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Art Terms


This is probably more than anyone needs to know about art but we're gonna tell you anyway! The Just Lookin' crew believes that knowledge is a good thing. Art buying can be very emotional - understanding the processes and 'language' is a great path to enjoyable and profitable collecting.

Styles, Movements, Genres & Art Subjects are in italic - Mediums & general terms are in bold. Click on - examples - whenever it appears with a definition and you will be able to see the style, medium etc. illustrated by art. Extensive definitions of hand-pulled printmaking techniques and terms can be found by clicking printmaking terms above or in any definition. We have included a section onframing terms to help (we hope!) de-mystify the elements that go into conservation/preservation framing. As always, your comments and feedback are important.

ABSTRACT (ART) - Nonrepresentational art. Not realistic, though the inspiration is often based on an actual subject, place, or feeling. Pure abstraction is art in which the depiction of real objects has been discarded in favor of patterns, shapes, lines and/or color. examples

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM - 1940's New York painting movement based on Abstract Art. Often referred to as NEW YORK SCHOOL. This type of painting is viewed as action or spontaneous painting since the artists typically applied paint rapidly, and with force to their canvases in an effort to show feelings and emotions.

ACADEMIC - Works of art done according to established, traditional ways. Mostly used now to denote derivative rather than creative work.

ACID FREE - Referring to a material with a pH of 7 or higher.

ACID MIGRATION - Transfer of an acid from an acidic material to a less acidic or pH neutral material, most often from one with which it is in contact. Since acid can cause certain material such as paper, and the mats, mounts, etc. with which they are framed, to discolor and to deteriorate, acid migration is one of the factors to be considered in planning the storage of various artifacts, especially textiles and works on paper.

ACRYLIC PAINT - Water-soluble paint made with pigments and synthetic resin; used as a fast-drying alternative to oil paint. Acrylic colors are water soluble when wet, but dry to an insoluble film and adhere to most surfaces. Colors are bright, dry quickly and are flexible. Acrylic paint is often used to mimic the look of oil paint.

ACRYLIC - Artwork executed with acrylic paint. examples

AESTHETIC VALUE - The value (worth) a thing or event has due to its capacity to evoke pleasure.

AFTER - done in the style of a particular artist by other than that artist. If the artist had no creation or supervision and had no involvement at all with the pulling of a limited edition, then each piece in the edition would be considered as "after" the artist. (it does not connote after the artist's death).

AGING - What Eileen has been doing rapidly since she & Bob started Just Lookin' or what can happen to your art if environmental conditions are not 'art friendly.'  Excessive temperature, moisture, humidity and light can all contribute to aging. Proper framing, display and storage will slow down the process.

AIR BRUSH - Method of spraying dyes or paints onto a surface using a precision brush device driven by an air compressor or an instrument, powered by compressed air, used to spray paint with delicate control and precision. Paint (usually a fine water color) is held in a small cup attached to the side of the pen-like instrument. Paint is drawn through the "brush" by the Venturi effect. The result is characterized by unbroken tonal gradations and a smooth even texture.

ALKYD RESINS - Fast drying synthetic pigments, most commonly a component of oil paints. examples

ANNOTATION - Words, diagrams, or arrows added to an image.

ANTIQUE – Objects created in a prior age, typically over 100 years old.

APPRAISAL – Evaluation of the monetary worth of an object

ANIMATION CEL - Clear plastic sheet onto which a drawing is copied, either by hand-inking or by a xerographic copier process. Colored paints are applied to the reverse side. One or more cels may be placed over a painted background, which serves as a setting for the action. In animated movies and cartoons, twenty-four cels are required for each second of screen time. Cel is an abbreviation for Celluloid (trademark).

APPLIQUÉ - design made by stitching pieces of colored fabric onto a larger piece of cloth. Appliqué is used for wall hangings and as decoration on clothing, quilts and pillows. (pr. ap'ple-kay") examples

AQUARELLE - The technique of drawing or painting with transparent watercolor, or a piece of work made this way. French for "watercolor."

AQUATINT - made by etching a plate to get tones like those in a watercolor. (See printmaking terms) examples

ARCHIVAL (QUALITY) - Designation for paper or inks of high permanence and durability. A non-technical term used to denote material that will last over long periods (several hundred years) with minimal deterioration because of its chemical stability and physical durability. Broadly used to describe materials that have the least harmful effects on the art being framed or stored and thus preserving such pieces for the longest period of time.

ARMATURE - A skeleton-like framework to give rigid internal support to a modeled sculpture. Such sculptures are typically of either clay or wax.

ARRANGEMENT - Order or composition. Also the components in a still life painting or drawing.

ART - Form of human activity created primarily as an aesthetic expression, especially, but not limited to drawing, painting and sculpture.

ART DECO - Art movement of the 1920s and 30s where artists used geometric shapes, intense colors and often distortion to create mostly decorative art. It borrowed elements from French, African, Aztec, Chinese, and Egyptian cultures.

ART MOVEMENT - Artistic style or attitude shared by a number of artists, usually breaking away from whatever the 'norm' was at the time. If one artist experiments with a new style, it is avant garde. If fifty artists experiment in the same way - its a movement. Art movements thrive for a limited time, usually until the next artist does something radically different and the next movement is born.

ART NOUVEAU – An art movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which emphasized that attention to detail was critical to an integrated work. Gustav Klimt's work is one example. Literally means “New Art.”

ARTISAN - a skillful craftsman. One skilled in an applied art.

ARTIST'S PROOF (A/P) - the first impressions printed (pulled) for the artist's approval so that the artist may make adjustments before the edition is printed. These are in addition to the standard edition and are often kept by the artist. These prints are also used to extend the edition beyond the original numbered run. Artist Proof works are marked AP either with or without a number that denotes how many were run .Artist's Proof Abbreviated "A. P." A portion of the total number of impressions or pieces in a limited edition are usually designated "A. P." Generally, the entire edition is pulled (printed) one color at a time, and only after the entire edition has been pulled, the artist will then sign and number the pieces. Consequently, artist's proofs are no different than any other impressions within the edition. Often, there is a false belief that pieces designated as artist's proofs are it worth" more or are more "valuable" than other pieces in the edition.

ASHCAN SCHOOL - Group of American painters and illustrators of the early 20th century, often known as The Eight. They were Robert Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, Maurice Prendergast, Arthur Davies, and Ernest Lawson. Their work depicted such subjects as the streets and inhabitants of big cities with a vigorous sense of realism.

ASSEMBLAGE - A technique of combining various elements into a three-dimensional mixed-media construction. Contemporary artists seem to be particularly fond of using 'found objects.' Among African American artists, Lloyd Toone is a master of assemblage.

ASYMMETRY, ASYMMETRICAL BALANCE - Asymmetry is when one side of a composition does not reflect the design of the other. Asymmetrical balance is the kind of balance (one of the principles of art) in which the parts of a design are organized so that one side differs from the other without destroying that composition's overall harmony. Asymmetry is the opposite of symmetry.

ATELIER - A workshop where an edition is pulled or printed. (from the French word meaning "studio", pronounced "a telyea".)

AUTOMATISM – Creation of a work of art randomly or mechanically, rather than by conscious design. Joan Miró is probably the best known artist of this genre.

AVANT GARDE - Term describing art that departs from the existing norm in an original or experimental way.



BARBIZON SCHOOL - French landscape artists who worked near Barbizon, France between 1835 and 1870.

BAROQUE - Extremely elaborate and ornate artistic style. This dynamic, theatrical style dominated art and architecture in Europe during the 17th Century.

BAS-RELIEF - literally, low relief. A sculptural relief technique in which the projection of the forms is relatively shallow.

BATIK - Method of dyeing textiles that originated in Java and spread to many African and Asian countries. Wax is applied to sections of material which are to remain uncolored; the dyes do not penetrate wax. After dying, the resist is removed, and the design appears in the original color against the newly colored background. Repeated waxing and dyeing results in colorful patterns. The lines typically found in batiks are produced by cracking the hardened wax before applying the dye. - examples -

BAUHAUS - School of German art and design founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. The idea behind the Bauhaus style was based on simplified forms and unadorned functionalism. Followers of the Bauhaus style believed that elegantly designed items could be made for the masses using techniques and materials now industrially available.

BEAUX-ARTS - Parisian school of fine arts that stressed the necessity of academic painting.

BENDAY DOTS - When viewed under slight magnification, a print that has been produced using a half-tone screen (offset lithos) will show a dot pattern. These benday dots are what give the various shades of tone and density to the print. If you have visited Just Lookin' these are what you were looking at through the loupe when we showed you various forms of printing. (Named for inventor, Benjamin Day, in the early 1900's.)

BITING - see Printmaking Terms

BLOCK - Wooden element used in making woodcuts and wood engravings.

BLOCKING - see Framing Terms

BRONZE - Alloy of copper and tin used for sculpture.

BURIN/GRAVER - see Printmaking Terms


C. or CA. - Circa: about or approximately.

CANCEL - Act of defacing the plate after the printing of a limited edition. This ensures that the plate can not be used again.

CANVAS - Heavy woven fabric usually of cotton or linen, used as a support for a painting. The surface is prepared for painting by applying gesso or rabbit skin glue. Interlocked or woven fibers used as the ground material for needle art. Plain woven cloth of natural fibers stretched taut over a frame. Usually primed before use. Also refers to a painting on canvas.

CANVAS BOARD - Common gray cardboard or pasteboard to which a white cotton cloth, prepared for painting, has been glued or pasted.

CANVAS TRANSFER - process which lifts the image on a print off the paper support so that it can be transferred to a canvas mount.

CARVING - subtractive method of sculpture which consists of removing wood or stone from a single block.

CAST(ing) - to form into a particular shape by pouring fluid matter into a mold and allowing it to harden, such as making a picture frame ornament. Reproducing in plaster, bronze, or plastic, an original piece of sculpture made of clay, wax, or similar material.

CASEIN RESIN - 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. It dries quickly with a waterproof surface, and may be varnished. (pr. kay-seen)

CAST PAPER - paper made by pressing the pulp into a die or mold used for casting or shaping, becoming a work of art in and of itself. These artworks are created from 100% cotton rag paper. This is the same material which forms water color paper or printmaking paper. In this case the paper is rendered into a pulp and cast into specially created molds. Also the resulting 3 dimensional bas relief works. examples

CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ - catalogue which chronicles all known works of an artist, along with pertinent details on each piece. Considered as the definitive source, providing details such as title, medium, date, print and image size, edition size, publishers and printers. Pronounced "res-o-nay."

CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY - Document intended to validate the origin of a piece. Certificates of Authenticity for print editions usually have data on the publisher, title, size, reproduction method and media, and the number of impressions in the edition. They may also have a statement about the work from the artist.

CERAMIC - Any object made of clay and fired. examples

CHARCOAL - A black crayon made of compressed charred wood used for drawing. Charcoal crayons are available in various degrees of thickness and hardness. examples

CHASED - Metal patterned (on one surface only) by striking with a hammer or other non-cutting tool. Often combined with repoussé to achieve greater detail.

CHIAROSCURO - Literally, 'light-dark.' The dramatic use of light and shade to create a mood or definition without obvious line.

CHINE COLLÉ - Small pieces of paper that are glued to a print in the printing process; added as visual embellishments. examples

CHROMO LITHOGRAPH - Colored lithograph, with at least three colors, in which each color is printed from a separate surface (stone or aluminum) and where the image is composed from the layering of those colors.

CHOP MARK(blind stamp) - Embossed stamp on a graphic used to identify the artist, printer or workshop. Most often visible in the lower right or lower left near the edge of the paper.

CIBACHROME - (photography) color photograph based on the silver dye-bleach system. The necessary colors (azo dyes) are built into the emulsion layers. These colors are bleached out where not needed during developing. Azo dyes produce more brilliant colors and have greater stability and resistance to light than any other current process. Ilford has renamed its process Ilfochrome.

CLEAR GLASS - made with a smooth or polished surface on both sides. It is not etched, coated or laminated.

COLLAGE - Artwork created by securing pieces of paper, fabric or other materials onto a substrate. Though basically two-dimensional, it may have a sculptural effect. An artistic composition of materials and objects attached to a surface, often with unifying lines and color. A work of art created by the process. examples

COLOR - Refers to the perceived qualities that result from the response of vision to the wavelength of reflected or transmitted light. Also describes images that have hues, as opposed to black, white and gray tones only and the processes used to make them.

COLLAGRAPH - A collage of materials which are sealed on a board and inked. It can be printed by inking the depressed area (intaglio) or as a relief by inking the raised areas.(prints & drawings) An intaglio printing process that uses a printing plate that has elements collaged to it. A collograph plate may also be used to make embossed prints.

COLLOTYPE - reproduction which, though made by a photomechanical printing process, is not broken up by half-tone screens so the resultant image is continuous tone. Color separation negatives are made from the original work of art, then are retouched to buildup the desired density and graduation of tones. The negatives are then exposed onto a light sensitive aluminum plate, and the plate is then run on a press. A separate negative and plate are made for each color (not be be confused with collograph).

COMMEMORATIVE - prints made posthumously from the artist's original plates. Limited edition items made to commemorate a specific date or event.

COMPOSITION - The art or practice of combining the different parts of a work of art so as to produce a harmonious whole. Also, a work of art considered as such.

CONSERVATION-CONCEPTUAL ART - Emerged as an art movement in the 1960s, art that is intended to convey an idea or a concept to the perceiver, rejecting the creation or appreciation of a traditional art object.

CONSTRUCTION -Constructivist Art (Constructivism) - Used to define a type of totally abstract (non-representational) artwork that is very ordered and often minimal and geometric in style. The principles of constructivism theory are derived from three main movements from the early 20th century. These early movements were idealistic, seeking a new order in art and architecture that dealt with social and economic problems.

CONTI CRAYON - Trade name of French crayons that are grease-free and very chalky in texture.

CONTRAST - dissimilarity between two or more colors. Value contrast is based on the relative lightness or darkness of the colors being compared; color contrast is based on their relative position on the color wheel.

CONTEMPORARY ART - generally refers to art which was produced during the secondhalf of the twentieth century.

COPPER - The metal used most often for intaglio plates.

COPYRIGHT – The exclusive right of an artist or other entity, such as a publisher, to use an artistic work. Copyrighted works are usually marked with the © symbol, the year, and the copyright holder.

CRAYON - Generic term for drawing stick. Usually made of a ground pigment in an oil, gum or wax medium.

CROSS-HATCHING - Fine lines used to shade or model. This technique is commonly used in drawing and engraving .Crosshatching consists of a series of parallel lines, crossed by others at right angles. See hatching.

CUBISM - revolutionary art movement between 1907 and 1914 in which natural forms were changed by geometrical reduction. Leading figures were Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. examples



DECKLE EDGE - Feathery edge of a sheet of handmade paper, caused by the deckle or frame which confines the pulp to the mold. Also present on some machine-made papers, caused by the rubber deckle straps at the sides of the paper machine. Deckled paper is less likely to warp than regular cut-edged paper.

DÉCOUPAGE - decoration of a surface by covering it completely with cut out paper forms. The process used in making collages.

DESIGN - selection and arrangement of the formal elements in a work of art; the expression of the artist’s conception in terms of a composition.

DIPTYCH - a set of two prints making one complete image.

DOCUMENTATION - artist's name, edition size, date of printing, etc. This helps to establish authenticity which is important to collectors. See Tirage

DRYPOINT - intaglio printing method. see Printmaking Terms


ECLECTIC - Used to describe a work or method of production that draws from a variety of traditions, styles or techniques.

EDITION - number of prints of a particular image. The number in the edition will be noted, usually in the margin, on each piece by the artist. (See signed & numbered)Edition: A limited number of impressions of a print. When the edition is complete, the plate or block is often cancelled by defacing it .Edition Refers to the total number of prints made from the same plates or screens, such as "there are 250 prints in this edition".

EDITION NUMBER - fraction found on the bottom left hand corner of a print. The top number is the sequence in the edition; the bottom number is the total number of prints in the edition. The number appears as a fraction usually in the lower left of the print. For instance the edition number 25/50 means that it is print number 25 out of a total edition of 50.

EMBOSSING - method of raising a design in relief on metal or paper. Often made by pressing printing paper into recessed areas of a plate or by pressing paper over raised areas on a plate to create a three-dimensional image.

EMULSION - (painting) In paint, this is the suspension of small globules of one liquid in a second liquid with which the first will not mix.

ENAMEL 1) A glossy substance, usually opaque, applied by fusion to the surface or metal, pottery, etc., as an ornament or for protection. 2) Any of various enamel-like varnishes or paints.

ENCAUSTIC - pigment is mixed with melted wax and resin and then applied to a surface while hot.

ENGRAVING - see Printmaking Terms

EPREUVE d' ARTISTE - French term meaning "approved by the artist. " Abbreviated as "E.A.", the French term for artist's proof.

ESSENCE - That quality which constitutes or marks the true nature of anything. Distinctive character.

ESTATE SIGNED - A piece produced with the approval of the estate of a deceased artist and signed with a facsimile of the artist's signature.

ETCHING - form of intaglio printing in which the lines of the design are drawn on the metal plate and then bitten (etched or eaten away) by acid. see Printmaking Terms examples

ETHNIC - Relating to sizable social groups sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage.

EXPRESSIONISM - a style of painting where the artist disregards traditional standards of proportion and realism while expressing his or her own inner experience of emotions by using distortion and emphasis. The artist's emotional response to the subject. examples


FACSIMILE SIGNED - photo-mechanically reproduced artist's signature applied to a print. These signatures look hand signed, but upon closer examination reveal a composition of tiny dots that are indicative of its unoriginal status.

FADE(ing) - To lose or cause to lose brightness or brilliance or definition of line, form and color.

FAUVISM - An early twentieth century art movement and style of painting in France. The name Fauves, French for "Wild Beasts," was given to artists adhering to this style because it was felt that they used intense colors in a violent, uncontrolled way. The leader of the Fauves was Henri Matisse.

FIGURATIVE (ART) - Work of art that represents the human form by likeness, imagery or symbol. examples

FOLIO - a flat container for holding/storing artwork

FOREGROUND - (painting) In linear perspective, the section of a painting that appears closest to the viewer. See also Perspective.

FOXING - Discoloration of paper by mildew of micro-organisms, due to dampness or bad preservation.

FRAME - That decorative or functional element which surrounds an item, providing protection and display functions. Typically made of wood or metal, a frame generally provides the architectural support element for a work of art.

FUTURISM - Modern art movement a celebration of the machine age, glorifying war concerned with expressing movement and the dynamics of natural and man-made forms.


GENRE - A form of realistic painting of people that depicts ordinary events. These paintings are not religious, historical, abstract or mythological.

GESSO - An underpainting medium consisting of glue, plaster of paris, or chalk and water. Gesso is used to size the canvas and prepare the surface for painting.

GICLEE - method of printing reproductions in which a computerized inkjet printer sprays ink onto the paper. Both the process and the prints are called giclee.You may also see these referred to as 'Iris' prints.

GOUACHE - A watercolor paint made opaque by the addition of white pigment or sizing. Unlike watercolors, gouache does not allow the whiteness of the paper to show through the paint (from the French term meaning opaque watercolor.) Also a painting done with such a medium. examples

GRAFFITI - A usually illegal work in a public place, such as a wall or bus, generally using spray paint. Graffiti's influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary artists, such as George Hunt, Justin Bua, and Keith Haring.

GRAPHIC - Work of art that is printed directly on a piece of paper from a block or plate. These are not copies or reproductions but 'multiple originals,' usually pulled by the artist directly. Serigraphs, etchings, lithographs, and all intaglio prints are graphics. Offset lithographs, giclées and reproductions of works produced by photo mechanical processes are not. see printmaking terms

GRAPHITE - Grayish-black, flaky and greasy allotrope of carbon. Favored for use in pencils. examples

GROUND - (painting) The surface to which paint is applied; or the coating material applied to a support to prepare it for painting.


HMP - Abbreviation meaning "hand made paper".

HAND-PULLED PRINT - A print that has been manually lifted from the printing plate.

HARLEM RENAISSANCE – An art movement of the mid- and late-1920s in New York's Harlem district, celebrating African-American traditions. Romare Bearden and Ernest Crichlow are members of the Harlem Renaissance.

HATCHING - The building up of an effect of tone by a series of close parallel lines. Usually a technique used in etching. See cross-hatching

HORS COMMERCE - Similar to an artist’s proof. Impressions pulled outside of the regular edition for the use by the publishers. This French term literally translates as "before business." Originally an Hors Commerce print was used as the color key and printing guide which the printer would use to insure consistency of the print run. Hors Commerce pieces are designated by the letters H.C. written on the print itself. These pieces are usually printer's proofs that are not for sale and are often used for promotional purposes. H.C. designations can also be used to extend the run of the edition. a portion of a limited edition that is not meant for sale. In recent times, the H.C. designation has simply become another portion of the total edition breakdown. Prints designated H.C. are readily sold, and have no higher (or lower) "value" than any other prints within the edition


ILLUSTRATION BOARD - A sheet of cardboard with a sheet of drawing paper mounted on one side. Illustration boards are mostly used by commercial artists

IMAGE 1) The printed or colored portion of a print. 2) A physical likeness or representation of a person, animal or thing; photographed, painted, sculpted or otherwise made visible

IMPASTO - (painting) The thick, uneven surface texture achieved by applying paint with brush or palette knife. Impasto: The thick textured build up of a picture's surface which is created through the repeated applications of paint.

IMPRESSION - Any print taken from an engraved block, plate or stone.

IMPRESSIONISM - A painting technique in which the artist concentrates on the changing effects of light and color. Often this style can be characterized by its use of discontinuous brush strokes and heavy impasto. Neo-Impressionism and Post- Impressionism are outgrowths used to denote movements that came later.

IMPRINT - A mark or depression made by pressure.

INK - A color liquid derived from natural acids or synthetic dyes. Used for drawing, writing and printing. examples

INTAGLIO - meaning "cut in". A term that includes all metal plate engraving and etching processes in which the printing areas are recessed, e.g., engraving, etching, drypoint and aquatint. (See printmaking terms)


LACQUER - (n) A protective coating consisting of a resin or cellulose ester or both, which is dissolved in a volatile solvent sometimes with a pigment added. (v) To cover with a coating to produce a smooth, hard finish.

LANDSCAPE - a painting, drawing or photograph of scenery such as trees, forests, meadows, and rivers. The movement toward a landscape being primary in a work of art, rather than simply the background, began in the 17th century. examples

LIMITED EDITION - a predetermined number of impressions to be made from a plate. The issue of something collectible, such as prints, limited to a certain quantity of numbered copies. The first number indicates the number of the piece; the second number indicates the total quantity of the edition, e.g., 135/250.

LINEAR - A composition in which line is the dominant element in defining form (as opposed to mass). Considered the opposite of painterly.

LINOLEUM CUT (linocut) - A relief print process similar to woodcut. Wood blocks covered with a layer of linoleum are carved with woodcut tools, coated with ink and printed by hand or in a press. The image is dug into the linoleum (linoleum is a hard, smooth washable floor covering made of a mixture of ground cork, wood, and linseed oil, first manufactured around 1860) with the areas not to be printed being cut away. The block is then inked and paper is pressed down on the linoleum. Colors can be added by using different locks, or altering the one block and re-inking. examples

LITHOGRAPH - traditionally created on a stone or metal plate, the artist draws an image using a greasy ink tool. The greasy substance is chemically set into the surface so that only these areas accept ink. The treated areas transfer the design to the paper. The artist must create a plate for each color and the paper must be run through the plate for every color. Today's artists often use Mylar and other materials for their plates.  Lithographs are multiple originals, not to be confused with offset lithographic reproductions. 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 photo-mechanical process. examples

LITHOGRAPHY - traditional planographic printing method which involves drawing or painting with greasy crayons or inks on a limestone block. The surface is then moistened with water. An oily ink is applied to the stone and adheres only to the drawing. The ink is repelled by the water which has soaked into the areas around the drawing. The print is pulled by pressing paper against the inked drawing, using a press. Variations of the technique are widely used in commercial reproductions. Often characterized by soft lines and blurry shapes. A greasy crayon is used to draw the design on the surface of a porous stone. More modern methods use disposable aluminum plates instead of the original limestone blocks. The stone is then thoroughly wetted and an oil based ink rolled across its surface. Where the greasy design has repelled the water, the ink will adhere. Paper is then pressed onto the stone. Each print in the edition usually requires re-wetting and re-inking the stone or plate.

LOST WAX - A method of casting bronze sculpture. From the artist's model, a rubber mold is made. The mold is then filled with wax, allowed to cool and then the mold is pulled off leaving an exact rendition of the model in wax. This wax rendition is then stuccoed with a sand-like material until successive layers produce a heat tolerant ceramic shell of sufficient strength to withstand the weight of the molten bronze. Then the shell with the wax print inside is heated, the wax is melted out (thus, the lost wax process) and the molten bronze can be poured in. After the bronze has cooled, the shell is chipped away and the sculpture is then sand blasted and hand finished to its ultimate perfection. The lost wax process is considered the highest quality method of producing limited edition bronze sculpture.


MARKET VALUE - Monetary equivalent of an art object, used to determine a price or insurance requirements. This is often obtained through an appraisal.

MATRIX - (prints & drawings) An object (usually wood, metal or stone) upon which a design is formed and which is then used to make an impression on a piece of paper, thus creating a print.

MATTE - A matte surface reflects light in a diffused manner as opposed to the mirror-like effects of a glossy surface.

MEDIUM - Most commonly, an artist's method of expression, such as ceramics, painting or glass. such as etching, silkscreening, painting, etc. that is used to create the work of art. The specific tool and material used by an artist. Also refers to a liquid added to a paint to increase its ability to be worked without affecting its essential properties. See also Vehicle (Plural) Media

MEMORABILIA - Collection of objects that have a sentimental value.

MEZZOTINT - (prints & drawings) An intaglio printing process that produces areas of tone rather than clean lines. (See printmaking terms)

MINIMALISM - A twentieth century art movement and style stressing the idea of reducing a work of art to the minimum number of colors, values, shapes, lines and textures. No attempt is made to represent or symbolize any other object or experience.

MINT (condition) Describes artwork which is in the same condition as it was when originally finished, printed, etc. Taken from coinage, in the same condition as it was when it was minted.

MIXED MEDIA - produced by combining two or more different processes or mediums. As an example, a lithograph with etching would be considered a mixed media. examples

MOBILE/STABILE - terms coined to describe work created by Alexander Calder. The mobile is a hanging, movable sculpture and the stabile rests on the ground but also may have moving parts.

MODERNISM - Art movement characterized by the deliberate departure from tradition and the use of innovative forms of expression. Much of what distinguished modernism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is common in African American art such as expressing feelings, ideas, fantasies, and dreams rather than representing what is real. Postmodernism has become a 'catch-all' term due to the great divergence of styles in the 20th century.

MONOCHROMATIC - A painting or drawing of different shades of one color.

MONOPRINT - (prints & drawings) A print produced by painting directly onto an already etched surface and printing the image by hand onto paper.Monoprint: A one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet of glass or metal, and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper. Enough of the original paint remains on the plate after the transfer so that the same or different colors can be reapplied to make subsequent prints, but no two prints will be exactly alike. examples

MONOTYPE - (prints & drawings) A print made when an artist draws or paints on a glass or metal plate and then prints the image onto paper. No two monotypes will be exactly alike.

MOTIF - A distinctive and recurring form, shape or figure.

MOLDING - Wood or metal which has been refined and shaped and which includes a rabbet for use in the framing industry.


MURAL - A continuous painting which is designed to fill a wall or other architectural area.


NOCTURNE - A picture of a night scene

NON-LINEAR - A composition in which mass is the dominant element in defining form (as opposed to line).

NON-OBJECTIVE - not representing any object, figure, or element in nature, in any way; nonrepresentational.


OFFSET (PRINTING) - lithographic printing which is done not directly from the lithographic plate. Offset printing is usually considered to be a photo-mechanical process. offset-lithography

OFFSET LITHOGRAPH - photomechanical printing process by which offset reproductions are made. These may be open or limited edition prints. A process in which the printed image is transferred, or offset, from one roller or plate to another and then transferred to the printing paper. Offset lithographs should be termed reproductions rather than originals prints. This process eliminates the need to draw the image in reverse on the stone or plate.

OIL (PAINT) Artists’ colors made from ground pigments suspended in oil, usually linseed. They have the consistency of a smooth paste. The most flexible and luminous of all paint mediums. Also refers to any work produced using this medium. examples

OIL PASTEL - Oil pigment mixed with gum and pressed into a dried stick form for use. They look like a thick crayon and have a much oilier consistency than a regular pastel which has a chalk-like consistency.

OPEN EDITION PRINT - offset reproduction produced in an unlimited number. An edition having an unlimited number of prints in it. - examples -

OP ART - An art movement of the twentieth century in which artists used optical illusion to create the impression of movement.

ORIGINAL - A work of art conceived and produced solely by the artist, or under his direct supervision. Graphic works such as lithographs, silkscreens, etchings, etc, are considered to be "original multiples" as the finished print is the only manifestation of such work. A unique piece of artwork that cannot be exactly duplicated, e.g., an oil painting on canvas. While the image may be duplicated as a print, the reproduction is not oil paint on canvas.

ORIGINAL PRINT - print made from the original plate, block, stone, screen, etc. which the artist has created and printed from himself.

ORNATE - Heavily ornamented, overly adorned, showy.

OVERLAY - In animation art, a portion of a scene, generally a foreground element, painted on or applied to a cel and laid over the action to create the illusion of depth.


PAINT– A mixture of pigment and a liquid.

PAINTING - Art made with paint on a surface.

PALETTE - 1) A non-absorbent surface on which to mix paint. 2) The set of colors on such a surface. 3) The range of colors a given artist or school of art prefers .Palette - Most commonly, the selected group of colors an artist chooses for a particular work or group of works. Also refers to the board or other surface on which a painter mixes his or her colors.

PALETTE KNIFE - A thin blade of varying flexibility set in a handle; used for mixing paints or applying them to a surface.

PAPER - A substance made from cotton, wood or other fibrous material, usually in thin sheets, used for writing, printing or drawing. Archival works are done on rag paper. It is Ph-balanced, and it bends rather than breaking or cracking. Arches is the most commonly used brand-name of rag paper. If a print is done on Arches paper, you will probably be able to see the Arches watermark by holding the print up to the light.

PAPER GRAIN - The direction in which most of the fibers in a piece of paper are oriented and the axis along which the paper tears and flexes most easily. Grain is usually found only in machine made papers, although it is also present in some handmade oriental papers.

PARCHMENT - 1) A translucent or opaque material made from split skins of small animals, usually lambs or kids (goat) that have been limed, void of hair, scraped and dried under tension to produce a fine, thin, strong surface for writing, bookbinding or other uses. 2) Paper with a texture resembling true parchment.

PASTEL - A crayon made from pigment mixed with just enough binding agent to hold it together. Also a drawing (painting) made with pastel crayons. Pastel crayons have varying ratios of pigment to chalk and gum; the more pigment, the more intense the color. examples

PATINA - 1) A film or encrustation, usually green, appearing gradually on a surface of copper and bronze, due to weathering and as a result of oxidation. 2) An opaque toning used to stimulate aging or to dull the brightness of a gilded surface. 3) A deep, soft polished gleam acquired by wood and metal after years of wear and polishing.

PENCIL SIGNED - a signature that is written by the hand of the artist, in pencil. The signature is usually located in the lower right portion of the work, below the image in the white margin. A pencil-signed print bears original status.

PERIOD - An interval of time, typically a phase of an artist or movement.

PERSPECTIVE - Refers to point of view. Linear perspective is a system for reduction of scale logically to present a single point of view within a painting. Aerial perspective reduces contrast and intensity as the illusion of space increases with distance.

PHOTO-LITHOGRAPHY - A printing technique in which a negative is exposed to a photo-sensitized lithographic plate, the image is then developed on the plate. Non-image areas are desensitized and the image area becomes an ink attracting surface. The plate is inked and printed in the normal manner.

PHOTOGRAVUE - Prints in which the original image is photographed through a finely cross-ruled screen onto copper-plates, the margins and non-printing areas of the plate are covered with acid resist and the plate is then etched. A type of intaglio printmaking. In this method the proofs are pulled on dry paper through an etching press. Also called Heliogravure.

PIGMENT - Dry coloring matter used in making paint and ink. Pigments are not water soluble, but suspended in a vehicle; water-soluble colors are called dyes.

PLANOGRAPHIC - (prints & drawings) A type of printmaking where the ink is transferred to paper from a flat surface.

PLATEMARK - a mark or line on the paper left when the plate and paper are forced together by the press. The indented impression on the damp paper made by the etched plate when passed through the press. Prints taken from wood blocks or lithographic stones seldom show impressions of this kind.

PLATE SIGNED - Prints in which the artist's signature is put onto the plate itself, and then transferred to the print through the same process as the rest of the design.

PLEIN AIR - Literally, "open air." Refers to the practice of painting outdoors to capture optimal light and atmosphere.

POCHOIR - a stencil and stencil-brush process used to make multicolor prints, for tinting black and white prints, and for coloring reproductions and book illustrations, especially fine and limited editions. Pochoir, which is the French word for stencil, is sometimes called hand coloring or hand illustration. This process was much used in Paris during the early decades of the 20th century. Especially popular in the art deco period, used for fashion plates amongst other things.

POP ART - style derived from commercial art forms and characterized by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterized in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Olden berg, Roy Liechtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Crushable, George Se gal, and Robert Indiana.

PORTRAIT– Artwork depicting a specific person or group of people. Also used to describe a vertically oriented rectangle; opposite of landscape.

POST-IMPRESSIONISM - art movement that immediately followed Impressionism, showing a greater emphasis on structure and form while rejecting naturalism. Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gauguin are examples.

POSTER - open edition print which has printing in the border or margin. - examples -

PRIMARY COLORS - yellow, red and blue, which, when mixed, yield all other colors but cannot themselves be produced by any combination of colors.

PRIMARY MARKET - The market that exists for artwork sold directly from an artist, dealer or gallery and not previously owned.

PRIMITIVE - Refers to a self-taught artist having or affecting a direct, unschooled style, or any work produced by such an artist.

PRINT - An image made from an inked surface. Prints are usually, but not always, produced in multiples.rint Any impression taken on paper (or silk, canvas or any other material) from any kind of plate or block, worked either by hand or by photomechanical means.

PRINTMAKING - (prints & drawings) In printing, ink is transferred to paper from another material, usually a metal plate or a wooden block. If the plate or block has been worked so it will receive ink in the same way each time it is applied, then there is a matrix and more than one print can be made.

PRINTER'S (OR PUBLISHER'S) PROOF - One of a small group of prints set aside from an edition for a printer's (publisher's) use. Designated as "P.P." or "P/P", it is simply a portion of the total number of prints in an edition. Traditionally retained by the publisher or printer for promotional purposes (and usually printed on a different paper,) they now are often available for sale. Along with HC's seem to be a way to 'stretch' an edition. If prints designated as P/P's are identical to the signed and numbered prints within the edition, they have no higher (or lower) "value" than any other prints of that edition.

PRISMACOLOR - Brand name for a very fine type of colored pencils which are made by mixing a waxy colored pigment with graphite. examples

PROVENANCE - A history record of previous ownership, and any previous locations, for a work of art.

PULLING a PRINT - Originally referred to the process of removing the print from the etching plate or woodcut block after printing. Today it is used to indicate making a print from a plate.

PUBLISHER'S PROOF - The "P.P." can also mean "printer's proof".


RAG PAPER - Paper created by beating cotton or linen into fibers. These fibers have a stronger bond than wood fibers, resulting in greater durability. Although rag paper can contain a small proportion of wood fiber, higher quality rag paper contains a higher amount of cotton fibers.

REALISM - The depiction of figures, objects or scenes with minimal distortion or stylization. examples

RELIEF - Any sculptural work in which figures project from a background.

RELIEF PRINT(ing) - distinguished by a 'stamped' appearance, a method of printing from a raised surface. (See printmaking terms)

REMARQUE - Originally, a sketch made by the artist on the margin of an etched plate. Now, more commonly, a small drawing made by the artist in the border or margin of his/her print. Remarqued limited edition reproductions usually have added value.

REPLICA - A copy or reproduction of a work of art, especially one made by the original artist.

REPOUSSÉ - (metal) An ancient art form (examples exist from 500 BC) in which flat sheet metal, usually copper, is hammered into contours from both the front and the back with final details added onto the front of the 3 dimensional relief. (pr. reh'poo-say") examples

Representational - Art that aims to depict recognizable figures or elements of the natural world.

REPRINTS/RESTRIKES - prints pulled from old or refashioned plates, usually after the death of the artist.  Restrikes should be clearly labeled as such and should not be sold as originals. Produced after the original edition was issued and from the original plates or blocks.


RESTORATION - cosmetic repair of an object to recreate its original appearance.


SEASCAPE - A picture of a scene at sea or including the sea.

SECONDARY MARKET - the market that exists for artwork once owned by a private individual. An arena where limited edition prints are resold after the edition has been sold out at the original sources.

SEPIA - 1) A reddish-brown color. 2) Warm, reddish-brown pigment produced from octopus or cuttlefish ink, used in watercolor and drawing ink. In photography, some toning processes produce such a color in the print.

SERICEL - artwork created to resemble an animation cel, but using screen printing techniques.

SERIGRAPH - (Silkscreen/Screen Print) – A color stencil printing process in which paint, rather than ink, is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. A stencil must be made, and the paper must be run through the press, for each color. The direct technique is versatile enough to produce an unlimited range of colors and depths, which justifies to some extent the opinion that serigraphy is as much a painter's as a printmaker's medium. The design is drawn on the screen (at one time silk was the general material of choice, before technology provided better materials at less cost) and is either cut out (stencil) or stopped out with varnish. Ink or paint is then wiped or squeegeed across the screen, and penetrates to the paper placed immediately below the screen. Different colors usually require the use of different screens, with the many colors being built up on the paper with each successive squeegee of ink or paint. examples

SIGNED & NUMBERED (S/N) - created by the artist signing and numbering each print. Both limited edition graphics and limited edition reproductions are S/N. The number appears as one number over another such as 25/100. This tells us this was the 25th print to be signed in an edition of 100. In limited edition reproductions there is no difference between low and high numbered prints.

SILKSCREEN - A method of printmaking in which the reverse of an image is put on a screen of silk or other mesh, with blank areas coated, and ink is forced through the mesh onto the surface, resulting in a screen print. Also called serigraphy.

SKETCH - A quick drawing captures the essence of an object or situation, often done as preparation for a larger or more detailed work.


SOCIAL REALISM - A type of realism which is more overtly political in content, critical of society, marked by its realistic depiction of social problems. The greatest impact of this art movement was felt in the first half of the twentieth century.

SOLD OUT – A limited edition that is no longer available on the primary market.


STILL LIFE - A painting or drawing of a group of inanimate objects contrived by the artist according to some theme, usually arranged for symbolic or aesthetic effect. examples

STIPPLE - (prints & drawings) An intaglio printing process in which the design to be printed is composed of groups of dots rather than lines, resulting in areas of tone. Stipple may be accomplished by engraving or etching.

STRETCH - to pull a fabric taut over a rigid support and secure; e.g., a canvas over a stretched frame or a needle art over foam board.

STRETCHER BAR - A strip of wood with tongue-and-groove ends. Bars are joined to form an expandable frame over which canvas is stretched.


STYLE - artist's characteristic manner of expression. Also denotes works of art by different artists that have certain features in common. These 'group styles' have often become the next art 'movement' - cubism, expressionism etc.

SUBSTRATE - A term from substratum meaning a layer lying under another. Generally used to denote a foundation material upon which an item is mounted or otherwise functions as a carrier.

SUITE - When two or more images are published or released together, the grouping is referred to as a suite, as in "this is a suite of four pieces."

SURREALISM - 20th-century artistic movement that attempts to express the workings of the subconscious and is characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter. - examples -

SYMBOLISM - art movement which rejected the pure visual realism of the Impressionists, and the rationality of the Industrial Age, in order to depict the symbols of ideas. Rather than the precise equivalents of ideas or emotions, its symbols were meant to be more mysterious, ambiguous suggestions of meanings .linear stylizations and innovative uses of color produced emotional effects.


TECHNIQUE - An artist's skillful manipulation or application of materials. Also describes an entire process associated with a particular method, such as watercolor.

TEMPERA - Pigment which is mixed with water or egg yolk and usually applied to board or panel.

TIRAGE - French term meaning "output." Complete print documentation given to the buyer upon purchase of a print.The "who, what, where, when, and how many" of the print. Tirage To have the tirage of a limited edition work is to have full information concerning the total number of prints in an edition, the date and workshop where completed as well as how the total edition is broken down.

TRANSLUCENT - A substance sufficiently transparent to allow light to pass through but not clear enough to reveal all form, line and color.

TRANSPARENT - Clear, glasslike. Can be colored or colorless.

TRIPTYCH - work of art composed of three separate pieces, usually displayed together. Pronounced "trip-tick". A set of three paintings or bas reliefs, related in subject matter and connected side by side. The two outside half-panels (called wings) may be closed over the central panel. 2) A set of three prints that make one complete image.


ULTRAVIOLET (UV) LIGHT - Short, high energy invisible light waves beyond violet in the spectrum with a length of 250 to 400 nanometers.

UNIQUE - In art terms, meaning one-of-a-kind. A painting could be described as unique, but a limited edition should not.

UNIQUE PROOF - In hand-pulled print editions signifies an artist proof that has been hand-embellished in some manner.


VALUE - 1) The degree of lightness or darkness of a hue. 2) The general degree of lightness or darkness of a surface.

VARNISH - A solution of resinous matter in an oil or a volatile liquid. When applied to a surface, it dries transparent, hard and glossy, protecting the surface from air and moisture.

VEHICLE - A liquid in which a pigment is dispersed. Also, that which is used as a means of communication, i.e., an artist's medium is their vehicle of expression.

VELLUM/PARCHMENT - (painting) Animal skin processed so that it has a smooth surface suitable for writing or painting.


WASH - (painting) A thin, translucent layer of pigment, usually watercolor. Used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique. - examples -

WATERCOLOR - (painting) Watercolor paints are made with pigments dispersed in gum arabic, and are characterized by luminous transparency Also the name given to a work of art produced using this type of paint. examples

WATERMARK - 1) A design, pattern or mark on paper, usually produced by a raised area on which the paper is made. Watermarks on handmade papers are made by very low relief molds or designs of fine wire set on the screen on which the moist pulp collects. Watermark A translucent name or design molded into the paper during the manufacturing process, usually in the border area; more visible when held up to a light.

WOODCUT - One of the earliest forms of printmaking, in which the design is carved in wood, with the areas not to be printed being cut away. The block is then inked and paper is pressed down on the woodblock. Colors can be added by using different blocks, or altering the one block and re-inking Woodcuts are usually black lines on white. examples

WOOD ENGRAVING - relief print made from an image cut in a block of wood. The artist cuts the design so that the background portion of the image is the part that is inked and pressed onto the paper. Usually white lines on black, wood engravings Often have much finer details than linocuts or woodcuts.