Definitions for Art
In order for the layman to understand what type of art
was produced by the New Deal artists, I have included this page of definitions
of common art terms. Most of these definitions are from Artlex.com.
An intaglio, etching, and tonal printing process in which a porous
ground allows acid to penetrate to form a network of small dots in the
plate, as well as the prints made by this process. Aquatints often resemble
wash drawings. Any pure whites are stopped out entirely before etching
begins, then the palest tints are bitten and stopped out, and so on as
in etching. This process is repeated 20 to 30 times until the darkest tones
(deepest recesses in the plate) are reached.
A French term meaning "low-raised work." This art, along
with high relief, is known collectively as relief sculpture-- meant to
be seen primarily from one direction-- as opposed to sculpture which is
in the round or full round.
- Casein paint:
A paint much like opaque watercolor in which casein-- a milk glue--
is its binder. Casein is a white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated
from milk by rennin. Casein is the basis of cheese, and is used to make
plastics, adhesives, and foods, as well as paint. Casein paint can be used
on paper or board for light impasto, for underpainting, wall decoration,
etc. Casein paint is too inflexible for use on canvas. It dries quickly
with a waterproof surface, and may be varnished.
To form (molten metal, or liquid plaster or plastic, for example)
into a three-dimensional shape by pouring into a mold; or something formed
by this means. Also, an impression formed in a mold or matrix.
- Dry Point Etching:
An intaglio printing process in which burrs are left on the plate
by the pointed needle (or "pencil") that directly inscribes lines.
A kind of etching which has a soft, fuzzy line because of the metal burrs.
Its disadvantage is that because such plates wear out quickly, editions
are usually limited to 50 or fewer prints.
- Egg tempera:
A watercolor medium used for permanent, fine works.
A vitrious, either transparent or opaque, protective or decorative
coating made from silica (a kind of glass) heated in a kiln or furnace,
and fused onto metal (usually copper or gold), glass, or ceramic ware.
It is often applied as a paste which solidify in firing as areas of color.
Also, an object, usually very small, having such a coating, as in a piece
of champlevé, cloisonné, bassetaille, or plique-a-jour.
A method of cutting or incising a design into a material, usually
metal, with a sharp tool called a graver. One of the intaglio methods of
making prints, in engraving, a print can be made by inking such an incised
(engraved) surface. It may also refer to a print produced in this way.
Most contemporary engraving is done in the production of currency, certificates,
An intaglio printing process in which an etching needle is used
to draw into a wax ground applied over a metal plate. The plate is then
submerged in a series of acid baths, each biting into the metal surface
only where unprotected by the ground. The ground is removed, ink is forced
into the etched depressions, the unetched surfaces wiped, and an impression
is printed. Also, both the design etched on a plate and an impression made
from an etched plate. Too often confused with engraving.
A method of painting on plaster, either dry (dry fresco or fresco
secco) or wet (wet or true fresco). In the latter method, pigments are
applied to thin layers of wet plaster so that they will be absorbed and
the painting becomes part of the wall.
A heavy, opaque watercolor paint, sometimes called body color, producing
a less wet-appearing and more strongly colored picture than ordinary watercolor.
Also, any painting produced with gouache.
In the graphic arts, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone,
usually made from crushed granite.
The collective term for several graphic processes in which prints
are made from ink trapped in the grooves in an incised metal plate. Etchings
and engravings are the most typical examples.
- Limited Edition:
The issue of something collectible, such as prints, limited to certain
number quantity of numbered copies. The first number indicates the number
of the piece; the second number indicates the total quantity in the edition
- Linoleum cut, linocut, or lino-cut:
A linoleum block or plate used for making relief prints. Linoleum
is a durable, washable material formerly used more for flooring as vinyl
flooring is used today. It is usually backed with burlap or canvas, and
may be purchased adhered to a wooden block. The linoleum can be cut in
much the same way woodcuts are produced, however its surface is softer
and without grain. Also refers to a print made with this method.
A generic term used to designate a print made by a planographic
process, such as an original lithograph done on a lithographic stone, or
a commercial print made by a photomechanical process. (Drawing/painting
with greasy crayons or ink on a limestone block, then moistened, then the
print is pulled by pressing the paper against the inked drawing)
- Oil paint:
Slow drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil, linseed oil
being most traditional. The oil dries with a hard film, and the brightness
of the colors is protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally
used on canvas.
A piece of artwork created by the artist that is the artist's idea
Pigment which is dispersed into a liquid, called a vehicle, which
includes a binder to make it adhere both to itself and to the surface to
which it is applied. Types of paint include tempera, watercolor, oil paint,
gouache, enamel, encaustic, fresco, lacquer, Oriental lacquer, and secco.
A print made from stencils. It was often used for the reproduction
of original color works. It was used in France by the most prominent artists
and craftsmen to produce illustrated deluxe portfolios, books, limited-edition
journals, and decorative and fine-art prints between 1895 and 1935.
- Prints and printmaking:
A print is a shape or mark made from a plate or block or other object
that is covered with wet color (usually ink) and then pressed onto a flat
surface, such as paper or textile. Most prints can be repeated over and
over again by re-inking the printing block. Printmaking can be done in
many ways, including using an engraved block or stone, transfer paper,
or a film negative.
A type of sculpture in which form project from a background. There
are three degrees or types of relief: high, low, and sunken. In high relief,
the forms stand far out from the background. In low relief (best known
as bas-relief), they are shallow. In sunken relief, also called hollow
or intaglio; the backgrounds are not cut back and the points in highest
relief are level with the original surface of the material being carved.
Commercially produced, Rowlux is a kind of plastic that has a multi-lensed
effect which gives an impression of motion and dimension from thousands
of minute parabolic lenses molded into the surface. These lenses create
shimmering patterns that can be remarkably three dimensional. Roy Lichtenstein
created collages using Rowlux.
A method of printing using hand cut or photographically prepared
stencil attached to silk or polyester fabric through which color is forced.
Also referred to as silkscreen or screen print.
A three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works
may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described
as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of
- Tempera and temper:
A paint and process involving an emulsion of oil and water. It was in use
before the invention of oil paints. Traditionally it involves an egg emulsion;
thus the term egg tempera. The pigments or colors are mixed with an emulsion
of egg yolks (removed from their sacs) or of size, rather than oil, and
can be thinned and solved with water. Also known as egg tempera and temper.
A varnish for tempera paints, called glair may be prepared by mixing egg
whites with a little water, then beating them, and applying once the bubbles
are gone. Because some of its ingredients are organic, tempera may spoil,
and get very smelly. Claims have been made that when any one of the following
substances are added, it reverses the growth of bacteria in tempera: benzoate
of soda, bath salts, table salt, soap or cleanser such as 409, alcohol
or bleach (one capful per gallon of tempera).
- Watercolor or watercolour:
Any paint that uses water as a medium. Paintings done with this
medium are known as watercolors. When made opaque with white, watercolor
is generally called gouache or bodycolor. Tempera is another exception.
Watercolor is the American spelling. Watercolour is the British spelling.
- Wood engraving:
A print similar to a woodcut (woodblock print) in that it is made
by cutting (engraving) a design into a block of wood. However unlike a
woodcut, the artist cuts the design on the end grain of hardwood rather
than the side grain of soft wood. The print's design can therefore be more
intricate than the typical woodcut.
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