Acrylic painting

Artwork that has been executed in synthetic acrylic resins. Acrylics are quick drying and water based and is capable of giving both the transparency of watercolor and the density of oil paint.

Action painting

Dynamic, instinctual and expressive mark making used in any media.

Alla Prima

Alla prima (also known as “direct painting” or “wet on wet” oil painting) is an Italian term, which means “at first”. Using this technique, you complete entire paintings in one session without waiting for the paint layers to dry completely.

Atmospheric perspective

Creating the illusion of depth, or recession, in a painting or drawing by modulating hues and values to create distance.


A blend is the gradual transition from one color and value to another.


Italian: chiaro (light) and scuro (dark). A technique used in the visual arts to represent light and shadow giving the object three-dimensional form.

Encaustic painting

Invented by the ancient Greeks, encaustic painting is a technique in which pigments are mixed with hot, liquid wax.

Fat on Lean

Fat over lean refers to the principle in oil painting of applying paint with a higher oil to pigment ratio (‘fat’) over paint with a lower oil to pigment ratio (‘lean’) to ensure a stable paint film.

Fresco painting

Method of painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster, usually on wall surfaces. The colours, which are made by grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water, dry and set with the plaster to become a permanent part of the wall.


A glaze is a thin, oily, transparent layer of paint spread, which is over the top of an opaque colour that is dry. The thin oily layer of glaze creates a glowing effect that would be more difficult to achieve with opaque paints. E.g. the complexities of skin tones, silk fabric. Artist: Rembrandt


Paint that is applied to a canvas or panel in quantities that make it standout from the surface.


This use of light and dark translates shape and form into flat shapes on a two-dimensional surface. Nōtan is traditionally presented in paint, ink, or cut paper, but it is relevant to a host of modern day image-making techniques, such as lithography in Printmaking. It is also used as a compositional creating balance and harmony in light and dark.

Plein-air painting

The practice of painting landscape pictures out-of-doors.


The practice of separating colour into individual dots or strokes of pigment. It formed the technical basis for Neo-Impressionism. Applying contrasting dots of colour side by side so that when seen from a distance, these dots would blend and whole colour.


Applying a light pigment over a layer of dark under painting, which can be produced thick or thin with a palette knife or a dry brush. Artist: Turner


(from Italian sfumare, “to tone down” or “to evaporate like smoke”), in painting or drawing, the fine shading that produces soft, imperceptible transitions between colours and tones creating atmospheric effects.

Imprimatura”first paint layer” (Underpainting)

An initial stain of color painted on a ground (ie.raw sienna, pale grey). It provides a painter with a transparent and toned ground, which helps to create a more harmonious painting using a limited palette.


An Italian name for the mixture of black, white, and yellow pigments resulting in a grayish or yellowish (depending on the proportion) soft greenish brown. Often used in fresco painting, verdaccio under painting is visible on all architectural details of the composition e.g. Sistine Chapel.


Painting executed entirely in monochrome or near monochrome.

Multi coloured

Under painting in oil or acrylic paint.