Glossary of Art Terms

Abstract: any technique whereby certain aspects of a literal reference are taken from it and used in some fashion to create an image bearing possibly no resemblance to the literal image. The rest of the literal information is thrown away. From the Latin, to draw away or draw from.

Achromatic colour: these are the colours black, white and their admixtures, the greys. They are not found in the spectrum of light.

Admixture: a mixture of two or more colours.

Chroma: the relative purity or greyness of a chromatic color. Synonyms are intensity, brightness and saturation.

Chromostatic: a term describing art of which the perceived colour and hence image, does not vary as the observer moves in viewing the work. The opposite of kinechromatic. [Greek khrōma 'colour' and statikos 'causing to stand']

Chromatic colour: these are colours and their admixtures commonly associated with the spectrum of light, such as red.

Colour: a property associated with the visual perception of objects. It includes both chromatic and achromatic colours.

Colour triangle: a diagram by American art historian Faber Birren showing the relationship of many colour terms.

Grey (Gray): a shade of white or a tint of black.

Hue: another term for chromatic colour.

Information: a difficult term to define, Wikipedia states it "is the state of a system of interest". When we observe a real world scene or a human created image of something, the visual image of interest can be analyzed in terms of elements such as shapes, lines, patterns, textures and their colour characteristics. Each element and each of any subcomponents and their characteristics provide some information to us about the image. A synonym would be detail. In simplest terms, it is everything that you see in an image.

Integration. A compositional aspect of design whereby various design elements are made to work together by overcoming perceived isolation. Lack of integration is particularly a problem for mixed media and abstract artists who tend to introduce isolated elements that have no cohesiveness with the rest of the image.

Kinechromatic: a term describing art of which the perceived colour and hence image, varies as the observer moves in viewing the work. [Greek kineō 'move' and khrōma 'colour']

Nonobjective: any technique whereby an image is created representing or intended to represent no natural or actual object, figure, or scene.

Nonrepresentational: The online Britannia encyclopedia shows this to be an equivalent term with nonobjective.

Shade: an admixture of a hue and black, darker in value than the hue.

Tonal painting. A painting in which the artist uses tonal or neutralized color predominantly, with little or no high chroma color. Also called value painting.

Tint: an admixture of a hue and white, lighter in value than the hue.

Tone: an admixture of a hue and grey. Also referred to as a neutralized color.

Value: the relative lightness or, equivalently, darkness of a colour. Dark colours are said to have lower values while light colours have higher values.