

kinetic art
-
Any form of art that consists of, or incorporates, moving elements. The motion may be caused by internal mechanisms or by external stimuli such as the wind or interaction from the viewer.


L

lambda
-
A photographic printing process using the lambda printing technique. An archival method of printing photographs, black and white, certain monochromatic hues as well as color photos can be printed and developed using the lambda process.


lambda photographic print
-
A photographic print produced using the Lamda printing technique. Three color lasers, red, green and blue, are used to project three digitized images of the original source image onto traditional photographic paper. Black and white, certain monochromatic hues as well as color photos can be printed and developed using this technique.


lightjet
-
A photographic continuous tone process of printing digital images to photographic paper and film. Unexposed silver-halide photographic paper is temporarily fixed on an internal drum, where three digitally controlled lasers simultaneously expose the photo-sensitive emulsion on the paper medium (or back-lit transparency medium) with red, green, and blue light. The amount of light from each laser varies to provide specific color and density values for each pixel imaged to the print. The print is then processed using traditional photochemical means. After which, the photographic print is handled just as any other photo-print.


limited edition
-
An edition or set of prints or sculptures of a known number of impressions or castings, usually fewer then 200, numbered and hand signed by the artist or estate stamped in the case of posthumous release or production.


lithograph
-
A print on paper produced by using one of several techniques in lithography, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone or metal or plastic plate. Invented in the late eighteenth century, the medium has evolved from an exclusively handmade process to one that also includes photo mechanical methods.


lithography
-
In the graphic arts, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone or metal or plastic plate, invented in the late eighteenth century. A drawing is made on the stone or plate with a greasy crayon or tusche, and then washed with water. When ink is applied it adheres exclusively to the greasy drawing but runs off (or is resisted by) the wet surface allowing a print — a lithograph — to be made of the drawing. The artist, or other print maker under the artist's supervision, then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure and the ink transfers to the paper in the pattern of the original drawing. For color lithography separate drawings and patterns are made for each color.


low relief
-
In relief sculpture, a very slight extension of a form out of the background.


M

matte
-
The paper mat board that is used in framing a work on paper that supports and presents the work inside its companion moulding, behind the glass or plexi-glass incorporates it as a part of a protective framing concept. In art or frame moulding, matte describes a dull or lusterless surface as the surface of a painting, print or frame.


matte board
-
A matte that is typically cut from a heavy cardboard. In the framing of a picture, matte board protects the artwork as well as showcasing and enhancing the appearance of the art being framed. In the case of framing a work on paper, matte board serves as a buffer of protection between the glass used in framing. Matting also provides a barrier from airborne pollutants, moisture, acids and other impurities that can impact the life of the framed piece. Acid free matte board is used in the framing of fine works on paper.


media
-
The plural form of medium. Also, may refer to mass media, which includes such printed media as books, magazines, and newspapers; radio; cinema; and such electronic media as television, Web pages, CD-ROMs, DVDs, etc.


medium
-
The material or technique used by an artist to produce a work of art.


mixed media
-
Two or more artistic media, as pen and ink, chalk, graphite, and other materials, used together.


monochrome
-
A painting or drawing in different shades of a single color.


monoprint
-
An art print produced in any medium that is printed only once, that is, for which only one example is created, making it a unique work.


monotype
-
A single print that is made by printing from a smooth metal or glass plate upon which a picture has been painted in oil, printing ink, or the like. Printing from a smooth surface makes only one strong impression possible, hence, the unique nature of the print created. Subsequent printing another version using the remaining medium residue on the plate used can be done, but only two or three examples of “ghost prints”, as they are called, can be produced as a dwindling supply of remaining medium on the plate becomes sparse with each subsequent “ghost” printed.


N

neutral color
-
A color not associated with a hue. Neutral colors include browns, blacks, grays, and whites.


O

objet d'art
-
French term meaning “object of art.” An object of artistic value.


oil paint
-
Paint made of pigment ground in oil, usually linseed oil, used for oil painting


opalescence
-
Having a milky iridescence.


opalesque paper
-
A patented archival paper used for lithographic printing, the characteristics of which are a textured surface resembling that of silk, a slightly opalescent sheen and a property that holds inks closer to its surface for sharper contrasts and color depth.


opaque
-
Not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.


original
-
Any work considered to be an authentic example of the works of an artist, rather than a reproduction or imitation. Often referred to as a unique work (versus a multiple) since only one, by definition, exists.


overpainting
-
A finishing layer of paint applied over another layer of paint, or under-layer, once it has dried.


P

painterly
-
Characterized by qualities of color, stroke, or texture perceived as distinctive to the art of painting, esp. the rendering of forms and images in terms of color or tonal relations rather than of contour or line.


palette
-
A thin and usually oval or oblong board or tablet with a thumbhole at one end, used by painters for holding and mixing colors.


pastel
-
A typically soft, colored crayon made of pure pigments mixed with just enough oil- or water-based binder to hold its form. Pastel crayons are available in the full gamut of hues including deep colors. Pastel is the simplest and purest method of painting because the pigments are applied directly to the paper without liquid.


patina
-
A sheen or coloration on any surface, either unintended and produced by age, or intended and produced by simulation or stimulation, which signifies the object's age. The colors that emerge form oxidizing metals, as in bronze sculpture. Oxidizing can be a natural occurrence in an outdoor environment, for example, or can be brought about artificially by the application of certain chemicals that affect the metal.


perspective
-
The technique artists use to project an illusion of the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface. Perspective helps to create a sense of depth — of receding space. Fundamental techniques used to achieve perspective are: controlling variation between sizes of depicted subjects, overlapping some of them, and placing those that are on the depicted ground as lower when nearer and higher when deeper. In addition, there are three major types of perspective: aerial perspective, herringbone perspective, and linear perspective.


photographic paper
-
Paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals, used for making photographic prionts. The paper is exposed to light in a controlled manner, either by placing a negative in direct contact with the paper to produce a contact print or “contact sheet,” by using an image enlarger - a projection technique, by exposing the paper in certain types of cameras, by scanning a light source over the paper, or by placing objects upon it to produce photograms. Photographic papers are subsequently developed using the gelatin-silver process to create a visible image.


pigment
-
Finely powdered color material which produces the color of any medium. Made either from natural substances or synthetically, pigment becomes paint, ink, or dye when mixed with oil, water or another liquid. When pressed into wax it becomes a crayon, pencil or chalk.


platinum photograph
-
A photographic print produced using a platinum printing and image developing technique. This process provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development. Acid free “rag” paper is prepared by hand coating, or “painting”, its surface with a photosensitive platinum laced emulsion. A light projection device is used to project the image onto the paper through its negative. The image then becomes embedded into the paper via the platinum emulsion. Platinum prints are known for their broad scale of tones that range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone grays. Platinum prints are considered the most durable of all photographic processes - even more durable than the use of gold in printing.


plexi-glass
-
A transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass in framing art and manhy other uses. It is also sometimes called acrylic glass, lucite and perspex.


pop art
-
An art movement that began in the U.S. in the 1950s and reached its peak of activity in the 1960s, chose as its subject matter the anonymous, everyday, standardized, and iconography in American life, as comic strips, billboards, commercial products, and celebrity images, and dealt with them typically in such forms as outsize commercially smooth paintings, mechanically reproduced silkscreens, large-scale facsimiles, and soft sculptures.


primary colors
-
The color red, yellow, and blue that, in various mixture combinations, yield all other colors.


proof
-
In graphic arts, a preliminary print that is examined for quality control before final printing is done. A “bon a tirer” (French, “good to print”) or “BAT” is a proof that has been approved by the artist to act as the prototype or precise model to which the standards of an edition of prints will be produced and compared.


prototype
-
A primary model or example that establishes a basis for subsequent versions, either identical or revised.


R

realism
-
Treatment of forms, colors, space, etc., in such a manner as to emphasize their correspondence to actuality or to ordinary visual experience.


relief print
-
A print made using a method in which a block of wood, linoleum or some other material's surface is carved so that an image can be printed from it. Areas left uncarved receive ink which transfers to another surface when the block is pressed against that surface.


representational art
-
To stand for; symbolize. To depict or portray subjects a viewer may recognize as having a likeness; the opposite of abstraction.


reproduction
-
Something made by reproducing an original; copy; duplicate


restoration
-
A process effected to return something to its former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.


restrike
-
A new print made from an old lithographic stone, metal engraving, woodcut, or the like.


rubbing
-
An impression of an incised or sculptured surface made by laying paper over it and rubbing with heelball, graphite, or a similar substance until the image appears.


S

sanguine
-
1. An earthy red color, similar in hue to rust. 2. A sanguine-colored chalk- or clay-based pencil or crayon containing iron oxide. See also Conté crayon. 3. A work of art done in sanguine crayon is often called a sanguine.


scale
-
A ratio (proportion) used in determining the dimensional relationship (analogy) between a representation to that which it represents (its actual size), as in maps, architectural plans, and models. This is often expressed numerically as two quantities separated by a colon (:). For example, a scale noted as '1:50.' This scale would be read 'one to fifty,' meaning 'one unit of measurement [inches, feet, meters, etc.] here represents fifty of the same units at full size.' A size equal to actual size is full-scale. Sometimes scale is called 'proper proportion.'


sculpture
-
A three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media.


semi-matte
-
Midway between matte and glossy, as certain paper, paint or frame moulding.


sepia
-
Shade(s) or tone(s) of brown; a print or photograph made in this color.


serigraph
-
A print made by the silkscreen process: Also called silkscreen process. a printmaking technique in which a mesh cloth is stretched over a heavy wooden frame and the design, painted on the screen by tusche or affixed by stencil, is printed by having a squeegee force color through the pores of the material in areas not blocked out by a glue sizing.


silkscreen
-
Also called silkscreen process. A printmaking technique in which a mesh cloth is stretched over a heavy wooden frame and the design, painted on the screen by tusche or affixed by stencil, is printed by having a squeegee force color through the pores of the material in areas not blocked out by a glue sizing. The printing technique, pochoir, is a stenciling process very much like silkscreen.


silver gelatin
-
A photographic print produced using a silver gelatin, or 'bromide' printing technique. Acid free, 'fiber' paper that is coated with a gelatin emulsion of light-sensitive silver halide. The print is produced by projecting light through a negative onto the paper. The print is then developed in a dark room using traditional chemicals. Silver gelatin printing is used only in black and white photograph production.


sketch
-
A simply or hastily executed drawing or painting, esp. a preliminary one, giving the essential features without the details.


stipple
-
To paint, engrave, or draw by means of dots or small touches.


study
-
A preparatory drawing for another work, most probably in another medium, related to a sketch.


superrealism
-
Another name for photorealism: Realist paintings and sculptures involving thorough reproduction of detail. In painting the results were nearly photographic — in fact made from photographs (although painters had been working from photographs since the early days of photography).


surrealism
-
A style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century, stressing the subconscious or non-rational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc.


T

tempera
-
A technique of painting in which an emulsion consisting of water and pure egg yolk or a mixture of egg and oil is used as a binder or medium, characterized by its lean film-forming properties and rapid drying rate.


tone
-
A quality of a color, arising from its saturation (purity and impurity), intensity (brilliance and dimness), luminosity (brightness and dullness), and temperature (warm and cool); or to create such a quality in a color. To tone down is to make a color less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate. To tone up is to make one become brighter or more vigorous. Tonality can refer to the general effect in painting of light, color, and shade, or the relative range of these qualities in color schemes.


transparent
-
Having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen.


trompe l'oeil
-
Visual deception, esp. in paintings, in which objects are rendered in extremely fine detail emphasizing the illusion of tactile and spatial qualities. (French, “fool the eye.”)


U

underpainting
-
The layer or layers of color on a painting surface applied before the overpainting, or final coat. There are many types of underpainting. One type is an all-over tinting of a white ground. Another is a blocked out image in diluted oil paints that serves as a guide for the painter while developing the composition and color effects.


undertone
-
A subdued color; a color modified by an underlying color.


V

value
-
An element of art that refers to luminance or luminosity — the lightness or darkness of a color. This is important in any polychromatic image, but it can be more apparent when an image is monochromatic, as in many drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, and photographs. This is commonly the case in much sculpture and architecture too.


vignette
-
An engraving, drawing, photograph, or the like that is shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definite line at the border.


W

wash
-
A thin, translucent layer of pigment, usually watercolor or India ink. Often it is the background of a picture, prepared using watery paint applied quickly using large, sweeping brushstrokes. A wet area of wash can be made lighter by blotting.


watercolor
-
A pigment for which water and not oil is used as the vehicle.


wood engraving
-
A printing technique similar to that of woodcut printing except that the surface of the block of wood from which the printing is done is engraved by the artist or craftsperson by cutting the image into the end-grain of hardwood rather than the side grain of softer kinds of woods. The print's design can therefore be more intricate than the typical woodcut.


woodcut
-
A print produced by printing from an inked block or sheet of wood that has been hand carved or engraved with an image. An artist or craftsperson cuts or carves the surface of a sheet or block of wood in a pattern they usually first draw directly onto the wood. When the pattern or image has been fully carved in negative reverse, ink is applied by roller to the surface of the raised wooden image. A sheet of paper is laid upon the full image area of the wood block and evenly pressed across the entire surface. It is then carefully removed revealing the image in ink as transferred from the inked wood surface onto the paper. This process can be repeated multiple times for either a predetermined number of impressions or until the integrity of woodblock’s surface breaks down from repeated use.



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