Gouvernement du Manitoba

Arts Education

Visual Arts

Glossary (Kindergarten to Grade 8)

The following terms are provided for clarification and understanding of selected terminology used in Manitoba's Kindergarten to Grade 8 visual arts curriculum and resources. These terms are not intended to be exhaustive. Educators are encouraged to consult the recommended visual arts resources for additional and alternative terminology.

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analogous colours: Colours located next to one another on the colour wheel (e.g., blue and violet, orange and red).

art forms: Broad categories of art (e.g., visual art, dance, drama, music); classifications of action and materials by which an artwork is made (e.g., printmaking, sculpture, drawing).

artist statement: A concise, written or spoken summary of an artist's intentions, materials, processes, influences, background, and/or reasons for making an artwork; what an artist would like a viewer to know about his or her art.

art style: The qualities of an artwork that indicate its author or context (e.g., time, place, culture, art media and technique, situation, ideology, group of artists); recognized art styles include abstraction, impressionism, expressionism, realism, and so on.

art tradition: The cultural context in which art is made or used.

asymmetrical balance: Balance in an asymmetrical composition that may be achieved by creating equal visual weight or effect between different parts or elements of a composition (e.g., a large, blue square on one side of an image, balanced by a pair of small, bright red circles on the other side).

asymmetry: The elements or parts of a composition that are different or unequal in size, shape, and/or position compared to other elements or parts; differing design of image on one half or side of a composition from that of the other half or side.

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background: The area in a composition that appears to be behind the subject; the elements in the composition that appear to be furthest from the viewer.

balance: A principle of design concerned with the balance of visual weight carried by elements in an artwork; created when visual elements are symmetrically or asymmetrically arranged to produce the effect of equal visual weight or importance, or harmonious design and/or proportion, by offsetting or balancing position, shape, colour, lightness, and darkness.

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collage: An art form using various and multiple media (e.g., fabric, organic materials, found objects, photographs, newspapers, printed text, illustrations, digital media, painted or drawn areas) arranged on a flat surface.

colour: The visual effect caused by the reflection or absorption of a specific wavelength of light; an element of design consisting of the properties of hue, value, intensity, and temperature; the process of mixing, adding, and balancing hues in a composition.

colour intensity: Intensity of colour that results from using a pure (unmixed) hue, using saturated (undiluted) colour, or from placing a colour next to its complementary colour.

colour wheel: The circular arrangement of pure hues, based on how the paint pigments of primary colours mix to produce secondary colours (red, violet, blue, green, yellow, orange), and may also include tertiary colours. (see also primary colours, secondary colours, and tertiary colours.)

complementary colours: Colours located opposite from one another on the colour wheel (e.g., red and green, orange and blue); colours that appear to intensify each other when juxtaposed.

contour line: A line that describes and defines the edges, ridges, or outline of a subject, shape, or form.

contrast: A principle of design that provides emphasis, visual interest, and effect through juxtaposition of marked differences of one or more elements of design (e.g., colour, shape, lightness, darkness) and a variety of differing elements in a composition.

cool colours: Colours associated with water or ice (e.g., blue, green); colours containing blue; colours that appear to recede in comparison with warmer colours. (see also warm colours.)

creative process: The ongoing process of exploring, generating, selecting, developing, refining, reflecting, and communicating ideas in and through art. (the creative process can apply to any domain, but here the focus is on visual art.)

cross-contour lines: Horizontal and/or vertical lines that move across a subject to suggest form and volume.

cross-hatching: A technique using two or more crossed sets of repeated parallel lines to create darker value, texture, and/or pattern in a drawing.

curate: Performing the work of a curator; the work done in a gallery or museum to select artwork or artifacts, plan exhibitions, and create displays for public viewing.

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depiction: The process of making a representation of a subject, or communicating an idea visually; a representation of a concept or subject in visual form.

depth: The distance from front to back of a three-dimensional artwork; an imaginary measurement from the viewer's eye into the implied space created within two-dimensional (flat) artwork; an illusion of depth created by using perspective, overlapping forms, scale, colour, and placement of elements within a composition.

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elements of design: Basic visual and tactile parts of a composition; the design elements of visual art are line, colour and value, texture, shape and form, and space.

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focal point: A principle of design or part of a composition on which a viewer's attention is focused; created by using elements such as contrast, directional lines, the unusual or unexpected, isolation, convergence, location, recognizable subjects, and so on.

foreground: What appears to be in front of other elements in a composition and attracts attention first; the elements that appear to be closest to the viewer; the area in a landscape composition that is often closest to the bottom of the picture plane.

form: An element of design referring to the properties of a threedimensional object, a geometric solid (e.g., sphere, cube, rectangular prism, cone, pyramid), or an organic form. (see also art form.)

found objects: Everyday and non-standard objects used to create artwork.

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geometric shape: A regular, two-dimensional (flat), enclosed area on geometric figures (e.g., square, triangle, rectangle, circle, octagon).

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hatching: repeated, closely spaced parallel lines used to create value, texture, and/or shading in a drawing.

hue: Any colour in the light spectrum in its pure state.

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implied line: A row or column of distinct elements; a linear pattern that creates a path for the eye to follow through a visual field.

intensity: The brightness or dullness of a pure colour or hue.

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line: An element of design; a mark made by pulling a drawing tool (e.g., pencil) across a surface; a representation of the edges or contours of a subject.

line character: The qualities of a line (e.g., direction, fluidity, thickness, straightness, brokenness, colour). Variations in line quality can add interest to a drawing and convey information and emotion (e.g., a jagged contour line may convey that the subject is furry, while a fluid line can indicate a calm mood).

line weight: The heaviness or lightness of a line; can refer to the importance of a line (i.e., how much it stands out in a composition). a line's weight (how much it is noticed) depends on its thickness, blackness (or brightness of colour), or active (scribbled) character.

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media: The plural form of art medium; materials used to create an artwork (e.g., paint, clay, paper, fabric, charcoal, organic and found materials). (see also mixed media and multimedia.)

medium: The singular form of two- or three-dimensional art materials or media used to create artwork.

middle ground: The area in a composition that appears to be between the foreground and the background; the elements that appear to be in the middle distance in the image.

mixed media: The variety of materials or substances (e.g., paint, collage) used within one artwork. (see also media and multimedia.)

monochromatic: Having one colour. Variation is achieved by diluting the colour, or mixing tints and/or shades, to achieve lighter and darker values of the same hue.

mosaic: Artwork created with small pieces of media (e.g., paper, tile, glass, beads, coloured stones, found objects).

multimedia: The variety of media used in domains such as electronics, technologies, video, recorded music, and so on. (see also media and mixed media.)

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negative shape: Areas around and between parts of a two-dimensional subject (e.g., the triangular shapes created between the spokes of a drawing of a bicycle). negative space and negative shape are often used interchangeably; however, negative shapes are twodimensional, while negative spaces may include both two- and three-dimensional forms.

negative space: Areas surrounding or enclosed by a subject (e.g., the spaces between and around the branches of a tree).

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organic shape: An object or a representation with irregular, free-flowing, or ovoid contours; often a natural shape (e.g., a leaf, a puddle).

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pattern: A principle of design in which one or more elements are sequentially repeated (e.g., a row of geometric shapes, a patchwork of alternating colours).

picture plane: The actual surface (e.g., paper, canvas) used for a representational two-dimensional artwork.

positive shape: An enclosed area that represents a two-dimensional subject rather than its surrounding area (e.g., the circular shape of a pizza, rather than the triangular shape left by a missing slice). Positive shape and positive space are often used interchangeably; however, positive space is more inclusive, as it includes both two- and threedimensional forms.

positive space: A two- or three-dimensional shape or form that represents a subject rather than its surrounding space (e.g., the branches of a tree, rather than the spaces between the branches). Positive shape and positive space are often used interchangeably; however, positive space is more inclusive, as it includes both two- and threedimensional forms.

primary colours: The three colours from which other colours may be mixed: red, yellow, and blue; cannot be created by mixing other colours. Electronic media may use other systems (e.g., cyan blue, magenta, yellow, and black [CMYK]).

principles of design: Schema by which the elements in artwork are planned, organized, and analyzed; the design principles include balance, contrast, emphasis and focal point, movement, proportion, repetition, pattern and rhythm, harmony and unity, and variety.

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repetition: A principle of design in which one or more elements in a composition are repeated to create unity in the artwork.

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secondary colours: Colours that can be made by mixing two primary colours (e.g., yellow + red = orange; red + blue = violet; yellow + blue = green).

shade: Black (or another neutral dark value) added to a colour to produce a darker value of the same hue (e.g., blue + black = dark blue); to add darker values or shadows to an area of a composition (e.g., adding cross-hatching in a drawing).

shape: An element of design; the two-dimensional, enclosed area defined and described by elements such as colour, value, line, and/or texture. two-dimensional shapes may be representations of geometric objects (e.g., square, triangle, circle, octagon) or organic objects with irregular or varying contours (e.g., leaf, puddle).

space: An element of design; the area or depth of field suggested in an image (e.g., the space suggested in a landscape painting as a result of the use of linear perspective, colour, overlapping forms, scale); the area around, between, above, below, and contained within images or elements of an artwork.

symmetry: A mirror image; balance or repetition of one part of a form, image, or composition to another.

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tertiary colours: Colours derived from mixing two primary colours unequally, equivalent to mixing a primary colour with a secondary colour (e.g., blue-green, red-violet).

texture: An element of design; tactile quality, or how a material feels to the touch (e.g., bumpy, furry, smooth); marks made to represent the surface quality of a subject (e.g., using repeated pencil marks to indicate fur); recreating a surface quality by adding threedimensional materials (e.g., textured paint, tactile collage materials).

texture character: The quality of a texture (e.g., furry, smooth, bumpy, spiky).

thumbnail sketch: A small, quick drawing used to describe an idea or a gesture, or to plan a composition.

tint: White added to a colour to produce a lighter value of the same hue (e.g., white + blue = light blue).

tone: Black and white (grey) added to a pure hue.

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unity: A principle of design; created when elements are arranged to give an artwork the feeling of coherence, integrity, wholeness, and oneness.

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value: The lightness or darkness of a colour or hue.

variety: A principle of design concerned with providing contrast, or interrupting a predictable placement or pattern; used to create tension or visual interest.

visual art: A creative work experienced visually (e.g., painting, drawing, photograph); may also be tactile (e.g., sculpture, collage), or include multimedia or drama (e.g., installation, performance art).

visual art tools: Items used to apply and manipulate art media. artmaking may require a wide variety of tools (e.g., paintbrushes for painting, carving tools for relief printmaking, hammers and other woodworking tools for sculpture, computer software for graphic design).

visual balance: see balance.

volume: The space within a three-dimensional form or a solid.

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warm colours: Colours associated with heat or fire; colours containing yellow, orange, and red; colours that appear to recede in comparison to warm colours. (see also cool colours.)

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