Word of the Day!

focal plane

In photography, an image line at right angles to the optical axis passing through the focal point. This forms the plane of sharp focus when a camera is set on infinity.


Abbreviation for liter.

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The term popularly used for some commercially prepared clear or pigmented varnishes derived largely from cellulose in a vehicle of fast drying solvents, available in hardware stores. Its commercially available solvents are called either lacquer solvent or lacquer thinner, and may contain acetone, methyl acetate, or banana oil. (pr. lack'er)

See Also:  oriental lacquerresinshellac

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An empty space or a missing part; a gap. A term used most by art historians and art conservators. (pr. leh-kyoo'neh)

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A laminated material.

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A depiction of the grief of Mary and holy and celestial beings for the death of Christ, after he has been removed from the crucifix.

Example: Giotto's Lamentation, c. 1305

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To build up a rigid surface over a framework by applying layers of material, adhering them to each other. Laminating is a technique used in sculpture with wood or resin. Plywood is a laminated product, the wood grain going in a different direction with each layer, in order to add strength. Lamination also commonly refers to the use of heat to adhere sheets of clear plastic to one or both sides of papers or cards.

See Also:  lameliaveneer

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A painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests.

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An ancient Greek statue which was unearthed in 1506 in a Roman palace. The hulking central figure is seen in a highly dynamic composition, with serpents strangling him. The weight and mass of his body influenced numerous Italian Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo.

Example: Laocoön, 50 B.C.

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A bright blue stone containing golden specks, used in jewelry, intaglios, and decorative inlays and veneers. It is also the stone from which natural ultramarine pigment is ground, which was once widely used, but is now extremely expensive. Scientifically known as sodium aluminum silicate, until the 19th century it was obtained only from mines in what is now northeastern Afghanistan. The best lapis is called lapis lazuli. (pr. la'pis la'zyoo-li:)

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A rubbery substance used as binder in latex paints, as a cold cure molding compound, and also as the basis of certain adhesives. Although still used, latex has largely been replaced in many applications by silicone compounds and polyurethane plastics.

See Also:  gelatin

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Abbreviation for pound. Originally it stood for Libra, an ancient Roman unit of weight.

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A soft, malleable, ductile, easily fusible, dull medium-gray, dense metal used in containers for corrosives, solder, tire-balancing weights, bullets, and radiation shielding. Lead has been removed as a component of pencils, house paints and much gasoline because of its toxicity. Lead was added to bronze alloys by the ancient Chinese, by the Etruscans, and by the Romans, forming an alloy known as leaded bronze. Lead was used also as the principal metal in some alloys used for cast sculpture generally combined with tin in making pewter, or with antimony. Such sculpture often requires an armature. Elemental symbol Pb; atomic number 82; atomic weight 207.19; melting point 327.5°C; specific gravity 11.35; valence 2, 4. Also refers to the grooved lead strips called came used in making stained glass. (pr. led)

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lead glaze

A vitreous coating applied for practical and ornamental purposes to earthenware, consisting of powder of lead oxide with silacious sand, salt and potash which fuses when fired. It is transparent but color can be added. Because of lead's toxicity, lead glazes must never be used on surfaces which might ever contact food, drink, or a mouth; and containers of lead glazes must be labeled with such warnings.

See Also:  ceramicglazevessel

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Metals beaten into extremely thin sheets used especially for gilding. Leaf is traditionally made of gold or silver, but may be made of other metals, including aluminum, copper, and other less expensive ones which look like gold and silver.

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When used to describe paint, signifies one with little oil in relation to pigment.

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In ceramics, a state in which clay has lost moisture to evaporation, but has not yet completely hardened; clay damp enough to be joined to other pieces with scoring and slip.

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Usually refers to the longest dimension.

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Drawing or creating letters used in words. To differentiate it from cursive writing, this action is sometimes referred to as printing. But the use of the term printing in this sense should be used cautiously, since it may be confused with its sense as a means of making multiply identical images.

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life drawing

A drawing from a live model (often a nude). This practice became a requisite part of art education in the 19th century.

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life mask

A cast of the face of a living person. Usually such casts have been made from a mold produced by placing gesso or plaster on the face, with a passage provided for breathing through the mold. Such a mold is likely to be of one piece, since the face is generally sufficiently flexible to enable removal of the hardened mold, as long as a release agent has been applied. A death mask is very similar.

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Having the ability to resist fading on long exposure to sunlight. Denotes permanence when applied to pigment. The opposite quality is called fugitive.

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The component of the cell walls of plants that occurs naturally along with cellu­lose. It binds plant fibers together and gives rigidity and strength to plants. Lignin is chemi­cally unstable, and highly light- and heat-sensi­tive. It is believed to cause discoloration and brittleness in paper as it ages.

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Stone composed mainly of calcium carbonate, much of it sedimentary and formed by fossil deposits. Marble is actually a limestone that can be polished.

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limited edition

An edition or set of prints of a known number of impressions, usually fewer then 200, numbered and signed.

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May refer to any painter, but more often to itinerant American painters of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who made literal and naive portraits. They were largely self-taught. Also, may refer to a painter of miniatures in medieval illuminated manuscripts.

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A mark with length and direction. An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form).

See Also:  dotlinear perspective

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linear perspective

A system of drawing or painting in which the artist attempts to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. The lines of buildings and other objects in a picture are slanted inward making them appear to extend back into space. If lengthened these lines will meet at a point along an imaginary horizontal line representing the eye level. Each such imaginary line is called an orthogonal. The point at which such lines meet is called a vanishing point.

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Linoleum cut.

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linoleum cut

A linoleum block used for making relief prints. Linoleum is a durable, washable material formerly used more for flooring as vinyl flooring is used today. It is usually backed with burlap or canvas, and may be purchased adhered to a wooden block. The linoleum can be cut in much the same way woodcuts are produced, however its surface is softer and without grain. Also refers to a print made with this method.

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linseed oil

A drying oil used in paints, usually boiled to make it faster drying.

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A unit of liquid measurement equal to 1000 milliliters. To convert liters into gallons (US, liquid), multiply them by 0.26417; into pints, x 2.1134. Abbreviated l.

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In the graphic arts, a method of printing from a prepared flat stone or metal or plastic plate, invented in the late 18th century. A drawing is made on the stone or plate with a greasy crayon or tusche, and then washed with water. When ink is applied it sticks to the greasy drawing but runs off the wet surface allowing a print to be made of the drawing. The artist, or other print maker under the artist's supervision, then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure. For color lithography separate drawings are made for each color. (pr. le-thog'ruh-fee)

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liver of sulfur

A liquid oxidizer used for antiquing copper and silver. Frequently used to create patina effects on artwork and jewelry.

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In painting, a loaded brush is one that is charged or filled with paint to its capacity.

See Also:  impasto

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local color

The true color of an object or a surface as seen in typical daylight, rather than its color as seen through atmosphere or interpreted by the taste or imagination of the artist. Thus the characteristic local color of a lemon is yellow.

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A gallery, or long narrow room with a colonnade on both sides. Loggia are integral elements in Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

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An apparatus for producing textiles, rugs, blankets, wall hangings, etc., by weaving thread or yarn into cloth.

See Also:  fiber

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loop tool

A tool consisting of a loop of non-ferrous metal attached to a handle, and used in carving plastic and leather-hard clay.

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lost wax casting

A casting process for which a sculptor must first produce his sculpture in wax. He creates a mold around this made of refractory materials. When the mold is heated, the wax melts away, so that molten metal can replace it, reproducing exactly the original wax sculpture. Also known by the French term cire-perdue (pr. seer'pair-doo").

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low relief

In relief sculpture, a very slight extension of a form out of the background.

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luminous paint

A paint which actually glows in the dark. It contains a phosphor, which is usually a form of zinc or calcium sulfide. It stores light when exposed to it for a length of time, emitting it as a greenish or bluish glow for a relatively short length of time when the light source is removed. Versions of luminous paints with radioactive ingredients are used in situations in which the duration of glow must be prolonged, as on watch faces, but these paints are considerably more hazardous, and less commonly available.

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lump hammer

A hammer with a heavy, rectangular head, usually made of iron, used to strike stone cutting tools.

See Also:  bush hammerchiselclaw hammermallet

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A semicircular space, with its flat side facing down, in a wall, over a window or niche, or over a door. Lunettes have been frescoed, and painted in oil pigment as the top section of an altarpiece.

Example: Jacopo da Pontormo's Vertumnus and Pomona, 1520-1521

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A high-gloss finish with iridescent colors. It may refer to a thin glaze (usually metallic) sometimes used on pottery to produce a rich iridescent color, especially renowned in Persian pottery and in majolica.

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In pottery, the attachment of any smaller molded, modeled, or turned ceramic component to a larger molded, modeled or turned form using slip as a cement

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oriental lacquer

A material for a kind of sculpture in which layers are built up, often on a base of silk around a model of another material, typically plain or carved wood. When hard, those carefully cured layers can be carved. Also, used as a varnish, it gives any surface it covers a hard, highly polished finish. It is found on items imported from Asia, but is rarely available for use in the West. Oriental lacquer is produced from the resin (sap) of certain trees in the Far East (in China and Japan this tree is a sumac, Rhus vernicifera, aka Rhus verniciflua), and can be used on many different materials. Lacquer can carry several pigments, but red, black, or a combination was used most frequently. Lacquer has extraordinary adhesive qualities; once cured, it is virtually impervious to moisture, alcohol, food acids, or decay. (pr. oh'ree-en"tel lack'er)

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