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Art Docent Toolbox

Glossary & Terms

  • Collage – Art made by cutting up materials such as colored paper, string, fabric, and newspaper and then gluing them together to make a picture
  • Complementary Colors – These are colors that appear on the opposite sides of the color wheel. When placed side by side, these colors can intensify each other
  • Fresco – A painting made on wet plaster of a wall or ceiling. As the plaster and paint dry the wall absorbs the paint
  • Impasto – A type of oil painting when the paint is applied in very thick brush strokes
  • Kiln – A type of hot oven used to bake clay into a hard permanent finish
  • Landscape – A painting of nature and the land such as the ocean, mountains, trees, and sky
  • Lithography – A method for making prints using a flat stone or a metal plate
  • Medium – The materials used in creating a piece of artwork such as paint, marble, clay, or pastels
  • Mural – A large painting generally painted on a wall or ceiling
  • Palette – A board where colors of paint are mixed so they are the right color for the painting. Can also refer to range of colors an artist has used in an artwork
  • Pastels – Coloring sticks that can be made from oil or chalk
  • Patron – Someone who helps an artist to live while they work on their art
  • Perspective – A way of painting or drawing that makes some objects appear closer than others
  • Pigment – The part of the paint that gives it color
  • Plein Air – This is French for “open air”. This is the term often used for painting outdoors
  • Portrait – A drawing or painting of a person or people
  • Primary Colors – Red, yellow, and blue. All of the other colors can be made from these three
  • Relief – A type of sculpture that looks like it is raised from the background
  • Sculpture – A three dimensional piece of art often carved, chiseled, or cast from stone, marble, wood, or bronze
  • Self Portrait – A painting or drawing that the artist makes of himself
  • Series – A number of artworks that are meant to go together. They are often of the same subject
  • Still Life – A painting or drawing of inanimate objects often placed in an arrangement. Examples include flowers in a vase, fruit in a bowl, and bottles of wine
  • Symmetry – The balance of one side to another. In perfect symmetry, one half is an exact mirror of the other
  • Texture – The look and feel of the canvas in painting. This can vary on how the paint is applied. Other materials may be added to change the texture
  • Watercolor – A water soluble paint that thins as it is mixed with water

Sample Questions

  • Where do artists get their ideas?
  • What can we make art about?
  • What can we make art out of?
  • What is art?
  • What isn’t art?
  • What is art for?
  • What makes some works of art better than others?
  • How can you tell good art from bad art?
  • What criteria should we use?
  • What work of art do I hate/love the most and why?
  • Why do people make art?
  • How does an artist know when a work or art is finished?
  • Can anyone make art?
  • Can animals make art?
  • Should art be pleasing to the eye?
  • Can art be ugly?
  • Why would an artist make an ugly work of art?
  • Should art make people happy?
  • Should art tell a story?
  • What should art do?
  • Should artists imitate what they see?
  • In what ways does art represent the world?
  • Does something have to be original to be art?
  • Can a forgery or copy be art?
  • When is it okay to copy in art?
  • What is an artist?
  • Are artists the same in every culture?
  • What are some different ways to approach art?
  • What can we learn from studying a work of art?
  • What makes an artwork good?
  • Are standards for determining good artwork the same in all cultures?
  • Does art mean the same in every culture? In every group?

The Elements of Art

The elements & principles of art & design are the basis for everything in the art world!

Easy Steps Talking About Art

  • Find real art – Looking at a real piece of art can be a far richer experience than looking at a reproduction (like a poster). You don’t have to go to the “best” museum to make this happen, just find something that captures the child’s imagination. Talk about art in your home or look for a public sculpture in a town square.
  • Be open-minded – Expect that the student will have his or her own ideas about the art, and try not to interject your own ideas of wrong + right into the conversation.
  • Encourage careful looking – Get up close or take a look from a different perspective – up high, the side, far away, walk around it.
  • Look for an opportunity for related art-making – Making art can help strengthen a child’s understanding and critical thinking skills as they interpret what they saw in two or three-dimensions.
  • Ask open-ended questions – such as,
    •  “What do you see?”
    • “What’s going on in this picture/sculpture/installation/etc.?”
    • “Do you have any ideas about how the artist made this?”
    • “If you could add something to this artwork, what would you like to add?”
    • “If this artwork could talk, what might it say?”
    • “What would you title this piece?”

Responding to Children's Artwork

Children are eager to show off their artwork and get a response. Ever wonder how to reply? Advise from kids follows:

  • First, have your eyes talk! Beam me a smile and make your eyes glow when you talk about my artwork
  • Don’t ask me what it is. The “what” isn’t important. Let’s talk about how I made it, what I like best about it, and what I enjoyed about this art experience
  • Let’s decide where we will display it. Does this one go to your work or hang in my room? Is the refrigerator door full? Let me help decide what I take down to hang this masterpiece
  • Notice the colors, lines, shapes and motion I used to create the artwork. Sometimes that is more important to me than trying to draw a “thing”
  • Recognize how hard I worked, the feelings I have and what I’m trying to communicate in the artwork. Build my pride and confidence

Art Medium

Art Medium: refers to the art materials or artist supplies used to create a work of art. It pretty much is whatever you use to make a mark upon a surface

Buying Art Supplies: Student Quality or Artist Quality?
Please contact your art docent leader and or assigned art supply person.

For color wheel and all Famous Posters of Artists in the supply room please contact  VP of Arts Education

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