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Dictionary    painting and drawing
Whenever you need to check an art definition or find out about art techniques, our Dictionary comes handy! If you are baffled by art terms and cannot differentiate between C-type photograph and giclee print browse our online, free dictionary. We provide definitions in four different categories: painting and drawing; art styles; photography; sculpture and craft. Just choose the area you are interested in and search for explanations.
Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water), the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolour or an oil painting.
An airbrush is a small, highly precise spray gun used for applying paint. It works by passing a stream of fast moving (compressed) air through a venturi, which creates a local reduction in air pressure that allows paint to be pulled up from an interconnected reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure. The technique allows for the blending of two or more colors in a seamless way, with one colour slowly becoming another colour.
Brushes are made from a variety of fibres to create different effects. For example, brushes made with hog’s bristle might be used for bolder strokes. Brushes made from miniver, which is squirrel fur, might be used for finer details. Sizes of brushes also create different effects.
Charcoal is the blackish residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. It is produced by heating wood in the absence of oxygen, and a limited quantity is made up into the form of drawing crayons. Finely powdered charcoal is often used to "tone" or cover large sections of a drawing surface.
A collage is regarded as a work of visual arts made from an assemblage of different forms. For example, an artistic collage work may include newspaper clippings, ribbons, bits of colored or hand-made papers, photographs, etc., glued to a solid support or canvas.
Conté sticks or crayons are a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base, square in cross-section. It is most commonly found in black, white, and sepia tones and is frequently used on rough paper that holds pigment grains well. It can also be used on prepared primed canvases for underdrawing for a painting.
A crayon is a stick of colored wax, charcoal, chalk, or other material used for writing and drawing. A crayon made of oiled chalk is called an oil pastel; when made of pigment with a dry binder, it is simply a pastel. A grease pencil is made of colored hardened grease.
Decoupage is the process of placing a picture onto an object for decoration. Often decoupage causes the picture to appear to have depth and looks as though it had been painted on the object. The process is to glue a picture to an object, then adding more copies of the picture on top, progressively cutting out more and more of the background, giving the illusion of depth in the picture.
Digital collage is the technique of using computer tools in collage creation to encourage chance associations of disparate visual elements and the subsequent transformation of the visual results through the use of electronic media.
Egg tempera is a rapidly drying artists’ paint made by binding pigment in an egg medium. The techniques of tempera painting can be more precise when used with traditional techniques that require the application of numerous small brush strokes applied in a cross-hatching technique. The colors, which are painted over each other, resemble a pastel when unvarnished, or the deeper colors when varnished.
An emulsion is a mixture of two unblendable substances. One substance (the dispersed phase) is dispersed in the other (the continuous phase). Examples of emulsions include the photo-sensitive side of film. Emulsions tend to have a cloudy appearance, because the many phase interfaces (the boundary between the phases is called the interface) scatter light that passes through the emulsion.
Encaustic painting (hot wax painting), involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface - usually prepared wood, though also canvas and other materials. Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools; or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface.
Gouache is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. Gouache differs from watercolour in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and the presence of an inert white pigment such as chalk. This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.
An ink is a liquid containing various pigments and / or dyes used for colouring a surface to render an image or text. Pigmented inks contain other agents that ensure adhesion of the pigment to the surface and prevent it from being removed by mechanical abrasion. These inks are best when printing on paper because the pigment stays on the surface of the paper.
Oil painting is done on surfaces with pigment ground into a medium of oil. These oils give various properties to the oil paint, such as less yellowing or different drying times. The oil dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch in a day to two weeks. It is generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year.
Oil pastel is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. Designed as a relatively cheap, easily applied, colorful medium, oil pastels grant younger artists and students a greater freedom of expression than the expensive chalk-like pastels normally associated with the fine arts.
Most artists paint in layers. The first coat or "underpainting" is laid down first, painted normally with turpentine thinned paint. This layer helps to "tone" the canvas, and cover the white of the gesso. Many artists use this layer to sketch out the composition. After this layer dries, one way the artist might then begin is by painting a "mosaic" of color swatches, working from darkest to lightest.
Pastel paintings, being made with a medium that has the highest pigment concentration of all, reflect light without darkening refraction, allowing for very saturated colours.
Pastel is an art material in the form of sticks, often consisting of pure pigment, the same pigment as used in producing all coloured media. A pastel is made by letting the sticks move over an abrasive ground, leaving colour on the grain of the paper, sandboard, canvas etc. When fully covered with pastel, the work is called a pastel painting; when not, a pastel sketch or drawing. Types of pastels include oil pastels, soft pastels and water-soluable pastels.
Pen and ink refers to a technique of drawing or writing, in which colored (this includes black) ink is applied to paper using a pen or other stylus. It may be used as a medium for sketches, or for finished works of art.
A pencil is a handheld instrument containing an interior strip of solid material that produces marks used to write and draw. The marking material is most commonly graphite contained inside a wooden sheath. However, charcoal can also be used. Coloured pencils employ pigments, including those used in oil and watercolour paints.
Varnish is a finish applied to wood or other surfaces in order to provide a clear, hard, durable, protective finish. Varnish is usually a combination of a drying oil, a resin and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are often, although not always, glossy. Varnish has little or no colour, and is transparent.
Watercolour is a painting technique using paint made of colorants suspended or dissolved in water. Watercolor paint is made of finely-ground pigment or dye mixed with gum arabic and glycerin or honey and to bond the colorant to the painting surface. This transparency provides watercolor its characteristics of brightness, freshness, and clarity of colour since light has passed through the film of paint and is reflected back to the viewer through the film.
Wood collages are a relative novelty in the world of collages. Wood collage art usually features pieces of wood, wood shavings and scraps, assembled on an empty canvas of plywood or wooden board. Wood collages offer remarkable depth, textural variety and have a stunning 3-D quality about them.