Glossary of Painting Terms

A

Ariel Perspective

The technique of representing more distant objects in a scene with reduced colour intensity, tonally lighter, and with a more blue hue. This simulates more “air” (atmosphere) between the viewer and the distance.

B

Block-in

An early stage of painting development where the artist blocks in the main shapes or areas defined by the earlier sketch. This is often done using local colour or a generalised mid-tone for that area. 

C

Chroma

Purity and/or intensity of colour.

Complementary Colour

Complementary colours are pairs of colours that contrast with each other more than any other colour, and when placed side-by-side make each other look brighter. They occur as opposite on a standard colour wheel.

Composition

The arrangement and emphasis of elements and objects within a scene to hold and move the viewers eye through an image. In landscape painting, the artist decides how to crop a scene to the desired proportions, while selecting elements to focus the viewer’s attention and interest. Effective use of contrast, edges, tone, and shape all contribute to a good composition.

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

Local Colour

The “natural” color of a thing in ordinary light, uninfluenced by the proximity of highlight and shadow, or other colors. 

M

Medium

A painting medium is anything thing mixed with paint to change the body of the paint in some way. his can stiffen the paint, or more commonly thin it down to make it flow more across the painting surface. Mediums will often change the final sheen of painting, and can slow or speeding up drying times for some paints.

N

O

P

Pimary Colour

Primary colours are the three base colours which, when mixed together in various proportions and combinations, form all other colours; red, blue, and yellow.

Pochade Box

A portable easel and palette used for on-site plein-air (outdoor) painting.

Q

R

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds as a classic method for defining a composition by diving the artwork area into thirds both vertically and horizontally. You can then place important features of the composition at the intersection points. A common use for the horizontal divisions in landscape painting is selecting whether the sky or land is dominant based on making the dominant area occupy two-thirds of the horizontal composition.

S

Saturation

See “Chroma”

T

U

V

Value (tone)

Value refers to the grey scale range of a colour (dark to light). The contrast in adjacent values provides separation and creates depth in a painting. A blue can be quite dark (deep water) and also light (sky near horizon). Generally, light values occur in direct light and more distant objects, while darker values are present in closer objects and shadows.

W

X

Y

Z