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Glossaries

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Painting Glossary Index


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Acrylic

is a synthetic paint that is soluble in water and is quick drying. Its versatility ranges from thin wash application to thick impasto. It was first used by artists in the 1940's.



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Batik

A method of dyeing cloth which involves the use of removable wax to repel (resist) the dye on parts of the design where dye is not desired. Batik originated in Indonesia, where its production continues to thrive.


Bistre

a transparent water-soluble brownish-yellow pigment made by boiling the soot of wood, used for pen and wash drawings ranging in color from yellowish brown to dark brown


Bloom

An oil painting that has been improperly varnished or stored may develop a 'bloom' or film on the surface. This first appears as an opaque blue tinge, which turns white, yellow, and eventually black as the condition (sometimes known as a 'chill') advances



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Canvas

is a generic term for fabrics used as supports for painting, which could be woven of linen, hemp, cotton, jute or other fibers. In the twentieth-twenty first century, it refers to a moderate or heavy weave cotton fabric.


Canvas-wrapped board

is a sheet of paperboard wrapped with sized and primed cloth canvas, usually cotton. First made commercially after 1850, it was originally used by amateurs, as it was more economical than stretched canvas or for outdoor drawing.


Casein

is a paint similar to gouache (opaque watercolor). Casein is in fact a white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated from milk by rennin and in casein paint, it serves as the paint's binder. According to ArtLex.com, casein is the basis of cheese, and is used to make plastics, adhesives and foods, as well as paint. Artists apply casein paint to paper, as it is too inflexible for use on canvas.


Catalogue raisonne

A catalogue raisonne is a book citing all the known works by an artist typically arranged in chronological order. The catalogue raisonne lists titles, dates, and often photographs of all known artworks. In many cases, the artwork's ownership and location is cited as well.


Charcoal

is the dark grey residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal.


Cleavage

"Cleavage" is sometimes used to refer to the partial separation or flaking of paint from a canvas, ground, or other layer of paint. Flaking usually reflects a breakdown in adhesion between the paint layer and the support. The problem may be inherent in an an artist's choice of materials or may result from the deterioration of the glue size in the ground. Such conditions are aggravated by seasonal or artificial climate control changes in temperature and relative humidity. The support expands under humid conditions and contracts under dry ones. As a paint film ages, it loses its elasticity and becomes evem more susceptible to flaking, cracking and cupping. (from Art Lex glossary terms online)


Collage

A picture or design created by adhering such basically flat elements as newspaper, wallpaper, printed text and illustrations, photographs, cloth, string, etc., to a flat surface, when the result becomes three-dimensional, and might also be called a relief sculpture / construction / assemblage. Most of the elements adhered in producing most collages are "found" materials. Introduced by the Cubist artists, this process was widely used by artists who followed, and is a familiar technique in contemporary art. "Collage" was originally a French word, derived from the word coller, meaning "to paste."


Conte crayon

is a very hard. grease-free type of crayon named after Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755-1805), the French scientist who invented it.


Craquelure

graceful French term referencing cracking occurring generally in the varnish layer of a painting, but can also appear in the pigment layer.



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Encaustic

The medium, technique or process of painting with molten wax (mostly beeswax), resin, and pigments that are fused after application into a continuous layer and fixed to a support with heat, and achieves a lustrous enamel appearance. The solvent for encaustic is also heat.



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Foxing

is a brownish yellow, patchy discoloration of paper caused by the action of mold on iron salts, which are present in most paper. Foxing usually results from high relative humidity.



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Gouache

is water-based paint made to appear opaque due to the addition of Chinese white pigment.


Graphite

A soft black mineral substance, a form of carbon, available in powder, stick, and other forms. It has a metallic luster and a greasy feel. Compressed with fine clay, it is used in lead pencils (though contemporary lead pencils contain no lead), lubricants, paints, and coatings, among other products. Also called black lead and plumbago.



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Impasto

is paint applied in outstandingly heavy layers or strokes.


Inpainting

Introduction of substance to fill an area of paint loss followed by pigment meant to match the area of loss.



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Lining

is a conservation step taken to support a deteriorating fabric/canvas, usually employing a high quality Belgian linen that is married to the original substrate.



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Masonite

First invented in 1924 by William H. Mason, it consists of a type of hardboard made from wooden chips. These chips are blasted into long fibers with steam, then they are formed into boards that are subsequently heated to form the finished boards. No glue, resins or other binders are used. In the 1930's and 1940's artists and hobbyists began to use masonite for a painting surface.


Medium

Material employed by an artist to convey his/her artistic expression.



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Oil paint

is a general term for paint bound with a drying oil, usually linseed oil, made from pressed flax seed.


Oil pastel

is a painting and drawing medium with characteristics similar to pastels and wax crayons. Unlike "soft" or "French" pastel sticks, which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels consist of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The surface of an oil pastel painting is therefore less powdery, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels provide a harder edge than "soft" or "French" pastels but are more difficult to blend.



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Pastel

refers to pigments mixed with gum and water, and pressed into a dried stick form for use as crayons. Works of art done with such pigments are also called pastels.



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Strainer

chassis or wooden framework on w hich an artist's canvas is stretched with rigid corners, unable to adapt to expansion and contraction.


Stretcher

chassis or wooden framework on which an artist's canvas is stretched with corner elements that can expand or contract using keys or springs.



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Tempera

term originally applied to any paint in which the pigment is dissolved in water and mixed with an organic gum or glue, but now often references the most common form of the medium, egg tempera.


Tondo

the word is Italian for round and references round paintings or bas relief sculptures.



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Varnish

is a solution of a resin in a volatile spectrum that, brushed or sprayed on a surface, dries to a hard, glossy and usually transparent film, serving as a protective coating.


Verso

refers to the back surface of the painting.



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Watercolor

is any paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolors. What carries the pigment in watercolor (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints. British spelling is “watercolour”.



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