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Glossary of Art Terms: 'P'

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Pigment that is dispersed into a liquid, called a vehicle or medium, which includes a binder to make it adhere both to itself and to the surface onto which it is applied. Types of artist's paints include tempera, watercolor, casein, acrylic, oil, alkyd, gouache, enamel, encaustic, fresco, lacquer and others.


A work of art that is created with some type of artist's paint as the primary medium. Today, the most common artist paint mediums are oil and acrylic. Watercolor works are indeed painted but are more commonly referred to as "watercolors" rather than as paintings. Paintings are created on a variety of surfaces, or supports, including stretched canvas and rigid panels made of wood, composite materials or even metal.

painting knife

A painting knife, as opposed to a palette knife, is used by some artists to apply, mix, blend or even remove paint from the painting surface. Although using knives offers the artist wonderful control for impasto techniques, it also offers the ability to produce smooth, trowelled strokes as well. Works that were created primarily using painting knives are often referred to as knife paintings.


During the ancient Roman period, parchment, made from sheepskin, replaced papyrus as the standard writing material. Eventually it was replaced when papermaking techniques were developed using various fibrous materials.


A certain distinct area of a painting that the artist may have implied as being an integral part of the work, or at least the viewer has perceived it to be of some significance and worthy of note.


Pastels are sticks made up of pigments and fillers mixed with gum and water, pressed and dried. These are used to apply color to a support, usually paper, to create drawings. Since the pigments are the same ones used in other mediums, such as oil and acrylic, the colors have similar archival qualities. The resultant works of art done with such pigments are also called pastels.


A thin film of green coloration that forms on the surface of copper and bronze as a result of oxidation and corrosion. This naturally occuring "rust" is often artificially produced to aesthetically enhance cast sculpture.


Someone who supports, protects, or sponsors an institution or an artist. Throughout history, art patrons are primarily responsible for the advancement of the arts and have had significant impact on major art movements.


An art movement where the main objective was to avoid any semblance of the painting medium while aiming for exactness so the image would appear to be actually a photograph. Often the work was, in fact, executed from a photograph, thereby even simulating the narrow depth of field, lens distortion and other characteristics inherent in photographic prints.


A method of painting developed in France in the 1880s in which the image is comprised of carefully arranged dots of color. When viewed from a distance, these dots of color appear to blend together to form other colors. Georges Seurat was the leading exponent. The most widely known work of Pointillism is Seurat's "Un dimanche après-midi À l'Ile de la Grande Jatte" (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte).

Pop Art

An art movement that began in England in the 1950s and then made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists offer a novel look at familiar images of the popular culture such as comic strips and supermarket products. Leading Pop artists were Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.

'Jaime' - Original Pencil Portrait by Curtis Verdun
'Jaime' - Original Pencil Portrait by Curtis Verdun

An artist's depiction, most often an oil painting, of a person, traditionally in a formal setting. When well done, portraits usually provide an artistic representation of the subject as well as revealing some of their character and personality. Portraits can also be of a group of people or even pets. See oil portrait


As both an extension and a rejection of Impressionism, this movement aimed for greater expression using more exaggerated forms and vivid colors. The artists involved were Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.