Abstract – work in which little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically. Objects are simplified, distorted or unrecognisable.

Aesthetic – Qualities or experience based upon how the senses are affected or stimulated; appreciative of, responsive to, or passionate about beauty.

Analogous – Closely related aspects of a work to itself or something else.

Assemblage – The process of adding or joining elements together to create a painting, collage or sculpture (as opposed to subtractive).

Symmetrical – The way in which elements are arranged to create a feeling of equilibrium in an artwork. The three types of visual balance are symmetry, asymmetry, and radial.

Atmospheric – Resembling or representing the atmosphere, Intended to evoke a particular emotional tone or aesthetic quality

Balance – The way in which the elements in visual arts are arranged to create a feeling of equilibrium in an artwork. The three types of balance are symmetry, asymmetry, and radial.

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

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

Content – The representations, messages, ideas, and/or feelings expressed in a work of art.

Contrast – Differences between two or more elements in a composition; juxtaposition of dissimilar elements in a work of art.

CraftThe skill and technique of creating with careful attention to detail and discipline.

Creativity – The act and the experience of playfully thinking, reacting, and working in an imaginative and idiosyncratic way, characterised by a high degree of innovation, originality, divergent thinking, and risk taking.

Culture – The shared ideas, beliefs, customs, and experiences of a given people at a given time and place.

Conventions – Established ways of operating , e.g.; conventions for representing depth in imagery include overlapping, diminution of sizes, and perspective.

Distortion – The condition of being twisted or altered from a usual or regular shape. In visual art, distortion is often used as an expressive technique.

Emphasis – The increase or highlighting of one aspect, characteristic or quality in an image in relation to all others.

Expressive Qualities – The feelings, moods, and ideas communicated to the viewer through an work.

Figurative –  Based on the figure, usually in realistic or semi-realistic terms; also loosely used to describe an artist who paints or sculpts representationally.

Focal point – The location in a work of art to which attention becomes drawn and focused.

Form – The characteristics of an work’s physical aspects as distinguished from its subject matter or content.

Golden section An aesthetically favoured mathematical ratio said to be in tune with divine proportion and the harmony of the universe. 

Harmony – The principle of design that creates unity within a work of art.

Hue – The gradation or attribute of a colour that defines it’s general classification as a red, blue, yellow, green, or intermediate colour.

Intensity – Also called saturation; a colour is full in intensity only when in its pure form and unmixed and is made less intense by combining other colours.

Linear perspective – A graphic system to create the illusion of depth and mass on a flat surface.

Mass – The size and bulk of an object such as a building or a sculpture; the visual weight of an object.

Media – Plural of medium referring to materials used to make works of art.  Classifications of artworks, such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, film, etc.

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

Montage  A two-dimensional combining of photographic images into an image on paper or other material (a technique much used by the Surrealists in the 1920’s, such as Max Ernst).

Mood – The state of mind or emotion communicated in a work of art, through colour, composition, media, scale, size, etc.

Motif – A repeated pattern, often creating a sense of rhythm.

NarrativeA twork which conveys a story to the viewer.

Organic – Refers to shapes or forms not of geometric shape, which are partly or wholly derived from natural forms, such as curvilinear, irregular, indicative of growth, biologically-based, etc.

Pattern – A design, image, or shape repeated in a predictable combination.

Proportion  – 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.


Reflection – The personal and thoughtful consideration of an artwork, an aesthetic experience, or the creative process.

Rhythm – Repetitive visual elements that achieve a specific effect.

Rubric – A guide for judgment or scoring, a description of expectations.

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

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

Symbol A form, image, or subject representing a meaning other that the one with which it is usually associated.

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

Unity – A principle of design that connects a variety of elements of art and principles of design into a work of art with harmony and balance.

Value – 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.



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