When looking to purchase art, it is important to know the definition of art terms you come across so you can make an informed buying decision. As an artist who sells to the public, my goal is to provide the highest quality materials for my customer and I want you to recognize that I do that. You should be able to enjoy your treasure for years to come. My husband and I owned an art store for eleven years. We attended many trade show, did loads of research and, as a result, I have a lot of knowledge about the quality of art materials.
I hope you gain confidence and an understanding of art jargon when looking through the definition of art terms provided below. If you should have any questions about these or other art terms, please don't hesitate to email me.
Art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures. Abstract art seeks to break away from traditional representation of physical objects. It explores the relationships of forms and colors, whereas more traditional art represents the world in recognizable images.
Refers to paper that if infused in water yields a neutral or basic pH (7 or slightly greater). It can be made from any cellulose fiber as long as the active acid pulp is eliminated during processing. It is also lignin- and sulfur-free. All that means is the paper won't deteriorate over time. Over the past few years it has become a buzz word, especially in the Scrapbooking market. As an example, newspaper or newsprint is not acid-free and, therefore, yellows and becomes brittle as it ages, eventually disintegrating.
Refers to a liquid or gel substance used to change the consistency and degree of glossiness of acrylic paint. Many companies make these. I only use mediums from Golden Artist Paints. I have found their mediums to be the best for my process. There are many different types and you can learn more about them on their site: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/medsadds/index.php
A type of paint made with synthetic resin as the medium (liquid) to bind the pigment (color), rather than natural oils such as linseed used in oil paints. It has the advantage of drying faster than oil paint and being water soluble. I only use Golden Artist Colors for my paintings as they have the most lightfast, highly pigmented paints. Most of the time I use Golden Fluid Acrylics. You can learn more about their products at their site: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/color/index.php
After researching definitions on the web, I will share with you what I believe it means. An artist who is selling their work (that would be me) to the public (that would be you) has a responsibility to use the highest quality surface or ground (canvas, paper) and medium (oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, etc.) to ensure the work will stand the test of time. For instance, all paint is available in either a student grade or artist grade. You can tell which is which by the price tag. Student grade paint is just that - made for students who are learning and will typically use a lot of paint while honing their process. Student grade paint has more filler than actual pigment, which degrades the quality, mixing ability, and overall longevity. The pigment is what drives the price. Typically a tube of Cadmium Yellow will cost from $3-5 for student grade and anywhere between $9-28, depending on whether it is oil, acrylic, or watercolor.
This term refers to the ground or surface the painting is on. It is actual cotton duck or linen primed with gesso (a white oil or acrylic primer or ground) to provide a perfect painting surface; it is also available as unprimed. It comes in pads, boards, rolls, and on stretcher bars. Canvas also comes in different weights: 8 ounce up to 20 ounce. Available in standard pre-made sizes, artists also have the ability to create custom sizes by purchasing a roll of canvas with the needed lengths of stretcher bars or strips. Standard canvases have staples on the side that holds the canvas on the stretcher strips. Gallery-wrap is a term to describe canvases where the canvas is stretched to the back side so no staples show on the edges. I use a double-primed gallery-wrap canvas for most of my work.
A technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, such as newspaper clippings, photographs, theater tickets, or fragments of an envelop. Artist quality comes into play here. The type of glue or paste used can make a big difference in the longevity of the collage piece. Using white glue, glue stick, and such are Not archival (long lasting). All of my collages are made using Acrylic Matte Medium as an adhesive.
Gallery-wrap is a term to describe that the canvas is stretched to the back side so no staples show on the edges. I use a double-primed gallery-wrap canvas for most of my work.
The aim of an Expressionist IS to express emotions through the use of vivid colors and strong, distorted lines, rather than capturing a likeness or reality. Their work was characterized by intense and non-naturalistic colors, painted in a textural manner. A typical trait is to present the world soley from a subject perspective, distorting for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists seek to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality.
A ground is the surface on which you paint, usually a coating (such as gesso primer) rather than a support except when the support is paper. A ground can be any color, although white is the most common. To create a colored ground, color can be added to the primer or a layer of color applied over the priming.
The attribute of colors that permits them to be classed as red, yellow, green, blue, or an intermediate between any contiguous pair of these colors.
Illustration Board is only finished on one surface. An illustration board is intended as a surface for creating artwork that will be scanned or reproduced onto other mediums. It is available in different surface textures: hot press and cold press. Illustration board also comes in different thicknesses to meet differing artist needs.
A style of painting developed in the last third of the 19th century, characterized chiefly by short brushstrokes of bright colors in immediate juxtaposition to represent the effect of light on objects, where the forms, colors, or tones of an object are lightly and rapidly indicated.
The lightfastness of a paint color or pigment is how permanent it is, or how unaffected by light it is. The lightfastness rating printed on a paint tube label is an indication of the resistance a hue has to changing when exposed to light. Colors can lighten and fade, darken or turn grayer. The result: a painting that looks dramatically different to when it was created. If you want more information, try this link: http://painting.about.com/od/paintingforbeginners/ss/PaintTubeLabel_5.htm
A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition.
Refers to compositions which do not rely on visual references in the world. Abstract art, non-figurative art, non-objective art, and non-representational art are related terms, indicating a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art.
Oil paints are a type of paint made with natural oils such as linseed, walnut, or poppy, as the medium to bind the pigment. Oil paints dry slowly, allowing an artist time to rework and blend colors. Most oil painters use solvents to dilute oil paint, speed up drying time, and clean their brushes. Water-soluble oil paints are formulated to be used with water rather than solvent, making it a good alternative if allergic to solvents.
In the arts, it is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, with artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements.
Stretcher bars are the wood frame the canvas is stapled to. These bars come in different widths from 7/8" up to 3" deep or thick, with the thicker edges giving the canvas a real dimensional presence when hanging on the wall. Using thicker stretcher strips also gives you the option of not framing it which provides a contemporary, more modern look to the work. Wood stretcher strips do have the ability to warp, it happens. If you wish to have a custom piece that is much less likely to have warping issues there are other options available at a higher price point.
Gel Mediums offer many ways to build texture. They are used to create glazes, extend paint and change finishes. Gels are essentially colorless paint, as they utilize the same 100% acrylic polymers as acrylic paint. Gels are also excellent adhesives for collage and mixed media; they dry with excellent flexibility with chemical, water and UV resistance. I only use Golden Artist Colors products.
Varnish is a transparent, protective coating added to a painting when it is finished and completely dry. It protects against pollution (smoke, dust), abrasion on the surface, and fading through exposure to light (ultraviolet radiation). Varnish can be applied by brush or sprayed on. Varnish also evens out the glossiness of a painting, or can be used to give it a matte finish.
A special drawing paper with a surface texture suitable to accept watercolors; the better grades can withstand the harsh scraping that is sometimes necessary to produce highlights; for permanent painting, the paper should be 100% rag, not wood pulp. Rag paper is acid-free, wood pulp is not. Watercolor paper comes in different surface textures: smooth, cold press, and rough. It is also available in different weights from 90# to 300# being the most common.