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Scottish Art Glossary

For those interested in Scottish Art but still not familiar with all the day to day terms used by galleries we have produced this list of definitions. We hope you find them useful. If there are any art terms not listed which you know of or would like answered please email us and we will try and help.


ABSTRACT - Art which departs from real subjects and representational accuracy in preference to shapes, colour and texture. This form of Scottish Art is sometimes referred to as non-representational art.

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM - New York painting movement of the 1940's with its artistic roots based upon Abstract Art. This type of painting is often referred to as action painting.

ACADEMICIAN - An elected member of an academy, or an artist who follows the principles of the traditional and conservative academic tradition. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Art Gallery who are Academicians include: George Devlin, Jock MacInnes, David M Martin and James Watt

ACADEMY - Originally the school of philosophy founded by Plato in the garden of Academe, a district in the vicinity of Athens. Today means a learned Art Group recognised as being authoritative in its discipline, or a school in which art is taught. British Art term usually refers to a recognised society involved in the promotion of the arts. The British Royal Academy of Arts was established in 1768. Today it serves primarily as an art school and venue for regular Art exhibitions.

ACCENT - where an artist highlights specific parts of a painting and in the process creates in them more attention.

ACRYLIC - Fast drying paint used by artists. Acrylic is made from synthetic materials that are water soluble while wet but once dried and cured become tough and flexible. The paint is long-lasting with good colour fastness and has little or no fumes. Scottish Artists favour Acrylic Art when a painting is going to hang in public areas where people might touch the painting or it might be exposed to dust. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Scottish Art and specialising in Acrylic paintings include: Francis Boag and Georgie Young

ACTION PAINTING - where artists use vigorous physical activity to create paintings usually on a large abstract style.

AERIAL PERSPECTIVE - Painting technique used to reproduce real life vistas - makes distant objects appear to have less colour, texture, and distinction.

AESTHETIC - art term relating to beauty and beautiful

ANALOGOUS COLOURS - colours which are close to one another in the colour spectrum

ARSA - Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). Founded in 1826 controlled by member Artists the RSA seeks to promote and support the creation, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts.

ARSW - Associate of the Royal Scottish Watercolour Society (ARSW). The RSW was founded in 1876 by artists to promote the medium of watercolour and encourage the bold, free and colourful qualities of Scottish Painting. The Art Society has enjoyed Royal patronage since 1886 and throughout its history many renowned Scottish artists have been members.

ART CONSERVATION - The preservation and protection of art works from physical deterioration, to keep them as close as possible to their original form. For Red Rag advice on Art prevention see looking after your Scottish Art

ART DECO - Art style popularised in the 1920s and 30s. Art Deco utilised modern materials and the art style was characterised by repetitive, geometric lines, patterns and curves.

ART GALLERY - Art Gallery ' buildings and/or public and private organisations where art works are displayed. There are numerous Scottish Art Galleries. Leading Scottish art collections include: the National Gallery of Scotland which is one of Edinburgh Art Galleries and the Glasgow Art Galleries and Museum in Glasgow.

ART NOUVEAU - Art style based on organic forms featuring swirling shapes and curves

ART RESTORATION - The repair of artworks, and returning art to as close as original condition as possible. Art prevention is better than cure - for advice from Red Rag Gallery see looking after your Scottish Art

AVANT-GARDE - French term meaning at the forefront. Art which is innovative and producing new ideas and subject matter. First appeared in France during nineteenth century and is usually credited to Henri de Saint-Simon. He believed in the social power of the arts and regarded artists, alongside scientists and industrialists, as the leaders of a new society.

The term Avant-garde art began around the 1850s with the Realism of Gustave Courbet. He was strongly influenced by early socialist ideas. Successive art movements such Cubism and Surrealism built upon the idea. Avant-Garde today is closely associated with the term Modern Art particularly when artists work is seen as high on originality.

BEAUX-ARTS - A school of fine arts located in Paris which stressed the necessity of academic painting.

BEESWAX - Art material made from from honeycombs, used as a medium in modelling and in wax varnishes.

BINDER - Used to ensure particles of pigment stick to one another in artist paint such as Oil or Acrylic

BRITISH SURREALISM - Founded in 1936 the British Surrealist group leading figures were David Gascoyne, Paul Nash, Roland Penrose and Herbert Read. In 1947 the British Surrealist group combined with their French counterparts. Red Rag British surrealist artists include: Simon Garden, and David Schofield

David Schofield

BRONZE - An alloy of copper and tin used by Artists for sculpture.

CANVAS - Fabrics that are prepared and used for painting. They maybe in panels, stretched on frames, or obtained by the yard. Art canvas varies from very fine such as the linen type used by Red Rag Gallery artist Sylvia Antonsen to the more textural canvas preferred by James Watt.

CANVAS TRANSFER PRINTS - This technique simulates the rich texture and appearance of an original oil painting It is an intensely detailed process whereby the image of a painting is chemically 'lifted' off and transferred onto an artist canvas. Red Rag Prints are produced using rigid quality standards and meticulous attention to detail ensuring the ink retention, paper removal, and bonding are successful and the art work remains true to the original and is guaranteed by the artist.

CERAMICS - Hard glasslike compound. Ceramics are made by exposing clay to extreme heat in a kiln. The result is earthenware and stoneware art pieces.

CHIAROSCURO - The dramatic use of light and shadow to create a mood or a focal point in a painting.

COLLAGE - A painting technique used by artists where groups of different textured materials or objects are glued together to make a work of art. Red Rag Gallery Scottish artists who use this technique include Francis Boag

COLOUR WHEEL - Circular presentation of colours based on colour theory where relationship of colours to one another is displayed

COMPOSITION - the design and organisation of individual components to produce a piece of Art. The term typically applies to two dimensional Art where balance and proportion are essential.

CONCEPTUAL ART - Art which is intended to communicate an idea or concept where the concept or idea and process is of greater importance than any tangible result and therefore does not have necessarily involve the creation or appreciation of a traditional art object such as a painting or sculpture.

CONSERVING ART - The preservation and protection of art works from physical deterioration, to keep them as close as possible to their original form. For Red Rag advice on Art prevention see looking after your Scottish Art

CONTEMPORARY ARTIST - The expression contemporary artist applies to all Scottish Art produced today. It applies to any Scottish Art from around the 1960s to today. All Red Rag paintings are sourced from Scottish Artists who are alive and producing art works today.

CONTEMPORARY SCOTTISH ART - Generally defined as Scottish Art which was produced from the second half of the twentieth century upto today.

CUBISM - Influential art movement of the twentieth century. Cubism was begun by Pablo Picasso (1882-1973) and Georges Braque (1882-1963) in 1907. They were inspired by African sculpture, and by painters Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Georges Seurat (1859-1891), and by the Fauves. In Cubism the subject matter is broken up, analyzed, and reassembled in an abstracted form. Picasso and Braque initiated the movement following advice from Cezanne, who said artists should treat nature "in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone."

DADA - An early twentieth century art movement which emerged during the First World War. Rather than supporting a specific art style of its own Dada ridiculed traditional art forms and contemporary culture. Dada artists produced art works which were considered deliberately nonsensical.

EARTHENWARE - Ceramic ware made from clay fired in the kiln at the lowest temperature ranges.

EDITION - In print making the number of images authorized by an Artist of a painting made from a single plate.

EN PLEIN AIR - "in the open air" is a term describing paintings that have been undertaken outdoors rather than in the Artist's studio. Plein air painting was taken up by the English painters John Constable (1776-1837) and it became common place for Impressionists painters. Its popularity was aided by the development of easily portable painting equipment and materials, including paints sold in tubes. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Scottish Art and painting en plein air include: James Watt and Alma Wolfson

ENGRAVING - Method used by printmakers to create images on hard wood or metal surfaces by using a burin (sharp tool)

ETCHING - The earliest print graphic. The artist draws, using a sharp tool referred to as a burin, on the surface of a copper or zinc plate. Each plate is coated with an acid-resistant varnish, or "ground". As the artist draws - ground and varnish is removed leaving an image on the plate from which the print is made.

The plate is dipped in acid, which reacts with the soft, exposed metal, creating grooves or sunken channels, which will hold the ink. Ink is then applied onto the plate filling the grooves. The surface is wiped clean and the inked plate pressed onto moist paper, releasing the ink and creating the image in monotone. In most cases, the plate is then defaced or destroyed preventing the creation of any additional prints.

EXPRESSIONISM - A concept of painting in which traditional adherence to realism and proportion is secondary to the artist's emotional response to the subject.

F - Fellow. The term is most often used in an art context to mean : part of an elite group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of art. However, there are no precise rules for how the title is used, and each academic and art institution grants the title as it sees fit.

FAUVISM - Painting style of early 20th century. The word means 'Wild Beast', so called because of the use of bold, clashing and vibrant colours. Henri Matisse and André Derain were leading artists known for this type of painting. The Fauve movement was a major influence in the paintings of the early Scottish Colourists.

FIGURATIVE - Figurative is a term used to refer to any form of modern or contemporary art that retains strong references to the real world. It is used to describe Landscape and Architectural painting subjects, but more often it is associated with the human figure. In a general sense figurative also applies retrospectively to all art before abstract art.

FINGER PAINTING - Painting where an artist applies paint using the hand rather brush or palette knife. Typically applied to strong non-absorbent paper which does not smear.

FIRING - A process of applying heat to pottery or sculpture in a kiln or open fire.

GENRE - The definition of Genre when used about a Scottish painting is something that reflects subjects, scenes and vistas from the day to day activities of life. Examples of this are Portrait and paintings Animals and Birds paintings

GESSO - An under-painting medium consisting of glue, plaster of Paris, or chalk and water. Gesso is used to size the canvas and prepare the surface for painting. Red Rag Scottish Artist Jock MacInnes paintings are undretaken on Gesso boards.

Jock MacInnes

GICLEE - (Pronounced: Zhee-clay) Considered an original graphic, Giclee prints are produced as multiples. Red Rag Limited Edition Prints are normally limited to 100 or 195. The term originates from the French "to spray" and employs inkjet colour application and digital colour separation. Giclee is a computer controlled, fine art print making process. It uses millions of ink particles in a very fine spray, about 15 microns in size which is four times smaller than a human hair. The microscopic jet-stream spray is applied simultaneously to the paper and is controlled by a crystal frequency. The print is then coated with up to 15 layers of waterproof U.V. varnishes.

The result is a fine art print with flawless colour reproduction and extraordinary consistency

Red Rag artists with art works in Giclee prints include: Richard Adams and Michael Kidd

GLASGOW SCHOOL - Glasgow School is usually referred to as artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other associate Scottish artists from about 1895 to 1910. Most prominent were the Macdonald sisters and Herbert MacNair. They along with Mackintosh were known as The Four ' and made a distinctive and influential contribution to international Art Nouveau.

The Glasgow Boys introduced to the Scottish art scene variations of Impressionism in 1880-90. They developed their own individual art interpretations of it which was often highly coloured.

GOUCHE - A heavy, opaque watercolour paint, sometimes called body colour, producing a less wet-appearing and more strongly coloured painting than ordinary watercolour. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Art Gallery and using Gouache include: Stephanie Dees

GSWA - Originally established in 1882 by eight of the first women students at the Glasgow School of Art. Currently has a membership of around 140 artists and 40 lay members.

Red Rag Scottish artist Alma Wolfson is a past President

HARD-EDGE PAINTING - A style adopted by recent contemporary artists where the forms are shown with precise, geometric lines and edges

HERRINGBONE PERSPECTIVE - is where lines of projection converge not on a vanishing point but on a vertical axis at the centre of the painting or drawing.

IMPASTO - The thick textured build up on the surface of a painting which is produced by an Artist when repeated application of paint is applied.

IMPRESSIONISM - Art style developed in France where artists like Degas, Monet, Pissaro and Renoir painted images of their subjects showing the effects of colour, sunlight and shade on things at different times of day. The artists dissected light into its component colours. Each artist concentrated on light and the way it effected the visible world. Short brush-strokes of bright colour were chosen to represent light which was then broken down into its spectrum components and re-combined by the eyes into another colour when viewed at a distance. Current British Artists showing at Red Rag Modern British Art Gallery and painting in this style include Romeo di Girolamo.

KILN - Furnace used by Artists for firing pottery and sculptures. Typically temperatures range from 1000 ' 1200 degree centigrade.

KINETIC ART - An art style which contains and incorporates movement as part of the art piece.

LANDSCAPE - A category for artist paintings that predominantly features natural scenery rather than architecture, abstarct or figures. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Scottish Art Gallery and specialising in Landscape paintings include: James Watt and Alma Wolfson

LIMITED EDITION PRINT - Limited Edition Prints are images which are taken from original paintings and then reproduced in a specified quantity typically using Giclee or Litho Print techniques. All Red Rag Limited Edition Prints are signed the artist and individually numbered. British artists who have art works in Limited Edition Print include: George Birrell, Archie Dunbar McIntoshand Glen Scouller

LINEAR PERSPECTIVE - is a technique used by artists in painting and drawing to create an illusion of spatial depth on a two dimensional surface. The artist uses consistent geometric rules to make objects appear as they do to the human eye. For example: parallel lines appear to converge in the distance although in reality they do not; or lines of buildings are angled inward to make them appear to be going back into space. The recognition of linear perspective dates from the 15th century and is attributed to Filippo Brunelleschi's use of perspective painting.

LINOCUT PRINTMAKING - Linocut is a printmaking technique in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the releif surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a specialist tool. The raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The lino sheet is then inked with a coated roller and pressed onto paper.

LITHOGRAPH - This printing technique uses a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface. The surface has been chemically sensitised so that ink sticks only to the design areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder in 1798. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Miro.

MEDIUM - The material used by Artists to create a painting or sculpture artwork. For example: Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media, Watercolour, Bronze.

MEDIUM - The term is used widely. Firstly to describe the material used by an Artist to produce an art work. Secondly it can be a binder for paint eg oil. And thirdly can used to describe art such as drawing, sculpture and painting

MINIMALISM - A Mid 20th Century style of painting and sculpture. The finished piece of art is reduced to a minimum number of lines, colours and shapes. Space and relationship of the elements are key in the art work.

MIXED MEDIA - Modern Art term for artistic works made from different media. The use of mixed media began around 1912 with the Cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Essentially art can be made of anything or any combination of things, but Scottish Mixed Media Art is mostly associated with contemporary paintings of Oil or Acrylic paint with newspaper, card or wood. Scottish artists featured in Red Rag Scottish Art Paintings Gallery and specialising in Mixed media painting include: Denise Findlay and Francis Boag

MODERNISM - An Art style that breaks with traditional art forms and searches for new modes of expression (early 20th century).

MONOCHROMATIC - In a contemporary painting the colour scheme that involves using different degrees of a single colour.

MONOPRINT - A one off kind of art print made by painting on a sheet of glass or metal, then transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper. Sufficient original paint remains on the plate after the transfer so that the same or different colours can be re-applied to make subsequent prints, but no two prints are ever exactly alike.

MURAL - A continuous painting which is designed to fill a wall or other architectural area.

NEOCLASSICISM - New Expressionism was an Art style applied to 19th century Western Art. It reflected the classical art works of Greece and Rome. Paintings have well defined images, deliberate composition and utilize cool understated colours.

NEW WAVE - Combination of cartoon, graffiti and performance art in a minimalist, unsophisticated style.

OFFSET LITHOGRAPH - Offset Lithograph has become the most widely used commercial printing process for art prints. This is a method of printing from a metal or stone surface on which the printing areas are made ink-receptive. Rather than pressing inked images onto paper using plates with raised or etched plates, an image is transferred to the paper using oil-based inks, chemically-treated plates made from photographic negatives, and an offset cylinder. Today the field of signed and numbered offset lithographs has become accepted in the art market and many have proved a resonable Scottish Art Investment.

Red Rag artists whose art is available in Limited Edition Prints include: George Birrell, Davy Brown, and Pam Carter

OIL PAINTINGS - A slow drying paint made when pigments are mixed with an oil. Linseed oil is the most traditional component. The oil dries with a hard film, and the the colours are protected. Oil paints are usually opaque and traditionally used on canvas. They can have a matt or glossy finish. British Artists showing at Red Rag Modern British Art Gallery and specialising in Oil paintings include: George Devlin

ORIGINAL PRINT - A print made from the original plate, block, stone, screen, etc. which the artist has created and printed.

P - President

PAI - Paisley Art Institute. Joe Hargan is a Past President PAI.

PAINTERLY - A form of painting where images are predominantly created by use of colours rather than by defined lines. The Artist's brushstrokes are very evident.

Red Rag Scottish artist Alma Wolfson uses this technique.

PERSPECTIVE - The way artists create an illusion of a three dimensional image onto a two dimensional painting or drawing. Art techniques used to achieve perspective are: ensuring variation between dimensions of scenes, placing images that are on the ground as lower when nearer and higher when deeper. There are three major types of perspective: aerial, herringbone, and linear.

POINTILLISM - The art of Pointillism is a form of painting in which tiny dots of primary-colours are used to generate secondary colours to produce a luminous quality. Pointillism is focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint. The term "Pointillism" was first used with respect to the work of George Seurat, and he is the artist most closely associated with the art term. Pointillism is considered to have been an influence on Fauvism.

POP ART - An art style derived from commercial art forms. Typically paintings and sculptures are larger than life replicas of day to day subjects. Pop Art developed in the late 1950s and was characterised in the 1960s by such artists as Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.

PP - Past President

PROVENANCE - Provenance is the record of all previous ownership of a painting or work of art. Ideally this should cover the time it left the artist's studio to the present location, so there is evidence of unbroken ownership history. All Red Rag British and Scottish art and paintings are sourced directly from the Artists studio.

RAKU - Technique used by Sculptors to produce porous low-fired ceramic ware. The finished art pieces are characterised by subtly changing colours, over which the Sculptor has little control.

REALISM - Art style which evolved in the 19th century where a painting produced a view of the natural world in a highly representational way. Subjects were selected from everyday events and situations.

REPRESENTIONAL - Art works reflecting the real world

RESTORING ART - The repair of artworks, and returning them to as close to original condition as possible. Prevention is always better than art repair - for advice from Red Rag see looking after your Scottish Art

RGI - Royal Glasgow Institute (RGI) of Arts. The Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts was established in 1861 to encourage and promote contemporary Scottish art.

RSA - Founded in 1826 controlled by member Artists The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) seeks to promote and support the creation, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts.

RSW - Royal Scottish Watercolour Society

SCULPTURE - A three dimensional art form. Artists use a variety of materials to produce sculptures including wood, metal and clay.

SSA - The Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) was founded in 1891 and is artist-led membership organization. The SSA aims to show the controversial and the unexpected and to give hanging space to new artists of promise.

STILL LIFE - Arrangement of subjects typically flowers, fruit and tableware. The organisation and relationship of the objects to one another together with contrasting colours and shapes provide interest. Scottish Artists showing at Red Rag Modern Scottish Art Gallery and specialising in Still Life art include: Archie Forrest and Frank Colclough

Archie Forrest

STRAINER - The canvas of most contemporary paintings is secured to a wooden frame that is commonly referred to as a strainer or stretcher. Strainers are equipped with expandable corner joints that can be adjusted to insure that the painting remains taught. The joints can be expanded by driving small wooden wedges into the interior corners of the strainer at the back of the painting.

STRETCHER - The canvas of most contemporary paintings are secured to a wooden frame that is commonly referred to as a stretcher or strainer. Stretchers are equipped with expandable corner joints that can be adjusted to insure that the painting remains taught. The joints can be expanded by driving small wooden wedges into the interior corners of the stretcher at the back of the painting.

STUCKISM - Stuckism is a radical art movement which seeks to promote Figurative Painting and against Conceptual Art. Stuckism values self-expression and adopts a holistic approach to art.

SUREALISM - A movement in literature and the visual arts that developed in the mid 1920s. Based upon revealing the subconscious mind in dream and hallucinatory images, the irrational, and the fantastic. A painting style that focuses on compositions with images often in unrelated or unexpected situations. Paintings can have dream and fantasy like aspects. Surrealism took two directions: representational and abstract. Surrealist British Artists showing at Red Rag Modern British Art Gallery include: Simon Garden and David Schofield

TEMPERA - A traditional painting medium which requires the Artist to make-up his paints each day using egg yolk as a binder.

VISUAL ARTS - Visual Arts are all art forms which are primarily visual in nature as opposed to other arts eg performing arts. Visual Arts includes: painting, sculpture and photography.

Historically Scottish Arts have viewed fine arts, painting, sculpture and printmaking as different to the craft areas of applied art, design, jewellery and textiles. This is difference is attributed to the work of a group of artists led by William Morris known as the Arts and Crafts Movement whose political aim was to value all art forms. The movement was at odds with modernists who wished to keep high arts from the masses by keeping them esoteric.

VP - Vice-President

WATERCOLOURS - Any paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings undertaken using this medium are known as watercolours. What carries the pigment in watercolor (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. British Artists showing at Red Rag Modern British Art Gallery and specialising in watercolour paintings include: Susan Brown and Colin Kent

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