j. michael howard
visual artist
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Fine Art Terms and Lingo
Gallery , Studio , Cafe lingo for the Art connoisseur


J. Michael Howard
Realism. "Cootie"
acrylic painting by J. Michael Howard


Alla prima - A method of oil painting in which the picture is completed with the first application of paints to the entire area, instead of being built up by layering. Italian for "the first time."

Anamorphosis - An image that appears distorted unless it is viewed from a special angle, or with a mirror, or with some other device. A famous example of such an anamorphic image is that of a skull in the painting The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein (German, 1497/8-1543). In photography, an anamorphic lens is capable of compressing a wide angle of view onto a standard frame of film. A similar projection system can be used to reform such an image onto a wide screen.

Appliqué - A design made by stitching pieces of colored fabric onto a larger piece of cloth. Appliqué is used for wall hangings and as decoration on clothing, quilts and pillows.

Aquagraph - A monoprint made by painting with a water medium on a metal, glass, or plastic plate and pulling one print from that plate. Additional colors can be printed by aligning the paper to the plate design.

Aquarelle - The technique of drawing or painting with transparent watercolor, or a piece of work made this way. French for "watercolor."

Atelier - French. An artist's or an artisan's studio; a workshop. Sometimes refers to a studio where an artist trains for his profession.

Atlas - A muscular male nude, either carved or painted, acting as a column or pillar, carrying an architrave or other architectural element. This is the male counterpart of a caryatid. Named after Atlas, the Titan (giant) who in Greek mythology was condemned to carry the earth and the heavens on his shoulders. The atlant, employed in both Roman and Greek architecture, was revived in Baroque architecture and painting. The Romans called such figures telamones.

Avant-garde - French for vanguard. Artists and their work which stand in the forefront of new ideas, often in opposition to established ideas and traditions; art that's ahead of its time, innovative, experimental. The modern era has invariably had a flourishing avant-garde, but many have said it is no longer possible in a postmodern era. The bourgeoisie, once alienated by the avant-garde, rarely question any longer the presentation of any avant-garde's productions by their public institutions.

Batik - A method of dyeing cloth which involves the use of removable wax to repel (resist) the dye on parts of the design where dye is not desired. Batik originated in Indonesia, where its production continues to thrive.

Bibelot - A small art object, which is either rare or decorative. Also, a miniature book, especially one finely made.

Bohemianism - Originally, the alternative lifestyle of the avant-garde creative community of the Romantic movement during the nineteenth century, especially characterized by anti-bourgeois and anti-intellectual attitudes. This way of life was thought to have been similar to that of apparently rootless Gypsies from the Bohemian region of Czechoslovakia. This mythology continues to add luster to manners and values conspicuously different from those expected or approved by the majority of society.

Bokusaiga - In Japanese art tradition, an ink painting employing the traditional black color.

Bottega - The Italian word for studio or workshop. Often used to identify an object made in the studio of a master when his pupils' or assistants' work on it appears to dominate his own.

Bozzetto - An Italian term for a sculptured sketch made as a model, typically of wax or clay. This is the Italian equivalent to a maquette, a French term used more often by English speakers than is bozzetto.

Canon - In art, the body of unquestionably important artists (DWMs-- dead white males) and works. Until recently the canon was seldom challenged, and changed at a sluggish pace. Now it's being relentlessly challenged by art historians and critics recovering forgotten and ignored artists (especially by women, non-whites, and outsiders) both within and outside the Western world. The scope of what is considered art has been widening as new fields, including photography, performance art, video, crafts, and design, are added to what amounts to an ever-increasing canon. Postmodernism, however, has put in question the very idea of an irreducible list of masters and masterpieces. So, when referring to the canon today, one should specify what sort of canon one means.

Cloisonnisme - Refers to the painting style of several French artists of the nineteenth century, reminiscent of the look of cloisonné enamel and stained glass windows. Gregg Simpson, a contemporary Canadian artist, has painted a series of what he calls Cloisonnist Landscapes.

Conté crayon - The common and brand name for a drawing medium comparable to colored chalk. It is available in several colors. Most common are red-brown (called sanguine, French for blood), dark-brown (called bistre), black, grays, and white.

Dilettante - A dabbler in an art or a field of knowledge; an amateur

Divisionism - A system of painting in small dots of color placed in relation to each other based on certain color theories. Also see neo-impressionism.

Femmage - A type of collage that includes textile art, traditionally made by women.

Hatching - Creating tonal or shading effects with closely spaced parallel lines. When more such lines are placed at an angle across the first, it is called cross-hatching. Artists use this technique, varying the size, closeness and other qualities of the lines, most commonly in drawing, linear painting, engraving, and ethnic.

Monoprint - One-of-a-kind print conceived by the artist and printed by or under the artist's supervision.

Montage (Collage) - An artwork comprising of portions of various existing images such as from photographs or prints and arranged so that they join, overlap or blend to create a new image.

Origami - The craft or technique of folding paper into shapes, representing animals, for example. A decorative object made by folding paper.

Parsemage - A method of making an image by scattering dust from charcoal or colored chalk on water and then skimming the design off by passing a stiff paper or cardboard just under the water's surface. Parsemage was invented by surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.

Pastiche - A work of art made in admitted imitation of several style of other works. A composition of incongruous parts; a hodgepodge or pasticcio. Often a pastiche is made in order to ridicule the style of the artist it imitates.

Rubénisme - The doctrine that color, rather than form, was the most important element in painting.

Sericel - An image which may or may not have appeared in an animated film that has been printed -- by serigraphraphy -- onto an animation cel, usually as part of a limited edition. A sericel would not have been photographed in the making of an animated film.

Variegated - Marked with patches, spots, or streaks of different colors. In contrast to a surface having either one color or a regular pattern or texture, a variegated surface has a varied design of several colors and / or textures.

Vignette - A decorative design placed at breaks in an article, at the beginning or end of a book or chapter of a book, or along the border of a page. Sometimes, an unbordered picture, often a portrait the edges of which fade off or blur into the color of its surrounding area.

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