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  • Abstract art :Abstract art is a non-figurative art which makes no attempt to represent reality. It frees itself from imitating reality as it exists within the laws of traditional perspective. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, it developed in following two major tendencies: the first one emotional or gestural, and the second one geometric. Among the precursors: Hartung, Pollock, Kadinski, Mondrian…
  • Abstract expressionism :Abstract expressionism is situated at the juncture of several currents in modern painting, notably expressionism and surrealism. It symbolised post-war American art and played a primary role in the emergence on the international artistic scene of the New York School. Categorically excluding realism, the movement is intensively expressed in forms, lines and colour.
  • Academy : A school where the practice of art is exercised, a painting academy. Inspired by the model of the Italian academies, Charles Le Brun, the first painter of King Louis XIV, founded the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1648, along with a college of eleven artists. It was dissolved in 1792 and replaced two years later by the Institute, and finally by the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Academy) in 1816.
  • Acrylic :A synthetic paint combining certain qualities of oil paint with those of water paint. It allows for the creation of varied effects, from light washings to thick colours. Acrylic painting was used for the first time during the 1940’s.
  • Action painting : An American expression designating an abstract art movement which took place mainly in New York around 1945. It was influenced by the automatic processes of the Surrealists and its most important representatives were Kline, De Kooning and – most especially – Jackson Pollock. The French call it “gestural painting.”
  • Airbrush : A compressed air spray pistol which produces a very fine jet of paint or ink to create gradations in colour as well as clouds of points.
  • Anamorphosis : A voluntarily deformed representation of a subject. The spectator is unable to discover its true appearance without being at a specially determined angle regarding the plane of the painting.
  • Backing :Backing consists of adhering a thin and supple pictorial support to a stronger, often more rigid, support. This requires the use of a strong paste, such as ceruse, starch or dextrin.
  • Black stone :A clayish schist with a close-grained texture which was used in the same way as a pencil. Its line gave a tint varying from black to grey, but two other techniques have taken its place: charcoal and black lead.
  • Blending :The technique of blending consists of reducing the vigour of a tone towards its edges, or of placing two colours side by side and then uniting them, as opposed to applying flat tints or solid colours. Blending indicates the way in which the colours placed side by side can mix and blend together by the progressive diminution of their intensity. In the different techniques of wash drawing, this blending is obtained by spreading the colour with more and more water.
  • Bronze :An alloy of copper and tin used for sculpture. Several working methods exist: sand casting and the lost-wax process… This noble material can overcome the proof of centuries and bad weather.
  • Brownish (Bistre) :Intermediate colour between brown and rust yellow.
  • Brush :A painter’s brush, usually rather wide, either flat or round in form, with more-or-less flexible bristles or hairs of equal length. Depending upon the materials used and the type of work he is doing, the painter will use several different types of brushes.
  • Brushing : Preparation of the bases by using a brush to clean off various lightly-adhered materials.
  • Calligraphy : The art of designing written characters and decorating them or using them for decoration.
  • Chalk :White limestone, which forms an element in the composition of water and paste sealants.
  • Charcoal :A small stick of charcoal often used for drawing. A drawing done in using this technique.
  • Chromatic circle : Circle divided into twelve parts and composed of the three primary colours (Red, Green and Blue), the three secondary colours and the six tertiary colours.
  • Cobalt :A white metal close to iron and nickel which is generally used to design tones of blue.
  • Cold colours :The more that a colour is mixed with blue, the more it appears cold.
  • Collage :The procedure consisting of arranging and gluing different materials on the same support.
  • Complementary colours :Colours diametrically opposed within the chromatic circle. Violet, for example, is the complementary colour of yellow.
  • Composition :Composition is the creation par excellence. The painter arranges his volumes, lines, colours and values in organising the surface of his canvas by the use of diagonals, a centre, vanishing points, lines of force…
  • Copper-plate :An ordinary yellow or red metal often used for plaques or panels which can also serve as the support for a painting.
  • Copyright :The rights held by an author or publisher to commercialise works of literature, art, etc. for a specific length of time.
  • Copyist :A painter specialising in the reproduction of original works by masters.
  • Cracking :A state of deterioration in a painting due to very fine cracks.
  • Cubism :An artistic movement born at the beginning of the 20th century. It marked a break with the traditional vision of subjects by introducing a decomposed representation of both geometric planes and volumes. Picasso’s painting “Les demoiselles d’Avignon” marks the birth of this current which included Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Robert Delaunay...
  • Dada, dadaisme :Revolutionary movement of revolt and esthetics born in 1916 in reaction against the war and militarism. It was expressed initially by an absolute refusal of Art. Tzara (author of the "Seven proclamations Dada"), Picabia, Hans Arp, Richter, Duchamp... illustrated the Dada spirit. This transitory movement declined since 1922.
  • Dipper :A recipient in tinplate which contains the spirits of turpentine used for cleaning brushes.
  • Distemper paint :Technique using water to dissolve the colours and such substances as egg white, milk, fig milk, paste, gum, wax or other substances (except oil) as bonds. It is used on such supports as stone, wood, metal, paper or canvas and specially treated with a dressing or finishing to take the colour in better.
  • Dressing :Preparation of the canvas or the wood for applying the colour. This consists of spreading a more-or-less thick layer of sealant composed essentially of heated oil and white lead or slaked limestone paste.
  • Easel : A legged wooden support, adjustable in height, used by painters for posing their canvases.
  • Emulsion :Dispersion of one liquid within another which is not miscible with it: one of them (the emulsified liquid) is dispersed within the other (the dispersed liquid) in the form of fine droplets. Emulsions of more than two non-miscible liquids can also exist. There are varnish emulsions, binder emulsions, encaustic emulsions, paint emulsions. Emulsions can serve as primer coats, undercoats and rough sketches for glazes, oil tints and varnish tints.
  • Encaustic :A paint composed of colours thinned out in melted wax.
  • Engraving : The art of tracing lines on a hard surface by carving with various tools. The image can be carved and drawn on a matrix of wood, metal or stone and printed in one to several copies on a support which is usually paper, thanks to a specific inking and printing process.
  • Engraving :An image imprinted by means of a plate engraved in wood, copper or limestone.
  • Etching :The process of engraving on metal which is carried out through the intermediary of an acid. This expression is applied to the technique, the mordant and the engraving itself. The technique of mould engraving is based upon the use of nitric acid. The copper mould is covered with a light coat of long-oil varnish which is resistant to the action of the acid. The engraver traces his design on this dark base using a steel point which uncovers the copper plaque. The plaque is then plunged into a bath of water and nitric acid which attacks and hollows out the uncovered parts, while leaving intact the parts protected by the varnish: this phase is termed the “biting.” The coat of varnish is then removed and the engraver goes on to the inking and the impression. Etching, often associated with the dry-point, is characterised by the nature of its lines, quite similar to those produced in a drawing.
  • Expressionism :An art form which endeavours to give a work the maximum of expressive intensity. This current became manifest in the 20th century, with research on the effects produced by this work as much as on the subject itself. Van Gogh and Gauguin, then Ensor, Munch and Matisse, were at the origins of this modern movement of expressionism.
  • Fauvism :The movement which advocates the use and application of pure tones. Matisse, Renault, Van Dongen and Manguin were some of the initiators of this artistic current born at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Flatness :An initial defect characterised by a tarnished appearance in well-defined zones.
  • Fresco :A wall painting done with pigments of mineral origin, resistant to lime and mixed with water, applied with brushes on a support consisting of a coat of fresh mortar composed of sand and slaked lime.
  • Frieze :A drawn, painted or sculptured composition, often repetitive and with an elongated form.
  • Glass :Glass is used by artists principally as the coloured material for stained glass windows. It serves equally as an impression plaque for monotypes, a support for miniatures or a protection for certain paintings. However, this material presents a surface too smooth for holding pigments unless they have been heated together in a ceramic process.
  • Glaze :A very thin coat of paint used to play through transparency with the dry colour of the base upon which it is posed.
  • Golden mean :In the eye of certain people, this is a number which represents the principle of universal harmony or the key to an absolute conception of beauty. Since antiquity, geometricians and philosophers have believed in the existence of a privileged proportion which the artists of the Renaissance called the “Golden mean.” A harmony which certain people esteem perfect exists between two sizes, notably between two dimensions, when they exist in the same proportion between themselves as the largest within their sum.
    (x / y) = y / (x + y)
  • Good holding :A painting which shows no blistering, cracking, flaking or peeling on more than 5% of the given work. Specks of dirt of biological origin and normal sooting do not constitute alterations in “good holding.” Accidental alterations (due to movement of the support, leaking from water pipes, etc.), which are non-dependent upon the quality of the covering, do not concern “good holding” either.
  • Gouache :A paint prepared with the aid of colours thinned out in water with gum and thickened by honey or another similar substance.
  • Gradation / Toning down :Progressive transition between a colour used on the first plane and another used on the second plane.
  • Grain :A series of small roughages which make the surface of a pictorial support (paper, canvas or a panel) slightly coarse.
  • Grinding :The action of crushing dry colours to reduce them into powder, then combining them with oil, water or another binder.
  • Heliogravure :A printing process using plates or cylinders with hollowed engravings.
  • Hyperrealism :The artistic movement born in the United States at the end of the 1960’s aiming at an objective reconstruction of contemporary life. A literal imitation and meticulous representation of reality, hyperrealism differs from trompe-l’oeil by its choice of subjects. Principal representatives: R. Estes, J. Kacere, J. Salt, Hucleux, Gilles Esnaut….
  • Icon :A sacred image of the Orthodox religions, painted on wood, metal, ivory, etc.
  • Illumination :Coloured illuminated or miniature letters as found in ancient manuscripts, as well as the art of creating these decorations. The process of reproduction by working with stencils.
  • Impasto :The relief produced on a painting by the application of thick coats of pictorial media.
  • Impregnating coat :A paint specifically intended to impregnate an absorbent support with only one coat.
  • Impression :The coat of paste or oil applied on a support with the aid of a small brush to reduce its power of absorption.
  • Impressionism :The pictorial movement which developed at the end of the 19th century in reaction against academic conceptions of art. Among the first impressionists: Claude Monet, whose canvas “Impression, soleil levant” inspired the movement, Renoir, Sysley, Bazille…. They perfected a new process for capturing the play of light and the fleeting appearances of the moment, posing their colours with distinct touches.
  • Intaglio : The name given to intaglio engraving. This term is generally applied for etching and printing engraving.
  • Lacquer :In painting, lacquer generally means a colour placed on a mineral support by absorption or precipitation. In this way, insoluble lacquers can be obtained. The most solid of all lacquers are of mineral origin, such as iron lacquer fixed with aluminium oxide.
  • Lead point : This was an alloy of lead and tin which was tapered to a point and fitted into a handle to serve as a drawing tool. It was used during the Middle Ages by scribes and painters to do sketches, but was eliminated by the graphite or black lead pencil.
  • Light and Shadow :A balanced mix of light and shadow which places a figure or an object in full value. In painting, “light and shadow” is designated as the consistent technique of modifying the light on a base of shadow, thus creating contrasts which suggest relief and depth.
  • Linocut :Process of engraving using linoleum instead of wood.
  • Lithography :A process of reproduction on stone which utilises the principle of antagonism between water and the designs of a soft lead pencil.
  • Lost-wax bronze :In this technique, the model is done in wax (most often a core of clay covered with modelled wax) and covered with a heat-resistant envelope of several coats of clay or powdered brick. Small metal rods hold the envelope onto the core. The wax is melted in a high heat and then drained off by conduits which are installed in the outer envelope and also serve for evacuating the hot gas. The molten bronze is then cast into the empty space by other conduits.
  • Master :The title given to an artist who has formed a school and acquired renown, as much by his talent as by his influence.
  • Medium :A liquid preparation with a base of rosins and oils. The pulverised colours are then added.
  • Miniature :A small painting created with detailed precision.
  • Model :An object serving as an example to the artist or to the person posing for a painting or sculpture.
  • Monochrome :A shade obtained by variations in the chiaroscuro of a single colour.
  • Motif :The subject or theme of a painting. A subject from which a painting is developed. By extension, Paul Cézanne’s expression “To go out into the motif” (aller sur le motif) signifies painting in the countryside, going out into the open air.
  • Mounting the canvas :The operation which consists of fixing and holding the canvas on its stretcher by means of tacks nailed onto the edges or the back of the stretcher.
  • Nabi :Nabi is the Hebrew word for “prophet.” Inspired by the Synthetism of Gauguin and the Symbolist aesthetic, the “nabi” painters revolutionised decorative techniques with a new use of colours (stained-glass windows, lithography, tempera painting, illustration) at the end of the 19th century. Among the most celebrated: Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis, Emile Bernard, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard….
  • Nuance :Each of the degrees to which a colour can be varied.
  • Oiled paper :Oiled paper is coated with linseed oil and can serve as either transfer paper or tracing paper. Since the Middle Ages, it has constantly been used for reproducing sketches or as a support.
  • Oil painting :Used in the technique of painting on wood or canvas. In general, the pigments are mixed with rich oils (linseed, nut, poppy), plus the addition of other essential oils or solvents such as spirits of turpentine. The principle was already known and used in ancient times, but the technique of oil painting as we know it today was perfected by Flemish painters at the beginning of the 15th century.
  • Painted sketch :A small painting done rapidly with a few strokes of the brush. Though it re-unites all the given aspects of the original sketch, a painted sketch has a definite character and makes up a painting within itself. The term is sometimes synonymous with comic or caricatural painting.
  • Palette knife :A steel blade with the form of a trowel, more or less wide, long or flexible, used by painters to manipulate colours on the palette. The palette knife is also used for removing impurities from the canvas or for taking off colour. Since the 19th century, painters have sometimes preferred the palette knife to the brush for placing colours on the canvas and then working them.
  • Pallet knife :A metal instrument which painters use both as a scraper and to smooth out the pictorial coat.
  • Palette :A thin plaque, which can be rectangular, oval or round in form, with a hole for letting the thumb pass. Painters work their colours on it.
  • Pantograph :An instrument composed of four articulated shafts which permits the mechanical reproduction of a drawing, either in reducing it or enlarging it.
  • Pastel :A stick of coloured calcium carbonate. A coloured pencil. A coloured drawing done in pastels. The principal qualities of pastel are its easy flow, its rapidity of performance and its variety of possible combinations, such as hatching and giving touches which can be blended or completely shaded off .Pastel also allows for superimposing several coats without needing to erase. Furthermore, the perfect result that it gives to skin tones contributes to its important place in the rendering of portraits. Being able to sketch a face and its expression rapidly, the possibility of re-working and the manageability given by the support are some of the many other advantages contributing to its success.
  • Pastiche :The reprise of an existing painting by another artist who copies certain elements with minor or radical changes in their sense of meaning.
  • Pasting :The application of one or several coats of paste on the surface of an artistic medium to guarantee the isolation of the pictorial coating and to unify the surface to be painted. It tightens the canvas and limits its absorbance.
  • Patina :Result of a slow and natural evolution of artistic works resulting in a slight darkening of the tones, produced by the oxidation of oil-based binders and the original varnish. The yellowing of successive coats of varnish has a tendency to be confused with the natural patina.
  • Peeling off :Alteration in the pictorial coat characterised by its partial lack of adherence to the support.
  • Picture rail (Cimaise) :The rail used for displaying paintings in museums and art galleries. In the 19th century, when a painter exposed in salons, it was said that he had won the “honours of the rail” if he could hang his painting in full view.
  • Pigment :A coloured substance of mineral or vegetable origin used in the fabrication of paints.
  • Plaster :A material resulting from the moderate cooking of gypsum, followed by grinding. Plaster can be used for thickening paint. It also enters into the composition of certain other preparations and as a powdered dryer. Finally, it can also be used as a wall covering and for certain sculpturing techniques.
  • Pointillism :A pictorial technique which consists of juxtaposing small touches as points of often pure colour to create the illusion of chromatic reality. Also called Divisionism, this neo-impressionist school is illustrated by such remarkable Pointillist painters such as Georges Seurat, Gross…
  • Point of view :In perspective, this expression can designate either the place where the eye of the spectator is focused or a theoretical viewing place situated outside of the painting.
  • Pop'Art :Contemporary artistic movement resorting to the processes graphics of advertisement, fashion or kind of comics. Born in England, the movement was essential in the United States with artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ton Wesselmann....
  • Primary colours :Colours which cannot be obtained by the mixture of other colours. These three colours are Red, Yellow and Blue. They are the basic colours, and the pure pigments of these primary colours are magenta (red blue), cyan (blue-green) and yellow.
  • Red chalk :Presented in the form of a stick or in powder, this chalk is composed of a variety of red haematite and a clay coloured with a base of ferric oxide.
  • Relief :Giving relief to forms in sculpture, paintings or drawings. Relief is obtained in paintings or drawings by means of hatchings or shadings which indicate the different nuances of light and shadow spread out over the surfaces of the object. With Impressionism, this is replaced by the direct play of modulations in touches of colour, suggesting a depth and volume adapted to the painting, now completely freed from imitation.
  • Restoration :Repairing or giving back the original appearance or original colours to a painting.
  • Retable :In the decor placed behind an altar, the central panel is the one most often ornately painted.
  • Retouching :Correction of a detail after the completion of a painting, done either by the painter himself or by a restorer, in order to bring an improvement to the work (often referred to as “repainting”). Application of the final paint coatings to perfect certain details.
  • Romanticism :A group of artistic movements which developed in the 19th century, based upon a rejection of rationalism and classicism. Among the painters considered as the masters of romanticism : Gros, Géricault, Delacroix, Constable….
  • Rome
    (Prix de…) :
    The pension awarded through means of competition to young artists, in order to allow them to perfect their studies at the Académie de France in Rome. This term designates both the winner of each of the sections of the competition and award-winning works.
  • Rough sketch (Ebauche) :Rough sketch.
  • Salon :Periodical, annual or biennial exhibition of the works of artists.
  • School :In the artistic sense, the school is a collective movement around the same master or the same doctrine. It can also refer to groups of artists presenting the same points of view or a common process (origin, style, inspiration, training…). Examples: the Flemish School, the Pont-Aven School, the Provençale School….
  • Scraping :In the preparation of surfaces, an operation for removing or cleaning splashes of plaster, paint coating, etc. which are left on a substrate in masonry, wood or metal. This operation is always followed by a dusting.
  • Scraping :An operation using a scraper for removing all or certain parts of the adhesive or oil paint on the surfaces that are to be repainted.
  • Script :A combination of the characteristic elements which contribute to defining the personal manner of a painter: drawing, handling of the brush, touch.
  • Scumble : A very thin coat of paint applied rapidly with a stiff-bristled brush, so that the texture of the canvas can still be seen.
  • Sealant :The coating which isolates the support (canvas, wood, metal, stone, wall) from the pictorial coating.
  • Secondary colours :Colours obtained by the mixture of an equal quantity of two primary colours: Yellow, Violet, Orange and Green.
  • Sepia :A brownish colouring secreted by the cuttlefish which is used in wash drawings. In the 19th century, this sepia wash replaced the bistre wash.
  • Serigraph :In a certain sense, this is an extension of the stencil. Proceeding from the print and using silk screens with unequal water resistance placed between the paper and the ink, the coloured serigraph is printed with the aid of several screens.
  • Setting off :Separating an adornment from its background while emphasising the contours, using a contrast of colours by means of moulding….
  • Silver point :A tapered silver slide or barrette with a wooden handle. It was used up until Renaissance times for drawing on paper or parchment which was covered with a sealant of bone powder mixed with water, gum Arabic and colours. This prepared paper was called “carta tinta.”
  • Sketch :A drawing or painting done rapidly to fix an image or an idea destined to become a painting or a work of sculpture or architecture. It precedes the rough sketch.
  • Sketch (Croquis) :A rapid drawing indicating the essential outlines of a projected work.
  • Spirit :A volatile liquid used as a thinner in oil paints. “Spirit painting” is the name sometimes given to a technique where the oil paint is strongly diluted with spirit, giving a transparent effect as in watercolour painting.
  • Sponsorship :Material or financial support given to an artistic event, an individual artist, a product or an organisation in order to draw a direct benefit.
  • Sponsorship :Material support brought to the beneficiary for a specific work or for his exercise of activities presenting a general interest to the supporters, such as contemporary visual arts. Sponsorship offers the possibility of tax allowances.
  • Spray gun :The apparatus which pulverises paint or varnish by using compressed air.
  • Staff :Plastic mixture of plaster, cement, glycerine and dextrin. It constitutes an absorbent neutral base for paintings.
  • Stencil :A plaque cut according to the contours of an embellishment or special characteristic. It can be reproduced by passing over it with a brush impregnated with colours. (See Illumination)
  • Still life :Inanimate objects represented on the canvas.
  • Stretcher :Frame on which the canvas of a painting is stretched.
  • Strong paste paper :The paper is pasted on a rigid support (wood or stone) or on a supple support (canvas) which serves to transform the nature of the base which will receive the paint. (See Backing)
  • Stucco :Plaster mixed with powdered marble and paste, and sometimes mixed with hair or wire mesh. It was used for sculptural and architectural decoration from the 16th to the 18th century and is perfectly suited for creating the ornate decorations of the baroque and renaissance styles.
  • Studio or Workshop : The premises where a painter or a sculptor works with his assistants, his apprentices and/or his students. A studio work is done either by apprentices or students under the supervision of a master, or adapted from his drawings. An anonymous work done in a master’s studio by the group around him or under his proper direction.
  • Study :A drawing or painting which is not yet treated as definitive. It done just before the final work.
  • Stump :A small pointed roll of paper, chamois or rolled cotton. It is used to spread out pencil or pastel lines in a drawing. This procedure allows for the creation of shadows and halftones without the need for hatching.
  • Style :Each artist has his own style, which Diderot called his “doing”: his own way of playing with colours, or of using his brush. Style is the painter’s way of writing and the way that a painting is done, particularly from a technical point of view. Painting technique is characterised by the thickness of the colours, the distribution of the impasto and the orientation of the touch. Each painter has his own style, which distinguishes him from other artists.
  • Stylet :A small thin pointed blade used by painters for working wax or fresh plaster in the fresco technique. In drawing technique, the term designates the small wooden handle in which a thin shaft of silver is inserted. This shaft is rarely of gold or copper.
  • Surrealism :The literary and artistic movement which was formed about 1920 on the basis of a systematic rejection of all logic, in order to establish new reasoning. Animated by André Breton, this movement united a number of poets (Eluard, Aragon, Desnos…), Surrealist painters (Dali, Tanguy, Ernst…), photographers and film-makers (Man Ray, Bunuel…).
  • Tempera :A mixture of water and pigments with paste and egg added. A process of distemper painting in which the binder, or vehicle, is an emulsion containing watery or oily substances such as egg and fig milk. Having a remarkable covering power, tempera paint permits the practice of glazing. However, it is fragile in humidity and therefore an uneasy practice. Replaced by the oil technique since the 15th century, it has still not been totally abandoned in paintings where it is used jointly with oil paint, notably in the execution of undercoatings.
  • Tertiary Colours :Colours obtained by the mixture of neighbouring colours in the chromatic circle.
  • Texture :This term refers to the feeling of a surface when it is touched, or which can be imagined if the work can only be seen. A surface can be smooth, rough, polished, satiny, etc. In painting, the painting tool which is used influences the apparent texture.
  • Tint :The colour resulting from a mixture of two or more colours, or a diversity of nuances of the same colour. A broken tint is a tint to which black or blue has been added. A flat tint is a tint occupying a certain surface and having the same nuance and same intensity throughout this surface. A half-tint is the intermediate tone between light and shadow.
  • Tonality :Tonality is the dominant colour of a pictorial composition. Each painting presents a specific range of colours which determines its tonality.
  • Tone :The degree of saturation or luminosity, of luminous intensity, presented by a tint, going from the darkest to the clearest. The value of a tint: clear tones, dark tones. The effect dominating colours: a painting cold in tone. The degree of intensity in the colours. The warm tones come closer to red and orange-coloured. The cold tones come closer to blue. Broken tones can be obtained by pigmentary mixtures, particularly with grey.
  • Touch :The way that a painter applies colour on the canvas, in terms of his different brushes or knife. The touch of a painter can be recognized by its direction, regular or contrary, its relief or its degree of impasto and its surface area. In Europe, it was not until the beginning of the 16th century that the first attempts at leaving touches became apparent.
  • Triptych :A triple panel, painted or sculptured, with the two wings folding exactly together on the central panel.
  • Trompe l'œil :A painting which gives the illusion of real objects with a true relief. By analogy, this term was also applied to paintings which, by a slight relief or an impression which literally “fools the eye,” give the illusion of sculpted relief.
  • Trowel :A tool with a blade in triangular or trapezium form and an angled handle. It serves to spread out the base or to give homogeneity to the pictorial paste.
  • Value :The value of a tone designates its degree of intensity in relation to light or shadow.
  • Varnish :This is a transparent, mixed and uncoloured liquid, stable at different degrees and either brilliant or dull. In painting, it can be used as a paint varnish, as a retouching varnish, as a separation for two different coats of varnish or as the definitive varnish for protecting the pictorial medium from changes in room temperature. In this case, it reinforces the intensity and cohesion of the colours by accentuating their transparency. There are two categories of varnish: natural rosin-based and synthetic rosin-based.
  • Varnishing :An operation consisting of spreading a protective varnish on the pictorial medium. In French, by extension, a vernissage (“varnishing”) has become the designation used for the private opening reception which takes place on the eve of an exhibition and brings together artists, art critics and local authorities. In the past, the day of this opening reception allowed the artists exposing at yearly salons the opportunity to place the last coat of varnish on their works.
  • Vermillion :A heavily opaque artificial mineral pigment dissolved in oil. A dazzling red in colour, it is essentially composed of red mercury sulphide and covers very well. It possesses a high index of refraction, but is not very stable if it is not protected with varnish, wax or a glass. Under bad conditions, it has a tendency to blacken, and this explains why, since 1920, artists have preferred cadmium red.
  • Vista :The faraway view in a landscape or a composition.
  • Watercolour :A painting composed of colours thinned out in water, done on a sheet of paper where the grain remains visible by transparency.
  • Wax :A substance of animal, vegetable or mineral origin, yellow or white in colour, used as a binder in certain paints or varnishes.
  • Warm colours :These are the colours that make people think of the sun and heat. They make up a part of the range of yellows and oranges and continue going on up to red.
  • Working drawing :The representation of an object by its projection on three perpendicular planes.
  • Wash drawing :Technique consisting of tinting a drawing with Indian ink, bistre or another substance thinned out in water.
  • Xylograph :The impression of texts and images by means of characters in wood or planks of wood engraved in relief.