Glossary

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Painting Terms and Definitions

  • Palette - the surface which a painter will mix his colors. Also the range of colors used by an artist.

  • Patina - originally the green brown encrustation on bronze, this now includes the natural effects of age or exposure on a surface.

  • Pentimento - a condition of old paintings where lead-containing pigments have become more transparent over time, revealing eariler layers.

  • Pigments - particles with inherent color that can be mixed with adhensive binders to form paint.

  • Plasticizer - ingredients added to paint to either make it flow or be easily redissolved.

  • Plein Air - French for "open air". Term describing paintings done outside directly from the subject.

  • Polymer - a series of monomers strung together in a repeating chainlike form. That really makes it clear.

  • Precipitate - an inert particle to which dyes can be laked.

  • Preservative - a material that prevents or inhibits the growth of microorganisms in organic mixtures.

  • Primer - coating material, usually white, applied to a support to prepare it for painting.

  • PVA - Polyvinyl Acetate, an artificial resin used as a paint medium and in varnish.

  • Refraction - the bending of light from one course in one medium to a different course through another medium of different refractive index.

  • Refractive Index - the numerical ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to its speed in a substance.

  • Resins - a general term for a wide variety of more or less transparent, fusible materials. The term is used to designate any polymer that is a basic material for paints and plastics.

  • Sanquine - a red-brown chalk.

  • Saponification - the process in which a paint binder, under moist and alkaline conditions, becomes transparent or discolored.

  • Scumbling - the technique of applying a thin, semi-opaque or translucent coating of paint over a previously painted surface to after the color or appearance of the surface without totally obscuring it.

  • Secco - Italian for "dry". A technique of wall-painting onto dry plaster, or lime plaster that is dampened shortly before paint is applied.

  • Sfumato - Italian for "shaded off". Gradual, almost imperceptible transitions of color from light to dark.

  • Sgraffito - technique in which the surface layer is incised or cut away to reveal a contrasting color.

  • Shade - term of color darkened with black.

  • Shellac - a yellow resin formed from secretions of the LAC insect, used in making varnish.

  • Silicate - material, such as sand, that is composed of a metal, oxygen, and silicon.

  • Silverpoint - a drawing method using a piece of metal, usually silver wire, drawn on a ground prepared with Chinese white, sometimes with pigment added.

  • Sinopia - a red-brown chalk used for marking-out frescoes; also the preliminary drawing itself.

  • Size - material applied to a surface as a penetracting sealer, to alter or lessen its absorbency and isolate it from subsequent coatings.

  • Sketch - a preliminary drawing of a composition.

  • Squaring Up - a method for transferring an image to a large or smaller format.

  • Strainer - a wooden chassis for textile supports that has rigid, immovable corners.

  • Stretcher - a wooden chassis for textile supports that has expandable conrner.

  • Subtractive Color - color resulting from the absoption of light.

  • Study - a detailed drawing or painting made of one or more parts of a final compsition, but not the whole work.

  • Support - the basic substrata of the painting; paper, cotton, linen, wall, etc.

  • Tempera - technique of painting in which water and egg yolk or whole egg and oil mixture form the binder for the paint. Used also as a term for cheap opaque paints used in schools.

  • Thixotropic - referring to materials that are thick and viscous while at rest but will flow if brushed or shaken. Resumes its viscous state when the agitation stops.

  • Tint - term for a color lightened with white. Also, in a mixture of colors, the tint is the dominant color.

  • Toner - an unlaked dye that can bleed or migrate through dried paint films.

  • Tooth - small grained but even texture. Tooth provides for the attachment of succeeding layers of paint.

  • Traction - in oils, the movement of one paint layer over another.

  • Tragacanth - a gum, extracted from certain Astragalue plants, used as a binding agent in watercolor paint and pastels.

  • Trompe L'oeil - French for "deceive the eye". A painting with extreme naturalistic details, aiming to persuade the viewer that they are looking at an actual object, not a representation.

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