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[  glossary of terms  ]



Acrylic Paint: Paint consisting of pigments or dyes bound in an emulsion of acrylic, which is a colorless, transparent, thermoplastic synthetic resin made by the polymerization of acrylic acid derivatives. Acrylic paint is water soluble while wet and fast drying, but once the paint has dried, it is flexible and resistant to water. Acrylic paint was first made commercially available in the 1950s.

Assemblages (Sculptural Technique):  A contemporary technique of creating a three-dimensional work of art by combining various elements, especially found objects; may include elements painted, carved, or modeled by the artist. Originally coined in 1953 by artist Jean Dubuffet.

Black-and-White (Photographic Technique):  The art or practice of taking and/or processing photographs whose images are composed of gray tones, black, and white, and sometimes one hue, which may result from toning or aging.

Bronze:  Refers to a broad range of alloys of copper, specifically any non-ferrous alloy of copper, tin, and zinc or other trace metals. Bronze was made before 3,000 BCE -- possibly as early as 10,000 BCE, although its common use in tools and decorative items is dated only in later artifacts. The proportions of copper and tin vary widely, from 70 to 95 percent copper in surviving ancient artifacts. Because of the copper base, bronze may be very malleable and easy to work. By the Middle Ages in Europe, it was recognized that using the metals in certain proportions could yield specific properties. Some modern bronzes contain no tin at all, substituting other metals such as aluminum, manganese, and even zinc. Historically, the term was used interchangeably with "latten." U.S. standard bronze is composed of 90% copper, 7% tin and 3% zinc. Ancient bronze alloys sometimes contained up to 14% tin.

Canvas: Closely woven textile made in various weights, usually of flax, hemp, jute, or cotton, used especially for sails, tarpaulins, awnings, upholstery, and as a support for oil painting. Also used for a loosely woven, lattice like mesh made of similar material, used as a needlepoint foundation.

Ceramic:  Refers to any of various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature.

Charcoal:  Refers to an impure form of graphitic carbon that is created as a residue when carbonaceous material is partially burned, or heated with limited access of air. It is used as a drawing material, for filtering liquids or air, and for other purposes.

Chromogenic (Photographic Technique):  Photographic processes in which subtractive dyes form from the reaction of the oxidation product of the developing agent (resulting from the development of the latent image) with a coupler, contained either in the film or in the developing solution.

Clay:  Naturally occurring sediments that are produced by chemical actions resulting during the weathering of rocks. It is often the term applied to all earths that form a paste with water and harden when heated.

Collage:  Refers to the technique of making compositions in two dimensions or very low relief by gluing paper, fabrics, photographs, or other materials onto a flat surface. If heavy three-dimensional objects dominate, see "assemblage (sculpture technique)." If the constituent fragments form a somewhat unified image, see "montage."

Collograph:  Printing process in which the printing surface is created by gluing objects to a support; can be printed in intaglio or relief or can be blind printed.

Digital Manipulation:  The application of image editing techniques to photographs in order to create an illusion or deception (in contrast to mere enhancement or correction), through analog or digital means.

Digital Painting:  Digital painting is an emerging art form in which traditional painting techniques such as watercolor, oils, impasto, etc. are applied using digital tools by means of a computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus, and software.

Enamel Paint:  Made from oil, resin, varnish, or a combination of these, mixed with finely ground pigment; usually giving a glossy finish, but sometimes giving a semi gloss or flat finish.

Encaustic:  Technique of painting with pigments dispersed in molten wax. It is applied while warm to panels or murals with a brush or palette, and fixed by passing a heat source over the surface to fuse and permanently bond the paint. It is an ancient technique that was particularly popular in ancient Greece. The term derives from a Greek word meaning 'burnt in.' Although it fell into disuse in the 8th or 9th centuries C.E., there continue to be exponents of the technique today.

Etching:  Intaglio process in which the design is worked into an acid-resistant substance coating the metal printing plate; the plate is then exposed to acid, which etches the plate where the metal is exposed, to create lines and dark areas. For the single step of exposing the plate to acid, use "biting."

Fiber:  Material formed from either natural or synthetic filament or staple, characterized by flexibility, fineness, and a high ratio of length to width, from which thread, cordage, or textiles can be made.

Fiberglass:  Glass which is drawn into fibrous form and can be woven into cloth. It is strong, light, nonflammable and has a high tensile strength.

Gelatin-Silver (Photographic Process):  Refers to any of several photographic processes that use gelatin as the binder and silver as the final image material. Most commonly used on a paper support for prints, but may employ a glass plate (in which case use "gelatin dry plate process") or film as the support.

Glass: An amorphous, inorganic substance made by fusing silica (silicon dioxide) with a basic oxide; generally transparent but often translucent or opaque. Its characteristic properties are its hardness and rigidity at ordinary temperatures, its capacity for plastic working at elevated temperatures, and its resistance to weathering and to most chemicals except hydrofluoric acid. Used for both utilitarian and decorative purposes, it can be formed into various shapes, colored or decorated. Glass originated as a glaze in Mesopotamia in about 3500 BCE and the first objects made wholly of glass date to about 2500 BCE.

Graphite:  Naturally occurring crystalline form of carbon dimorphous with diamond. Graphite has a layered structure that consists of rings of six carbon atoms arranged in widely spaced horizontal sheets, and thus crystallizes in the hexagonal system, in contrast to the same element crystallizing in the octahedral or tetrahedral system as diamond, resulting in very different characteristics in each. Graphite is opaque, soft, greasy to the touch, and iron black to steel gray in color; it occurs as crystals, flakes, scales, veins, bedded masses, or disseminations in metamorphic rocks.

Ink:  A fluid medium used for drawings or tracings. An opaque, usually black, pigment is mixed with a vehicle such as water to produce a fluid which can be applied with a pen or stylus. Through the end of the 19th century, ink was supplied dried in stick or block form which was ground and mixed with water as needed. At the beginning of this century prepared ink became popular.

In-The-Round:  Sculpture in which forms are carved or modeled about their full circumference, as opposed to having forms projecting from or sunk into a continuous surface.

LEDs:  Semiconductor diodes that emit visible or infrared light when voltage is applied to them. They are most commonly used as indicator lamps in electronic devices or in automobiles. More recent applications include signage and illumination.

Linoleum-Block Printing (Linocut):  Printing process that uses linoleum mounted on a wood block as the printing surface.

Lithography:  Planographic printing process in which a design is deposited on the stone or plate with a greasy substance and the surface is chemically treated to accept ink only in the greasy areas.
Mixed Media:  Any combination of a variety of materials plus the associated techniques, used in the making of a single work of art. In printmaking, use when more than one technique, such as both etching and engraving, are used in one print. For the painting technique of laying oil paint glazes over tempera paint or tempera paint glazes over oil paint, use "mixed technique." For contemporary works that employ several distinct art forms, such as sculpture and music, use "multimedia works." For the concept that certain contemporary works merge known art forms to inaugurate a new type, use "intermedia."

Monotype:  A printing process that consists of painting an image onto a plate and then laying a sheet of paper on top to create the print. Only one impression can be made, although if enough of the original paint remains on the plate, subsequent prints can be made by reapplying the paint. These prints are called ghosts or cognates, and no two prints will be alike.

Mosaic:  A method of decorating surfaces with patterns or pictures composed of small, regularly-shaped pieces of colored durable material, such as stone or glass.

Needleworking:  Refers to any process or technique done with a needle and thread, such as sewing, stitching, smocking, quilting, and embroidery. In common usage, the term is sometimes used to refer to decorative work rather than plain sewing; however, to distinguish more decorative work from plain sewing, it is less ambiguous to use "fancy needlework" or a specific needlework technique, such as "embroidery."

Oil Paint:  A paint made by grinding pigments with a drying oil such as linseed oil. After 1940 alkyd binders were often added to oil paint to provide faster drying times.

Oil Pastel:  Oil paint in crayon, or stick, form.

Panel:  In art, the term refers to wood in the form of broad, thin, flat or sometimes curved pieces as, for example, with paintings on wood. In architecture and other constructive arts, use "panels (surface components" to refer to a panel, whether of wood or another material, that is typically a compartment of a surface either sunken below or raised above the general level, and set in a molding or other border, as in a frame, sometimes of different color or material.

Paper:  Refers generally to all types of thin matted or felted sheets or webs of fiber formed and dried on a fine screen from a pulpy water suspension. The fibers may be animal, such as hair, silk or wool, or mineral, such as asbestos, or syntheStic. However most paper is made from cellulosic plant fiber, such as from wood pulp, grass, cotton, linen, and straw.

Porcelain:  A type of ceramic ware made of a refractory white clay, or "kaolin," and a feldspathic rock, that react when fired so the clay serves to hold the shape of the object and the rock fuses into a natural glass. In China, it includes any such ware that is highly fired enough to produce a ringing sound when struck. In Europe, it is limited to hard-fired ceramic ware that is translucent.

Pastel:  Colored crayons that consist of pigment mixed with just enough of an aqueous binder to hold it together; used in drawing.

Raku:  Refers to the technique of making pottery of the same name to produce a variety of effects; derived from Japanese raku.

Relief (sculpture techniques):  Use to describe a surface that has been carved, molded, or stamped so that an image or design projects from or is sunk into a continuous surface.

Resin:  Solid or semisolid organic substance usually obtained from a plant secretion, but sometimes obtained from insects or made from synthetic material. It is soluble in organic solvent but not in water, and is commonly used in varnish, printing ink, and size. It is distinguished from "gum" by not being dissoluble in water.

Screen Printing:  Stencil technique of printing in which ink or dye is forced through a mesh, traditionally silk, on which a design has been formed by stopping out certain areas.

Silver:  Pure metallic element having symbol Ag and atomic number 47; a malleable, ductile, white metal with characteristic sheen, considered a precious metal. Silver is widely distributed throughout the world, occurring rarely as metallic silver (in Peru, Norway) but more often as silver-gold alloys and silver ore. Today silver is obtained as a byproduct in the refinement of gold, lead, copper, or zinc ores. Silver was smelted from the ore galena as early as 3800 BCE. As a pure metal, silver is second to gold in malleability and ductility, can be polished to a highly reflective surface, and used -- typically in an alloy -- in jewelry, coinage, photography, mirrors, electrical contacts, and tableware.

Steel:  Any of various hard, strong, durable, malleable alloys of iron and carbon, often with other elements such as manganese, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, copper, tungsten, cobalt, or silicon; widely used as a structural material.

Stone:  General term for rock that has been cut, shaped, crushed, or otherwise formed for use in construction or other purposes. Includes the specific archaeological and anthropological sense of individual stones which may be decorated or ornamented and which may be used in ritual contexts. These are usually not carved or dressed, and so differ from sculptures made from stone.

Tapestry:  Refers to the process used to create tapestries, which are heavy, woven textiles characterized by ornamental or pictorial designs and used as wall hangings, curtains, upholstery, or to hang from windows or balconies. The process is performed on a tapestry loom and differs from cloth-weaving in that the weft travels only to the warp at the edge of a particular color or pattern in the design, rather traveling from edge to edge of the entire piece of fabric. Various techniques are used in mixing and overlaying colors to create shading and patterns. Details of the design are often painted or embroidered.

Tempera:  Paint formed of an emulsion of fatty and watery constituents. The standard emulsion is usually created with egg yolk and water, with variants of man-made emulsions created with whole egg, linseed oil, casein glue, gum, or wax.

Terracotta:  A baked or semi-fired material that is usually a mixture of clay, grog, and water; it has been used for pottery, statuettes, lamps, roof tiles, and cornices since ancient times. It may be glazed prior to firing. To produce an item, terracotta is molded or shaped, dried for several days then fired to at least 600 C. It is fireproof, lighter in weight than stone, and usually brownish red in color.

Watercolor:  A transparent aqueous based paint produced by mixing ground pigments with water and, generally, gum arabic. Aqueous based paints made with vegetable gum binders were used by Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artists for wall paintings. Japanese and Chinese painters extensively used watercolor paints on silk panels and delicate paper scrolls. In the 16th through18th century, watercolor paints were used for miniature illustrations on porcelain, ivory, cards, books and manuscripts. By the 18th and early 19th centuries, watercolors rapidly increased in popularity due to the availability of small cakes of watercolor paints in metal pans, usually applied to a paper support by using a brush.

Wood:  The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

Wax:  Any solid or semi-solid substance that is slightly greasy to touch, usually solid, translucent, and has a low melting point; waxes are not a chemically homogeneous group. Waxes are composed of long chain hydrocarbon compounds, and may contain esters of fatty acids and alcohols, are thermoplastic and melt at low temperatures of between 40 and 100 C. In general, waxes are water-repellent, smooth, soluble in organic solvents, and classified as animal (e.g., beeswax), vegetable (e.g., bayberry), mineral (e.g., paraffin), or synthetic (e.g., polyethylene). Waxes are used for polishes, candles, crayons, sealants, coatings, adhesives, waterproofing, carbon paper, media in encaustic and wax emulsion paintings, and as repellents in wax-resist watercolor paintings.

Weaving:  Generally, the process of interlacing strands or strips of various materials, such as cane, textile, or twigs, to make materials or objects such as wicker, cloth, baskets, or wreaths. Specifically used for the process of making textile on a loom or other weaving device by interlacing warp and weft in a particular order.

Woodcut:  A relief process in which the design is cut into and printed from the plank side of a wood block; distinct from "wood engraving (process)," which is a relief process using the grain end of a wood block.


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