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40 Painting Techniques of Fine Art


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Title: 40 Painting Techniques of Fine Art

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  • The following is an alphabetical list of
    techniques used in Painting. The list comprises
    devices used to introduce the illusion of three
    dimensions on a two- dimensional surface,
    methods of paint application, and different
    mediums chosen by the artist to create the
    desired visual effect.

What is Painting?
Painting, the expression of ideas and emotions,
with the creation of certain aesthetic
qualities, in a two-dimensional visual
language. The elements of this languageits
shapes, lines, colours, tones, and texturesare
used in various ways to produce sensations of
volume, space, movement, and light on a flat
surface. These elements are combined into
expressive patterns in order to represent real or
supernatural phenomena, to interpret a narrative
theme, or to create wholly abstract visual
relationships. An artists decision to use a
particular medium, such as tempera, fresco, oil,
acrylic, watercolour or other water-based
paints, ink, gouache, encaustic, or casein, as
well as the choice of a particular form, such as
mural, easel, panel, miniature, manuscript
illumination, scroll, screen or fan, panorama, or
any of a variety of modern forms, is based on
the sensuous qualities and the expressive
possibilities and limitations of those options.
The choices of the medium and the form, as well
as the artists own technique, combine to
realize a unique visual image.
Earlier cultural traditionsof tribes, religions,
guilds, royal courts, and stateslargely
controlled the craft, form, imagery, and subject
matter of painting and determined its function,
whether ritualistic, devotional, decorative,
entertaining, or educational. Painters were
employed more as skilled artisans than as
creative artists. Later the notion of the fine
artist developed in Asia and Renaissance
Europe. Prominent painters were afforded the
social status of scholars and courtiers they
signed their work, decided its design and often
its subject and imagery, and established a more
personalif not always amicablerelationship
with their patrons.
During the 19th century painters in Western
societies began to lose their social position
and secure patronage. Some artists countered the
decline in patronage support by holding their own
exhibitions and charging an entrance fee. Others
earned an income through touring exhibitions of
their work. The need to appeal to a marketplace
had replaced the similar (if less impersonal)
demands of patronage, and its effect on the art
itself was probably similar as well. Generally,
artists can now reach an audience only through
commercial galleries and public museums, although
their work may be occasionally reproduced in art
periodicals. They may also be assisted by
financial awards or commissions from industry and
the state. They have, however, gained the
freedom to invent their own visual language and
to experiment with new forms and unconventional
materials and techniques. For example, some
painters have combined other media, such as
sculpture, with painting to produce
three-dimensional abstract designs.
Other artists have attached real objects to the
canvas in collage fashion or used electricity to
operate coloured kinetic panels and boxes.
Conceptualartists frequently express their ideas
in the form of a proposal for an unrealizable
project, while performance artists are an
integral part of their own compositions. The
restless endeavour to extend the boundaries of
expression in Western art produces continuous
international stylistic changes. The often
bewildering succession of new movements in
painting is further stimulated by the swift
interchange of ideas by means of international
art journals, traveling exhibitions, and art
What is Acrylic Painting?
Acrylic painting, painting executed in the
medium of synthetic acrylic resins. Acrylics dry
rapidly, serve as a vehicle for any kind of
pigment, and are capable of giving both the
transparent brilliance of watercolour and the
density of oil paint. They are considered to be
less affected by heat and other destructive
forces than is oil paint. They found favour
among artists who were concerned about the
health risks posed by the handling of oil paints
and the inhalation of fumes associated with them.
Because of all these desirable characteristics,
acrylic paints became immediately popular with
artists when they were first commercially
promoted in the 1960s. Notable 20th-century
artists who used acrylic paint include Pop
artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Op
artist Bridget Riley, colour field artists Mark
Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, and Barnett Newman, and
British artist David Hockney.
What is Action Painting?
Action painting, direct, instinctual, and highly
dynamic kind of art that involves the
spontaneous application of vigorous, sweeping
brushstrokes and the chance effects of dripping
and spilling paint onto the canvas. The term was
coined by the American art critic Harold
Rosenberg to characterize the work of a group of
American Abstract Expressionists who utilized
the method from about 1950. Action painting is
distinguished from the carefully preconceived
work of the abstract imagists and
colour-field painters, which constitutes the
other major direction implicit in Abstract
Expressionismand resembles Action painting only
in its absolute devotion to unfettered personal
expression free of all traditional aesthetic and
social values.
The works of the Action painters Jackson Pollock,
Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Bradley Walker
Tomlin, and Jack Tworkov reflect the influence of
the automatic techniques developed in Europe
in the 1920s and 30s by the Surrealists. While
Surrealist automatism, which consisted of
scribblings recorded without the artists
conscious control, was primarily designed to
awaken unconscious associations in the viewer,
the automatic approach of the Action painters
was primarily conceived as a means of giving the
artists instinctive creative forces free play
and of revealing these forces directly to the
viewer. In Action painting the act of painting
itself, being the moment of the artists
creative interaction with his materials, was as
significant as the finished work.
It is generally recognized that Jackson Pollocks
abstract drip paintings, executed from 1947,
opened the way to the bolder, gestural
techniques that characterize Action painting.
The vigorous brushstrokes of de Koonings
Woman series, begun in the early 1950s,
successfully evolved a richly emotive expressive
style. Action painting was of major importance
throughout the 1950s in Abstract Expressionism,
the most-influential art movement at the time in
the United States. By the end of the decade,
however, leadership of the movement had shifted
to the colour-field and abstract imagist
painters, whose followers in the 1960s rebelled
against the irrationality of the Action
painters. See alsoTachism.
What is Aerial Perspective?
Aerial perspective, also called atmospheric
perspective, method of creating the illusion of
depth, or recession, in a painting or drawing by
modulating colour to simulate changes effected by
the atmosphere on the colours of things seen at
a distance. Although the use of aerial
perspective has been known since antiquity,
Leonardo da Vinci first used the term aerial
perspective in his Treatise on Painting, in which
he wrote Colours become weaker in proportion
to their distance from the person who is looking
at them. It was later discovered that the
presence in the atmosphere of moisture and of
tiny particles of dust and similar material
causes a scattering of light as it passes through
them, the degree of scattering being dependent
on the wavelength, which corresponds to the
colour, of the light. Because light of short
wavelengthblue lightis scattered most, the
colours of all distant dark objects tend toward
blue for example, distant mountains have a
bluish cast. Light of long wavelength red
lightis scattered least thus, distant bright
objects appear redder because some of the blue
is scattered and lost from the light by which
they are seen.
The intervening atmosphere between a viewer and,
for example, distant mountains, creates other
visual effects that can be mimicked by landscape
painters. The atmosphere causes distant forms to
have less distinct edges and outlines than forms
near the viewer, and interior detail is
similarly softened or blurred. Distant objects
appear somewhat lighter than objects of similar
tone lying closer at hand, and in general
contrasts between light and shade appear less
extreme at great distances. All these effects
are more apparent at the base of a mountain than
at its peak, since the density of the
intervening atmosphere is greater at lower
Examples of aerial perspective have been found in
ancient Greco-Roman wall paintings. The
techniques were lost from European art during
the Dark and Middle Ages and were rediscovered
by Flemish painters of the 15th century (such as
Joachim Patinir), after which they became a
standard element in the European painters
technical vocabulary. The 19th-century British
landscape painter J.M.W. Turner made perhaps the
boldest and most ambitious use of aerial
perspective among Western artists. Aerial
perspective was used with great sophistication
and pictorial effectiveness by Chinese landscape
painters from about the 8th century on.
What is Anamorphosis?
Anamorphosis, in the visual arts, an ingenious
perspective technique that gives a distorted
image of the subject represented in a picture
when seen from the usual viewpoint but so
executed that if viewed from a particular angle,
or reflected in a curved mirror, the distortion
disappears and the image in the picture appears
normal. Derived from the Greek word meaning to
transform, the term anamorphosis was first
employed in the 17th century, although this
technique had been one of the more curious
by-products of the discovery of perspective in
the 14th and 15th centuries.
The first examples appear in Leonardo da Vincis
notebooks. It was regarded as a display of
technical virtuosity, and it was included in most
16th- and 17th-century drawing manuals. Two
important examples of anamorphosis are a portrait
of Edward VI (1546) that has been attributed
to William Scrots, and a skull in the foreground
of Hans Holbein the Youngers painting of Jean
de Dinteville and Georges de Selve, The
Ambassadors (1533). Many examples are provided
with special peepholes through which can be seen
the rectified view that first eluded the viewer.
A modern equivalent of anamorphosis is the so-
called Ames Room, in which people and objects
are distorted by manipulation of the contours of
the room in which they are seen. This and other
aspects of anamorphosis received a good deal of
attention in the 20th century from psychologists
interested in perception.
Artists and architects in the 21st century
continued to experiment with anamorphic designs.
In 2014 Swiss artist Felice Variniknown for
large-scale anamorphic installationscreated
Three Ellipses for Three Locks, for which he
painted three ellipses, segments of which
covered roads, walls, and nearly 100 buildings
in the historic centre of the city of Hasselt,
Belgium. The design became coherent only when
viewed from a particular vantage point in the
What is Camaieu?
Camaieu, plural camaieux, painting technique by
which an image is executed either entirely in
shades or tints of a single colour or in several
hues unnatural to the object, figure, or scene
represented. When a picture is monochromatically
rendered in gray, it is called grisaille when
in yellow, cirage. Originating in the ancient
world, camaieu was used in miniature painting to
simulate cameos and in architectural decoration
to simulate relief sculpture.
What is Casein Painting?
Casein painting, painting executed with colours
ground in a solution of casein, a phosphoprotein
of milk precipitated by heating with an acid or
by lactic acid in souring. In the form of
homemade curd made from soured skim milk, it has
been a traditional adhesive and binder for more
than eight centuries. Refined, pure, powdered
casein, which can be dissolved with ammonia, has
been used for easel and mural paintings since
the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, and,
more recently, ready-made casein paints in tubes
have come into very wide use. An advantage of
casein painting is that it can create effects
that approach those of oil painting. It permits
the use of bristle brushes and a moderate
impasto, like oil painting, but not the fusion
of tones. It is preferred by some because of
speedy drying and matte effects. When dry, the
paint becomes water resistant to a considerable
degree. Casein paintings may be varnished to
further resemble oil paintings, and they are
frequently glazed or overpainted with oil
colours. Because casein is too brittle for
canvas, it must be applied to rigid boards or
What is Chiaroscuro?
  • Chiaroscuro, (from Italian chiaro, light, and
    scuro, dark) technique employed in the visual
    arts to represent light and shadow as they
    define three- dimensional objects.
  • Some evidence exists that ancient Greek and Roman
    artists used chiaroscuro effects, but in
    European painting the technique was first
    brought to its full potential
  • by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century in
    such paintings as his Adoration of the Magi
  • Thereafter, chiaroscuro became a primary
    technique for many painters, and by the late
    17th century the term was routinely used to
    describe any painting, drawing,
  • or print that depended for its effect on an
    extensive gradation of light and darkness.

In its most dramatic formas in the works of
those Italian artists of the 17th century who
came under the influence of Caravaggioit was
known as tenebrismo, or tenebrism. Caravaggio and
his followers used a harsh, dramatic light to
isolate their figures and heighten their
emotional tension. Another outstanding master of
chiaroscuro was Rembrandt, who used it with
remarkable psychological effect in his
paintings, drawings, and etchings. Peter Paul
Rubens, Diego Velázquez, and many other, lesser
painters of the Baroque period also used
chiaroscuro to great effect. The delicacy and
lightness of 18th-century Rococo painting
represents a rejection of this dramatic use of
chiaroscuro, but the technique again became
popular with artists of the Romantic period, who
relied upon it to create the emotive effects
they considered essential to their art.
In the graphic arts, the term chiaroscuro refers
to a particular technique for making a woodcut
print in which effects of light and shade are
produced by printing each tone from a different
wood block. The technique was first used in
woodcuts in Italy in the 16th century, probably
by the printmaker Ugo da Carpi. To make a
chiaroscuro woodcut, the key block was inked with
the darkest tone and printed first. Subsequent
blocks were inked with progressively lighter
tones and carefully measured to print in
register with the key block. Chiaroscuro woodcuts
are printed in only one colour, brown, gray,
green, and sepia being preferred. The process
attempted to imitate wash and watercolour
drawings and also became popular as an
inexpensive method of reproducing paintings.
What is Divisionism?
Divisionism, in painting, the practice of
separating colour into individual dots or
strokes of pigment. It formed the technical
basis for Neo-Impressionism. Following the rules
of contemporary colour theory, Neo-Impressionist
artists such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac
applied contrasting dots of colour side by side
so that, when seen from a distance, these dots
would blend and be perceived by the retina as a
luminous whole. Whereas the term divisionism
refers to this separation of colour and its
optical effects, the term pointillism refers
specifically to the technique of applying dots.
What is Easel Painting?
Easel painting, painting executed on a portable
support such as a panel or canvas, instead of on
a wall. It is likely that easel paintings were
known to the ancient Egyptians, and the
1st-century- ADRoman scholar Pliny the Elder
refers to a large panel placed on an easel it
was not until the 13th century, however, that
easel paintings became relatively common,
finally superseding in popularity the mural, or
wall painting.
What is Encaustic Painting?
Encaustic painting, painting technique in which
pigments are mixed with hot liquid wax. Artists
can change the paints consistency by adding
resin or oil (the latter for use on canvas) to
the wax. After the paint has been applied to the
support, which is usually made of wood, plaster,
or canvas, a heating element is passed over the
surface until the individual brush or spatula
marks fuse into a uniform film. This burning
in of the colours is an essential element of
the true encaustic technique.
Encaustic wax has many of the properties of oil
paint it can give a very brilliant and
attractive effect and offers great scope for
elegant and expressive brushwork. The practical
difficulties of using a medium that has to be
kept warm are considerable, though. Apart from
the greater sophistication of modern methods of
heating, the present-day technique is similar to
that described by the 1st-century-CE Roman
scholar Pliny the Elder. Encaustic painting was
invented by the ancient Greeks and was brought
to the peak of its technical perfection by the
genre painter Pausias in the 4th century BCE.
What is Foreshortening?
Foreshortening, method of rendering a specific
object or figure in a picture in depth. The
artist records, in varying degrees, the
distortion that is seen by the eye when an
object or figure is viewed at a distance or at
an unusual angle. In a photograph of a recumbent
figure positioned so that the feet are nearest
the camera, for instance, the feet will seem
unnaturally large and those body parts at a
distance, such as the head, unnaturally small.
The artist may either record this effect
exactly, producing a startling illusion of
reality that seems to violate the picture plane
(surface of the picture), or modify it, slightly
reducing the relative size of the nearer part of
the object, so as to make a less-aggressive
assault on the viewers eye and to relate the
foreshortened object more harmoniously to the
rest of the picture.
Insofar as foreshortening is basically concerned
with the persuasive projection of a form in an
illusionistic way, it is a type of perspective,
but the term foreshortening is almost invariably
used in relation to a single object, or part of
an object, rather than to a scene or group of
What is Fresco Painting?
Fresco painting, method of painting water-based
pigments on freshly applied plaster, usually on
wall surfaces. The colours, which are made by
grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water, dry
and set with the plaster to become a permanent
part of the wall. Fresco painting is ideal for
making murals because it lends itself to a
monumental style, is durable, and has a matte
What is Gouache?
Gouache, painting technique in which a gum or an
opaque white pigment is added to watercolours to
produce opacity. In watercolour the tiny
particles of pigment become enmeshed in the
fibre of the paper in gouache the colour lies
on the surface of the paper, forming a
continuous layer, or coating. A gouache is
characterized by a directly reflecting
brilliance. When applied with bristle brushes it
is possible to achieve a slight but effective
impasto (thick-coated) quality with sable
brushes, a smooth, flawless colour field is
A painting technique of great antiquity, gouache
was used by the Egyptians. It was a popular
medium with Rococo artists such as François
Boucher (170370).
Contemporary painters use gouache alone or in
combination with watercolour and other mediums.
What is Graffiti?
Graffiti, form of visual communication, usually
illegal, involving the unauthorized marking of
public space by an individual or group. Although
the common image of graffiti is a stylistic
symbol or phrase spray-painted on a wall by a
member of a street gang, some graffiti is not
gang-related. Graffiti can be understood as
antisocial behaviour performed in order to gain
attention or as a form of thrill seeking, but it
also can be understood as an expressive art form.
Derived from the Italian word graffio
(scratch), graffiti (incised inscriptions,
plural but often used as singular) has a long
history. For example, markings have been found
in ancient Roman ruins, in the remains of the
Mayan city of Tikal in Central America, on rocks
in Spain dating to the 16th century, and in
medieval English churches. During the 20th
century, graffiti in the United States and
Europe was closely associated with gangs, who
used it for a variety of purposes for
identifying or claiming territory, for
memorializing dead gang members in an informal
obituary, for boasting about acts (e.g.,
crimes) committed by gang members, and for
challenging rival gangs as a prelude to violent
Graffiti was particularly prominent in major
urban centres throughout the world, especially
in the United States and Europe common targets
were subways, billboards, and walls. In the
1990s there emerged a new form of graffiti,
known as tagging, which entailed the repeated
use of a single symbol or series of symbols to
mark territory. In order to attract the most
attention possible, this type of graffiti
usually appeared in strategically or centrally
located neighbourhoods.
To some observers graffiti is a form of public
art, continuing the tradition, for example,
of the muralscommissioned by the U.S. Works
Progress Administration Federal Art Project
during the Great Depression and the work of
Diego Rivera in Mexico. Like the murals of these
artists, great works of graffiti can beautify a
neighbourhood and speak to the interests of a
specific community. For example, the graffiti in
many Hispanic neighbourhoods in the United
States is quite elaborate and is regarded by
many as a form of urban art. The question of
whether such work is an innovative art form or a
public nuisance has aroused much debate.
Graffiti became notoriously prominent in New York
City in the late 20th century. Large elaborate
multicoloured graffiti created with spray paint
on building walls and subway cars came to define
the urban landscape. The art worlds fascination
with artists who functioned outside traditional
gallery channels stimulated an interest in this
form of self- expression. In the 1980s New York
artists such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel
Basquiat gained notoriety for their graffiti and
parlayed this recognition into successful
careers as painters represented by top galleries.
Most jurisdictions have laws prohibiting graffiti
as vandalism, and in some countries punishment
is quite severe. For example, in Singapore
violators are subject to caning. During the
1980s and 90s many jurisdictions sought ways to
eliminate and remove graffiti, fearing that it
would otherwise lead to the debasement of the
community. Significant resources were allocated
for abatement and other clean-up efforts, and
some cities even introduced mural programs or
free walls to provide legal opportunities for
urban youths to express their artistic
What is Grisaille?
  • Grisaille, painting technique by which an image
    is executed entirely in shades of gray and
    usually severely modeled to create the illusion
    of sculpture,
  • especially relief. This aspect of grisaille was
    used particularly by the 15th-century Flemish
    painters (as in the outer wings of the van
    Eycks Ghent Altarpiece) and in the late 18th
    century to imitate classical sculpture in wall
    and ceiling decoration. Among glass painters,
    grisaille is the name of a gray, vitreous pigment
    used in the art of colouring glass for stained
    glass. In
  • French, grisaille has also come to mean any
    painting technique in which translucent oil
    colours are laid over a monotone underpainting.

In the grisaille enamel painting technique,
pulverized white vitreous enamel is made into a
paste by mixing it with water, turpentine, oil
of lavender, or petroleum oil and is then
applied to a dark enamel ground, usually coloured
black or blue. Lighter areas of the design are
thickly painted, while the gray areas are
obtained by painting with thinner coats to allow
the dark background colour to tone the white
enamel pigment. This technique achieves a
dramatic effect of light and shade and a
pronounced sense of three-dimensionality. Grisaill
e enamels were developed in the 16th century in
France by the Limoges school of enamelers. Among
the most noted practitioners of this technique
were members of the Pénicaud family. The
technique was also popular with some 20th-century
painters, including Alfred Leslie and Chuck
What is Impasto?
Impasto, paint that is applied to a canvas or
panel in quantities that make it stand out from
the surface. Impasto was used frequently to
mimic the broken-textured quality of
highlightsi.e., the surfaces of objects that
are struck by an intense light. Impasto came into
its own in the 17th century, when such Baroque
painters as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Diego
Velázquez used skillfully and minutely worked
impastos to depict lined and wrinkled skin or the
sparkle of elaborately crafted armour, jewelry,
and rich fabrics. The 19th-century painter
Vincent van Gogh made notable use of impastos,
building up and defining the forms in his
paintings with thick, nervous dabs of paint.
Twentieth-century painters such as Jackson
Pollock and Willem de Kooning often applied
impastos with a dynamism and a gestural bravura
that emphasized the physical qualities of the
paint itself. Since then, raw pigments applied
thickly to a canvas have become a staple
technique of modern abstract and semifigurative
What is Miniature Painting?
Miniature painting, also called (16th17th
century) limning, small, finely wrought portrait
executed on vellum, prepared card, copper, or
ivory. The name is derived from the minium, or
red lead, used by the medieval illuminators.
Arising from a fusion of the separate traditions
of the illuminated manuscriptand the
medal, miniature painting flourished from the
beginning of the 16th century down to the
mid-19th century.
What is Mural?
Mural, a painting applied to and made integral
with the surface of a wall or ceiling. The term
may properly include painting on fired tiles but
ordinarily does not refer to mosaic decoration
unless the mosaic forms part of the overall
scheme of the painting.
What is Oil Painting?
Oil painting, painting in oil colours, a medium
consisting of pigments suspended in drying oils.
The outstanding facility with which fusion of
tones or colour is achieved makes it unique
among fluid painting mediums at the same time,
satisfactory linear treatment and crisp effects
are easily obtained. Opaque, transparent, and
translucent painting all lie within its range,
and it is unsurpassed for textural variation.
What is Panel Painting?
Panel painting, painting executed on a rigid
support ordinarily wood or metalas distinct
from painting done on canvas. Before canvas came
into general use at the end of the 16th century,
the panel was the support most often used for
easel painting. A variety of woods have been
used, including beech, cedar, chestnut, fir,
larch, linden, white poplar, mahogany, olive,
dark walnut, and teak. Wooden panels were
usually boiled or steamed to remove gum and
resin and thereby prevent splitting and then
were coated with size (a glutinous material) to
fill pores and with gesso (a mixture of glue and
whiting), on which the painting was executed.
Metals used for panel paintings include silver,
tin, lead, and zinc.
During the Middle Ages, especially in Russia
during the period encompassing the work of the
Novgorod school (12th16th century), paintings
were executed on panels over which leather had
been stretched. Panels were especially popular
for making decorative altarpieces. Siennese
artist Duccio, Flemish artists Robert Campin,
Rogier van der Weyden, and brothers Hubert and
Jan van Eyck, and German artist Matthias
Grünewald are notable for their panel
What is Panorama?
  • Panorama, in the visual arts, continuous
    narrative scene or landscape painted to conform
    to a flat or curved background, which surrounds
    or is unrolled before the viewer.

What is Perspective?
  • Perspective, method of graphically depicting
    three-dimensional objects and spatial
    relationships on a two-dimensional plane or on a
    plane that is shallower than the original (for
    example, in flat relief).
  • Perceptual methods of representing space and
    volume, which render them as seen at a
    particular time and from a fixed position and are
    characteristic of Chinese and most Western
    painting since the Renaissance, are in contrast
    to conceptual methods. Pictures drawn by young
    children and primitives (untrained artists),
    many paintings of cultures such as ancient Egypt
    and Crete, India, Islam, and pre-Renaissance
    Europe, as well as the paintings of many modern
    artists, depict objects and surroundings
    independently of one anotheras they are known to
    be, rather than as they are seen to beand from
    the directions that best present their most
    characteristic features. Many Egyptian and Cretan
    paintings and drawings, for example, show the
    head and legs of a figure in profile, while the
    eye and torso are shown frontally (see
    photograph). This system produces not
  • the illusion of depth but the sense that objects
    and their surroundings have
  • been compressed within a shallow space behind the
    picture plane.

In Western art, illusions of perceptual volume
and space are generally created by use of the
linear perspectival system, based on the
observations that objects appear to the eye to
shrink and parallel lines and planes to converge
to infinitely distant vanishing points as they
recede in space from the viewer. Parallel lines
in spatial recession will appear to converge on
a single vanishing point, called one-point
perspective. Perceptual space and volume may be
simulated on the picture plane by variations on
this basic principle, differing according to the
number and location of the vanishing
points. Instead of one-point (or central)
perspective, the artist may use, for instance,
angular (or oblique) perspective, which employs
two vanishing points.
Another kind of systemparallel perspective
combined with a viewpoint from aboveis
traditional in Chinese painting. When buildings
rather than natural contours are painted and it
is necessary to show the parallel horizontal
lines of the construction, parallel lines are
drawn parallel instead of converging, as in
linear perspective. Often foliage is used to
crop these lines before they extend far enough
to cause a building to appear warped.
The early European artist used a perspective that
was an individual interpretation of what he saw
rather than a fixed mechanical method. At the
beginning of the Italian Renaissance, early in
the 15th century, the mathematical laws of
perspective were discovered by the architect
Filippo Brunelleschi, who worked out some of the
basic principles, including the concept of the
vanishing point, which had been known to the
Greeks and Romans but had been lost. These
principles were applied in painting by Masaccio
(as in his Trinity fresco in Santa Maria
Novella, Florence c. 1427), who within a short
period brought about an entirely new approach in
A style was soon developed using configurations
of architectural exteriors and interiors as the
background for religious paintings, which thereby
acquired the illusion of great spatial depth.
In his seminal Della pittura (1436 On Painting),
Leon Battista Alberti codified, especially for
painters, much of the practical work on the
subject that had been carried out by earlier
artists he formulated, for example, the idea
that vision makes a triangle, and from this it
is clear that a very distant quantity seems no
larger than a point.
Linear perspective dominated Western painting
until the end of the 19th century, when Paul
Cézanneflattened the conventional Renaissance
picture space. The Cubists and other 20th-century
painters abandoned the depiction of three-
dimensional space altogether and hence had no
need for linear perspective.
Linear perspective plays an important part in
presentations of ideas for works by architects,
engineers, landscape architects, and industrial
designers, furnishing an opportunity to view the
finished product before it is begun. Differing in
principle from linear perspective and used by
both Chinese and European painters, aerial
perspective is a method of creating the illusion
of depth by a modulation of colour and tone.
What is Plein-air Painting?
  • Plein-air painting, in its strictest sense, the
    practice of painting landscape pictures
    out-of-doors more loosely, the achievement of
    an intense impression of the open air (French
    plein air) in a landscape painting.

Until the time of the painters of the Barbizon
school in mid-19th-century France, it was normal
practice to execute rough sketches of landscape
subjects in the open air and produce finished
paintings in the studio. Part of this was a
matter of convenience. Before the invention of
the collapsible tin paint tube, widely marketed
by the colour merchants Winsor Newton in 1841,
painters purchased their colours in the form
of ground pigment and mixed them fresh with an
appropriate medium such as oil. The new tubes
filled with prepared colours, as well as the
invention of a lightweight, portable easel a
decade later, made it much easier to paint
Despite these advances, many of the Barbizon
painters continued to create most of their work
in the studio not until the late 1860s, with
the work of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
and Camille Pissarro, the leaders of
Impressionism, did painting en plein air become
more popular. This change came about from 1881,
when Monet, in his efforts to capture the
true effects of light on the colour of landscape
at any given moment, began to carry several
canvases at once into the out-of-doors. On each
he began a painting of the same subject at a
different time of day on subsequent days,
he continued to work on each canvas in succession
as the appropriate light appeared.
What is Sand Painting?
Sand painting, also called dry painting, type of
art that exists in highly developed forms among
the Navajo and Pueblo Indians of the American
Southwest and in simpler forms among several
Plains and California Indian tribes. Although
sand painting is an art form, it is valued among
the Indians primarily for religious rather than
aesthetic reasons. Its main function is in
connection with healing ceremonies.
Sand paintings are stylized, symbolic pictures
prepared by trickling small quantities of
crushed, coloured sandstone, charcoal, pollen, or
other dry materials in white, blue, yellow,
black, and red hues on a background of clean,
smoothed sand. About 600 different pictures are
known, consisting of various representations of
deities, animals, lightning, rainbows, plants,
and other symbols described in the chants that
accompany various rites. In healing, the choice
of the particular painting is left to the curer.
Upon completion of the picture, the patient sits
on the centre of the painting, and sand from the
painting is applied to parts of his body. When
the ritual is completed, the painting is
For years the Indians would not allow permanent,
exact copies of sand paintings to be made. When
the designs were copied in rugs, an error was
deliberately made so that the original design
would still be powerful. Today many of the
paintings have been copied both to preserve the
art and for the record.
What is Scroll Painting?
  • Scroll painting, art form practiced primarily in
    East Asia. The two dominant types may be
    illustrated by the Chinese landscape scroll,
    which is that cultures greatest contribution to
    the history of painting, and the Japanese
    narrative scroll, which developed the
    storytelling potential of painting.

What is Sfumato?
Sfumato, (from Italian sfumare, to tone down or
to evaporate like smoke), in painting or
drawing, the fine shading that produces soft,
imperceptible transitions between colours and
tones. It is used most often in connection with
the work of Leonardo da Vinci and his followers,
who made subtle gradations, without lines or
borders, from light to dark areas the technique
was used for a highly illusionistic rendering of
facial features and for atmospheric effects. See
also chiaroscuro.
What is Sgraffito?
  • Sgraffito, (Italian scratched), in the visual
    arts, a technique used in painting, pottery, and
    glass, which consists of putting down a
    preliminary surface, covering it with another,
    and then scratching the superficial layer in
    such a way that the pattern or shape that
    emerges is of the lower colour. During the
    Middle Ages, especially in panel painting and in
    the illumination of manuscripts, the ground was
  • of gold leaf. In wall painting, or mural
    painting, two layers of different-coloured
    plaster are usually employed.

In stained glass, the scratching is done through
a top layer of coloured glass, revealing clear
glass beneath in pottery the pattern is incised
through a white or coloured slip (mixture of
clay and water washed over the vessel before
firing), revealing the body colour beneath.
Sgraffito ware was produced by Islamic potters
and became common throughout the Middle East. The
18th-century scratch blue class of English white
stoneware is decorated with sgraffito patterns
touched with blue. Sgraffito ware was produced
as early as 1735 by German settlers in colonial
What is Sotto In Su?
Sotto in su, (Italian from below to above) in
drawing and painting, extreme foreshortening of
figures painted on a ceiling or other high
surface so as to give the illusion that the
figures are suspended in air above the viewer.
It is an approach that was developed during the
Renaissance, and it was especially favoured by
Baroque and Rococo painters, particularly in
Italy. Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano,
Correggio, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo were
outstanding exponents of the technique.
What is Tachism?
Tachism, French Tachisme, (from tache, spot),
style of painting practiced in Paris after World
War IIand through the 1950s that, like its
American equivalent, Action painting, featured
the intuitive, spontaneous gesture of the
artists brushstroke. Developed by the young
painters Hans Hartung, Gérard Schneider, Pierre
Soulages, Frans Wols, Chao Wu-chi (Zao Wu-ki),
and Georges Mathieu, Tachism was part of a
larger French postwar movement known as Art
Informel, which abandoned geometric abstraction
in favour of a more intuitive form of
expression. Art Informel was inspired by the
instinctive, personal approach of contemporary
American Abstract Expressionism, of which Action
painting was one aspect.
Like their American counterparts, the French-
educated Tachists worked with a loaded brush,
producing large works of sweeping brushstrokes
and of drips, blots, stains, and splashes of
colour. Their works, however, are more elegant
and lyricaloften including graceful lines and
blended, muted coloursthan the works of such
American painters as Jackson Pollock and Willem
de Kooning, on whom the French artists modeled
themselves. The Tachists were also less indebted
than were the Action painters to uninhibited
psychic inspiration.
What is Tempera Painting?
Tempera painting, painting executed with pigment
ground in a water-miscible medium. The word
tempera originally came from the verb temper, to
bring to a desired consistency. Dry pigments
are made usable by tempering them with a
binding and adhesive vehicle. Such painting was
distinguished from fresco painting, the colours
for which contained no binder. Eventually, after
the rise of oil painting, the word gained its
present meaning.
What is Tenebrism?
Tenebrism, in the history of Western painting,
the use of extreme contrasts of light and dark
in figurative compositions to heighten their
dramatic effect. (The term is derived from the
Latin tenebrae, darkness.) In tenebrist
paintings, the figures are often portrayed
against a background of intense darkness, but
the figures themselves are illuminated by a
bright, searching light that sets off their
three-dimensional forms by a harsh but
exquisitely controlled chiaroscuro. The technique
was introduced by the Italian painter Caravaggio
(15711610) and was taken up in the early 17th
century by painters influenced by him, including
the French painter Georges de La Tour, the Dutch
painters Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrik
Terbrugghen, and the Spanish painter Francisco
de Zurbarán.
What is Trompe L'oeil?
Trompe loeil, (French deceive the eye) in
painting, the representation of an object with
such verisimilitude as to deceive the viewer
concerning the material reality of the object.
This idea appealed to the ancient Greeks who were
newly emancipated from the conventional
stylizations of earlier art. Zeuxis, for
example, reportedly painted such realistic
grapes that birds tried to eat them. The
technique was also popular with Roman muralists.
Although trompe loeil never achieved the status
of a major artistic aim, European painters from
the early Renaissance onward occasionally
fostered illusionism by painting false frames out
of which the contents of a still life or
portrait appeared to spill or by creating
windowlike images suggesting actual openings in
the wall or ceiling.
In Italy in the 15th century an inlay work
known as intarsia was used on choir stalls and in
sacristies, frequently as trompe loeil views of
cupboards with different articles seen upon the
shelves through half- open doors. In America the
19th-century still-life painter William Harnett
became famous for his card-rack paintings, on
which are depicted various cards and clippings
with such verisimilitude that the viewer becomes
convinced that they can be lifted off the painted
rack. In the late 20th century, muralist Richard
Haas painted the exteriors of entire buildings
in trompe loeil, primarily in Chicagoand New
York City. Aaron Bohrod was one of the foremost
20th-century practitioners of small-scale trompe
What is Watercolor Technique?
  • Watercolor was initially developed in Asia during
    the 8th century to be laid on fine silks and
    woven paper. The paints slowly made their way to
    Byzantium and Europe in the 14th century,
    placing its aesthetic hold onto illuminated
    manuscripts, and later rendered itself to the
    gossamer aesthetic of the French Impressionists.
  • Watercolor paint uses ground pigments mixed with
    water-soluble binders. Watercolor painting lends
    itself to a gradient of tonal hues that can
    imitate the washes of sky and sea, but it is
    considered one of the most difficult mediums to
    master, as it doesnt lend itself to correction
    after application. Many consider Itzchak Tarkay
    (1935- 2012) to be an especially gifted
    watercolorist who awed viewers with his

What is Giclee (Gee-Clay) Spray Technique?
  • Giclée (pronounced gee-clay) printing is the art
    medium of now, fusing together traditions of
    realism and digital innovation. A French term,
    translating into the spraying of ink, giclées
    arent simply printed reproductions rather,
    theyre the result of obsessive digital
    fine-tuning and modification, and are able to
    capture great photorealistic detail. The process
    begins with a high resolution photograph of the
    artwork being translated into giclée form. The
    image is
  • then scanned, turned into a digital source file,
    color corrected, printed, revised, reprinted
    and subject to constant adjustment until the
    artist is satisfied with the printed product.
  • Artists liked Pino, Andrew Bone, Scott Jacobs,
    Autumn de Forest, and many more have utilized
    giclées for their limited edition artworks.

What is Underpainting?
I never work from white when using oils or
acrylics. Create an underpainting in burnt umber
or a mix of burnt sienna and phthalo blues to
establish shadows and values. Acrylics are
probably the best medium to use at this stage as
they're quick-drying and permanent.
Work paint up from thin to thick, especially when
using slow-drying paints. It's impossible to
work on top of heavy, wet paint. In the same
way, work up to highlights, adding the brightest
(and usually heavier) paint at the end. Have a
roll of kitchen towel to hand to clean brushes
and remove any excess paint if you make a
What is Blocking In?
Brushes come in a number of shapes and with
different fibre types, all of which give very
different results. The key is to try all of them
as you paint. The most versatile are a
synthetic/sable mix these brushes can be used
with most of the different paint types. Brushes
come in flat and round types and it pays to have
a selection of both. Check out our guide to
picking the right brush to learn more.
I work with a range of brushes. For most of the
early work I use larger, flatter and broader
brushes. A filbert is a good general brush for
blocking in form and paint. It has a dual
nature, combining aspects of flat and round
brushes so it can cover detail as well as larger
areas. I tend to use smaller brushes only at the
end of the painting process.
What is Building Up Texture?
  • Have a dry, flat brush that you can use to blend
    your paint and create smooth transitions. I tend
    to like lots of texture and like to see brush
    marks in my own work. Almost anything can be
    used to add texture to your paint. There are
    ready-made texture media available, but I have
    seen items such as egg shell and sand used to
    add interest to a painting.
  • One tip is to use an old toothbrush to spatter
    your image with paint. This can be remarkably
    effective at suggesting noise and grain.

What is Dry Brushing?
This is a method of applying colour that only
partially covers a previously dried layer of
paint. Add very little paint to your brush and
apply it with very quick, directional
strokes. This method tends to work best when
applying light paint over dark areas/dried paint
and is useful for depicting rock and grass
What is Glazing?
  • Glazing is the process of laying a coat of
    transparent paint over a dry part of the
    painting, and it's used for intensifying shadows
    and modulating colour. A light transparent blue
    over dry yellow will of course create green.

What is Painting with Mediums?
Mediums are fluids that can be added to paint to
modulate its consistency, drying time and
texture. In the case of acrylics, you get
different mediums that make the paint matte or
gloss. However, I tend to use the matte medium
mainly to seal my paper or board, so paint
doesn't soak into it.
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