GLOSSARY OF ART TERMS

Art Terms Beginning with P

  • By Jacqui Thomas
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Art Terms Beginning with P

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Paint

A combination of pigment, binder, and solvent. 

Painting

A work of art made by applying paint to canvas, wood, paper, or another support; the act of producing a picture using paint.

PAINTERLY

The application of paint in a loose or less than controlled manner, resulting in the appearance of visible brushstrokes. 

Palette

The range of colours used by an artist in making a work of art; A thin wooden or plastic surface on which an artist holds and mixes paint.

Palette knife

A flexible, thin blade with a handle, typically used for mixing paint colours or applying them to a canvas.

Panel

A flat board or rigid support sometimes made of wood.

Panorama

An uninterrupted view of an entire surrounding area.

PAPER

Matted plant fibres made into sheet form either by hand (traditional) or machine (modern) and used by artists as a surface for drawing, watercolour or printmaking.

Papier-collé

French for ‘glued paper’, a collage technique using cut-and-pasted papers that is closer to drawing than painting.

Papier-mâché

French for ‘chewed-up paper’, a technique for creating three-dimensional objects, such as sculpture, from pulped or pasted paper and binders such as glue or plaster.

Paranoiac critical method

Emerging from psychological methods, a creative process, developed by Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in the 1930s, for the exploration of the creative potential of dream imagery and subconscious thoughts.

PARTICIPATORY ART    

A form of art that directly engages the audience in the creative process so that they become participants in the event.

Pastel  

A soft and delicate shade of a colour; A drawing medium of dried paste manufactured in crayon form made of ground pigments and a water-based binder; The artwork drawn with this type of crayon.

PATINA

A distinct green or brown surface layer on bronze sculpture.

Pattern

A series of events, objects, or compositional elements that repeat in a predictable manner.

PENDANT

One of two pictures designed to hang together as a matching pair.

PERFORMANCE ART

Artworks that are created through actions performed by the artist or other participants, which may be live or recorded, spontaneous or scripted.

Perspective

A technique used to depict volumes and spatial relationships on a flat surface, as in a painted scene that appears to extend into the distance.

Photocollage / Photomontage

A collage work that combines cut- or torn-and-pasted photographs or photographic reproductions.

Photogram

A photographic print made by placing objects and other elements on photosensitive paper and exposing it to light.

Photograph

An image, especially a positive print, recorded by exposing a photosensitive surface to light, especially in a camera.

PHOTOGRAPHY

The process or practice of creating a photograph.

Photogravure

A printmaking process in which a photographic negative is transferred onto a copper plate.

Photojournalism

Journalism that uses photographs to tell a news story.

PHOTOREALISM

Photorealism is a painting style that emerged in Europe and the USA in the late 1960s, defined by its painstaking detail and precision.

Photostat / photocopy

A machine that makes quick duplicate positive or negative copies directly on the surface of prepared paper; The resulting copies.

Pictograph

An image or symbol representing a word or a phrase.

Picture Plane

The physical surface of a painting or artwork.

PICTURESQUE

An ideal type of landscape that has an artistic appeal, in that it is beautiful but also with some elements of wildness.

Pigment

A substance, usually finely powdered, that produces the color of any medium. When mixed with oil, water, or another fluid, it becomes a paint.

Plan

A scale drawing or diagram showing the structure or organization of an object or group of objects.

Plane

A flat or level surface.

PLASTER OF PARIS

A fine white powder which, when mixed with water, forms a white solid.

Plastic

A term applied to many natural and synthetic materials with different forms, properties, and appearances that can be moulded.

Plasticiser

Any of a group of substances that are used in the manufacture of plastics or other materials to impart flexibility, softness, hardness, or other desired physical properties to the finished product.

Plate

In printmaking, the flat surface onto which the design is etched, engraved, or otherwise applied.

PLEIN AIR

The French term plein air means out of doors and refers to the practice of painting entire finished pictures out of doors.

Pliable

Capable of being shaped, bent, or stretched out.

PLINTH

A plinth is a heavy base or box on which a sculpture stands or is presented.

Plywood

A material made of thin layers of wood that have been heated, glued, and pressed together by a machine.

Pointillism

A technique of painting developed by French painters Seurat and Signac, in which small, distinct points of unmixed colour are applied in patterns to form an image.

POLAROID PRINT

A positive print that is produced very shortly after exposure by a Polaroid camera.

POP ART

An art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain, drawing inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture. 

Popular culture

Cultural activities, ideas, or products that reflect or target the tastes of the general population of any society.

PORTFOLIO

A number of prints presented as a group and often, though not necessarily, by the same artist and based on a related theme.

PORTRAIT

A representation of a particular person. A self-portrait is a portrait of the artist by the artist.

Pose

The way a figure is positioned.

Positive

In photography, images capable of being produced in multiples that result from the transfer of a negative image to another surface, such as a photographic print on paper.

Primary colour

One of three base colours (blue, red, or yellow) that can be combined to make a range of colours.

Prime

To prepare a surface for painting by covering it with primer, or an undercoat.

PRIMITIVISM

The term used to describe the fascination of early modern European artists with what was then called primitive art such as the tribal art from Africa, the South Pacific and Indonesia, as well as prehistoric and very early European art, and European folk art.

PRINT

An impression made by any method involving transfer from one surface to another.

PROCESS ART

The process used to create the art becomes a feature of the work itself or the focus of the work. 

Profile

A side view, usually referring to that of a human head.

PROOF

A printing term applied to all individual impressions made before work on a printing plate or block is completed, in order to check progress of the image.

Prop

An object used to aid or enhance a story or performance.

Proportion

The relationship of one part of a whole to other parts.

Prototype

An early sample built to test a concept or process.

PSYCHEDELIC ART

Work made by artists under the influence of the mind-expanding drug LSD generally in the 1960s.

PUBLIC ART

Art that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is situated on public or private property or whether it has been purchased with public or private money.

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