Glossary A-D

A – D | E – G | H – J | K – M | N – Q | R – S | T – V | W – Z


Abstract Art – A style of art based on shapes and color, rather than a realistic rendering. 

Abstract Expressionism – American Art movement that took place after WWII that was expressed that paint was just paint on a surface.

Action Painting – A painting method that shows how the artist applied the paint across the picture. Also called Abstract Expressionism. A famous artist in this movement was Jackson Pollock.

Alla Prima – at the start, to complete a painting in one session.

Art Nouveau – An art movement from 1890 through WWI, consists of stylized subjects in decorative form.

Arts and Crafts Movement – An art movement that promoted decor and craftsmanship as equal to art.

Atomizer – a device that dispenses liquid into an aerosol.

Avant-garde – Any new extremely different art.


Balance – In art it is part of the composition. A balance in harmony.

Baroque – 16th century European art of the Baroque period. Generally depicted allegories through human form. 

Bauhaus – German art from 1919 through 1933. Founded by Walter Gropius. Playful shapes.

Box Easel – A generic French easel. It is a storage box with legs used to carry canvas and art materials. See French Easel. 

Broken Color – Similar to dry brush, broken color is the effect of a brush stroke that enables the color beneath the top color to show through in a rough fashion.

Byzantine – Eastern Roman art from 330 BC to 1453 depicting orthodox religion.


Canvas Keys – also known as Canvas Wedges, Painter’s Keys, or Canvas Inserts. They are used to stretch or tighten loose canvases by inserting the keys into the inside corner grooves of the stretcher bars.

Chiaroscuro – Italian word for light and dark. Art consists of extreme light and shade contrasts.

Classicism – Art that is true to classical art, using traditional methods.

Collage – Art that is created from other images and/or bits of materials that are pasted onto a surface to make an all together different image.

Color – the property possessed by an object that reflect or refract different wavelengths in the visual spectrum.

     See also: Color theories, color wheel, after images, broken color, color charts, color wheel, hue, value, illusion, lightfast, contrast, tints, shade, complementary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, color palette, pigment

Color Palette – A group of colors chosen by the artist to place on a palette. See also Palette, Pigment.

Composition – The arrangement of one or more objects within a painting.

Constructivism – A 1914 art movement that used industrial materials such as plastics and metal.

Contrapposto – Italian word for counterpoise. 

Cubism – An art movement from 1907 to 1914 that depicted fragmented viewpoints and perspective in basic shapes.


Dada – Swiss all encompassing art movement that began in 1916 by writer Hugo Ball. The works rejected and mocked traditional art and favored nihilistic art. 

Daniel Smith – Paint making company based in Seattle, Washington. 

Dead Layer – the layer in-between the color color layers and the   underpainting. This dead layer is generally black and white, which figures tend to look dead in this layer. 

Direction – The flow of a painting that leads the eye to follow a certain direction. 

Dry Brush – the use of a frayed brush to produce jagged color across the surface.