Aboriginal: native of Australia.

abstract art: an artwork created by changing (simplifying, rearranging, or distorting) observed information so that it no longer looks realistic. Artists may also create abstract patterns or shapes from their imagination or memory.

art criticism: Studying and discussing artworks using a four-step approach: description, analysis, interpretation, and judgement.


balance: (principle of design) the stability between the elements of art. There are three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.

background: the parts of an artwork that are furthest away (in the distance).

bind: to put together. Pages of a book are bound together so that they don’t fall apart.

bird’s eye view: looking down at something from above.

blend: mixing colors into one new color.

blind contour drawing: a contour drawing created by carefully observing and drawing an object without looking at the drawing paper.

brayer: a printmaking tool used to roll ink onto a printing plate.


carve: apressing a hard tool into another material.

center of interest: the most important part of an artwork or the part of an artwork that you notice first.

collage: an artwork made by arranging and gluing various materials together.

color: there are three properties of color: hue, value, and intensity.

community: a group of people who live near each other and share similar interests.

compassion: caring about how other people feel.

complimentary colors: colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel.

composition: how the visual elements in an artwork are arranged (put together).

congruent: of equal size and shape.

content: the message/meaning that an artwork communicates. Theme is another word for content.

contour drawing: a type of drawing that uses line to describe the outline of a form. By varying the thickness and direction of line, an artist can suggest volume and weight.

contrast: (principle of design) to show a noticeable difference between visual elements. Contrast in value is the difference between light and dark. Adjusting the differences between visual elements creates variety, emphasis, or interest.

cool colors: colors that give the feeling of coolness. Red-voilet, violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, and yellow-green are cool colors.

crayon resist: a type of painting that is made by painting watercolors over crayons or oil pastels. The water in the watercolors is blocked from the paper by the wax or oil in the crayons.

critique: a formal/informal discussion of an artwork or group of artworks.


elements of art: the parts of an artwork that an artists uses to plan an artwork. The elements of art are line, color, shape or form, texture, space, and value.

emotion: a strong feeling.

emphasis: (principle of art) stresses one element of art. Emphasis is often used to draw attention or interest to certain parts of an artwork.

expression: using art materials to convey feelings, ideas, and meaning.


fantasy: using the imagination to form strange or wonderous ideas/images.

foreground: the parts of an artwork that are closest (in front).


gesture drawing: quick drawings that show the action and movement of a person in a “frozen” position.

glaze: a paint-like liquid that is applied to ceramics. Glazes are mixtures of water and minerals. When the minerals are fired, they melt and create a shiny surface.


harmony: the parts of an artwork that are related. Harmony is created by repeating characteristics that are the same or similar.

hieroglyph: a symbol used by the ancient Egyptians in picture writing.

horizontal: a straight line that goes from side-to-side.

hybrid: a combination of two things. Hybrid plants and animals have parents of different species or animals.


identity: the characteristics that make someone who they are.

imaginary: something that only exists in the imagination.

ink: the pigment used to print an image.

installation: an artwork that is made for a specific space. An installation is made up of pieces that are carefully arranged by an artist.


Jazz music: a type of music that began in the early 20th century. The music is known for its spontaneity and improvisation.


kiln: a special oven that is used to fire clay pieces using very high temperatures.


landscape: a picture of outside.

line: the path of a moving point through space. Lines have direction, width, and length.


mask: an artwork that is worn over the face to disguise or change how a person looks.

medium (media): the materials used to make an artwork.

memory: the ability to remember facts, events, impressions, ect.

memoir: a story that someone writes about his/her own life.

middle ground: the parts in the middle of an artwork.

monoprint: a print that you can only make one copy of.

mosaics: a picture or design made up of many tiles (usually made out of stone, glass, paper, or ceramics).

movement: (principle of design) the way a viewer moves around/through a work of art.


negative space: the empty shapes surrounded by other shapes.


observational: an artwork of something you can actually see.

overlap: putting one thing on top of another.


palette: a set of colors that an artists chooses to make a painting with. The surface on which an artist mixes colors.

pattern: the organized arrangement of repeating visual elements (e.g. colors, shapes, images, etc.)

personal interests: activities pursued on your own time for fun or relaxation.

perspective drawing: a method of representing the illusion of volume in three-dimensional objects and depth of space on a two-dimensional surface.

point of view: a position from which something is seen.

Pop Art Movement: a visual arts movement that began in the 1950s in Britain and the United States. Pop art is characterized by images of commerical objects and bring, bold colors.

portrait: a drawing, painting, sculpture, or other artwork that represents (describes) a person.

positive shapes: a shape that stands out from the background of an artwork.

primary colors: colors that cannot be made by mixing other colors together. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

principles of design: the relationships between the elements of art. The principles of design are unity, variety, harmony, balance, rhythm, and emphasis.

printing plate: the surface that holds an image used for printing.

printmaking: the techniques of art that are designed to create reproducible images: etching, engraving, woodblock and other relief printing, lithography, serigraphy (silkscreen).

profile: something seen from the side.

proportion: the relationships in size and placement of one part to another part or to the whole.

“Pulling a print”: a phrase that describes the act of revealing the printed image from the printing plate by slowly removing the paper from the plate.

puppet: a representation of a person or animal designed to move/act.


rainbow roll: a method of applying ink onto a brayer. A rainbow roll creates a “rainbow” effect by using two (or more) different colors of ink side by side and rolling them onto a brayer, which is then used to print an image.

realistic art: artwork that is made to look like something from real life.

relief sculpture: refers to compositions in which materials project from a flat surface.

relief print: a print created by carving an image into a printing plate. The print is created by inking only the suface of the plate or block ad trasfering the image by pressing paper onto the carved surface.

repetition: doing something over and over again. Repetition can produce visual rhythm.

representational art: artwork that seeks to portray things seen in the visible world; sometimes called figureative art.

rhythm: (principle of art) the appearance of movement created by the recurrence of art elements.

routine: something you do every day or every week.

rubric: an assessment method that uses a scoring guide to grade an artwork.


secondary colors: colors made by mixing two primary colors together. The secondary colors are: orange, green, and purple.

schematic layouts: sketches or diagrams of works made for projecting the appearance of a final work.

score: creating lines in a piece of clay (using a clay tool) before attaching it to another piece of clay.

sculpture: artwork that is three-dimensional. Sculptures can be seen from all sides.

self-portrait: a portrait that an artist creates of him/her self.

series: a group of artworks made one right after another. A series of artswoks is related somehow by similar themes, materials, elements of art, ect.

shade: a darker version of a color (usually created by mixing a certain amount of black to another color.)

shape: (element of art) a space with a defined or implied boundary. Shapes have two-dimensions: height and width. There are two basic groups: geometric and organic.

silhouette: the filled-in outline of an object (usually made by a shadow).

sketch: a light, loose drawing that an artist makes to show an idea, help plan an artwork, or record something s/he sees.

sketchbook: a drawing notebook that artists use to generate, plan, collect, reocrod, and experiment with ideas. A visual journal is another name for a sketchbook.

slab: a flat piece of clay.

slip: a mixture of clay and water used to attach pieces of clay together.

space: (element of art) the area between, around, above, below, and within objects.

style: the identifying characteristics of the artwork of an individual, a group of artists, a period of time, or an entire society.

surface: the outside of something; each of the sides of somethign that has many sides.

Surrealism: a visual arts movement that began in the 20th century. Surrealism is characterized by dream-like imagery and unlikely combinations of subject matter.

symbol: an image (or line, shape, or color) that stands for something else.

symmetry: arranging the parts of an image or object so that one side duplicates or mirrors the other.


tempera: a thick, water-soluble paint. Tempera paint is fairly opaque and dries quickly.

tessellation: a picture that fills the entire page without any overlapping or gaps.

texture: (element of art) the way something feels or looks like it feels. Examples: rough, smooth, itchy, bumpy, etc.

thumbnail sketch: small sketches that help artists plan their ideas.

tint: a lighter version of a color (created by mixing a certain amount of white to another color.)

title: the name of an artwork.

tools: things used to carry out manual work.

two-dimensional (2D) artwork: artwork that is made on a flat surface (most drawings, paintings, and prints are 2D.)

three-dimensional (3D) artwork: artwork that has depth, width, height,s and volume (most sculptures).


unity: (principle of art) the sense of “wholeness” or “completeness” that results when the parts of an artwork seem to “go together.”


value: the lightness or darkness of a color.

variety: a principle of art in which different elements of art are used to add interest to an artwork. Changing the size, color, shape, texture, etc. or elements within an artwork can produce variety.

vertical: a straight line that goes from top to bottom.

viewfinder: a tool used to help see/plan what a composition might look like.

visual cues: a visual signal that reminds someone of something.

visual texture: the illusion of texture.

voice: the way that words “sound” on a page. A writer’s individual “voice” is similar to an artist’s personal “style.”


warm colors: colors that give the feeling of warmth. Red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, and yellow-green are warm colors.

warp: the material going from the top to the bottom of a loom. The warp is placed on a loom before the weaving process begins.

watercolors: thin water-soluble paint that is used with water. Watercolors can be applied in multiple layers to achieve a more opaque effect.

weaving: the process of making something (usually a rug or blanket) by locking together strands or strips of material (for example: yearn, thread, or paper).

web: the product of a weaving (usually a cloth or fabric).

weft: the material that is woven from side-to-side to create the web.

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