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Art Material Dictionary: Learn what everything's made with!
We thought it’d be helpful to share a little more description as to what an artist means when they say their work is made of this and that (since we know art can be a foreign language sometimes)! I myself am not above a good Google!
Let us know if there's another material or technique you'd like to learn about!
What everything goes on (Substrates):
- Canvas is a durable fabric base, typically made of cotton or linen, which is stretched tightly and commonly stapled or nailed to a wood frame.
- Canvas is usually ready to hang, no frame required but can be added.
- You may also see this referred to as:
- Canvas sheet
- Gallery Wrapped Canvas
- Canvas on a Die Bond Wood Frame
- Paper, as you can imagine, is exactly what it sounds like!
- Artists typically choose very specific paper depending on the type of work and how the materials they plan to use will adhere to it.
- For example there are special paper types that artists prefer for charcoal, watercolors, pastels, etc.
- You may see this referred to as:
- Uart 400 Grit Paper
- Sanded Paper
- Handmade Paper
- Fine Watercolor Paper
- Arches Board
- Birch / Birch Board Canvas:
- Birch Wood Panels are popular with artists because of their firm, smooth surface, neutral color, & strength.
- These are commonly used when painting with oil, acrylic, and other paints.
- Typically ready to be hung by hooks on the back
- You may see this referred to as:
- Glass can be painted on to amazing effect. Many artists who paint on glass paint on one or both sides of it intentionally layering paint such as acrylic.
- Glassworks can be heavy if they are large in scale but to compensate for this, artists can often help arrange installation and shipping/delivery.
- Works can be painted or printed on metal directly.
- Aluminum is commonly used due to its longevity and weight.
What They Make Art With (sometimes called the Medium):
- Water Based Paint
- Can be thickened with additives but is overall typically “runnier” than oil.
- Oil Based Paint
- Typically presents as a bit thicker than acrylic but can be thinned out for delicate work, as you see in all the great works by “masters” ala Rembrandt.
- Paint mixed with water to produce translucent layers.
Paint mixed with water to produce opaque layers.
- I like to think of these as the [fine art] crayons of the artworld! These come in many varieties some of which use oil as the binder base.
- If you ask many people whether a pastel is a painting or a drawing you will receive different answers!
Notoriously difficult to work with, Artists who work in pastel need to deal with a number of complexities that make a finished pastel work very impressive, technically speaking.
- Mixed Media
- Almost anything that is not paint is considered a mixed media!
- You may see items like: bronzing powders, glass, agate, newspaper, string, fabric, buttons and anything else you can imagine. Artists can get pretty creative witch incorporating fun things into their work!
- Acrylic/Epoxy Resin:
- A clear coating applied to the top of paintings to seal materials in or create a particular finished look. This can create a nice clean sheen on top.
- Giclee Print:
- Pronounced “zhee-clays” and means “to spray” in French.
- These are images of original artwork or photographs which have been transferred via a high quality art specific printer which uses a few individual spraying mechanisms to capture images perfectly.