Glossary of Terms

this is a glossary of terms for all things art including watercolour

in no particular order and under construction, so please do check back regularly for updates:

UNDERPAINTING: a process of blocking-in (or washing-in) a preliminary light to mid value around whites and lights. 

COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS:  colours opposite each other on the the colour wheel. In watercolour, used to neutralise and/or darken saturate colours

SATURATE COLOUR: colour of high chroma or intensity - bright yellow, bright red etc. On a colour wheel, high chromatic colours are placed on the outer rim of the wheel. 

NEUTRAL COLOURS: any colour that not high in chroma/intensity. in watercolour, a pigment that has been mixed with its complement, eg green added to red. On the colour wheel, colours placed between central black and outer saturate hues have been neutralized with a complement, the closer to the center of the wheel the "blacker" they become.

HUE: the name of a colour eg red, blue, yellow.

TINTING STRENGTH: a pigments darkness or lightness, eg it's ability to mix dark values

MODELLING: the use of value to describe a shape

FORM SHADOW: the shadow created by the form of the shape on the side away from the light source.

CAST SHADOW: a shadow cast from one object onto another eg an apple casts a shaow onto the table

SILHOUETTE PAINTING: painting a shape that looks like the whole form of a person/boat/car in shadow in flat wash

FLAT WASH: a wash of pigment in one value without gradation

GRADATION: A graded wash from light to dark or vice versa

COMPOSITION: aka design, sometimes considered a dirty word in fine art, but EVERYTHING is designed (toothbrush, your car and cellphone, your diamond ring!) so snobs should shift aside. 

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN: ideas used in the creation of a design. Balance, harmony, contrast, dominance, unity, repetition, gradation (my classes are pretty much based on this but I don't always say "the Balance principle of design ..." you have to pick it up and run with it!

ELEMENTS OF DESIGN: line, shape, value, colour, texture, size, direction (see principles)


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  • Very useful information. I have copied it for future reference. 

    Thankyou Amanda. 

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