Acrylics, oils, canvas, giclées… all seem a very simple nomenclature for someone – like me – that has been in the industry for over 20 years. However, I was recently talking to a friend and she asked me what it all meant. It took me by surprise as I, unfortunately, took for granted that everyone would know those words.
First of all, my sincere apologies. I would like to make it up to you by explaining the Art Vocabulary that you will find over my website, posts, and newsletters.
Let’s start with:
MEDIUMS, they are the materials in which a piece of art is built with. Most commons for 2D art (flat, like paintings and drawings) are:
Oils – most classic and widely used medium. Its natural texture compares to butter. You can paint thickly without the need of any added medium.
Acrylics – modern medium, water based, fast drying. Some pigments can be extremely saturated (very strong vibrant colors). Its natural texture compares to yogurt. For a heavy body thickness, it needs some specialty medium added so it can achieve texture.
Watercolors – another classic medium, water-based and mostly done over paper. It is a good travel medium for it can be a quite compact kit. You can find it sold in tubes or blocks. I tiny block of watercolor lasts a lifetime! This medium is mostly known for its transparency. The art is built on layers and it is not forgiven. Once layered down it can’t be erased or painted over.
Mixed Media – is a vast term that basically means: any combination of mediums the artist decided to use.
All of these are applied over a SURFACE, those are usually:
Canvas – fabric surface, most commonly cotton or linen. The fabric is primed before it is ready to be painted on.
Paper – I think this one is self-explanatory! Ha-ha! There are many types of paper but at the end of the day, it is all just paper.
Canvas board – canvas fabric glued to a board.
Wood panel – treated wood, primed prior to painting.
Originals and Prints
Original is a piece of art that is one of a kind, done by the artist.
Prints, also known as giclées, are reproductions of an original art. They can be printed on a series of different surfaces. The most common are canvas, paper, metal, and acrylic. A giclée is a guaranteed archival quality print, which means it won’t fade over time. All my prints are archival quality.
Limited edition – is a number and signed print. It usually varies from a small edition of only 5 to up to 100.
Open edition – is cheaper than a limited edition because it may be printed as many copies as ordered.
just the print (you will have to get it stretched so I don’t usually recommend this unless you are traveling with it and need to transport it in a tube),
gallery wrap will have your print ready for hanging! The canvas is mounted on stretcher bars, stapled in the back. You don’t need to frame it but I still think it looks better framed.
mounted on a board, the canvas is glued to a board, so it is sturdy. You may want to frame it or just have it sitting on a shelf.
Paper – there are many options here. It all depends on preference. You may go for a matt finish (my favorite is the velvet paper), or a more vibrant finish (go with the fine art paper, either flat or textured). There is also the glossy paper and metallic paper. It is all about the style you prefer. The quality is great in whatever choice you decide to go with.
The paper is sold as just the print, matted or mounted on a board. I strongly recommend framing the prints, so you don’t really need the mat or a board if you are taking it to be professionally framed.
Metal – one of my favorite print surfaces! It has a suburb gloss finish that gives a really modern look to the art. I strongly recommend buying it with the wire in the back, so it is ready for hanging. The metal prints look great as they come so there is no need for frames.