Art Materials and Methods
Art materials and methods are anything an artist uses to create art in any combination. Materials and methods also can be defined as the process of manufacturing or fabrication of a piece of art such as bronze that need to be melted and poured into a mold to be a finished piece of art. The stone must be quarried, transported, and carved before it can be considered a piece of art. Cotton will be picked, cleaned, wound into thread, dyed, and woven into the fabric before a quilter creates a quilt. Mined minerals are ground, mixed, and put into tubes before an artist creates a painting. Art materials are the tools of an artist. This list is by no means complete; however, it does cover most of the art in this textbook.
Aquatint: Aquatint is used in intaglio printmaking to create marks on the metal plate. The plate and paper press together to create a transfer of ink to paper. An artist uses mordant to etch a plate design, and then rosin is used to create a tonal effect. The tonal variation on the plate is the desired outcome.
Atmospheric perspective: The effect of perspective and distance occurs when the mountains in the background are painted a lighter and grayer color than the mountains in the foreground, a common technique by landscape painters.
Bas-relief: A French word meaning to carve in "low relief" in stone, wood, or rock, which gives the carving a three-dimensional look. The word relief is derived from a Latin verb "relevo" meaning to raise. A sculpture looks like it emerges above the background. However, the artist cuts away the background, adding different degrees of depth to determine how far the sculpted section stands out from the background.
Brick: Brick originated in Mesopotamia around 7500 BCE and is still used today in many shapes, made by mixing earth and water. In other civilizations, bricks were made from mud, loam, sand, and water and were sun-dried to harden.
Brush and ink: Brushes were made from many materials including bamboo, wood, bone, feathers with metal tips to control the flow of ink. Iron gall ink is purple-black and made from tannic acids and iron salts from various vegetables. Dip pens were used to transport the ink from the bottle to the paper for drawing.
Camera: The camera is a visual contraption to record images. The word camera comes from the Latin word 'camera obscura,' which means 'dark chamber.'
Carving: Carvers use a tool to shape material by cutting or scraping sections away from the original form making sculptures of wood, stone, clay, bone, ivory, or any suitable material. Several types of tools are used to carve, and different civilizations developed different tools depending on what natural resources are available.
Chalk: Chalk is very similar to pastels, but instead of grinding the rock into a fine powder, the chalk is in its natural state. Chalk is limestone made about 100 million years ago when it was initially under the sea. Today, chalk is mined from the earth, and the chalk is compacted into cylinder shapes familiar in classrooms today.
Charcoal: Charcoal is a common element throughout human life. Charcoal is the byproduct of burning wood.
Chiaroscuro: Chiaroscuro is the Italian word for "light-dark" and is the use of sharp contrasts between dark and light. The bold contrasts produced a dramatic composition and were used extensively by the Renaissance and Baroque artists. Dark colors made their paintings come to life, and the colors made shadows giving depth to the paintings. Dark colors made their paintings come to life, and the colors made shadows giving depth to the paintings. The deep colors contained more than just black, and the artists combined other colors with black depending on the desired outcomes.
Clay: Over millions of years, the earth's crust has been melted, moved, squeezed, cracked, pounded by weather to create a layer of topsoil with various deposits of rock, and clay. The rivers near the first civilizations cut through the topsoil, exposing the layers of clay and providing easy access to the raw product. The fine particles of silt in the clay give the material its plasticity, and when water is added, it is a cohesive product. Silt consists of feldspar (the most abundant mineral on earth), silica, and alkalis like iron which give clay its reddish-brown color.
Collage: From the French word coller "to glue," collage is an art technique of assembling different pieces of art into one cohesive art piece. The most common pieces are newspapers, magazines, paint, photographs, and found objects which are glued down to a piece of paper or canvas. Collage was invented right after the invention of paper in China around 300 BCE.
Composition: In the visual arts, composition refers to the placement of visual elements in a painting or work of art. It also denotes the organization of people, vignettes, and lighting. The composition is essential whether the artist is arranging people, fruit, or the view of a landscape.
Concrete: The use of lightweight concrete has been used for centuries in construction; however, in the last 100 years, it has become more reliable and predictable. Concrete is a mixture of lightweight coarse aggregate with fine aggregates like shale, clay, or slate. The advantages of the newer lightweight concrete include the reduction of load for faster building rates, longer-lasting, and is an excellent thermal protector compared to brick.
Cotton: has been around since 4500 BCE and is used for clothing or weaving. The cotton plant provides a cellulose thread washed and dyed to weave into cotton material. It does not stretch, making it a very durable fabric for clothes.
Drawing: Drawing is the foundation of all art. Drawing is intuitive and part of the function of our brains used to apply marks to a surface. Most people have drawn sometime in their lives, whether in school or at home. Drawing is a simple exercise to convey a thought or share an experience with another person. Drawing can also be challenging and complex, and only with time and practice could one get better.
En Plein Air: A French expression for artists painting out in the open air, also called Peinture Sur le motif, 'painting what the eyes see.'
Foreshortening: The use of foreshortening is a technique to create perspective by exaggerating the part of an object closer to the viewer.
Frescos: Fresco painting is an ancient painting technique created by troweling wet lime plaster on a wall or ceiling. When the plaster dries, the painting becomes permanent and will last until the plaster is damaged. The plaster is painted with a scene after it dries.
Function: When creating architectural drawings, a basic rule of design states form follows function. A visual principle for architecture designates the shape of the building or structure should be principally based upon its planned purpose. To create houses, villages, or the city layout, builders relied on lines, whether straight, angled, curved, or connected, and those planning the city generally used a grid system layout when planning settlements. Architects formulate ideas and define the concepts of the new buildings rendering the multiple layers of a building in three-dimensional concepts scratched in the dirt, written on paper, or today with a computer.
Gesso: Traditionally, gesso was made from a base of white pigment and the addition of chalk and a binder. The gesso was used to prepare the base on wood panels or canvas before the artist applied paint. Modern gesso uses acrylic polymers and latex along with pigments, giving the gesso more flexibility when it is applied.
Glass: Silica is the most common component in glass, an amorphous solid material, also known as sand, and when heated is transparent even with the addition of color. Glass can be floated in a flat frame to make a sheet of glass or blown. Glass blowing has been around for 3,000 years and is the art method of melting glass on the end of a long metal tube and blowing through the tube, causing the glass to expand.
Harmony: Scale is the relationship between the piece of art and its occurrence in the space. It can be significantly larger than life or smaller than life. Proportion is the relative size of the art and the harmony found in the piece.
Jade: The mineral jade is a metamorphic rock made up of different silicates, either nephrite made from a silicate combination of magnesium and calcium or jadeite, also a silicate made from sodium and aluminum.
Linear perspective: A set of parallel lines that recede into the horizon appearing to move closer and closer until they touch. Linear perspective can produce an illusion of three-dimensional space on a piece of paper or painting.
Linen: is made from flax plant fibers and is known around the world for its absorbency and ability to stay cooler in hot weather. It is also the oldest cultivated plant in the world. The durable flax fibers are woven into the most supple, fine, and highly sought-after material ever manufactured.
Lithography: A Greek word meaning "stone" and "writing." Lithography is a print of text or pictures from an etched stone or metal plate and is based on the principle that oil and water do not mix. Using a grease pen, the artist draws directly on the stone, adding acid to etch the unprotected parts of the design into the stone. Mixed ink is spread on the damp stone, and the water is attracted to the non-etched part of the stone, the ink is attracted to the etched portion. The stone and paper are pressed together, and the image is transferred to the paper.
Marble: Marble is formed when limestone is changed by heat and pressure and recrystallizes into a light-colored rock, frequently white. Marble usually is dolomite or calcite in origin and is a combination of recrystallized carbonate elements through heat, compression, or pressure to transform from one type of rock into harder rock. Impurities in the limestone cause the colorful markings. Marble is found in extensive deposits, generally hundreds of feet deep across a mountain. People have mined marble for hundreds of years in mines or open quarries and used the marble in buildings and sculptures.
Marble process: Marble is a metamorphic rock that used to be limestone. The marble usually is dolomite or calcite in origin and is a combination of recrystallized carbonate elements through heat, compression, or pressure to transform from one type of rock into harder rock. Marble was soft enough to carve and a favorite material for sculptors. Marble is mined from quarries and used to create statues with a hammer and chisel to remove unwanted material to expose the figure as it emerges from the marble.
Mass: The mass is the three-dimensional volume of a piece of artwork. It is the volume and density, which give the art a perceived weight. One principle of architecture and a requirement for builders is the concept of the resistance of gravity and how to use natural materials in any culture to construct a building. Isaac Newton showed how gravity works as a force, and Albert Einstein theorized gravity is a curvature of space-time; however, the ancient civilizations did not have that information.
Metal casting process: The most common form of casting metal is the lost wax process and dates back to 4000 BCE. The casting of a bronze statue can be a complicated process; however, many sculptures can be made from one mold. Bronze is perhaps the most popular metal for casting sculpture. Typically, bronze is 10% tin, and 90% copper heated, mixed, and poured into molds. The early civilizations discovered bronze tools and weapons were more effective than Stone Age tools, leading to inventions advancing civilizations.
Modeling process: Modeling clay is any of a group of malleable substances such as plastic or clay, to build a sculpture. Modeling is an additive method as opposed to carving, and the artist adds material to the sculpture.
Mosaic: Mosaics are crafted by creating images using small pieces of colored tile, stone, or glass. The mosaics are used on walls, ceilings, and even floors as they are durable, lasting for centuries. Artists create mosaics by gluing small pieces of glass or stone to a wall and when it dries in place, spreading grout over the top, sealing the mosaics in place.
Paint: Paint is a combination of a binder and color, mixed to form a liquid drying as a solid. Various types of paint were invented throughout the centuries, including oil, acrylic, and watercolor, in addition to the traditional paints of early civilizations. Paint can also be contained in pressurized cans, released when the valve is pushed down, releasing a fine mist of paint.
Paper: Paper was invented in ancient China but did not become popular in Europe until the 14th century. Paper made from linen rags left to rot in large vats of water. They stamped until the linen became pulp, poured into molds, and left to dry. The results were large pieces of paper suitable to use in the newly invented printing press. Paper was also inexpensive to produce and was a way to create information for more people than the expensive vellum.
Pastels: A pastel is a finely ground powdered pigment mixed with some type of binder. Modern pastels invented in the 17th century were manufactured by machines yielding a standard product.
Perspective and Depth: An artist who paints landscapes on a two-dimensional piece of wood or panel uses the illusion of depth, a three-dimensional feeling, and the sense of reality, bringing the viewer into the scene.
Photography: Photography is the art of capturing a picture and producing a photograph from the picture. Photography captures light in a moment of time, recording the lights produced by an image on a highly sensitive material. Photographic plates were used to capture images before film was invented. The glass had an emulsion of sensitive silver salts in a thin layer. When the light hit the plate, it captured the image on the glass. Used widely for professionals seeking details, plates did not distort the image as the film could.
Photomontage: A photomontage is a group of photos made by cutting up photos and gluing them to a piece of paper, or the montage can be made in a digital photo program, like Adobe Photoshop. The montage can look like a realistic, seamless photo or be an abstract composition.
Pointillism: Pointillism is a form of painting using tiny dots instead of brush strokes. Pointillism is applied in small dots of pure color by juxtaposing complementary colors directly on the canvas, combining through the eye of the viewer to form an image.
Silk: is a fiber from the cocoon of a silkworm, which is on a diet of mulberry leaves and then spins a cocoon. The cocoon is washed in hot water, which kills the silkworm leaving a thin prism-like structure called silk thread. Rewashed and spun into silk thread and dyed thousands of colors. The thread ships on the Silk Road around Asia and Europe.
Silk Screening: Silk screening is a process of printing using a silk mesh in a wooden frame to transfer an image onto another surface, like a tee-shirt.
Sketching: Sketching is a freehand drawing representing what the artist is seeing, but not necessarily the finished work.
Stone: Stones are solid pieces of different types of solid mineral matter used for building structures. Stones are readily found throughout the planet, and many civilizations still use stone for construction. Limestone is a sedimentary rock primarily composed of calcite and aragonite and usually has skeletal pieces of marine organisms. Buildings were designed and engineered to accommodate corners, supports, open spaces, columns, roofs, height, width, all dependent on the variety of stones available. Quarry marks in surviving structures reveal how most people used wooden wedges soaked in water to split the stone on its natural fault lines. Stone lasts a long time, and some of the only surviving parts of civilization are the stone sculptures.
Terracotta: Terracotta means "baked earth" in Italian and is used to describe any type of earthenware that is clay-based.
Vellum: Vellum comes from the Latin word "vitulinum," meaning "made from the calf." They used calfskin vellum to produce books or scrolls. Vellum is smooth, durable, and usually white in color, an excellent medium to write on.
Volume: The volume of artwork can also have many meanings, especially if you are comparing a 2-dimensional painting to a 3-dimensional vessel. Volume usually applies to 3-dimensional work and denotes the amount of space it contains. A vessel will usually have the same volume for a vessel of like kind and size and may occupy the same amount of shelf space yet can still have space around it.
Weaving: Weaving is the art of textile production when two yarns are woven at a right angle to each other, producing some type of fabric or cloth. The warp is the yarn attached to the loom, and the weft is the yarn woven through the alternating warp yarns to create a pattern.
Welding: Welding is a sculptural fabrication process joining metal materials with solder and heat. Different sources of fuel can be used for welding, including gas, electricity, and laser. Forge welding has been used for thousands of years by blacksmiths to join iron and steel pieces together.
Wool: is a fiber from shearing sheep, llamas, or yak and woven into clothing that retains its warmth even when wet. The coats of the animals are sheared off, washed, and spun into yarn, which is one of the warmest fabrics even when wet. The wool is dyed and usually woven on large looms.
3-d drawings: Three-dimensional drawings usually represent a building, shape, or object that has more than one dimension
Art appreciation is a journey about learning, the discovery of cultures, and their art, which has survived after they have abandoned long-ago settlements. Art is a form of creative human expression, lasting longer than cultures, buildings, government, or religion and providing a window into the past. Art is a tangible element of a bygone culture we can hold today, even though it is 30,000 years old, a small remnant of past life.
We study art to learn how to be responsible for human cultural art and to accept the diversity of people and their lifestyles. Looking at the past, we can see the influence of civilizations and time on culture and art today. For example, silk was produced and woven in China, but how long did it take to spread across Asia and into Europe? The Silk Road was a commercial enterprise supporting the transportation and selling of art for thousands of miles. Today, the internet is our influence, and we have access to millions of products on our computers. Research is faster and travels in light seconds, letting us see the rest of the world and their art, providing a way to learn and appreciate art and not just pass by with a preconceived judgment. When you understand the culture, you can understand the art, it applies to cave art, and it still pertains today in our technological culture.