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Resource: Artistic Dictionary

When writing descriptions for pieces, your bio or artist statement, it’s a reality that words can often escape us.

Not all visual artists are blessed with the gifts of a wordsmith either.

We have therefore taken the time to create a list of our favourite artistic words for a dictionary project which over time will be completed with definitions using the Oxford English Dictionary and where a phrase is used, it will be defined either by another source or by our editor.

We hope this turns into a useful resource for all who need it.

As always, if you can see the need for an improvement, maybe by including another word or two, email us at: admin@artmarketdirect.com

WordDefinitionSource
Ability,
Abrasive,
absorbing
Absorbing,
Abstract
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract,
Abstract.
Abstraction
abundance
Acceleration,
Acclaimed,
accomplish
accomplished
Acoustical,
Acquisition,
acrylic paint
Acrylic,
Adaptation,
Adept,
adroit
Aesthetic,
aesthetically pleasing
affect
Aficionado,
aggressive
Aggressive,
airbrush
Aisle,
alizarin crimson
alla prima
Amplification,
an eye for
Analogous,
angled.
angry,
Angular
Angular,
animation
Animation,
Anthem,
Antique,
appealing
Applause,
apply
Appreciation,
architecture
Aria,
arouse
Arrangement,
Array,
Array,
art
Art Brut
Art Deco
art form
art gallery
Art Nouveau
art style
Art,
articulate
Articulation,
Artificial,
Artificial.
artisan
artist
artist’s bridge
artistic
artistic career
artistic endeavour
artistic expresion
artistic genius
Artistic,
Artlessness,
Arts & Crafts
artwork
arty-crafty
assemblage
Assemblage,
Assemble,
Assist,
Assistance,
astonishing
Asymmetrical
asymmetrical,
Asymmetry,
Atmosphere,
atmospheric
Attempt,
Attraction,
Audible,
Audience,
Audition,
Aural,
authentic
Authentic,
avant-garde
Avid,
awaken
award-winning
Award-winning,
Awe
awe-inspiring
Axis
Back lit,
background,
Backstage,
balance
Balance,
Balance,
balanced
Balanced,
Ballad,
Ballet,
Band,
Baroque
bas-relief
Bass,
batik
Baton,
battered,
Bauhaus
beautiful
beauty
Beauty,
Beholder,
bending.
Bias,
bird’s eye view.
Blended,
blending
Blissfully,
blue,
Blues,
Blur,
body of work
Bold
Bold,
Boring,
boundless
Bravado,
Bravo,
bridge
Bright,
brightness
brilliant
brilliant,
Broadcast,
Broken colour
broken,
broken.
brush
Brushwork
buildings,
Cacophony,
Cadence,
Calibre,
calligraphy
Calm,
camera
camp
candid
Canvas,
Capricious,
captivate
Captivate,
capture
Capture,
cartoon
carve
Carve,
casting
Caution,
cave drawing
Celebrity,
Centred,
ceramic
Ceramics
chalk
Chalk,
changes.
chaotic.
character
characteristic
characterize
charcoal
Charcoal,
Charisma,
Cheerful,
chiaroscuro
chilling,
Chimes,
chisel
Choir,
Chorale,
Choreography,
Chorus,
chroma
Cinematic,
circular,
Cityscape,
Clamor,
clashing,
classic
Classic,
Classical
clay
Clay,
clean,
clear,
Clef,
cliché
cloisonné
Close up,
Closed Composition
cluttered,
Coarse
coarse.
Coda,
cogent
cold.
Collaboration,
collage
Collage,
collectable
collection
Collection,
collector
color (American)
color wheel
Color,
colored pencils
colorful
Colour (English)
Commanding,
Commercial,
commission
Commitment,
communicate
Communication,
compass
compatible,
Competition,
complementary
complementary color
Complementary,
complex
complexity
Component,
Composition,
Concave,
Concentration,
concept
conception
conceptual
conceptualize
Concert master,
Concert,
Concerto,
Conductor,
confined.
conjure
Connoisseur,
Conservatory,
Constant.
Constructivism
contemplative
Contemporary
content,
contiguous colors
contour
Contour,
Contract,
Contrast
Contrast,
Contrasting
contrasting,
contrasting.
contrasts
Contribution,
controversial
Converge,
conversational
Convex,
convey
conviction
Cool color,
Cool,
Coordination,
Costume,
craft
Crafts,
Craftspeople,
crayon
create
creative
creative approach
Creativity,
Crescendo,
Critique
cross-hatching
Crowd-pleasing,
Cubism
cubist
Culture
Culture,
Curator,
Curvaceous
Curve
Cut,
Dabble,
Dada
damaged,
Dance
Dance,
dappled
daring
Dark,
dark.
Dazzle,
dazzling
Debut,
Decor,
decorate
Decorative,
decoupage
dedication
Dedication,
deep,
deeply thoughtful
Delicate
Demonstration,
dense
depict
Depressed,
depressing,
depth
Depth
Depth,
Design,
detail
detailed
develop
Device,
Diagonal,
Diffuse,
Digital Art
Digital image,
Digital,
Dim,
dimensional
diptych
Direction,
disciplined
discordant,
Disorganized,
display
Display,
disruptive
distinctive
distinctive,
distinguished
distort
Distorted
Distraction,
distressing,
Diverse,
Diversity,
divine
Domestic,
domestic.
downwards,
draughtsmanship
Dramatic
draw
drawing
dreamlike
dreamy
Drive,
dry brush,
duality
Dulcimer,
Dull,
dusty,
Dynamic
Earthy
earthy,
easel
echo
eclectic
Edgy,
Effect,
egg tempera
element
Element,
elevate
elevated
elevating
Elongated
Eloquence,
emancipate
embellish
embody
emerge
emergent
emerging
Emission,
Emotion,
emotional
emotionally charged
emphasize
empty.
enamel
encaustic
enchant
enchanted
Encore,
Endurance,
energetic
Energetic,
Energy,
engaging
engraving
engrossing
enigmatic
Ensemble,
Entertainment,
envision
epochal
erase
eraser
Essence,
esthetic
etch
etching
ethereal
Euphony,
Euphoric,
Evaluation,
evocative
evoke
Exaggeration,
Exalt,
Exalt(ation),
exceptional
excite
exciting,
Execution,
Exemplary,
exhibit
exhibition
Exhibition,
exotic
experience
exploration
explore
explosive
Exposure,
express
expression
Expression,
Expressionism
expressive
Expressive,
Exquisite,
Extraordinary
extreme
exuberance
Facade,
Facets,
Facilitate,
faint,
Falter,
Fan,
fancy.
Fantasy,
far away,
fascinate
fascinating
Fascination,
Fauvism
Features,
feel
fiery,
figural
figurative
Figurative (figures),
figure
film
Finale,
Finalist,
Fine
Fine Art Photography
Flat tones
Flat,
flat.
Flexible,
Flourish,
Flowing
flowing,
fluid
Fluid,
Fluorescent,
Focal point
focus
Focus,
folk
folksy
Foreground,
form
Form,
formal
Formal,
format
Format,
Forte,
Found Art
fragmented.
frame
Framework,
Free,
freehand
freelance
Frenzy,
fresco
fresh
frightening,
from life
front lit,
Front, side,
frosted,
Fugue
Functional,
fuse
Futurism
Fuzz
gallery
garish,
gaudy,
Gauge,
Genius,
Genre,
gentle,
Genuflect,
Geometric
Geometric
Geometric,
gesso
Gesticulate,
gesture
Gesture,
Gesturing,
gilding
Glare,
glass
Glass Art
glass-blowing
glaze
Glaze,
Glazes,
Glissando,
gloomy,
Gloss,
glossy,
glowing,
gold leaf
gorgeous
Gothic
gouache
Grace
graceful
Graceful,
Graduated.
graffiti
grandiose
granular
Graphic
graphic design
graphite
gray.
growth
Hairy,
hammer
hang
hanging
happy,
hard.
Harlem Renaissance
harmonious,
harmonious.
Harmony,
harsh,
hatching
Hatching,
Heavy,
Hiatus,
high-relief
Highlight,
Hoarse,
Hone,
honest
Horizon line,
Horizontal,
hot.
hue
Hue,
human
Humanities,
humble.
Hype
hyper-creative
icon
iconic value
Iconic,
ideal
Idealization,
Illumination,
Illumination,
illusion
illustrate
illustration
Illustration,
Illustrious,
Illustrious,
Image,
imagery
Imagery,
imaginary,
imagination
Imagination,
imaginative
immerse
impact
impassion
impassioned
impasto
impeccable
Impression,
Impressionism
impressionist
Impressionist,
Impressive,
Impromptu,
Impromptu,
Improvisation,
incised,
Inclination,
Inconsistent,
incorporate
Indirect light.
Individual,
industrial.
Industry,
Influence,
infused
Infusion,
ink
innovation
Innovative,
Insight,
Insight,
insipid,
insipid.
inspiration
inspirational
Inspirational,
inspire
inspired
installation
Installation Art
instinct
instinctive
Instrument,
Instrumental,
Integrity,
intellectual
intense
intense,
intensity
Intensity,
intensive
Intent,
interaction
interesting
interesting,
Interiors,
interlace
International,
interpret
interpretation
Interpretation,
interweave
Intimate
intricacies
intrigue
intuitive
invented,
Inventive
invert
irregular,
Jagged,
jarring,
Jazz(y),
Jewellery,
journey
joyful,
Judge,
Judgement,
juxtapose
Juxtaposition
Keen,
Key
kiln
labyrinth
labyrinthine
landscape
Landscape format,
Landscape,
Large
latex paint
layer
layered
Layered,
layout,
Legend,
Legendary,
Libretto,
life-size,
lifeless,
lifelike
Light source,
Light,
light.
Lighting,
Line,
Linear Expressionism
liner brush
linseed oil
literal
Literary,
lithograph
Lively,
lopsided.
lost wax method
low-relief
low,
luminosity
luminous
Luminous,
Luster,
lying down,
Lyrical
Lyrical,
Lyrics
Madrigal,
Magic,
magisterial
Mahlstick or maulstick
Major,
man-made,
Manifestation,
manipulate
manipulation
maquette
marble
marbling
marker
masterpiece
Masterwork,
mastery
Matinee,
matte.
mature
maturity
mauve
Maximize,
Meager,
meandering
meaning
Measure,
mechanical pencil
media
Media,
Medieval
Medium,
mellow,
Melodious,
Melodrama,
Memorable,
Meters,
method
mid (middle).
middle ground.
Miniature
minimal,
Minimalism
minimalist
Minimize,
Minor,
miserable,
mixed media
Mixed media,
Mixed,
mobile
model
Modern
Modernism
Modulation,
Momentum,
monochrome
Monumental
mood
Mood,
mosaic
mosaic-like
motif
Motion,
Motivate,
Motivation,
Movement,
Movies,
moving
moving.
muddied,
muddled,
mural
Muse
Muse,
museum
Musical
Muted
muted,
mysterious
mystical
mystique
mythological.
narrative
Natural,
Natural.
Naturalistic
Negative space
Negative space,
Neoclassical
Neo-Expressionism
Neutral,
New,
Niche,
Nimble,
No directional light source.
Nocturne,
Nostalgia,
Notation,
Nuance
objects d’art
Ochre,
oil paint
old master
old,
Oomph,
op art
Op-Art
opaque
Opportunity,
Opt,
Optimal,
Organic
Organic
Orientalism
original
Ornate,
outline
Outline,
Outsider
Outstanding,
Oval,
Overlap,
Overlapping,
Overture
paint
paint roller
paintbrush
painter
painterly
painting
Painting,
Pale
pale,
palette
palette knife
Palette,
panel
paper
paradoxical
Parallel,
Participation,
passion
passionate
Passionate,
pastel
Pastel,
patron
pattern
Pattern,
patterned
peaceful
peaceful,
pen
pencil
perception
Perception,
Performance Art
Performance,
Perpendicular,
Persistence,
personal
perspective
Perspective,
Perspiration,
phenomenal
Phenomenal,
Philharmonic,
philosophy
photo
photograph
photography
Photography,
Photorealism
Phrasing,
Pianist,
Piano,
pictorial
picture
piece
pigment
Pigment,
Pinnacle,
pioneer
Pitch,
pitted,
Placement,
plain.
play on
playful
pochade box
Poetry,
pointillism
polished,
Polyphony,
Pop Art
Popular,
porcelain
portfolio
portrait
portrait format,
Portrait,
portraits.
portray
Portrayal,
Pose,
Position,
position.
Position(ing),
positive space.
Post-Modernism
poster
Postmodern
potent
Potent,
Potent,
pottery
Pottery, 
Powerful,
pounce
Power,
Practice,
Pre-Raphaelite
Precise,
preconceive
Prelude,
Premiere,
preoccupation
Presence,
Pressure,
primary color
Primary,
print
printing
printmaking
process
Professional,
Profile,
profound
Profuse,
Program,
Project,
Promising,
proportion
Proportion,
Prosody,
Provocative
provoking
pulp
pure
pure.
purity
quality
Quality,
Quantity,
Quick,
quiet,
quill
quilt
quilting
Quintessential,
Quirk
radiant
Raised,
reach
reaction
Realism
realist
realistic
Realistic,
realm
rear (from behind).
Recede,
Recognition,
recreate
red.
redefine
refine
Refine,
refined
refined,
refinement
reflect
Reflected light.
reflection
reflective.
refreshing
regular,
Regularity,
relaxed,
remarkable
remind
Renaissance
render
rendering
Repetition,
represent
representation
Representational
Reputation,
Resilient,
Resonance,
resourceful
Response,
Resting,
Restraint,
Retrospective,
reveal
revealing
Revival,
Rhythm
rich
rich,
rigid,
Rococo
Romantic
romantic.
Romanticism
Rough
rough,
ruler
sad,
satin,
satirical
saturate
saturated
saturated,
Saturation
Scale
Scale,
scene
scenery
Scenery,
Scheme,
scratched,
screen printing
sculpt
Sculpt,
sculptor
sculptural
Sculpture,
scumble
scumbling,
seascape
seascape.
secondary color
Secondary,
self-portrait
semi-abstract
Semi-gloss,
seminal
sensation
sensitivity
sensual
sensuality
Separate,
serene
series
sfumato
sgraffito
shade
Shade,
shading
Shadow,
Shallowness,
Shape
Shapes,
Sharp,
sharp.
Shiny,
shiny.
shoot
show
side lit,
sideways.
signature
silk screen
silk-screen
silk,
Simple
sitting,
sketch
Sketch,
sketchbook
sketchy,
skeuomorphic
skill
Skill,
skilled
Small
Smooth
smooth,
smooth.
soft
Soft,
soft.
Solo,
solvent
sombre,
Soulful,
space
Space,
spacey
spacious,
sparse
speaks of
Spectacular,
spectrum
Spectrum,
Speculation,
Spin,
Spirit,
spiritual
splattered.
splendour
Spontaneity,
spontaneous
Spotlight,
square format,
stained glass
Stamina,
Standing,
Star,
static
static.
Status,
stencil
stereoscopic
sticky.
still life
Still life,
Still life.
stimulating
stimulating,
stipple
Stipple,
stippling
stippling,
stir
stirring
stone
stone-cutting
Straight,
Streak,
Strength,
Stretch,
Strong
strong,
structure,
studied
study
stunning
Stunning,
style
Style,
stylized
subconscious
subdued,
subject
subject matter
sublime
Sublime,
substantive
Subtle
supple
surreal
Surrealism
surrealistic
Swirling
symbol
symbolic
Symbolic,
Symbolism
symmetrical.
Symmetry
Symmetry
sympathetic.
synthetic
systematic.
t-square
tactile
talent
Talent,
talented
taste
tasteful
tearful,
Technical,
Technicolor,
Technique
Technique,
tempera
template
tertiary
Tertiary,
textile
textile arts
Texture
Texture,
theme
Thick
Thick,
Thin
thin.
thought-provoking
thought-provoking.
three-D
three-dimensional
three-quarters,
timeless
timid.
Tint,
tole painting
Tone
Tone,
tools
top lit.
touch
touching
Traditional
Training,
tranquil
tranquil.
transform
Transform,
transformation
Transformation,
translucent
Transmission
triangular.
triptych
trompe l’oeil
tube
turpentine
Ultimate,
unbalanced,
Unbelievable,
unconventional
Unconventional,
understanding
undertone
Uneven
uneven,
uneven,
unexpected
unforgettable
unfriendly,
unhappy.
uniform,
uninhibited
unique
Unique, Unity,
universal
Unprecedented,
unpredictable
untitled
Unusual
unvarying,
uplift
upright,
Upwards,
urban,
urge
Value,
Vanguard,
Vanishing point,
Variation,
varied
Varied,
Variety,
varnish
Veer,
vellum
Version,
Vertical,
Vibrant,
video
view
viewer
viewing
Viewpoint,
vigorous.
violent.
Virtual Art
viscosity
Visibility,
Visible,
vision
Vision,
visionary
visual
Visual,
visualization
visualize
visually stimulating
Vital,
vivid.
Volatile
voyeuristic
Warm,
washes,
watercolor
Watercolour,
waterscape
wax
weak.
wearable
wheel
Whirl
witness
wood
wood carving
wood engraving
woodcut
woodcut print
woodworking
work
worn.
yellow,
Zeal,
Zest,
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