How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

88 terms

Visual Arts Vocabulary

STUDY
PLAY
abstract
little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically, and objects are often simplified or distorted
acrylics
quick drying paint used with water
additive
the process of adding or joining parts and visual elements together to create a work of art
analogous
closely related colors
art criticism
an organised system for looking at the visual arts
assemblage
a three-dimensional composition in which a collection of objects is unified in a sculptural work
asymmetry
a balance of parts on opposite sides of a midline
background
the part of a picture that seems to be farthest from the viewer
balance
the way in which elements in visual arts are arranged to create a feeling of equilibrium in artwork
collage
an artistic composition made of various materials glued on a surface
colour
the visual sensation dependent on the reflection or absorption of light from a given surface
colour wheel
a diagram of the spectrum used to show the relationship between colors
complementary colours
colors opposite one another on the color wheel
composition
the overall placement and organization of elements in a work of art
content
the representations, messages, ideas, and/or feelings expressed in a work of art
contour line drawings
drawing that represents the edges and ridges of a form
contrast
differences between two or more elements in a composition
cool colors
colors suggesting coolness, like blues, greens, violets and their variants
design
the plan, conception, or organisation of a work of art
distortion
the condition of being twisted or altered from a usual or regular shape
dominance
an emphasis of one aspect, characteristic or quality in an image in relation to all others
elements
sensory components used to create and talks about works of art
emphasis
special attention or embellishment on an element, characteristic, or object in a work of art
expressive content
content expressive of ideas and moods in a work of art
foreground
part of a two-dimensional artwork that appears to be in the "front" of the image
focal point
the place in a work of art at which attention becomes focused because of an element emphasized in some way
form
the particular characteristics of an artwork's visual elements
function
purpose and use of a work of art
genre
the representation of people, subjects, and scenes from everyday life
gesture drawing
the drawing of lines quickly and loosely to show movement in a subject
harmony
the principle of design that creates unity within a work of art
hue
the gradation of a color that defines its general classification as a red, blue, yellow, green, or intermediate color
intensity
also called saturation; refers to the brightness of a color
line
a delineation or fracturing of space in color or black and white
linear perspective
a graphic system used to create the illusion of depth and volume on a flat surface
maquette
a preliminary model, usually small
media, medium
referring to materials used to make a work, or works of art
middle ground
area of a two-dimensional work of art between the foreground and background
mixed media
an artwork in which more than one type of art material is used
monochromatic
use of only one hue or color
mood
the state of mind or emotion communicated in a work of art, through color, composition, media, scale, size, etc
motif
a repeated pattern, often creating a sense of rhythm
movement
the principle of design that deals with the creation of action
multimedia
computer programs that involve users in the design and organisation of text, graphics, video, and sound in one presentation
negative space
shapes or spaces that are or represent the areas unoccupied by objects
neutral colors
black, white, grey, and variations of brown
nonobjective
having no recognizable object or subject
oils
oil-based pigment with paint thinner or turpentine
one-point perspective
a way to show 3-D objects on a 2-D surface
organic
refers to shapes or forms not of geometric shape
pattern
a design, image, or shape repeated in a predictable combination
perspective
a system for representing three-dimensional objects viewed in spatial recession on a two-dimensional surface
point of view
the angle from which a viewer sees the objects or scene in an image
portfolio
a systematic, organized collection of artwork
positive
shapes or spaces in an image that represent solid objects or forms
printmaking
the transference of an image from one surface (plate or block) to another using ink
primary colors
red, yellow, and blue
principles of design
a design concept describing the ways in which the elements of an image are arranged
properties of color
the characteristics of color that are perceived: hue, value, and intensity
proportion
the scale relationships of one part to the whole and of one part to another
reflection
personal and thoughtful consideration of an artwork
rhythm
repetitive visual elements that achieve a specific effect
scale
relative size, proportion
sculpture
three-dimensional artwork to be seen either in the round or as a bas relief
secondary colors
colors that are created by the mixture of red, yellow, and blue
shade
a color produced by the addition of black
shape
a two-dimensional area or plane that may be open or closed, free form or geometric
space
the area between, around, above, below, or contained within objects
still life
a specific type of visual artwork representing one or more inanimate objects
structure
the way parts are arranged or put together to form a whole
style
a set of characteristics of the art of a culture, a period, or school of art
subtractive
artistic method accomplished by removing or taking away from the original creative material
texture
the surface quality of materials, either actual or implied
theme
a subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation
three-dimensional
having height, width, and depth
tint
a slight coloration
tone
color with gray added to it
two-dimensional
having height and width but not depth
two-point perspective
a visual system of representation designed to show 3-D objects on a 2-D surface
unity
a principle of design that connects a variety of elements of art and principles of design into a work of art with harmony and balance
value
lightness or darkness of a hue or neutral color
value scale
shows the range of values from black to white and light to dark
vanishing point
a point at which receding lines seem to converge
variety
a principle of art concerned with combining one or more elements of art in different ways to create interest
visual metaphor
images in which characteristics of objects are likened to one another and presented as that other
volume
describes the space within a form, such as that of a container or building
warm colors
colors suggesting warmth, like reds, yellows, and oranges
watercolor
a transparent pigment used with water

Flickr Creative Commons Images

Some images used in this set are licensed under the Creative Commons through Flickr.com.
Click to see the original works with their full license.