Abstraction A visual representation that may have little resemblance to the real world. Abstraction can occur through a process of sim- plification or distortion in an attempt to communicate an essential aspect of a form or concept.
Achromatic Black, gray, or white with no distinctive hues.
Additive system A color mixing system in which combinations of different wavelengths of light create visual sensations of color.
Aerial perspective The perception of less distinct contours and value contrasts as forms recede into the background..'lors appear to be washed out in the distance or take on the coTor of the atmo- sphere. Also called atmospheric perspective.
Aesthetics A branch of philosophy concerned with the beautiful in art and how the viewer experiences it.
Afterimage Occurs after staring at an area of intense color for a certain amount of time and then quickly glancing away toward a white surface, where the complementary color seems to appear. Allover pattern A composition that distributes emphasis uniformly throughout the two-dimensional surface by repetition of similar elements.
Alternating rhythm A rhythm that consists of successive patterns in which the same elements reappear in a regular order. The motifs alternate consistently with one another to produce a regular (and anticipated) sequence.
Ambiguity Obscurity of motif or meaning.
Amplified perspective A dynamic and dramatic illusionistic effect created when an object is pointed «irectly at the viewer.
Analogous colors A coloi scheme that combines several hues located next to each other on the color wheel.
Analysis A measure of the attributes and relationships of an artwork or design.
Anticipated movement The implication of movement on a static two-dimensional surface caused by the viewer's past experience with a similar situation.
Art deco A decorative style, popular in the 1920s, characterized by
its geometric patterns and reflecting the rise of industry and mass production in the early twentieth century.
Art Nouveau A late nineteenth century style that emphasized organic shapes.
Assemblage An assembly of found objects composed as a piece of sculpture (see Collage).
Asymmetrical balance Balance achieved with dissimilar objects that have equal visual weight or equal eye attraction.
Axis A line of reference around which a form or composition is balanced.
Balance The equilibrium of opposing or interacting forces in a pictorial composition.
Bilateral symmetry Balance with respect to a vertical axis Biomorphic Describes shapes derived from organic or natural forms.
Blurred outline A visual device in which most details and the edges of a form are lost in the rapidity of the implied movement.
Calligraphic Elegant, flowing lines suggestive of writing with an aesthetic value separate from its literal content.
Chiaroscuro The use of light and dark values to imply depth and volume in a two-dimensional work of art.
Chroma See Intensity.
Chromatic Relating to the hue or saturation of color.
Classical Suggestive of Greek and Roman ideals of beauty and purity of form, style, or technique.
Closed form The placement of objects by which a composition keeps the viewer's attention within the picture.
Collage An artwork created by assembling and pasting a variety of materials to a two-dimensional surface.
Color constancy A psychological compensation for changes in light when observing a color. A viewer interprets the color to be the same under various light conditions.
Color discord A perception of dissonance in a color relationship.
Color harmony Anyone of a nu.mber of color relationships based on groupings within the color wheel (see Analogous Colors, Color Triad, and Complementary).
Color symbolism Employing color. to signify human character traits or concepts. e
Color triad Three colors equidistant on the color wheel.
Color wheel An arrangement of colors based on the sequence of hues in the visible spectrum.
Complementary A color scheme incorporating opposite hues on the color wheel. Complementary colors accentuate each other in juxta- position and neutralize each other in mixture.
Composition The overall arrangement and organization of visual elements on the two-dimensional surface.
Conceptual Artwork based on an idea. An art movement in which the idea is more important than the two- or thre0/aimensional artwork.
Constancy effect An aspect of human perception that allows us to see size or color or form as consistent even if circumstances change appearances.
Content An idea conveyed through the artwork that-implies the subject matter, story, or information the artist communicates to the viewer.
Continuation A line or edge that continues from one form to another, allowing the eye to move smoothly through a. composition.
Continuity The visual relationship between two or more individual designs.
Contour A line used to follow the edges of forms and thus describe their outlines.
Cool color A color closer to blue of the color wheel.
Critique A process of criticism for the purpose of evaluating and improving art and design.
Cross-hatching A drawing technique in which a series of lines are layered over each other to build up value and to suggest form and volume.
Crystallographic balance Balance with equal emphasis over an entire two-dimensional surface so that there is always the same visual weight or attraction wherever you may look. Also called allover pattern.
Cubism A form of abstraction that emphasizes planes and multiple perspectives.
Curvilinear Rounded and curving forms that tend to imply flowing shapes and compositions.
Description A verbal account of the attributes of an artwork or design.
Design A planned arrangement of visual elements to construct an organized visual pattern.
Distortion A departure from an accepted perception of a form or object. Distortion often manipulates established proportional standards.
Draftsmanship The quality of drawing or rendering.
Earthworks Artworks created by altering a large area of land using natural and organic materials. Earthworks are usually large-scale projects that take formal advantage of the local topography.
Emotional color A subjective approach to color usage to elicit an emotional response in the viewer.
Enigmatic Puzzling or cryptic in appearance or meaning. Equilibrium Visual balance between opposing compositional elements.
Equivocal space An ambiguous space in which it is hard to distinguish the foreground from the background. Your perception seems to alternate from one to the other. .
Expressionism An artistic style in which an emotion is more impor- tant than adherence to any perceptual realism. It is characterized by the exaggeration and distortion of objects in order to evoke an emotional response from the viewer.
Eye level See Horizon line.
Facade The face or frontal aspect of a form.
Fauve A French term meaning "wild beast" and descriptive of an artistic style characterized by the use of bright and intense expres- sionistic color schemes.
Figure Any positive shape or form noticeably separated from the background, or the negative space.
Focal point A compositional device emphasizing a certain area or object to draw attention to the piece and to encourage closer scrutiny of the work.
Folk art Art and craft objects made by people who fave not been formally trained as artists.
Form When referring to objects, it is the shape and structure of a thing. When referring to two-dimensional artworks, it is the visual aspect of composition, structure, and the work as a whole.
Formal Traditional and generally accepted visual solutions.
Fresco A mural painting technique in which pigments mixed in
water are used to form the desired color. These pigments are then applied to wet lime plaster, thereby binding with and becoming an integral part of a wall.
Gestalt A unified configuration or pattern of visual elements whose properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts.
Gesture A line that does not stay at the edges but moves freely
within forms. These lines record movement of the eye as well as implying motion in the form.
Golden mean A mathematical ratio in which width is to length as length is to length plus width. This..atio has been employed in design since the time of the ancient Greeks. It can also be found in natural forms.
Go.lden rectangle The ancient Greek ideal of a perfectly proportioned rectangle using a mathematical ratio called the Golden mean.
Graphic Forms drawn or painted onto a tw~dimensional surface. Any illustration or design. ,
Grid A network of horizontal and vertical intersecting lines that divide spaces and create a framework of areas.
Ground The surface of a two-dimensional design that acts as the background or surrounding space for the "figures" in the composition.
Harmony The pleasing combination of parts which make up a whole composition.
Hieratic scaling A composition in which the size of figures is deter- mined by their thematic importance.
Horizon line The farthest point we can see where the delineation between the sky and ground becomes distinct. The line on the picture plane that indicates the extent of illusionistic space and on which are located the vanishing points.
Hue A property of color defined by distinctions within the visual spectrum or color wheel . Red,blue ,, yellow, and green are examples of hue names.
Idealism An artistic theory in which the world is not reproduced as it is, but as it should be. All flaws, accidents, and incongruities of the visual world are corrected.
Illustration A picture created to clarify or accompany a text.
Imbalance Occurs when opposing or interacting forms are out of equilibrium in a pictorial composition.
Impasto A painting technique in which pigments are applied in thick layers or strokes to create a rough three-dimensional paint surface on the two-dimensional surface.
Implied line An invisible line created by positioning a series of points so that the eye will connect them and thus create movement across the picture plane.
Impressionism An artistic style that sought to recreate the artist's perception of the changing quality of light and color in nature.
Informal balance Synonymous with asymmetrical balance. It gives a less rigid, more casual impression.
Installation A mixed-media artwork that generally takes into account the environment in which it is arranged. -Intensity The saturation of hue perceived in a color.
Interpretation A subjective conclusipnregarding the me,,!ning, implication, or effect of an artwork or de~ign.
Isometric projection A spatial illusion that occurs when lines receding on the diagonal remain parallel instead of converging toward a common vanishing point. Used commonly in Oriental and Far Eastern art.
juxtaposition When one image or shape is placed next to or in comparison to another image or shape.
Kinesthetic empathy A mental process in which the viewer con~ sciously or unconsciously recreates or feels an action or motion he or she only observes. ,
Kinetic Artworks that actually move or have moving parts.
Legato A connecting and flowing rhythm.
Line A visual ele~ent of length. It can be created by setting a point in motion.
Line quality Anyone of a number of characteristics ofline deter- mined by its weight, directio~ uniformity, or other features.
Linear perspective A spatial tem used in two-dimensional artworks to create the illusion of space. It is based on the perception that if parallel lines are extended to the horizon line, they appear to converge and meet at a common point, called the vanishing point.
Lines of force Lines that show the pathway of movement and add strong visual emphasis to a suggestion of motion.
Local color The identifying color perceived in ordinary daylight. Lost-and-found contour A description of a form in which an object is revealed by distinct contours in some areas whereas other edges simply vanish pr dissolve into the ground.
Mandala A radial concentric organization of geometric shapes and images commonly used in Hindu and Buddhist art.
Medium The tools or materials used to create an artwork.
Minimalism An artistic style that stresses purity of form above subject matter, emotion, or other extraneous elements.
Mixed media The combination of two or more different media in a single work of art.
Module A specific measured area or standard unit.
Monochromatic A color scheme using only one hue with varying degrees of value or intensity.
Montage A recombination of imag~sfrom different sources to form a new picture.
Multiple image A visual device used to suggest the movement that occurs when a figure is shown in a sequence of slightly overlapping poses in which each successive position suggests movement from the prior position.
Multiple perspective A depiction of an object tha~ incorporates several points of view.
Multipoint perspective A system of spatial illusion with different vanishing points for different sets of parallel lines,
Naturalism The skillful representation of the visual image, forms,
and proportions as seen in nature with an illusion of volume and three-dimensional space.
Negative space Unoccupied areas or empty space surrounding the , objects or figures in a composition.
Nonobjective A type of artwork with absolutely no reference to, or representation of, the natural world. The artwork is the reality.
Objective Having to do with reality and fidelity to perception.
One-point perspective A system of spatial illusion in two , dimensional art based on the convergence of parallel lines to a common vanishing point usually on the horizon.
Op Art A style of art and design that emphasizes optical phenomena. Opaque A surface impenettable by light.
Open form The placement of elements in a composition so that they are cut off by the boundary of the design. This implies that the picture is a partial view of a larger scene.
Optical mixture Color mixture created by the eye as small bits of color are perceived to blend and form a mixture.
Overlapping A device for creating an illusion of depth in which some shapes are in front of and partially hide or obscure others.
Pattern The repetition of a visual element or module ina xegula:rand anticipated sequence.
Picture plane The two-dimensional surface on which shapes are organized into a composition.
Plane The two-dimensional surface of a shape.
Pointillism A system of color mixing (used in~inting and drawing) based on the juxtaposition of small bits of pure color. Also called divisionism (see Optical mixture).
Pop art An artinovement originating in the 1960s that sought inspiration from everyday popular culture and the techniques of commercial art.
Positive shape Any shape or object distinguished from the back- ground.
Primary colors The three colors from which all other colors theo- retically can be mixed. The primaries of pigments are traditionally presented as red, yellow, and blue, whereas the primaries of light are red, blue, and green.
Progressive rhythm Repetition of shape that changes in a regular pattern.
Proportion Size measured against other elements or against a mental norm or standard.
Proximity The degree of closeness in the placement of elements.
Psychic line A mental connection between two points or elements. This occurs when a figure is pointing or looking in a certain direction, which causes the eye to follow toward the intended focus.
Radial balance A composition in which all visual elements are balanced around and radiate from a central point.
Realism An approach to artwork based on the faithful reproduction
of surface appearances with a fidelity to visual perception. "
Rectilinear Composed of straight lines. .
Repeated figure A compositional device in which a recognizable figure appears within the same composition in different positions and situations so as to relate a narrative to the viewer.
Repetition Using the same visual element over again within the same composition.
Representational An image suggestive of the appearance of an object that actually exists.
Rhythm An element of design based on the repetition of recurrent motifs.
Saturation See Intensity.
Secondary color A mixture of any two primary colors. Shade A hue mixed with black.
Shading Use of value in artwork.
Shape A visually perceived area created either by an enclosing line or by color and value changes defining the outer edges.
Silhouette The area between the contours of a shape.
Simultaneous contrast The effect created by two complementary colors seen in juxtaposition. Each color seems more intense in this context.
Site specific A work of art in which the content and aesthetic value is dependent on the artwork's location.
Spectrum The range of visiqle color created when white light is passed through a prism.
Staccato Abrupt changes and dynamic contrast within the visual rhythm.
Static Still, stable, or unchanging.
Subject The content of an artwork.
Subjective Reflecting a personal bias.
Subtractive system A color mixing system in which pigment (physical substance) is combined to create visual sensations of color. Wavelengths of light absorbed by the substance are subtracted, and the reflected wavelengths constitute the perceived color. .
Suprematism A Russian art movement of the early 20thcentury that emphasized nonobjective form.
Surrealism An artistic style that stresses fantastic and subconscious approaches to art making and often results in images that cannot be rationally explained.
Symbol An element of design that communicates an idea or meaning beyond that of its literal form.
Symmetry A quality of a composition or form wherein there is a precise corr,espondence of elements on either side of a center axis or point. "
Tactile texture The use of actual materials to create a surface that can actually be felt or touched.
Tertiary A mixture of a primary and an adjacent secondary color. Texture The surface quality of objects that appeals to the tactile sense.
Tint A hue mixed with white.
Tonality A single color or hue that dominates the entire color struc- ture despite the presence of other colors.
Tone A hue mixed with its complement.
Translucent A situation in which objects, forms, or planes transmit and diffuse light but have a degree of opacity that .does not allow clear visibility through the form.
Transparency A situation in which an object or form allows light to pass through it. In tWo-dimensional art, tWo forms overlap, but they are both seen in their entirety.
Triadic A color scheme involving three equally spaced colors on the color wheel.
Trompe l'oeil A French term meaning "to fool the eye." The objects are in sharp focus and delineated with meticulous care to create an artwork that almost fools the viewer into believing that the images are the actual objects.
Two-point perspective A scene that is viewed through an angle, with no objects parallel to the picture plane and with edges receding on two points on the horizon line.
Unity The degree of agreement existing among the elements in a design.
Value A measure of relative lightness or darkness.
Value contrast The relationship between areas of dark and light.
Value emphasis When a light-and-dark contrast is used to create a focal poipt within a composition.
Value pattern The arrangement and amount of variation in light and dark values independent of any colors used.
Vanishing point In linear perspective, the point at which parallel
lines appear to converge on the horizon line. Depending on the view there may be more than one vanishing point.
Vernacular A prevailing or commonplace style in a specific geo- graphical location, group of people, or time period.
Vertical location A spatial device in which elevation on the page or format indicates a recession into depth. The higher an object, the farther back it is assumed to be.
Vibrating colors Colors that create a flickering effect at their border. This effect usually depends on an equal value relat1onship and strong hue contrast.
Visual color mixing The optical mixture of small units of color
so that the eye perceives the mixture rather than the individu.'\ll ~ component colors.
Visual texture A tWo-dimensional illusion suggestive of a tactile quality.
Volume The appearance of height, width, and depth in a form.
Warm color A color that appears to be closer to the yellow-to-red side of the color wheel.
Wash drawing A technique of drawing in water-based media.