Artwork in which the subject matter is stated in a brief, simplified manner; little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically, and objects are often simplified or distorted.


The process of adding or joining parts and/or visual elements together to create a painting, collage or sculpture (as opposed to subtractive).


Closely related colors; a color scheme that combines several hues next to each other on the color wheel.


part of the picture plane that seems to be farthest from the viewer.


An artistic composition made of various materials (e.g., paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface.

Color wheel

A circular diagram of the spectrum used to show the relationships between the colors

Complementary colors

Colors opposite one another on the color wheel. Red/green, blue/orange, yellow/violet are complementary colors.


The overall placement and organization of elements in a work of art, as well as the interrelationships between individual elements.

Contour line

Line that represents the edges and ridges of a form, without tonal variation, shading, etc.


Differences between two or more elements, usually the lightest and darkest areas of an image.

Cool colors

Colors suggesting coolness, blues, greens, violets and their variants.


The plan, conception, or organization of a work of art; the arrangement of independent parts (the elements of art) to form a coordinated whole.

Elements of Art

Sensory components used to create and talks about works of art; line, color, shape/form, texture, value, space.


Special attention or embellishment on an element, characteristic, or object in a work of art that makes it stand out from others.


Part of a two-dimensional artwork that appears to be nearer the viewer or in the “front” of the image.

Middle ground and background are the parts of the picture that appear to be farther and farthest away.


(1) The particular characteristics of an artwork’s visual elements (as distinguished from its subject matter or content). (2) A three-dimensional volume or the illusion of three dimensions; related to shape (which is 2-D).


Purpose and use of a work of art.

Gesture drawing

The drawing of lines quickly and loosely to show movement in a subject.

Horizon Line

Point where the sky meets the land.

Installation art

Artwork that is specifically located/installed in one place.


Plural of medium referring to materials used to make works of art.

Middle ground

Area of a two-dimensional work of art between the foreground (closest to the front) and background (furthest receded).

Mixed media

An artwork in which more than one type of art material.


Use of only one hue or color, that can vary in value or intensity.


The principle of design that deals with the creation of action.

Negative space

Shapes or spaces that are or represent the areas unoccupied by objects.

Neutral colors

Black, white, gray, and variations of brown. They are included in the color family called earth colors.


Refers to shapes or forms not of geometric shape, having irregular edges, surfaces, or objects similar to natural forms.


design, image, or shape repeated in a predictable combination.


A system for representing three-dimensional objects viewed in spatial recession on a two-dimensional surface.

Point of view

The angle from which a viewer sees the objects or scene in an image.

Positive space

Shapes or spaces in an image that represent solid objects or forms.

Primary colors

Red, yellow, and blue. From these all other colors are created.


The scale relationships of one part to the whole and of one part to another. In images of figures, the appropriate balance between the size of body and its limbs.


Relative size, proportion; the determination of measurements of dimensions within a design or artwork.


Three-dimensional artwork to be seen either in the round (from all sides) or as a bas relief (a low relief in which figures protrude only slightly from the background).

Secondary colors

Colors that are created by the mixture of two primary colors, i.e. red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, blue and red make violet, etc.


A color produced by the addition of black.

Still life

A specific type of visual artwork representing one or more inanimate objects.


The way parts are arranged or put together to form a whole.


A set of characteristics of the art of a culture, a period, or school of art; the characteristic expression of individual artists or groups.


The parts of an image organized so that one side duplicates, or mirrors, the other.


Artistic method accomplished by removing or taking away from the original creative material, (the opposite of additive).


The surface quality of materials, either actual (tactile) or implied (visual). It is one of the elements of art.


A subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation.


Having height, width, and depth (3-D).


A slight or pale coloration; a variation of a color produced by adding white to it and characterized by a low saturation and high lightness.


Lightness or darkness of a hue or neutral color. A value scale shows the range of values from black to white and light to dark.

Warm colors

Colors suggesting warmth, such as reds, yellows, and oranges.