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the attempts by any artist, craftsperson, shaman, or any human to put their mark on something, to announce their existence in the world

Visual Literacy

being educated in the language and terminology of the visual arts


The art of evaluating or analyzing with knowledge and propriety works of art or literature; to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly

Two-Dimensional (2-D)

Height by width; a flat surface

Three-Dimensional (3-D)

Height by width by depth

Picture Plane

The flat, two-dimensional surface of a work of art, the "window"

Pictorial Depth

The aspect of composition on a two-dimensional plane in which a three-dimesional space is depicted. The illusion of depth on a 2-D suface.


The organization or arrangement of the formal elements in a work of art


Any materials used to create a work of art-the paint, pastel, graphite, clay, paper, bronze, etc.

3 Components of Art

Form, Content, & Process


The literal shape, mass, appearance, and look, of an object or figure.How the materials come together to make a work of art


The meaning of an image beyond its subject matter


How the work was created, the materials and media used (the paint, pastels, clay, bronze, paper, etc.) Also, the techniques and skills used to create work.

Subject Matter

Literally the subject of an artwork-what the work is about


In any kind of creative endeavor, it is the story of what is being depicted, sung, described, written about


The rendering of images and objects in a stylized or simplified way, yet they remain recognizable; the formal or expressive aspects are emphasized


The quality or state of being the "truth". In the visual arts, this means that something looks life-like, or "real".


The quality that makes a work of art appear close to or resemble the natural world-it looks 'real' whatever that is. In general, this term is synonymous with representational.


Resembles something from the natural and visual world around us, that is, the world of natural appearance.


An artwork that is realist also resembles the natural world, but once again, realism is a general term and exists on a continuum.


Artists have their own unique manner of visual expression that is distinct from others


The use of symbols to represent the invisible, intangible, or abstract


an area of art history that involves the study and interpretation of images and symbols. Every culture is different and must be viewed within the context of the culture


Emphasizes the emotional and psychological content of the work. In general, to do this, artists often distort and personally interpret the formal tools like line and color

Mixed Media

Ex. if art is a 3-D paper sculpture that is painted and drawn on to make more interesting

Found Objects

Any sort of natural or manufactured object that is not made by the artist but found by them and put into their artwork


Pertaining to the study and appreciation of the beautiful, and by extension, to the appreciation of any form of art. these are shaped by experience, culture, time, and place

Formal Elements

The visual tools an artist uses to create a work of art

Formal Analyze

Literally, analyzing the form of the art work. taking inventory of all the tools used by an artist

Studio Art

The production of art

Art History

Considering art & creative production from a historical point of view; drawing conclusions about artworks that are related culturally in time & place

Art Criticism

Objectively considering the successes and/or failures of a work of art and judging it as successful

Art Appreciation

Studying the jargon and language attached to the making of artworks. learning how to critically view artworks and accept the successes and weaknesses


A mark left by a moving point, actual or implied, and varying in direction, thickness, and density. Is the most basic tool available to an artist, sculptor, or architect

Focal Point

area of emphasis


Direct the eye into and through the composition

Framing Device

frame the composition in some way


Parallel lines placed close together or far apart to create the illusion of darkness or lightness


Placing lines at cross-angles to each other to build up areas of darkness


The edge of a shape or figure depicted by an actual line drawn or painted on a flat 2-D surface

Contour Lines

The perceived line that marks the border of an object in space

Line Duties

Define form, create focal point, framing device, directional, and stops the eye.

Vertical Lines

Demonstrate strength, they're stable, they're a visual stopping point, in a sense they are inactive, they are direct, and they are the position of life (upright & life-affirming)

Horizontal Lines

Are constantly moving, they are full of energy, they are unstable, they move the eye (perhaps pull it) quickly through a composition, and they are emotional and dramatic because they are constantly moving

Implied Lines

Is not a literal line, but one that is composed of multiple elements arranged to suggest a line

Elements of Art

Line, color, shape & mass, space, value/light, texture, pattern, and time & motion

Principles of Design

balance, emphasis & focal point, scale & proportion, repetition & rhythm, and unity & variety

Quick-Curving Lines

energetic, organic, can establish a rhythm to the composition, and move the viewer's eye throughout the composition.


is either implied (an illusion) or it is a real component in the artwork


In 2-D artworks, light is expressed as value which is the relative lightness or darkness in color or black and white


the manipulation of light & dark (shadow) to show dimensionality

Hatching & Cross-Hacting

A series of parallel lines & cross-parallel lines. In drawing (or printmaking, which is drawing on a hard plate), hatching & cross-hatching are ways that an artist builds up areas of shading to create form & dimensionality


Italian for " light and shadow." A technique whereby value (areas of light and dark) are used to simulate the effects of light and shadow on a 2-D surface


Occurs when white is added to color


Occurs when black is added to color


Occurs when grey is added to color


An extreme use of shading (chiaroscuro) used for the purpose to enhance, the drama, the tension, the seriousness, & the movement of a composition


a function of light (on light-sensitive film)

Film & TV

functions of light

Light & 3D Works

Light determines the way sculpture & architecture are seen by viewers and light can have symbolic qualities in connection to architecture

Artists Who Use Light as Their Medium

James Turrell, Cai Guo-Qiang, and Krzysztof Wodiczko

Aspect of Color

Hue, value, saturation, and temperature

Visual Qualities About Color Temperature

Warm, cool, and complements

Kinds of Palettes

Triadic, monochromatic, analogous, and complementary

Open Artwork

Broad range of colors from wheel

Closed Artwork

Limited range of colors


technique whereby the artist paints dots of color next to each other and the viewer's eye must mix them

Local Color

colors as they are in nature; an apple is red, a tree is green in the summer

Arbitrary Color

color as interpreted by the artist for expressive purposes

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