Glossary of Painting and Drawing Terms

Learn basic terms describing fine wall-hung art

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Acrylic A clear plastic used as a vehicle in paints and as a casting material in sculpture. Noted for its quick drying and luminosity.

Charcoal A drawing pencil or crayon made from a black, porous carbonaceous material. Also, charred twigs of willow or vine used by artists because of the various degrees of value achieved when the charcoal is smudged. Collage A picture built up wholly or partly from pieces of paper, cloth, or other material stuck on to the canvas or other ground.

Conté A proprietary name for synthetic black, red or brown chalk. Nicolas Conté invented the modern lead pencil.

Egg tempera A water-base paint made with egg yolk binder.

Encaustic Paint made from pigment mixed with melted wax and fixed by heat after application on the surface.

Fresco (Ital. fresh) Wall-painting on plaster with a water-based medium. True fresco (buon fresco) is one of the most permanent forms of wall decoration because the pigment is applied while the plaster is still damp.

Glazing The process of applying a transparent layer of oil paint over a solid one so that the color of the first is profoundly modified.

Gold leaf (Also Silver leaf) Gold (or silver) beaten into extremely thin sheets; used for gilding.

Impasto The application of thick layers of paint. When paint is so heavily applied that it stands up with the tracks of the brush evident, it is 'heavily impasted'.

Naïve art An art form going back centuries through Chagall and Rousseau to peasant art and primitive art. A childlike, primitive depiction of life.

Oil A paint in which a drying oil is the vehicle. Oil color is more easily mixed than acrylic color.

Pastel A combination of pure pigment and binder forming permanent-colored sticks; noted for colors which go from soft to brilliant. When the ground is completely covered with pigment, the work is considered a pastel painting; leaving much of the ground exposed produces a pastel sketch.

Plein air (Fr. open air) Referring to landscapes painted out of doors with the intention of catching the impression of the open air.

Watercolor A painting compound of water-soluble pigment:

transparent: paint which acts like stain, producing additional colors when one is painted over another; white is produced by the paper's white surface.

gouache: opaque watercolors where white is produced by the application of pigment.

Originally appeared in
The Collector’s Guide to Santa Fe and Taos - Volume 11

Related Pages

Glossary of Ceramic and Clay Terms article
Glossary of Photography Terms article
Glossary of Prints and Original Graphics Terms article

Mixed Media Paintings article
White Gloves: Behind the Scenes . . . article
Works of Art on/of Paper article

Collector’s Resources


Susan J. Zimmerman rem By Appointment in Corrales | 505-280-4755
Plein Air Painters of New Mexico | TBD
Gallerie Imaginarium rem 301D Central Ave NW |
Purple Sage Gallery | 505-450-4059
Anne Sandry | 505-292-2977
Tucker Woods Fine Art | 505.306.4770

Elsewhere in New Mexico

Galeria de Corrales 3923 Corrales Road | 505-890-4929
Roswell Museum & Art Center | 575.624.6744
Las Cruces Museum of Art | 575-541-2137
Josie's Framery | 575-257-4156

Santa Fe

Pablo Milan Gallery | 505-820-1285
Arroyo rem | 505-988-1002
DR Contemporary rem 123 Galisteo Street |
McLarry Modern | 505-983-8589
The Karen Wray Gallery rem 2101 Trinity Drive Suite B-2 | 505.660.6382
GVG Contemporary | 505-982-1494
Alan Barnes Fine Art rem 402 Old Santa Fe Trail - next to The Pink | 505.989.3599
Santa Fe Art Collector | 505-988-5545
Dominique Samyn-Werbrouck | 505-424-1742
Pippin Contemporary | 505.795.7476
Worrell Gallery | 505.989.4900
Cardona-Hine Gallery | 505-689-2253
Gallery Chartreuse rem 216 Washington Ave | 505-992-3391
Chuck Chroma rem Firegod Gallery - 217 East Palace Ave | 303-956-9583
Gallery 822 | 505-989-1700
GF Contemporary | 505.983.3707
Greenberg Fine Art | 505-955-1500
Indigo Gallery | 505-438-6202
Matthews Gallery | 505-992-2882
Pena Studio Gallery 235 Don Gaspar Ave | 505-820-2286
Barbara Meikle Fine Art | 505-992-0400
Lori Snable rem 607 Paseo del la Loma | 505-795-1212
Valdes Art Workshops pic 1006 Marquez Place | 505-982-0017
Winterowd Fine Art | 505-992-8878
Nausika Richardson rem County Road 0064 #30, Dixon | 505-579-4612


Baumann Gallery pic 203A Ledoux Street | 575-758-9119
Wilder Nightingale Fine Art | 575-758-3255


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