65 terms

Visual Art Vocabulary

Glossary terms you need to use during your visual art analysis.
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abstract
artwork in which the subject matter is stated in a brief, simplified manner, little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically, and objects are often simplified or distorted.
art elements
line, shape/form, color, texture, space and value
balance
the way in which the elements in visual arts are arranged to create a feeling of equilibrium in a work of art. The three types of balance are symmetry, asymmetry, and radial.
color
the visual sensation dependent on the reflection or absorption of light from a given surface. The three characteristics of color are hue, value, and intensity.
complementary colors
colors opposite one another on the color wheel. Red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/violet are examples of complementary colors.
contour drawings
the drawing of an object as though the drawing tool is moving along all the edges and ridges of the form
composition
the organization of elements in a work of art.
content
message, idea, or feelings expressed in a work of art.
depth
distance from the nearest to the farthest point of something or from the front to the back
Design
the plan, conception, or organization of a work of art; the arrangement of independent parts (the elements of art) to form a coordinated whole.
Diagonal
the transverse or slanted orientation of a line, shape or form.
distortion
condition of being twisted or bent out of shape. In art, distortion is often used as an expressive technique.
foreground
part of a two-dimensional artwork that appears to be nearer the viewer or in the front. Middle ground and background are the parts of the picture that appear to be farther and farthest away.
emphasis
special stress given to an element to make it stand out.
focal point
the place in a work of art on which attention becomes centered because of an element emphasized in some way.
Geometric
describes mathematical shapes and forms like circles, squares, cubes and spheres.
harmony
the principle of design that combines elements in a work of art to emphasize the similarities of separate but related parts
functional art
art designed to be used at a tool or with a particular function (furniture, clothing, masks, etc.)
genre
the representation of people, subjects, and scenes from everyday life.
horizontal
the left to right or across orientation of a line, shape or form
height
the measurement from base to top or (of a standing person) from head to foot
intensity
also called chroma or saturation. It refers to the brightness of a color (a color is full in intensity only when pure and unmixed). Color intensity can be changed by adding black, white, gray, or an opposite color on the color wheel.
landscape
artwork with land as the main subject
illustrate
to explain through drawing or painting
line quality
the unique character of a drawn line as it changes lightness/darkness, direction, curvature, or width.
Media
plural of medium , referring to materials used to make art; categories of art (e.g., painting, sculpture, film).
mixed media
a work of art for which more than one type of art material is used to create the finished piece.
movement
the principle of design dealing with the appearance or creation of action.
middle ground
area of a two-dimensional work of art between foreground and background.
monochromatic
a color scheme involving the use of only one hue that can vary in value or intensity.
negative space
refers to shapes or spaces that are or represent areas unoccupied by objects.
neutral colors
the colors black, white, gray, and variations of brown.
nonobjective
having no recognizable object as an image. Also called nonrepresentational.
observational drawing skills
skills learned while observing firsthand the object, figure, or place.
one-point perspective
a way to show three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. Lines appear to go away from the viewer and meet at a single point on the horizon known as the vanishing point.
overlapping
to extend over a part of something else.
pattern
anything repeated in a predictable combination.
perspective
a system for representing three-dimensional objects viewed in space on a two-dimensional surface using foreground, middle ground and background.
point of view
the angle from which the viewer sees the objects or scene.
portrait
artwork with a person or people as the main subject.
positive
shapes or spaces that are or represent solid objects.
primary colors
refers to the colors red, yellow, and blue. All other colors can be created from primary colors
realism
a style of art that portrays objects or scenes as they might appear in everyday life, recognizable subject is portrayed using lifelike colors, textures and proportion.
reflection
personal and thoughtful consideration of an artwork, an aesthetic experience, or the creative process.
shade
color with black added to it.
rhythm
intentional, regular repetition of lines of shapes to achieve a specific repetitious effect or pattern.
scale
relative size, proportion, used to determine measurements or dimensions within a design or work of art.
secondary colors
colors that are mixtures of two primaries. Red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and blue and red make violet or purple.
self-portrait
artwork about the artist
sketch
a drawing without much detail, usually completed in a short amount of time; sometimes used as a rough draft for a later work of art.
still life
arrangement or work of art showing a collection of inanimate objects.
style
a set of characteristics of the art of a culture, a period, or school of art. It is the characteristic expression of an individual artist.
symmetry
balance created by making both sides of an artwork the same or almost the same.
tertiary colors
the uneven mixture of two primary colors or the combination of one primary color and the secondary color next to it on the color wheel.
texture
the surface quality of materials, either actual (tactile) or implied (visual). It is one of the elements of art.
three-dimensional
having height, width, and depth. Also referred to as 3-D.
transparent
able to see objects on the other side or through.
thumbnail sketch
a small sketch done to test or try new ideas for larger works of art.
unity
total visual effect in a composition achieved by the careful blending of the elements of art and the principles of design.
value
lightness or darkness of a hue or neutral color. A value scale shows the range of values from black to white.
vanishing point
in perspective drawing, a point at which receding lines seem to converge.
vertical
the up and down orientation of a line, shape or form.
value scale
scale showing the range of values from black to white and light to dark.
visual literacy
includes thinking and communication. Visual thinking is the ability to transform thoughts and information into images; visual communication takes place when people are able to construct meaning from the visual image.
Chinese Cut art
is the first type of paper cutting design, since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty in China.