Art Definitions

Acrylic Paint: Acrylic paint is fast-drying, water soluble paint that is water-resistant when dry.  Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water) or modified with acrylic gels, media, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.

Artist’s Proof:  The term Artist Proof was originally used to distinguish the earliest stages of the primary inspection purposes.  Artists Proofs are outside the regular limited edition series, and are signed as an Artist Proof or AP by the artist. They were traditionally the property of the artist and were usually limited to 10-15% of the edition.  In today’s art market, the AP edition prints may be sold along side the regular limited edition prints at a slight premium.

Bronze: An alloy traditionally composed of copper and tin. It is harder than copper, more fusible and easier to cast. It is also better than pure iron and far more resistant to corrosion.

Canvas:  Fabrics that are prepared for painting. Available in panels, stretched on frames, or obtained by the yard.

Ceramics:  Used to describe the shaping, finishing and firing of clay.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA): Many artists use certificates of authenticity as a means of adding facts about an artwork, and to prove its authenticity. The certificate contains information such as title, medium, date, etc., which can possibly make an art buyer more comfortable with buying an artwork.  COA is a document that the art collector can hold onto, and use as proof of an artwork’s genuineness.

Chroma:  This is the intensity, or strength, or purity of a color. Squeezing paint directly from the tube to the palette is ‘full Chroma’.

Cibachrome / Chromograph:  A process where a photographic print can be made directly from a color transparency.

Collage:  Collage is from the French meaning “paste up”.  It is a technique of art production, where art is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole

Complementary Colors:  Complementary colors appear opposite to one another on a color wheel. The complimentary colors are red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.

Composition:  The arrangement of lines, colors and form.

Contrast:  Contrast is created by using opposites near or beside one another, such as a light object next to a dark object or a rough texture next to a smooth texture.

Diptych: A painted or carved work in two parts or panels arranged side by side.

Edition:  A group of identical prints made from an original.

Fine Art:  Describes the categories of art works that are traditionally considered aesthetically significant.

Gallery Proof (GP):  GP is a print made for gallery display purposes only, not for sale.

Gallery Wrap:  Gallery wrap is a method of stretching an artist’s canvas so that the canvas wraps around the sides of the stretcher bar and is secured to the back of the wooden frame.  A gallery wrap art piece typically is not framed.

Giclee: A giclee (zhee-CLAY) is an individually produced, high resolution, high fidelity, and high tech reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclees are produced from digital scans of existing artwork.   Giclees can be printed on a variety of media, from canvas to watercolor paper to vinyl, to transparent acetates. Giclees are superior to traditional lithography in nearly every way. The colors are brighter; they last longer, and are very high resolution, which allows for ‘continuous tone’, rather than tiny dots.

Hand Embellished: Also known as Hand Accenting, Hand Highlighting or Uniquing. The Artist will “unique” the painting by adding hand-painted highlights to the art.  This will give the reproduction a more textured appearance.

Hand Signed:  The artist signs the print by hand.

Highlight:  An area or a spot in a drawing, painting, or photograph that is strongly illuminated.  Artist will sometimes emphasize these areas on a reproduction by using paint.

Limited Edition:  A limited edition is created when a finite number of reproductions are made from a single master image.  The editions usually bear numbers or markings to indicate the maximum number of allowable prints.  Generally speaking, all images in the limited edition are hand-signed by the artist and numbered.  This signifies the artist’s approval of all aspects of the creation and quality of the piece of art.  Once the edition is sold out, no more prints of that image can be produced in the same medium/size, as disclosed by the COA.

Lithograph:  A lithograph is a print based on utilizing a series of plates and traditional 4 ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to render an image onto paper.

Lost-Wax Process:  The process by which a duplicate metal sculpture (often silver, gold, brass, or bronze) is cast from an original sculpture by pouring molten metal into a mold that has been created by means of a wax model. Once the mold is made, the wax model is melted and drained away. A hollow core can be affected by the introduction of a heatproof core that prevents the molten metal from totally filling the mold.

Medium:  A medium in art may refer to one of two definitions. A medium may refer to the type of material used to create artwork. In this sense, no limits exist on what defines an art medium. Traditional media, as well as any found objects used to create a piece of artwork, are considered an art medium.  Another definition of medium in art refers to substances added to different paints to achieve a desired texture or effect.

Mixed Media: Mixed media refers to a work of visual art that combines various traditionally distinct visual art media. For example, a work on canvas that combines paint, ink, and collage could properly be called a “mixed media” work

Numbering:   Artists signed and numbered their works starting back in the late eighteen hundreds as a way to promote and preserve their rights as the artist of those works.  They are signed with two numbers such as 3/450. This indicates that there are only 450 prints in the edition and that particular print is the 3rd one in the edition.

Offset Lithography:  Offset lithography is a modern version of the old stone lithograph technique.  Today the image is rendered photographically onto metal plates and treated so that only specific areas will retain the color. Next the paper is run through the printer that picks up a differently color at each plate.  This material process is done on 100 percent acid-free paper.  With offset lithography there is virtually no variance from the first print or the last. In contrast, the old stone lithography method exhibits a good deal of variety between prints, with later prints losing definition.

Oil Paint:  A definition by Winsor & Newton state: “Oils are one of the great classic media, and have dominated painting for five hundred years. They remain popular for many reasons: their great versatility, offering the possibility of transparency and opacity in the same painting; the lack of color change when the painting dries; and ease of manipulation.”

Open Edition: An edition that does not have a pre-determined number of prints

Original: Refers to a one-of-a-kind work of art, considered to be authentic examples of the works of an artist.   A “published original” is an original piece of art that has been reproduced into an edition or as series of prints.

Painting Knife / Palette Knife:  A trowel-type flexible knife that is used by artists in addition to or instead of a brush.

Parian II:  Parian II is a new, high technology material that is less expensive than hand carved marble, yet allows a classical interpretation of an original sculpture. Parian II creates a warm smooth sculpture that looks and feels as durable as marble.  Generally speaking, it is a combination of crushed marble and crushed porcelain.

Perspective:  Perspective is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as paper), of an image as the eye sees it. The two most characteristic features of perspective are objects that are drawn smaller as their distance from the observer increases and foreshortened, where the size of an object’s dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight

Pigment:  A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption.  Pigments are used for coloring paint.

Raku:  This method of firing pottery results in irregular surfaces and colors. The pottery is removed when it is red hot. It is then placed in a bed of combustible materials and covered.

Remarque: A Remarque is a small, personalized drawing or symbol that an artist adds on a print. The presence of a Remarque may increase the print’s value.

Serigraph: Serigraphy (also referred to as ‘silkscreen’ or ‘screen-print’) is a color stencil printing process in which a special paint is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Areas that do not print are blocked with photosensitive emulsion that has been exposed with high intensity arc lights. A squeegee is pulled from back to front, producing a direct transfer of the image from screen to paper. A separate stencil is required for each color and one hundred colors or more may be necessary to achieve the desired effect. A serigraph differs from other graphics in that its color is made up of paint films rather than printing ink stains. This technique is extremely versatile, and can create effects similar to oil color, transparent washes as well as gouache and pastel.

Signed & Numbered: Limited editions are signed by the artist and then numbered with the edition size on the bottom.

Suite: A Series of paintings, drawings or prints linked by a common theme.

Triptych: A painted or carved work in three parts, arranged side by side.

Uniquing: Also known as Hand Accenting or Hand Embellishing: Artist will “unique” or go back to the painting and add hand-painted highlights to the art.  This will give the reproduction a more textured appearance. Generally the Artist will add the paint to the areas that need to be highlighted to make the piece “pop” when viewed.

Veneer:  a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material.