Opaque Colors: Colors whose painted films cannot be seen through and will cover previously painted colors.
Palette: 1) A holder or surface for mixing paints 2) An artist's choice of color theme.
Patina: The term given for the natural coating which develops with age or after exposure to the elements. i.e. copper forms a green patina when exposed to prolonged oxygen
Pentimento: This term, which is Italian for 'repented', describes the showing through of old work below the surface when top coats of color become transparent.
Permanence: This refers to a pigment's light/fade resistance. Also see 'fugitive' and ‘lightfast’.
Pigments: Pigments are colors in powdered form that will not dissolve when combined with a binder. They are divided into organic and inorganic categories, and then further into natural and synthetic pigments. Most paints are a combination of binder and pigment.
Plasticity: The three-dimensionality of a subject on a two-dimensional support.
Plein air: Works created outside, in the open air.
Portrait Format: Referring to the physical dimensions of a work, a portrait format is one where the width is less than the height. The opposite is 'landscape'.
Primary colors: Colors that cannot be achieved by mixing other colors. In pigment, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.
Primer: A substance which is applied to a size or support to act as a barrier between the final colors and the support.
Proportion: This term refers to the relationship of one graphical element to each of the others present in the work, plus to the work in its entirety.
PVA: Polyvinyl acetate - a synthetic resin used in varnish and oil paint mediums.
Recession: A term relating to the effect of aerial perspective and color in making an element appear to recede. For example, cooler colors make items in a painting have recession or recede.
Reduction: Mixing any color with white.
Retarder: A medium used to slow down the dry time of the paint.
Sanguine: A chalk of a red-brown hue.
Saturation: A color's specific intensity and brightness.
Scumble: A technique whereby one or more layers of opaque and semi-dry paint are brushed across an underlying layer with the result that the undercoat shows through the upper layers.
Secco: From the Italian meaning 'dry', this technique dampens dry plaster or lime plaster prior to an application of paint. Done in the process of painting frescoes.
Secondary colors: Colors that can be achieved by mixing primary colors. Orange, Violet, Green.
Sfumato: The Italian for “vanish” or “up in smoke”, this describes a renaissance painting technique of creating a gradual transition from light to dark.
Sgraffito: Scoring off a color layer with a sharp instrument to reveal an underlying color.
Shade: A term for a color darkened with black. Maroon is an example of a shade of red.
Shaped canvas: Any canvas which is not the traditional rectangle in shape.
Shellac: Used to make varnish and some inks, shellac is formed from the secretions of the lac beetle.
Siccative: A substance that promotes drying.
Silverpoint: An old technique whereby a piece of silver wire is used to scratch off lines on a canvas prepared with Chinese white and pigment. Also known as 'metalpoint.'
Sinopia: A reddish-brown chalk used mainly for drafting frescoes.
Size: A solution made from glue and used to stiffen paper or for preparing a canvas prior to an application of primer or oil paint.
Sketch: A rough initial drawing in which issues of composition, space and perspective are worked out.
Solvent: A liquid substance capable of dissolving other substances, resulting in a solution. A true paint solvent is a liquid that can dissolve paint resin.
Split-Complementary Colors: Split-Complementary Colors are the two colors directly to either side of a given complementary color on the color wheel An example of a split complements of red on a color wheel containing twelve hues would be blue-green and yellow-green.
Squaring up: A technique that allows the artist to resize their original image by overlaying a grid onto the original and copying the contents of each square to an identical, but differently-sized, grid on the new support. Also termed 'gridding up.’
Study: A secondary stage of preparation in which one or more parts of the final composition are completed. The whole work, however, is not completed at this point.
Support: Paper, canvas, board or other physical medium used for painting or drawing.
Tempering: The act of mixing pigments with tempera in order to create a hue.
Tertiary colors: Colors achieved by mixing secondary colors with a primary color. For example, red-orange, violet, blue-green.
Thinner: A diluting agent used to thin the consistency of another liquid. A paint thinner is a solvent used to thin oil-based paints, or as a cleaning agent.
Thixotropic: A description of liquids which require stirring, mixing or shaking to return them to a liquid from a thickened state.
Tint: A color lightened with white. For example, pink is a tint of red.
Tone: The term for a color that has been changed by the addition of grey, or has been changed closer to grey or brown by adding a touch of the complementary color.
Tooth: This term describes the texture grade of canvas, wood, or paper; generally referred to as coarse tooth, fine tooth, etc.
Traction: A term used in oil painting, traction relates to the movement of one layer of color over another one.
Traction Fissure: The cracking of a top layer of color or varnish due to an imbalance of oil contents in the color layers.
Tragacanth: A vegetable-based gum, originally derived from the Astragalus plant, which is used as a binder in pastels and watercolors.
Transparent Colors: Colors that allow any color beneath them to show through. They are used for glazing and produce the clearest hues when mixed with other colors.
Trompe l'oeil: A still-life work in which the details are so real, so naturalistic that the viewer is deceived into believing that they are seeing an actual scene, rather than a rendition of a scene.
Underpainting:, A preliminary stage in which a monochrome color or 'dead color' is used as a base for composition. Also referred to as 'layering in.'