Vocabulary for Painters

RABATMENT (of the rectangle) is a compositional technique used as an aid for the placement of objects or the division of space within a rectangular frame, or as an aid for the study of art. (From Wikipedia.org.)

FACTURE - the quality of the execution of a painting; an artist's characteristic handling of paint.

TROMPE L'OEIL - A style of painting in which objects are depicted with photographically realistic detail from French, literally deceives the eye. (from Merriam-Webster.com)

CLOISONNISM - A style in the post-impressionism era in which black outlines surround areas of bright color. French for partition.

PENTIMENTI - An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, part of a painting, or original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age (from thefreedictionary.com).

CRAQUELURE - Formed as the painting and paint ages, it's the pattern of relatively fine lines and cracks that appear on the surface; depending on the age, the paint, and the brushstroke, it can appear in different patterns, such as a grid or branching.

ROMAN OCHRE - A deep, rich reddish yellow ochre.

SMALT - Powdered glass, colored to a deep powder blue hue using cobalt ions derived from cobalt oxide; used as a pigment in painting; cobalt aluminate can be used in a similar way, and is often known as cobalt blue (from Wikipedia).

CONTRE-JOUR - French for 'against daylight,' it refers to the effect of backlighting in a painting (or other media, such as photography) when the contrast between light and dark is much stronger causing silhouettes of certain objects.

RABBET - The recess on the back inside edge of a picture frame that holds the artwork in place.

CHARRETTE - (Pronounced shuh-RET) French for cart or chariot; an intense period of design activity; may have come from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts when a cart was pulled among students to collect their art work (from Wikipedia).

DRYPOINT - An etching technique for making a print, much like intaglio engraving; a metal pointed needle (the dry point) is used to etch the image in a plate (copper, zinc, Plexiglas).

CREPONS - Prints on crepe paper.

RAISONNE - (from Wikipedia) A monograph giving a comprehensive catalogue of artworks by the artist so that the artworks may be reliably identified by third parties.

PAINTERLY - Of, relating to, or typical of a painter or painting; marked by an openness of form in which sharp outlines are lacking (from Merriam-Webster.com)

STATION POINT - The artist's distance and position in relation to a subject or object.

LES NABIS - (from Wikipedia) a group of French Post-Impressionist, avant garde Academie Julian student artists in the 1890s; best known were Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis; Nabi means 'prophet' in Arabic; probably influenced the later Fauves and Cubists.

SINTRA(tm) - Trade name from Alcan Composites for closed-cell PVC foamboard, a light-weight, rigid material used in the manufacture of signs and displays (from Wikipedia).

MAECENASES - A generous patron or philanthropist, especially of art or literature; from Gaius Maecenases, 8th century b.c. Roman statesman and patron (from Merriam-Webster).

INSTALLATION ART - An artistic genre of site-specific, three-dimensional works designed to transform the perception of space (from Wikipedia).

PASTICHE - A work of art that is obviously derived from and imitates a previous artwork or artist.

OX GALL - An odorless wetting agent/medium used to improve the flow of watercolor washes; made from the gall bladder of an ox.

JAPONISME - French term for art from Japan, a popular genre in the late 19th century--especially wood-cut engravings; according to Wikipedia, it was first used by Jules Claretie in his 1872 book, L'Art Francais, and influenced the Impressionists and later Art Noveau and Cubism.

TONDO - Shortened from the Italian word rotondo, meaning round, it refers to circular, that is round, paintings usually two or more feet in diameter, painted during the Renaissance by notables, such as Botticelli and Michaelangelo.

TRONIE - Dutch for face, this is a type of painting "invented" by Rembrandt von Rijn; a kind of portraiture combined with a historical figure featuring either heads or half-torsos wearing exotic period costume, such as turbans, furs, etc.

DEGRADE - (Pronounced deh-grah-DAY) French for the process of gradually lightening the value of a color by adding white.

ECORCHE - French for flayed; a drawing or statue of humans or animals with skin removed to show muscles; used to teach art in the 16th/17th centuries.

BODEGON - (Pronounced bo-dthay-gon) Spanish for pantry, tavern, or wine cellar; in art, it's a small still life painting in which the subject is food (game or fowl) and drink displayed on a table or stone slab and set in a kitchen scene; it may or may not include people.

REPRESENTATIONAL ART - It simply means that the work depicts something easily recognizable by most people; it's not abstract (from about.com/art history).

PUCE - (from Wikipedia) A deep rose or brownish-purple color from the French word for flea; some say the name comes from the color of a squashed flea or one filled with blood; others say it's the color of flea droppings of digested blood that spread out in a deep brownish-purple color in water.

YUPO - A durable, synthetic (polypropylene), recyclable paper used in a variety of graphic arts applications, such as labels, for its smooth, non-tearable, and waterproof features; also used as a support for watercolor due to its super bright-whiteness and ability to retain sharp edges of paint or ink.

POCHADE - (Pronounced puh-SHOD) French for 'pocket;' a sketch used in painting to capture the light and atmosphere usually in a small format, such as a pocket-size piece of wood; later, the pochade box became popular, which is essentially an art studio in a box that turns into an easel for painting en plein air (from Wikipedia).

DADA - An art (aka an anti-art) movement, started in Zurich, Switzerland, in the 1920s as a reaction to World War I; without a unifying theme, and sometimes non-sensical or cryptic, it did bring together skeptical artists against traditional expectations; the name means 'hobby horse' or 'father,' but was chosen because of its sound.

ROCOCO - A design style in art and architecture first popular in Paris in the 1700s that was elegant and ornate with curving or flowing lines and natural motifs; from the French word rocaille, which is the rockwork covered in shells used in grottos.

POUNCING - Technique of tranferring patterns or designs by using a pounce (punch tool) and forcing powder through small perforations in cloth.

VERNISSAGE - French for the preview or opening of an art exhibit.

FAUVISM - A Post-Impressionist art movement by a group of painters in Paris around 1905 that emphasized modernism and exceptionally bright colors; from the French word 'fauve,' which means wild beast.

MANGA - A genre and style of Japanese art popularized in comics and printed cartoons dating from post World War II.

DISEGNO - (Pronounced dee-ZANE-yo) Italian for fine art drawing, but the word's meaning is much more than that; it is that element that takes art from a learned craft or skill to a higher visionary level of creativity.

POINTILLISM - A painting technique popularized by Georges Seurat and other neo-Impressionists in which a painting is rendered entirely in a mass of points (or dots) that, taken as a whole, comprise the image by optical mixing (similar to modern pixels on a computer screen).

STEAMPUNK - In art and design, a style popularized in the 1980s and 1990s in which various modern utilitarian objects have been modified into a Victorian-era look when steam power was cutting edge and may include elements, such as brass, iron, and wood.

MAQUETTE - (Pronounced ma-KET) French (of course) for small or scale model of a sculpture or architectural work done as a rough draft before incurring the cost and effort for the actual piece; also known as plastico or modello in Italian (from Wikipedia).

GRISAILLE - (Pronounced gri-ZAY) from the French word for gray/grey; a term meaning to render a painting entirely in monochrome shades of gray or brown often to represent objects in relief (from Wikipedia).

LUMINOSITY - I like this definition: When objects or paintings appear to have an inner glow, they are said to have luminosity. Light appears to come from within. To create luminosity in paintings, surround rich, pure hues with dark values or their opposite on the color wheel (thanks to
http://www.tpub.com/ , Integrated Publishing).

ALIZARIN - (Pronounced a-LIZ-a-rin) Alizarin is an
organic compound that is historically important as a prominent dye. It is an anthraquinone originally derived from the root of the madder plant. In 1869, it became the first natural pigment to be duplicated synthetically-from Wikipedia; (you probably have Alizarin Crimson in your palatte.)

QUINACIDRONE - A pigment or coloring agent in paint making; specifically, from Britannica Online Encyclopedia: "a second group of pigments developed in the 20th century were the quinacidrone compounds; introduced in 1958, its crystalline forms range in color from yellowish-red to violet; the violet and red forms are classified on the Color Index as Pigment Violet 19."

GAMBOGE - (Pronounced gam-BOZH with a hard "g" as in game) the resin of a tree found in Thailand, although the word gamboge actually means "Cambodia;" it's a deep mustard yellow color and used in watercolor.

TENEBRISM - From Wikipedia: a style of painting using violent contrasts of light and dark; a heightened form of chiaroscuro, it creates the look of figures emerging from the dark; also called dramatic illumination; from the Italian tenebroso for "murky."

TACHES - (Pronounced tah-jiz) From the French word for 'spot.' A style of painting in Paris popular in the 1950s, but also the broad, brilliant, visible brushstrokes used by the Impressionists as described by Emile Zola.

TONKING - A technique in oil painting to remove too much paint on a support using absorbent paper, such as a paper towel or newspaper, to soak up or blot the excess; named after Henry Tonks (1862-1937), a professor at Slade School of Art, London (from about.com).
ATELIER - (Pronounced at-tell-YAY), French for artist's studio (and a brand of paint).

PHYSIOGNOMY - While not strictly an art term, it is: the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance (from Merriam-Webster) especially the face; as his son practiced painting like Hans Holbein's portraits, Camille Pissarro encouraged him to strive for simplicity and essential lines, which give the physiognomy.

SFUMATO - (from Wikipedia and about.com) a painting technique which overlays translucent layers of color to create perceptions of depth, volume and form; the blending of colors so subtly that there is no perceptible transition or hard lines (sfumato means 'shaded off' in Italian and is derived from the word fumo meaning 'smoke').

MAROUFLAGE - Adhering canvas, or similar, to a rigid surface, such as a wall or board, masonite, MDF, etc. using either acrylic medium or more traditionally white lead mixed with oil.

DIPTYCH/TRIPTYCH - Merriam-Webster definition: a picture or series of pictures painted or carved on two hinged tablets; an art definition from Wikipedia: generally refers to a painting (usually panel painting) which is divided into four or more sections, or panels--diptych describes a 2-part painting and triptych 3-part painting; following on: tetraptych (4), pentaptych (5), hexaptych (6), heptaptych (7), and octaptych (8).

GOUACHE - (Pronounced gwash), it's opaque watercolor, also known as poster paint; it differs from transparent watercolors in that the pigments are bound by liquid glue, which is used as a thinner; the addition of white pigment lightens the tone and lends opacity. (From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia).

NOTAN - A Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark next to the other in art. This use of light and dark translates shape and form into flat shapes on a two-dimensional surface. Traditionally presented in paint, ink, cut paper, but it is relevant to a modern day image-making techniques, such as lithography in printmaking. (from Wikipedia).

ENCAUSTIC - (Wikipedia) Also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface — usually wood, though it can be canvas or other supports.

MOTIF - Here's a definition from the glossary of European Art to 1850 that is to the point: the main idea in an artistic composition. As one artist described it simply, "it's what you're painting."

CHIAROSCURO - from Wikipedia: Italian for light-dark; in art, a contrast between light and dark; usually applied to bold contrasts affecting a whole composition, but is also used for effects representing contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects.

GICLEE - (Pronounced zhee-clay), from gicleeprint.net (thanks): a French word that means a spray or a spurt of liquid; the word may have been derived from the French verb "gicler" meaning "to squirt;" the term "giclee print"--images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks; pronounced zhee-klay.

ALLA PRIMA - Literally all at once in Italian; refers to starting and completing a painting all in one session.

GESSO - (Pronounced jeh-so, as in Jesse), a primer/sizer used to prepare a canvas; although originally a mix of calcium carbonate, today it's usually mixed with acrylic latex; from the Italian word for 'board chalk' and the Greek for 'gypsum.'

MI-TIENTES (tm) - A trade-marked brand from Canson for a rough textured paper used for pastel and other media.

OEUVRE - (Pronounced aah-vrah), the sum of a lifework of an artist. (It's French, in case you couldn't tell.

SCUMBLE - Drawing or painting usually associated with pastels (but can be acrylic or oil), overlay one color on top of another by lightly dragging over--not mixing, not blending-- but scumbling.