abstract: In art, the rendering of images and objects in a stylized or simplified way, so their formal or expressive aspects are emphasized.


academic scuptors:  sculptors who interpret forms in the classical traditon.


aesthetic: Pertaining to the appreciation of the beauty, as opposed to the functional or utilitarian aspects.


armature:  a base made of wire, iron, cardboard, or sticks for supporting modeling clay.


assemblage:  a sculpture created of related or unrelated materials.


asymmetric balance: Balance achieved in a composition when neither side reflects or mirrors the other.


avant-garde: Those whose works can be characterized as unorthodox and experimental.


base line: An imaginary line on which a group of objects or one object sits.


bas-relief:  literally low-relief; a three-dimensional sculptureto be seen only from the front.


bat:  A disk or slab of plaster, wood or plastic on which pottery is formed or dried.


bisque: Pottery that has been fired but not yet glazed.


carving:  removing materials from a surface such as wood, stone, or plaster.


casting:  pouring liquid such as molten metal, plaster, polyester resin, or clay into a mold.


ceramic:  Clay products that have been fired for permanence.


classical line: A kind of line that is mathematical, precise, and rationally organized, emphasized by the vertical and horizontal grid, as opposed to expressive line.


clay:  Fine grained earthy materials formed by the decomposition of feldspar, a granite type rock.  When combined with water, is plastic enough to be shaped and when dried and fired, become a rock-like state. 

Pure clay is Al2O3*2S1O2*2H2O.


coiling:  A method of creating pots by building bottom and walls with even, rope like coils.


collage: A work made by pasting various scraps or pieces of material-cloth, paper, photographs, etc. - onto the surface of the composition.


comparative process: The basic critical tool of art  history and criticism, in which  works of art are compared and contrasted with one another in order to establish both differences and similarities between various works.


cones:  Tall, slender pyramids made of clay and glaze constituents which bend or melt at a given temperature in a kiln.


composition: The organization of the formal elements in a work of art.


conceptual art: An art form in which the idea behind the work and the process of its making are more important than the final product.


construction:  a sculpture built by connecting several or many parts together.


content: The subject matter of a work of art.


contour: The visible border of an object in space.


cool colors: Those colors in which blue is dominant, including greens and violets.


cross-hatching: Two or more sets of roughly parallel and overlapping lines, set at an angle to one another, in order to create a sense of shadow and depth.


dry footing:   To clean the bottom of a glazed piece before firing.


eye level:  An imaginary horizontal line parallel to the student’s eyes.  Important to establish in drawing one- and two- point perspectives.


figure-ground relationship:  In a two-dimensional work, the relationship between a form or figure and its background.


fixative:  A thin liquid film sprayed over pastel, graphite or charcoal drawings to protect them from smudging.


foreshortening:   The use of perspective to represent the apparent visual contraction of an object or figure that extends backwards from the picture plane.


form:  (1) an element of desing that appears three-dimensional and encloses volume such as a cube, sphere, pyramid or cylinder.  (2)  the characteristics of an artwork’s visual element as distinguished from its subject matter.


glaze:     A liquid suspension of finely ground minerals which is applied on the surface of bisque fired clay.  The glaze ingredients will melt together when fired to form a glossy glass-like surface.


grog:  Clay that has been fired then crushed to form a coarse, medium-grained of fine sand-like material.  The addition of grog to clay reduces shrinkage, reduces drying or firing cracks.


greenware:  Clay in an unfired state.


hue:  A color, usually one of the six basic colors of the spectrum.


impasto:  The thick building up of pigmnet (paint) to give a visible texture.


implied line:  a line created by movement or direction, such as a line established by a pointed finger, the direction of a glance, etc.


kiln:  A furnace used for firing clay products; electric, gas and wood-fired.



kinetic art:  any art construction that contains moving elements which can be set in motion by the action of gravity, air currents, motors, springs or magnets.


linear perspective:    A system for depicting three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface that depends upon two related principles; that things perceived as far away are smaller than things nearer the viewer, and that parallel lines receding into the distance converge at a vanishing point on the horizon line.


maquette:  a small preliminary model for a sculpture.


medium:    (1) Any material used to create a work of art.  (2) In painting, a liquid added to the paint that makes it easier to manipulate.


moulage:  a rubberized material to place on face or hands for  making a reusable mold for plaster.


negative space:  Empty space, surrounding a positive shape and also the space between two positive shapes.  The interior space or space that surrounds a piece of sculpture.


organic shapes:  A free-form, irregular shape.


outline:  A line that can define only the outside edge of an object, not its contour,   but a resulting silhouette of the form.


oxidation:  The act of combining with oxygen, usually at high temperatures.


plasticity: The quality of clay which permits it to be readily shaped into different forms without cracking or crumbling.


polyester casting resin:  liquid material that is mixed and, when cast into a mold, hardens clear.


primary colors:  The hues that in theory cannot be created from mixture of other  hues and from which all other hues are created. (R,Y,B)


print:  Any one of multiple impressions made from a master image.


proportion:  The relationship between the parts and of the parts to the whole.


quarry:  a place where sculpture materials are mined.


relief:  A type of sculpture in which forms project from a background.


roughing out:  removing the extraneous material from a carving surface prior to refining.


scale:  The comparative size of a thing in relation to another like thing, or its “normal” or “expected” size.


scoring:  Making marks on the edges of two pieces of clay before joining with slip.


scumbling:  Adding a thin layer of color (paint) over a dry underlayer, allowing the underlayer to show through.


secondary colors:  a hue created by combining two primary colors. (O,G,V)


shade:  A color or hue modified by the addition of another color, black.



simulated texture:  The imitation of the tactile quality of a surface,  a suggested imitation of the subject’s texture.


slab:  Clay evenly rolled and formed and formed by draping or joining.


slip:  Liquid clay, clay in liquid suspension, used for joining.


still life:  A work of art that consists of an arrangement of inanimate objects.


stipple:  To make individual small dots with a stiff brush in a slightly darker color(s) 


subjective:  As opposed to objective, full of personal emotions and feelings.


symbol:  An image, sign, or element, such as color, that is understood, by content, to suggest some meaning.


symmetry:  When two halves of a composition correspond to one another in terms of size, shape, and placement of forms.


tensegrity:  refers to the integrity of structures as being based in a synergy between balanced tension and compression components.


texture:  The actual tactile characteristics of a thing, or the visual simulation of such characteristics.


three-dimensional space:  Any space that possesses height, width, and depth.


tint:  A color or hue modified by the addition of another color, white.


value:  The range from light to dark or from white, through gray to black.


wedging:     A process by which clay is kneaded to force out air bubbles, to align coarse particles, and to develop a homogeneous consistency.


wheel:  Machine for making symmetrical pots; driven by hand, foot, or electric power.


wire bending jig:  small metal or wooden form that holds wire while it is being bent..




Rev. 01-19-2007



Periods in Art History


Abstract Expressionism: A painting style of the late 1940s and early 1950s, predominantly American, characterized by its rendering of expressive content by abstract or nonobjective means.


Art Deco: A popular art and design style of the 1920s and 1930s associated with the 1925 Exposition International des Arts in Paris and characterized by its integration of organic and geometric forms.


Art Nouveau: The art and design style characterized by curvilinear and organic forms that dominated popular culture at the turn of the century, and that achieved particular success at the 1900 International Exposition in Paris.


Baroque: A dominant style of art in Europe in the seventeenth century characterized by its theatrical, or dramatic, use of light and color, by its ornate forms, and by its disregard for classical principles of composition.


Bauhaus:  A German school of design, founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 and closed by Hitler in 1933.


Cubism: A style of art pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the first decade of the twentieth century, noted for the geometry of its forms, its fragmentation of the object, and its increasing abstraction.


Dada: An art movement that originated during World War I in a number of world capitals, including Paris, Berlin, Zurich and New York,  and that was so different from traditional styles and materials of art that it was considered by many to be “anti-art.”


Expressionism : An art that stresses the psychological and emotional content of the work, associated particularly with German art in the early twentieth century.


Futurism:  An early twentieth century art movement, characterized by its desire to celebrate the movement and speed of modern, industrial life.


Impressionism:  A late nineteenth century art movement, created in France, and characterized by its use of discontinuous strokes of color meant to reproduce the effects of light.


Minimalism:  A style of art, predominantly American, that dates from the mid-twentieth century, characterized by its rejection of expressive content and its use of “minimal” formal means.


Neoclassicism:  A style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that  was influenced by the Greek Classical style.


Optical Painting (Op Art):  An art style particularly popular in the 1960’s in which line and color are manipulated in ways that stimulate the eye into believing it perceives movement.


Pop Art:  A style arising in the early 1960s characterized by its emphasis on the forms and imagery of mass culture.


Post-Impressionism:  A name that describes the painting of a number of artists, working in widely different styles, in the last decades of the nineteenth century in France.


Rococo:   A style popular in the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century, particularly in France, characterized by curvilinear forms, pastel colors, and its light, often frivolous subject matter.


Romanesque Art:  The dominant style of art and architecture in Europe from the    eighth to the twelfth centuries, characterized, in architecture by the round arch and the barrel vault.


Romanticism:  A dramatic, emotional, and subjective art rising in the early nineteenth century in opposition to discipline of Neoclassicism.


Surrealism:  A style of art of the early twentieth century that emphasized dream imagery, chance operations, and rapid, thoughtless form;  the unconscious mind.