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Glossary Of Terms


Depth of field: In photography, the area in front of and behind the focused point that is sharp. A shallow depth of field is used in portraits to provide a soft backdrop, whilst a greater depth of field is useful for landscapes to ensure everything from the foreground to the background is in focus. Shorter (wide angle) lenses and smaller apertures increase depth of field.
Design: The arrangement of the design elements to create a single effect. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.
Designing: The process of relating the elements whether they are similar or contrasting and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.
Drawing: The act of representing an image on a surface by means of adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. Also refers to an illustration that has been drawn by hand.
Drypoint: An intaglio line technique in which the incised line is directly drawn into the surface of the metal plate. A burr next to the line is created by the metal that is pushed to the side. This burr with the line holds ink and creates a soft line. Drypoint intaglio plates are delicate and without steel plating will produce few quality images before the burr is flatted by the pressure of the printing press.


Easel: An upright support (generally a tripod) used for displaying something. It is most often used to hold up an artist’s canvas while the painter is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.
Edition size: The edition size is the number of reproductions that total a given print or canvas release. There are 2 numbers on a limited edition-for example 157/200. The number on the bottom (200) refers to the total number of reproductions in the edition. The number above (157) is the number of the individual print.
Egg tempera: A medium created by mixing pure, ground pigments with egg yolk. This was a very common medium before the invention of oil paints.
En plein air: French for “in open air,” used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors, rather than in the studio.
Etching: The technique of reproducing a design by coating a metal plate with wax and drawing with a sharp instrument called a stylus through the wax down to the metal. The plate is put in an acid bath, which eats away the incised lines; it is then heated to dissolve the wax and finally inked and printed on paper. The resulting print is called the etching.
Etching press: An intaglio printing press comprised of a flat moving bed covered with multiple layers of felt that passes through two cylinders, one which can be raised and lowered to increased or decrease the pressure.
Exhibition: A public showing of a piece or a collection of objects. Also called an exhibit.


Fine art: Art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation. Painting and sculpture are the best known of the fine arts.
Fixative: A liquid, similar to varnish, which is usually sprayed over a finished piece of artwork to better preserve it and prevent smudging. Artwork media requiring fixative include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel.
Flat brush: A brush with a flat shaped end like a screwdriver.


Gallery: A room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited.
Gallery wrap: Gallery wrap is a method of stretching an artist’s canvas so that the canvas wraps around the sides (Stretcher Bar or strainer bars) and is secured to the back of the wooden frame. The frame is usually 1.25″ thick. The result is the hardware (staples or tacks) used for securing the canvas is not visible on the sides. The sides of the canvas are prepared and primed in the same manner as the face, which may then be painted a solid color or painted to continue the image appearing on the face. This method of stretching and preparing a canvas allows for a frameless presentation of the finished painting.
Gesso: A mixture of plaster, chalk, or gypsum bound together with a glue which is applied as a ground or coating to surfaces in order to give them the correct properties to receive paint. Gesso can also be built up or molded into relief designs, or carved.
Giclee: A giclee (zhee-clay) is an elegant, state-of-the-art reproduction that gives a vibrant color rendition of an original painting. Giclee, a French printmaker’s term for “sprayed”, was adopted to distinguish the technique from ordinary offset printing. It also signifies to the art buyer that the process and materials used to create the print were intended for the fine art market. A giclee is created by a digital printer’s tiny ink jets that spray millions of droplets of archival, water-based inks onto fine archival art paper or canvas known as the substrate. The combination of specific inks and substrate are carefully selected to assure maximum print longevity. Giclees are produced one at a time. Depending upon their size, this intricate printing process can take up to an hour or more for each print. Afterward, the giclees are coated with a protective finish. Whether printed on fine art paper or canvas, the end result is always the same: a beautifully reproduced work of art with the look and feel of the original painting.
Gouache: A type of watercolor paint, made heavier and more opaque by the addition of a white pigment (chalk, Chinese white, etc.) in a gum arabic mixture. This results in a stronger color than ordinary watercolor.
Grayscale: Refers to the range of gray tones between black and white.