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relative size

the size of an object or figure in relation to others

implied motion

use of visual elements to create impression of passage of time

primary colors

red, yellow, blue


colors seen when closing eyes

tertiary colors

colors made from mixing primary colors

implied time

passage of time suggested by depiction of events that occur in a work of art

warm colors

red, orange, yellow; appears to be moving towards viewer


taking shape of a living organism

actual line

path made by a moving point

actual mass

physical mass of an object

implied line

a line completed by the viewer


creating illusion of depth through the use of light and shade

linear perspective

system of organizing space in two dimensional media wherein lines that are in reality parallel and horizontal


amount of space a 3-d work contains


surface character of materials experienced by touch

secondary colors

orange, violet, green


segment of spectrum of electromagnetic energy, excites eye and produces visual sensation

negative shape

shapes created by the space of a work

figure/ground relationship

relationship between the part or parts of work seen as what artist intended to depict

visual elements

line, shape, light, value, color, texture, space, time, and motion (plastic elements)

organic shapes

shapes found in nature

geometric shapes

shapes not found in nature, generally hard to explain/measure


painting: large area of one form or color, in 3D art: bulk of an object


without clear shape or form

implied mass

apparent mass of an object determined by use of forms or color

subversive texture

texture that is chosen or created by artist to foil our ideas of the object they depict


creating illusion of rounded 3D forms (modeling)

illusion of motion

work of art that suggests motion is in the process of occuring


lightness of a color as determined by extent of its mixture with white


lightness or darkness of a color

analogous colors

colors that lie next to each other on color wheel

contour lines

a perceived line that marks the edge of a figure as it curves back into space.

visible light

that segment of spectrum of electromagnetic energy that excites the eyes

isometric perspective

uses overlapping combined with parallel diagonal lines

positive shapes

objects of figures represented in works of art

value contrast

degrees of difference between shades of gray


degrees of darkness of a color as determined by the extent of its mixture with black

actual texture

texture of an object or picture as determined by sense of touch


edge of a shape or figure depicted by actual line drawn or painted

complementary colors

colors across from each other on the color wheel

picture plan

front surface of a 2-d work


in a work of art, an area within a composition that has boundaries that separate it from its surroundings

atmospheric space

illusion of depth through various techniques ex: texture gradient, brightness gradient, color saturation, use of cool/warm colors


spot or spots on a work of art of the highest value, usually white


illusion of space made by placing one figure behind another


application of media such as oils and acrylics so that an actual texture exists

cool colors

blue, green violet, recede spatially behind warm colors


black, white, grey, do not contribute to the hue of other colors

visual texture

simulated texture in a work of art

figure/ground reversals

shifting of viewere perceptions such that what at one moment appears to be figure becomes ground, vice versa


artist's creativity and ability to create art


any action resulting in a work of art


finished work of art


drawing or painting small dots in order to create shading or a dappled effect


another simple device to show depth


shading and drawing through use of intersecting sets of parallel lines


drawing or engraving fine parallel lines to represent shading

contour hatching

directional changes in hatching that define the prominent textures of the images being drawn


a change in form, shape, detail or appearance that makes an object different from others

extreme unity

a composition in which all elements are unified

visual unity

the unity in a work of art as created by use of visual elements


oneness or wholeness of a work of art

distortion of scale

an artist will intentionally manipulate the scale of an object depicted

golden section

mathematical formula for determining the relationship of the parts of a work to the whole

golden mean

principle that a small part of a work should relate to a larger part as the larger part relates to the whole


relative size of an object as compared to other objects, the setting, or people


design principle that focuses the viewer's attention on one or more parts of a composition


relationship of the size of the parts to the whole

radial balance

a kind of balance in which the design elements radiate from a center point

bilateral symmetry

mirror-type similarity between the sides of a composition

symmetrical balance

type of balance in which imagery on one side of a composition is mirrored on the other side (can be pure or approximate)

conceptual unity

unity in a work that is achieved by means of the relationships between the meaning and functions of the images

golden rectangle

rectangle based on the Golden Mean and constructed so that its width is 1.618 times its height

asymmetrical balance

type of balance that is said to exist when the right and left sides of a composition bear visible different shapes, colors, textures or other elements, yet they are arranged or weighted in a way that the impression, in total, is one of balance


orderly repetition or progression of the visual elements in a work of art

pictoral balance

distribution of the apparent or visual weight of elements in 2D art


distribution of the weights, masses, or other elements of a work of art to achieve harmony


similarity of form or arrangement on both sides of a dividing line

focal point

specific part of a work that seizes and holds viewer's interest

canon of proportions

set of rules governing the proportions of the human body as they are to be rendered by artists

actual balance

equality in amount of weight as in a sculpture


characteristic of works of art in which areas of composition are unequal in actual weight or pictorial weight

hierarchical scaling

the use of relative size to indicate the relative importance of objects or people being depicted


the design principle that focuses the viewer's attention on one or more parts of a composition


style of art characterized by portraying subject matter accurately and truthfully, 19th century

abstract art

characterized by simplified or distorted rendering of an object that has the essential form of nature of that object

nonobjective abstract art

the forms make no reference to visible reality


the organization of the visual elements in a work of art

non representational art

art that does not represent figures or objects


totality of whatever the viewer sees in a work of art

representational art

art that presents natural objects in recognizable form

figurative art

representing the likeness of human and other figures


a modern school of art in which an emotional impact is achieved through agitated brushwork, intense coloration, and violent, hallucinatory imagery


conventional meanings attached to the images used by the artist and an artistic approach representing or illustrating by using the visual conventions and symbols of a culture

formalist criticism

approach to art criticism that concentrates on the elements of design of works of art


all that which is contained within a work of art, the visual elements


a characteristic manner or mode of artistic expression or design


substance in a medium that causes particles of pigment to adhere to one another and to the support.


the coloring material of a medium


a surface on which a two-dimensional work of art is made; for example paper, wood or canvas.

dry media

includes the mediums of metalpoint/silverpoint, pencil, charcoal, chalk, crayon, and pastel.


drawing medium in which a silver-tipped instrument inscribes lines on a surface that has been coated with a ground or pigment.


rod-shaped drawing instrument with an inner shaft that is usually made of graphite


soft black form of carbon used as a drawing implement (from graphein, Greek for "to write")


form of carbon produced by partially burning wood or other organic matter; it can be used as a drawing implement


form of soft limestone that is easily pulverized and can be used as drawing implement


drawing implement made by grinding coloring matter, mixing it with gum, and forming it into a crayon


small stick of colored way, chalk , or chalk, or other materials that has a fatty or greasy binder. They used for writings and drawing

conte crayon

commercial drawing stick in varying degrees of hardness and in a range of black, white, and red earth colors

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