In order to talk about art, you need the vocabulary to describe, analyze, and interpret what you’re seeing. Thinking of the right words becomes easier the more art terms you know. The idea isn’t to sit and memorize the list, but to consult the word bank regularly and gradually you’ll remember more and more terms. Here are some describing words I am teaching your child in the art room.
Color Words: natural, clear, compatible, distinctive, interesting, lively, stimulating, subtle, clashing, bright, harmonious, intense, rich, saturated, strong, vibrant, vivid, dull, pale, muted, cool, warm, light, dark, mixed, contrasting, complementary.
Tone Words: dark, light, smooth, varied, constant, graduated, contrasting.
Composition Words: arrangement, layout, structure, position, landscape format, portrait format, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, angled, foreground, background, middle ground, centered, asymmetrical, symmetrical, balanced, unbalanced, lopsided, overlapping, cluttered, chaotic, spacious, empty, flowing, fragmented, formal, rigid, negative space, positive space.
Texture Words: flat, smooth, raised, rough, coarse, incised, scratched, uneven, hairy, sticky, soft, hard, shiny, glossy, reflective, satin, frosted, matte.
Mood Words: calm, content, peaceful, relaxed, tranquil, gloomy, miserable, sad, somber, tearful, unhappy, aggressive, angry, chilling, dark, frightening, distressing, energetic, exciting, stimulating, thought-provoking, boring, dull, lifeless.
Form / Shape Words: 2D, flat, abstracted, simplified, stylized, 3D, realistic, natural, depth, space, sharp, detailed, blurred, obscured, overlapping, indistinct, distorted, exaggerated, geometric, linear, long, narrow.
These are examples of terms your child will learn in the art room. As you can see, some of the art words can be used to describe other subjects as well. Art is math, history, social studies, language arts, music, and science. Author C. M. Rubin said, “If you have embraced the discipline, resourcefulness, inventiveness, persistence and passion it takes to create original works of ART – then you know what it means to have used all of your brain and you will be better prepared to compete in the global economy.”