Art 101 - Glossary


Abstract Art

Art that does not show a familiar subject, or a subject that the viewer can easily recognize. Abstract art does not show lifelike people, places, or things, but instead it uses shapes and colors and often expresses an artist's emotions. The abstract art made during the 20th Century influenced many Modern and Contemporary artists. Take a look at Jackson Pollock's artwork, Number 31. This work is abstract because when we look at it we don't see a familiar subject, or anything we can easily recognize. What do you see?

Acrylic Paint

A type of paint made from pigments (powdered colors) and resin (a clear, sticky substance). Acrylic paint dries very quickly. It was invented in the 1950s and many artists use it today.


Films of drawings or cartoons that are presented in a fast series, so that they appear to be moving.


The part of an artwork that appears to be furthest away from the viewer. The opposite of background is foreground. Take a look at this image by Little Collector Artist Matthew Carden. What do you see in the background?


The equal arrangement of formal elements within an artwork, such as lines, shapes, colors, and objects. Here is an example of an artwork that is very balanced:


The mark an artist makes when applying paint to a surface with a brush.


A process used to make an exact copy or replica of a 3-dimensional artwork or sculpture. To copy a sculpture, artists make a cast of the original object. They do this by making a mold in the shape of the sculpture and filling it with liquid that hardens into the shape of a mold. Through casting, artists can make many copies of the original artwork.


An artwork made by sticking or gluing pieces of paper, fabric, string, or other materials (like glitter or buttons) to a flat surface such as a piece of paper or board. The materials are arranged to create a pattern, image, or picture that is figurative (recognizable) or abstract. The collage process creates artworks with a unique texture, or surface that you can feel with your fingers. This could be rough or smooth depending on what kind of materials the artist uses in their collage. Here is an example of an artwork that uses collage

Color Wheel

A circle or wheel that shows all the basic primary colors, such as red, blue, and yellow, and how they mix together to create new colors.


The way that colors, shapes, and lines are arranged in an artwork.


The idea behind a work of art; what it is all about and why it was made. Often the idea or reason why a work was made, which we cannot see, is just as important as the visual elements that we can see.


Art that is being made now in the present day. All artwork on Little Collector is Contemporary and is made by living artists. You can learn more about Little Collector Artists here.


An artwork's setting: where and when it was made, including its cultural, historical, and geographic influences.

Cool Colors

Colors that contain the primary color blue, including many shades of blues, greens, and purples. These colors are called "cool" because they seem as though they would feel cool, chilly, or refreshing if you could touch them. Traditionally, people have associated cool colors with the water, sky, and earth.


An artist's plan for how they will create an artwork and what it will look like. Design can also refer to the artistic decoration of a space or objects; a decorative style.

Digital Print

A copy or print of an original artwork that is produced using a digital printing process. Paintings and illustrations are scanned into a computer and printed with inks on cotton paper using a high-quality color printer. Photographs are printed using the same high-quality digital process. All prints available on Little Collector are limited edition digital prints that include an official label of authentication that is signed and dated by the artist.


An artwork made in two parts, most often paintings, which are displayed next to each other and relate to one another.


A set of prints or exact copies of an original artwork. Prints in an edition are usually numbered so you can tell how many copies were made. Little Collector prints are all limited edition.


The part of an artwork that stands out most. This is often where we naturally focus when we are looking at the work. It is usually the most important part.


A public art show. A solo exhibition shows the work on one artist. A group exhibition shows the works of multiple artists.

Figurative Art/Representational Art

Art that depicts recognizable things that we may have seen before, like people, buildings, places, and things. It is the opposite of Abstract Art. An example of a figurative (painting, photo, or illustration) watercolor painting is shown here, by Little Collector Artist, Laura Ball. Can you see anything you recognize in this artwork?

Fine Art

Art that is created to be art without any other function or use. You can't drink out of it like a handmade mug, or sit on it like a finely carved bench. Its only job is to be an artwork. Fine art includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, prints, poetry, music, and dance. All artwork on Little Collector is Fine Art.


The part of an artwork that is closest to the viewer. The opposite of foreground is background. Can you spot some things in the foreground of this work by Little Collector Artist [insert name that links to artist page]. Margaret Morrison


The colors, shapes, lines, patterns, and textures that make up the structure of an artwork. The form is often closely related to the artwork's content and meaning.

Found Objects

An object or thing that an artist finds and decides to use in their artwork, such as a bicycle wheel, a shoebox, an airplane ticket, or a quilt. Almost anything can be a found object.

Geometric Shape

A simple, 2-dimensional shape such as a triangle, rectangle, square, or circle.

Gestural Painting

A type of painting that captures an artist's feelings and emotions through loose, fluid brushstrokes. Gestural brushstrokes can also depict a figure in motion. Many Abstract Expressionist painters, including Jackson Pollock used this style of painting.


A very thick watercolor paint that is opaque, so you can't see through it. Sometimes it is also called poster paint.