Glossary of Art Terms
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Acrylic - A synthetic-base paint. Its working properties are similar to oil paint, although acrylic dries more quickly and forms a somewhat glossier surface.
ACRYLITE FF - (clear) sheet is a continuously manufactured crystal clear acrylic sheet, produced by CYRO's proprietary technology. ACRYLITE FF sheet is a rigid, impact-resistant, weatherable, light weight thermoplastic offering excellent optical quality. Half the weight of glass with many times the impact resistance, ACRYLITE FF sheet offers the easy handling and processing of extruded sheet, along with the high optical characteristics and low stress levels expected of cast sheet products. ACRYLITE sheet products can be easily cut, routed, drilled, and cemented. This product has a significantly higher cost than glass but it makes the trouble free shipping of framed art possible.
ACRYLITE P-99 - (non-glare) matte finish acrylic sheet, minimizes reflection for glare-free viewing. produced by CYRO's proprietary technology. ACRYLITE P-99 sheet is a rigid, impact-resistant, weatherable, light weight thermoplastic offering excellent optical quality. Half the weight of glass with many times the impact resistance, ACRYLITE P-99 sheet offers the easy handling and processing of extruded sheet, along with the high optical characteristics and low stress levels expected of cast sheet products. ACRYLITE sheet products can be easily cut, routed, drilled, and cemented. This product has a significantly higher cost than regular non-glare glass but it makes the trouble free shipping of framed art possible.
Artist Enhanced - A term used to describe prints to which an artist has added color or washes after the piece has been printed. (See Hand-embellished)
Artist-Signed Stamp - A stamp signed by the artist and framed in combination with a stamp print.
Artist Proof (AP)- Often numbered, these copies of a limited edition print are signed and typically titled "Artist Proof." –Artist proofs originally were the first copies printed and were used to indicate the artist’s approval of color reproduction and other mechanical aspects of the printing process. Once prized as best quality copies (see Lithography). Artist proofs now exist solely as part of the printmaking tradition and are of a quality similar to the standard edition print. Artist's proofs are distinguished by the abbreviation AP and are numbered separately; they often represent 10 percent of an edition and are slightly more expensive than prints in the regular edition.
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Canvas Print - A reproduction in which an image is printed directly onto canvas. These prints can be produced using offset lithography, digital printing or other methods. Sometimes artists will add brush strokes directly onto the canvas after the piece has been printed.
Canvas Transfer - A reproduction in which inks are chemically lifted off a piece of paper and applied to a piece of canvas. Some processes can replicate the texture and appearance of an original painting.
Certificate of Authenticity - A warranty card or statement of authenticity of a limited edition print that records the title of the work, the artist’s name, the edition size and the print's number within the edition, the number of artist's proofs and the release date. It is a guarantee that the edition is limited and that the image will not be published again in the same form.
Chromolithography - A color-printing process in which separate printing plates are used to apply each component color. Often called "four-color printing because the full range of color tones are achieved with only four plates – red, blue, yellow and black.
Coated Paper - Paper manufactured with a thin surface coating of clay. This coating produces an extremely sharp, finely detailed image because it prevents ink from penetrating the paper fibers.
Commission - To order an original work from an artist.
Commission Print - Also called 'time-limited edition' print. The number of orders received as of an established deadline date determines the edition size of this print.
Condition - A prints physical condition influences its market value. Condition typically is described as ranging from ‘mint' - completely undamaged and original - to "poor." A poor-condition print may be creased, torn, water or tape-blemished, trimmed smaller than its original size or otherwise damaged.
Conservation Framing - Methods of mounting and framing that preserve a print in original mint condition. One important aspect of conservation framing is that all material in actual contact with the print contains no chemicals that might eventually damage the paper or the inked image: these materials are usually described as "acid-free". UV protection is also considered in conservation framing.
Conservation Stamp Prints - Prints that have been reproduced for sale with conservation stamps. Sales of these stamps and prints often benefit conservation programs.
Countersignature - Signature of someone other than the artist that adds either additional authenticity or historical value to a limited-edition print.
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Dealers - Galleries, collectible shops or individuals who carry and sell artwork. Authorized dealers are those who, by signed agreement, carry and sell the artwork represented by certain print publishers.
Diptych (dip'tik) - A painting done in two separate panels. Each part is a complete work in itself, but when presented together they form a larger fully integrated work.
Digital Print - A reproduction in which a digital file of an original painting is printed by a special inkjet printer that sprays ink directly onto the surface of a substrate. These digital prints, sometimes called giclées or iris prints, can match the colors of the original with millions of possible hues. (See Giclée)
Distributor - A person or company responsible for marketing and selling prints and supplying prints to galleries. Sometimes the publisher and distributor are the same entity.
Dry Mount - Framing method in which a print is fastened to a stiff backing with non-liquid adhesive. Dry mounting is not recommended for prints of any value.
Dry Point - A free-hand drawing scratched or engraved on a metal plate with a sharp tool. The plate is inked and then wiped to remove all ink except what remains within the cut grooves. Paper is laid over the plate and the ink transferred to it using rollers under high pressure. Dry points are often incorrectly called "etchings".
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Edition - The number of printed copies made of an original work. The standard phrase "edition size" therefore refers to the number of copies, not a print's physical dimensions. Edition size generally does not include artist proofs or any special edition copies that might be made, these special editions such as printer’s proofs, conservation editions, etc., are all numbered separately.
Etching - The process of rendering an image upon a metal plate by using nitric or other acid to dissolve portions of the metal surface. The image is transferred to paper in much the same manner as a dry point. Properly called a "print" or "proof" the resulting copy is more commonly called an etching.
- G -
Giclée – A term often used to describe prints or prints on canvas made using digital files and inkjet printers. (See Digital Prints)
Glazing - Glass or acrylic set or made to be set in a frame that protects the artwork from light, dust and other environmental hazards. There are different levels of glazing, from lightweight acrylic and regular glass to more expensive specialty products like anti-glare and anti-reflective glazing.
Gouache (gwash) - A medium in which opaque pigments are mixed with water and a preparation of gum. Gouache is also used to describe a painting made with such pigments.
Ground - The surface upon which a painting is done - canvas, Masonite, and so on.
- H -
Hand-embellished – A term used to describe prints to which an artist has added color or washes after the piece has been printed. (See Artist Enhanced)
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Image Size - Actual dimensions of a printed image. This refers only to the image itself and not to the size of the paper it is printed on.
International Editions - A series of prints/canvas that are distributed outside the country where the artist resides.
Issue Price - The original price of a limited edition print when first offered for retail sale.
- L -
Limited Edition Print – A reproduction of an original work of art that is signed and sequentially numbered by the artist. The total number of prints is fixed or limited by the artist or the publisher. Limited edition can be offset lithographs, digital prints, serigraphs or any other type of reproduction.
Linocut - An image cut into the surface of linoleum, usually, mounted on a block of wood. The surface is then inked, wiped, and the image transferred to paper by pressure.
Lithography - Originally, a method of printing using a smooth slab of porous stone upon which an image is drawn with a grease crayon. After the drawing is made, the artist or printer treats the entire surface with solutions of gum arabic and nitric acid. The gum arabic surrounds the grease and at the same time chemically prevents ink from adhering to the undrawn areas; the nitric acid helps the grease and the gum arabic penetrate the pores of the stone. The plate is then wiped down with a solvent such as turpentine to remove all grease from the surface.
To print a lithograph, the printer flushes the surface with water, which is absorbed by the undrawn area but the greasy drawn area rejects. The printer then applies oil-base ink with a roller, and since water will not unite with oil the ink sticks only to the grease and thereby forms the image that can be pressure transferred to paper.
In a more modern, mechanized process called "Offset lithography," the image to be printed is photographically applied to a metal plate that is then mounted onto the roller of a printing press. Ink is applied to the plate, transferred to a rubber roller called a "blanket" and from the blanket onto paper. Offset lithography is today the most widely used method of printing.
Because the older method brings paper and printing plate into direct contact with one another, the plate suffers a certain degree of wear as each copy is pulled and this is why low-number prints and artist proofs traditionally have been more desirable than copies made toward the end of the press run. Plate-wear is not a significant factor in offset lithography so there is no longer any actual difference in quality between the first print of an edition and the last one.
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Margin - The white unprinted area surrounding a printed image.
Matting – Decorative board used in framing that provides contrast between the image and the moulding. Most matting is acid-free and is an important part of the conservation framing technique.
Medallion - Cast-metal medallions sometimes are issued in conjunction with the publication of prints, especially stamp prints. Design of the medallion artwork usually duplicates some portion of the print. Such medallions can be gold-plated, silver, bronze or even pewter.
Medium (plural: media) - The material or technique used in creating a work of art. Oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolor, bronze, wood, and stone are all examples of artistic media.
Mint Stamp - An unsigned stamp framed with a copy of the print from which the stamp was made. (See Artist Signed Stamp)
Mixed Media - An artwork combing two or more artistic media - for example, scratchboard and paint, pencil and watercolor - bronze and wood.
Moulding – A piece of wood, plastic, metal, or other material used to frame a piece of art.
- N -
Numbered - Each copy of a limited edition print is marked with two numbers separated by a slash mark. The first number identifies the particular copy, and the second indicates edition size: 42/950, for instance, identifies print number 42 of a 950-copy edition. (See Artist Proof and Lithography)
- O -
Offset Lithograph – A photomechanical reproduction created by the separation of colors in the original and then the recombining of those colors on a printing press. Most posters and open-edition prints and many limited-edition prints are offset lithographs.
Oil – Paint made of pigment mixed with oil usually linseed. The oil serves to keep the paint fluid for a period of time and then as a drying and hardening agent.
Open Edition - A print produced with no predetermined limit to the number of copies that might be made. Open edition prints may or may not be signed by the artist.
Original Lithograph - Original pieces of art created on the printing press by an artist or master printer who creates the master plates and executes the printing process. No original exists from which the prints are reproduced, and each print is an original work of art.
Original Painting - A one-of-a-kind image created by an artist that often sells for several thousands of dollars.
Original Prints - Prints, such as serigraphs or original lithographs, that are created without the use of photography. They are original because every print in an edition is created directly by the artist and may vary slightly from the other prints in the edition.
Overall Print Size - The physical dimensions of the paper upon which a print is made.
- P -
Pastel - Ground-up pigment mixed with gum and formed into crayons used for drawing. Also denotes a soft, pale shade of any color and additionally, any work of art made with pastels.
Plein Air - Means "Open Air" or "Outdoors". Often done quickly or on the
spot. These paintings are usually less detailed and more impressionistic.
Portfolio – Prints by one artist that are grouped together and sold as a set.
Poster - A reproduction that is usually printed in unlimited quantities with a lower grade of paper and inks than limited- or open-edition prints.
Press Proof - (PP) Off press proofing can be useful in predicting quality of materials prior to production printing. Small quantities of ink and small sheet sizes can be studied quickly for physical and optical performance properties.
Publisher - A company whose business is to produce and market prints.
- R -
Rag Paper - Paper containing a certain proportion of cotton fiber in its physical structure used for prints. The higher the cotton content the higher quality the paper.
Remarque (re mark') - small original drawing or sketch made by an artist in the margin of a print. Remarques originally were used to identify certain stages in the process of preparing a plate for printing: now, however, they represent means by which artists personalize prints.
Reproduction - An original work of art that has been replicated by photographic or other methods.
Restrikes - Additional prints made after the original edition has been exhausted.
- S -
Scratchboard – Cardboard coated with chalk forms a smooth, glossy surface and is used as a ground for drawing or painting in ink. Parts of the image may then be scratched off with a pointed tool to create a variety of effects.
Secondary Market Value - The value of a print, determined by supply and demand, after all copies have been sold at original issue price. (See Issue Price)
Self-published - An artist who publishes and markets his or her own prints, often with the help of family. Some self-published artists also work with distributors.
Serigraph – A print created by using the process of using stencils made on tightly stretched silk. Ink is forced through the silk and onto paper to make copies of the image. The process frequently is called "Silksreening" and the prints are called "serigraphs" or "silkscreens." Because each color requires a separate screen and a separate step in the printing process, serigraphs often come in small editions.
Serilith - As the name suggests, the combination of serigraphy and lithography.
Seriset – A seriset is similar to a serigraph. A serigraph is normally called a hand pulled serigraph in that each silk screen is hand pulled. A seriset is the same process but the screens are mechanically pulled.
Signature - The artist's signature applied to the original work as it appears in a print - or more frequently, the artist's signature in pencil on each copy of a print.
Signed and Numbered (s/n) - A print bearing an original signature and copy/edition numbers.
Signed in the Plate - Refers to the artist’s signature on an original work as it appears in a print.
Signed Only (SO) - A print signed by the artist but not numbered. (See Open Edition)
Sold Out - Said of a limited edition print once it is no longer available at issue price and is being sold instead at secondary market prices.
Stamp Print - Limited edition print made from a work originally created as the design for a conservation stamp. Print and stamp customarily are framed together. (See Conservation Stamp Prints)
Substrate – The canvas, paper, or other material on which the image is printed.
- T -
Tempera - Pigments mixed with a water-soluble base such as casein, size, or egg yolk. Tempera dries with a flat, dull finish.
Time-Limited Edition – An edition whose size is established by the number of orders a publisher receives during a set period of time. (See Commission Print)
Triptych (trip-tik) - A work of art done in three separate panels. (See Diptych)
- W -
Watercolor – Pigments dissolved in water. Watercolor painting typically is done on relatively rough-surfaced, absorbent paper.
WOODCUT - Print made from an image carved into the surface of a wooden block. Blocks used for woodcuts normally are sawn parallel to the grain of the wood. A woodcut made from a block sawn across the grain - providing a hard, dense surface into which very fine lines may be cut - is often called a wood engraving.