art vocabulary

Printmaking Terms:


Original Prints - Hand printed from plates created by the Artist. Colors are then printed one at a time by or under the direction of the artist. The prints are signed by the artist and numbered. The plates are then destroyed or defaced.


Signed and Numbered (S.N.) - Authenticated with the artist's signature, the total number of impressions in the edition, and the order in which the impressions are signed; "5/75" indicates that the print is the fifth signed of an edition of 75 impressions.


Artist Proof (A.P.) - A print outside of the numbered series, usually 1/10 of the edition.


Hor De Commerce (H.C.) - (pron. OR de com-AIRCE) A designation for prints not in the numbered series pulled for the use of the publisher, normally limited to five or six.


Reproduction Print - Printed from plates produced by the process of offset lithography.


Photomechanical Offset Printing - A process in which an image is transferred to a printing plate photographically and then onto a roller which prints on paper. An offset print is not a graphic.


Relief - A technique in which the portions of a plate intended to print are raised above the surface, as woodcut, linocut, etc.


Intaglio - (pron. in-TAHL-yo) Any technique in which an image is incised below the surface of the plate, including dry point, etching, aquatint, engraving, and mezzotint.


Serigraph - (screenprinting, silkscreen) A stenciling method in which the image is transferred to paper by forcing ink or paint through a fine mesh in which the background has been blocked.


Planography - Any process of printing from a surface level with the plate, as lithography.


Aquatint - An intaglio method in which areas of color are made by dusting powdered resin on a metal plate and then letting acid eat the plate surface away from around it.


Bon-a-tirer - (pron. bone-ah-ti-RAY) - The first impression of a print run acceptable to the artist and used as the standard with which each subsequent impression is compared.


Dry Point - An intaglio technique like engraving in which the image is drawn on a metal plate with a needle, raising a ridge which prints a soft line.


Engraving - An intaglio process in which lines are cut into a metal plate and then filled with ink to transfer the image onto paper.


Embossed Print - Uninked relief print in which dampened paper is pressed into recessed areas of a plate, producing a three-dimensional impression.


Etching - An intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed surface.


Linocut - A process in which an image is cut in relief on a linoleum block.


Lithograph - A planographic process in which images are drawn with crayon or a greasy ink on stone or metal and then transferred to paper.


Mezzotint - An intaglio process in which the plate surface is roughened and then an image is created by smoothing the areas to be printed.


Monotype - A unique print made from an inked, painted glass or metal plate.



General Art Terms:


Acrylic - A plastic used as a medium for pigments in painting or as a casting material in sculpture.


Applique - (pron. ap-li-KAY) A cut-out attached to a background.


Aquarelle - (pron. ak-we-RELL) Transparent watercolor.


Assemblage - Sculpture formed by joining individual pieces, sometimes "found objects."


Bas-Relief - (pron. BAH relief) Sculpture in which the figure projects only slightly from the background.


Diptych - (pron. DIP-tick) A two-part painting, often of attached panels. A triptych is composed of three parts, a tetraptych four, etc.


Gouache - (pron. gwash) Watercolor to which an opaque white has been added.


Graphic - Any work printed directly on paper from a plate or block.


Haute Relief - (pron. O relief) High sculptural relief in which figures project from a background at least half their real depth.


Impasto - (pron. im-PAHS-to) Thick application of paint creating a textured surface.


Mixed Media - The use of different materials in the same work.


Pastel - A soft chalk made of pigments, water and a binder, blended into a stiff paste and dried.



Definitions courtesy of Artech International Gallery, Denver, Colorado