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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Art Assessment Vocabulary Study Guide

Unity – The degree of the agreement existing among the elements in a design.

Volume – The appearance of height, width, and depth in a form.

Primary Colors – The three colors from which all other colors can theoretically be mixed. The primaries of pigments are traditionally presented as red, yellow, and blue, while the primaries of light are red, blue, and green.

Texture – The surface quality of objects that appeals to the tactile sense.

Pattern – The repetition of a visual element or module in a regular and anticipated sequence.

Scale – The relative size of an object or a volume of space in relationship to the viewer, to other objects in the vicinity, or to the object’s environment in general.

Asymmetrical Balance – Balanced achieved with dissimilar objects that have equal visual. weight or equal eye attraction.

Rhythm – An element of design based on the repetition of recurrent motifs.

Balance – The equilibrium of opposing or interacting forces in a pictorial composition.

Repetition – Using the same visual element over again within the same composition.

Radial Balance – A composition in which all visual elements are balanced around and radiate from a central point.

Two-Point Perspective – A scene that is viewed through an angle, with no objects parallel to the picture plane and with edges receding to two points on the horizon line.

OnePoint Perspective – A system of spatial illusion in two-dimensional art based on the convergence of parallel lines to a common vanishing point usually on the horizon.

Proportion – Size measured against other elements or against a mental norm or standard.

Continuation – A line or edge that continues from one form to another, allowing the eye to move smoothly through a composition.

Chiaroscuro – The use of light and dark values to imply depth and volume in a two-dimensional work of art.

Focal Point – A compositional device emphasizing a certain area or object to draw attention to the piece and to encourage closer scrutiny of the work.

Harmony – The pleasing combination of parts that make up a whole composition.

Value – A measure of relative lightness or darkness.

Proximity – The degree of closeness in the placement of elements.

Shape – A visually perceived area created either by an enclosing line or by color and value changes define the other edges.

Plane – The two-dimensional surface on which shapes are organized into a composition.

Hue – A property of color defined by distinctions within the visual spectrum or color wheel. “Red,” “blue,” “yellow,” and “green” are examples of hue names.

Line – A visual element of length. It can be created by setting a point in motion.

Form – When referring to objects, it is the shape and structure of a thing. When referring to two-dimensional artworks, it is the visual aspect of composition, structure, and the work as a whole.

Linear Perspective – A spatial system used in two-dimensional artworks to create the illusion of space. It is based on the perception that if parallel lines are extended to the horizon line, they appear to converge and meet at a common point, called the vanishing point.

Gesture – A line that does not stay at the edges but moves freely within forms. These lines record movement of the eye as well as implying motion in the form.

Hieratic Scaling – A composition in which the size of figures is determined by their thematic importance.

Design – A planned arrangement of visual elements to construct an organized visual pattern.

Formal – Traditional and generally accepted visual solutions.

Line Quality – Any one of a number of characteristics of a line determined by its weight, direction, uniformity, or other features.

Complementary – A color scheme incorporating opposite hues on the color wheel. Complementary colors accentuate each other in juxtaposition and neutralize each other in a mixture.

Alternating Rhythm – A rhythm that consists of successive patterns in which the same elements reappear in regular order. The motifs alternate consistently with one another to produce a regular (and anticipated) sequence.

Intensity – The saturation of hue perceived in a color.

Value Contrast – The relationship between areas of dark and light.

Critique – A process of criticism for the purpose of evaluating and improving art ad design.

Bilateral Symmetry – Balance with respect to a vertical axis.

Canon – A law or accepted code that prescribes a set of standards.