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.


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.