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A Glossary of Painting Terms

Starting out in a new hobby or interest can be daunting for anyone, and painting is no different! New activities are especially difficult to access and engage in when special terms or jargon keep you from understanding the topics being discussed. If you’re trying to get your new painting hobby kick started but need to break through the terminology, check out this short glossary on commonly used painting phrases


Your subject is whomever or whatever is the primary focus of your artwork. Whether it be a person or group of people, or a static subject like a bowl of fruit or a plant, your subject is what you will construct your entire painting around!


A canvas is a painting surface made from material, rather than paper. The two biggest options are cotton and linen and the material will be stretched over a wooden frame for stability and support. Canvas is one of the most common choices for painting as its texture helps prevent paint running and the completed artwork can be hung without the need for a frame.


The colour of the paint may be referred to as the hue. This simply means the most distinctive colours that we all know and recognise such as blue, red, orange, green and so on.


This is the term used to describe the gradual transition that is created between two different colours on the canvas. It is typically carried out when the paints are wet because it makes them blend smoother; painting with acrylics can be tricky because they tend to dry quickly. Effectively, blending helps create less contrast on the canvas.


Paint can be diluted using a medium and this is the mixture that you add to it. The three main types of paints are acrylics, oils, and watercolours; however most beginners tend to opt for acrylics because they’re the easiest to change with a medium.


The most recognisable painting tool is a palette. A painting palette is a small handheld platform where you can mix your colours. It’s not necessary to use a palette, however it definitely adds to the aesthetic and gives you a convenient place to experience with colour.


Colours can be altered by mixing black and white into them, and this changes their tint. Mixing white will create a lighter tint of the original colour whereas mixing black will create a darker tint instead.


A finished painting can be protected from the elements using a final clear coating. This is known as the varnish layer. A quick layer of varnish helps protect the paint from smudging while being handle, or from other minor damage like scratches in the paint.

Now you’ve got the basic jargon down, you’re ready to get your first painting underway! Don’t forget, our sip and paint events are created for painters of all skill levels, so whether you’re an established professional or a brand-new beginner, come and see what a sip and paint evening has in store for you!

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