schematic stage - The third of the Stages of Artistic Development named and described by Victor Lowenfeld, it typically occurs in children during the ages of 6 to 9. This stage is typically preceded by the preschematic stage (4-6) and followed by the dawning realism stage (9-11). Others refer to the preschematic and schematic stages as the period of symbolism.
schist - A metamorphic rock of dark silvery gray color, sometimes tending toward blue or green.
school - A group of artists whose style demonstrates a common origin or influence. A common origin is likely to be geographic (for example, Dutch school, or Viennese school, or New York school), but refers to the stylistic tendencies of artists in that area. A common influence may be a period, a movement (for example, Impressionist school), an attitude (for example, naturalist school), or a particular artist (for example, school of Rembrandt). When applied to a particular painter, this may either mean that the work in question was painted in that artist's studio by one of his pupils or assistants (apparently with a certain amount of the master's guidance), or that it is an imitation or copy of his or her work. Related terms are circle of, follower of, manner of, and workshop of. Also see marbling.
school of Burgundy - See Burgundy, school of and Gothic.
science and art - Science is the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena — both man-made and natural. Scientific activities involve a large amount of study and methodology — as when using the "scientific method." The principal sciences are: mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, geology, biology, botany, zoology, archaeology, engineering, medicine, and psychology.
scissors - A hand-held cutting tool made up of two crossed and connected blades whose (inner) cutting edges slide past each other as they pivot to open and close. Each blade is extended from a ring-shaped handle (called bows) through which a user inserts opposing fingers. Scissors are commonly employed to cut such thin materials as string, hair, fabric, paper and sheets of other kinds, such as cellophane, foil, etc. "Scissors" can be used either as a singular or as a plural word, and is often referred to as a pair of.
sclera - The anatomical name for the whites of the eyes. Also see caruncle, iris, pupil, and sight.
scoring - To make scratches or creases in pieces of clay to be joined together. Scoring and applying slip to such roughened surfaces creates a bond that holds the pieces together. If slip acts as an adhesive, and scoring makes two pieces of clay like the opposite sides of a zipper, their combined action — a zipped zipper with hardened adhesive inside — should be permanent. See coil and slab construction.
scraper - Sometimes called a spatula, any tool with a blade that is somewhat flexible, but fairly rigid. It is generally used for modeling such soft materials as clay, paint, plaster, and wax. Its edge is not beveled to the degree that it would cut or carve hard materials. Scrapers can be made in a variety of sizes, and typically of metal, plastic, wood, horn or seashell. Although their edges are often broad and straight or curved, scrapers with edges having other shapes — close to the contours of surfaces needing scraping — can be very useful. Historically among the oldest kinds of tools, scrapers are often used for removing materials from surfaces, for spreading or smoothing them.
screenprint - See silkscreen and prints and printmaking.
scribble - Chaotic or meaningless marks (usually lines), or what many would think were chaotic or meaningless marks, but may in fact have some order or meaning. Scribbling is widely understood to be a necessary first stage in every child's artistic development.
scribble stage - The first of Victor Lowenfeld's Stages of Artistic Development. Lowenfeld said the scribble stage typically occurs in children's drawings and paintings at 2-4 years old, and that it is made up of four sub-stages:
scribe - A metal tool with a sharp point used to draw fine accurate lines on a rigid material such as metal or plastic sheet. Also a person whose profession is writing by hand.
scrim - A coarse, loosely woven hessian fabric which acts as reinforcement for plaster models and casts. Also see textile and weaving.
scripophily - A branch of numismatics, the study or collection of financial documents — such works on paper as certificates of stock, bond, deed, etc. Short of framing them, a preferred means of storing and displaying scripophily is in polypropylene sheet protectors. Also see deltiologist, engraving, ephemera, exonumia, philately, and solander box.
scriptorium - A room in a monastery in which books and scrolls are written, copied, illuminated, and housed. This was especially significant during the Middle Ages, when scriptoriums (another plural form is scriptoria) served as the principal European sites for the production and preservation of manuscripts. They were found in almost every monastery after the 8th century.
sculpto-painting - A term first used to describe works by Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), Ukrainian-born Modernist sculptor, who lived and worked in France and the USA.
sculptor - One who produces sculptures. Tanagra sculptors were called "coraplasters" (in Greek, cora is a girl, plastein means to sculpt), as they were particularly drawn to representing women. Nearly all of the earlier figurines represented deities. Another archaic synonym for sculptor is statuary.
sculpture garden and sculpture park - Environments, all or mostly out of doors, which serve as a setting in which sculptures are exhibited.
scumble — There are two senses for this term. Its earlier meaning: a broken passage of opaque or translucent color (often paint) skimmed or dragged across the surface in such a way that each color is visible, each modifying the other, or, to apply a color in this way. This technique was developed by the Venetian school of painters (chief among whom was Titian, c. 1488 - 1576), who passed dry, opaque coats of oil paint over a tinted background to create subtle tones and shadows. Although this painting technique dates to the 16th century, use of the word "scumble" in order to refer to it is unknown before the late 18th century. The origins of the word "scumble" are blurry [!], but the word is thought to be related to the verb "scum," an obsolete form of "skim" (meaning "to pass lightly over"). A later sense for scumble: to smudge or smear the lines, edges, or colors in an image by rubbing lightly. This use appeared in the mid-1800s. Also see abrasion, brushstroke, dragging, dry brush, faux, glaze, marbling, overpainting, patina, Renaissance, sfumato, and underpainting.
seal - A die or signet having a design or emblem which is in relief, used to stamp an impression on a temporarily soft substance such as hot wax or lead, or the impression made in this way. Seals have been affixed to documents to prove their authenticity or to secure them from tampering.
seasoning - The long process of drying out most of the natural moisture in wood to make it stable and workable for carving or construction. Also see heartwood or sapwood.
secession or Sezession - In art, "secession" ("Sezession" in German) is the name adopted by each of several associations of avant-garde artists, especially those in Munich, Berlin, and Vienna, who broke away (seceded) from the established, more conservative, academic societies and their exhibitions. The artists of Munich formed a secession in 1892 that spread to other German cities. Its leading members were Max Liebermann (German, 1847-1935), Wilhelm Trübner (German, 1851-1917), Lovis Corinth (German, 1858-1925), and Franz Von Stuck (German, 1863-1928). The Berlin Secession, led by Liebermann, split away from the Verein Berliner Künstler in 1899, and held its first exhibition in its own building in 1899. In 1910, the Berlin Secession rejected a number of younger painters, including several artists of Die Brücke — Max Pechstein (German, 1881-1955) principal among them — who organized the New Secession group (Neue Sezession). The Vienna Secession was founded in 1897 by nineteen leading Austrian artists. At their head was Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918), whose decorative, exotic paintings exemplify Secessionstil, the Viennese version of Art Nouveau. The Photo-Secession group was an American association of modern photographers who rejected pictorial photography. It was formed in 1902 in New York City by Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) and Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973).
secondary colors - The colors obtained by mixing equal amounts of two primary colors. The secondary colors in subtractive color mixing (when the sources of color are pigments or reflective surfaces instead of light itself) are orange, green, and violet, as in the diagram and the picture to the right. (In this diagram, where do the primary colors — red, yellow, and blue — belong?)
a diagram of the secondary colors
section - A representation of an object as it would appear if cut by an intersecting plane, so that the internal structure is displayed. Also called a cross-section (which you should see for images of examples). Also see didactic and plan.
The Section of Painting and Sculpture (SPS) - An agency of the U.S. government's Treasury Department during the Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s. It was a part of the federal bureaucracy which administered New Deal art programs. It was later known as the Section of Fine Arts (SFA).
secular humanism - Also called secularism, this philosophy advocates human rather than religious values. A powerful intellectual force behind the Renaissance (as well as since), especially stimulating studies of the sciences, when for centuries scholarship had been focused almost exclusively upon issues of faith. Also see humanism.
sedimentary rock - Rock formed by the deposit of eroded igneous rock, often in strata or beds. Examples include limestone and sandstone.
Segantini stitch - In painting, a divisionist brushstroke technique characterized by short, slanting, hatched brushstrokes. It was named after Giovanni Segantini (Italian, 1858-1899), the painter who derived it from the work of van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890) and Seurat (French, 1859-1891). Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943) is one of many painters who have employed the Segantini stitch.
seicento - Italian, literally "600," it refers to the 1600s — the seventeenth century. It is especially used to refer to Italian art of that century, the time of the Baroque period in art, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in religion and politics. (pr. say-chayn'toh)
semi-gloss - A surface finish that is between glossy and matt. Oil, acrylic, and encaustic paints, among other media are generally available in semi-gloss. Also see enamel, polyurethane, shellac, and varnish.
semi-matt - A finish in gilding which is often achieved by giving a polish to the bole or other surface that is to receive the gold leaf. Semi-matt is known in Italian as satinato.
seminal - Creative. Having the power to originate. Highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development.
semiotic or semiotics - Of or relating to semantics; a linguistic, or literary study of the meaning of forms — signs and symbols and how they are used to represent. It includes studies of iconography, iconology, and typology. Semiotics is studied by a semiotician (the term favored in the USA) or semiologist (Europe). It is strongly associated with postmodernism.
Sengoku Jidai - A period in Japanese art history from 1490 - 1573. It was preceded by the Muromachi / Ashikaga period (1392-1573) and followed by the Momoyama period (1573-1615).
sense or senses - The faculties through which the body perceives, receives and feels stimuli from outside, as the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, and balance. Or, a feeling, sensation, or perception. A meaning conveyed; signification. It may also refer to sensations understood, estimated, intuited, or even vaguely felt. It is sometimes associated with sensuality, because the senses are the means of providing physical gratification and pleasure. Also see allegory, haptic, memory, mind, motivation, multiple intelligence theory, music, percept, sensitivity, sensorium, synesthesia, and tactile.
sensitivity - The quality or condition of being capable of perceiving with a sense or senses, responsive to external conditions or stimulation, or susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others. Also, the degree to which something may be affected by something else, as rods and cones on the eye's retina and photo-reactive components of photography are affected by light. In the latter case this may refer to the degree of response of a photographic plate, film or paper to light, especially to light of a specified wavelength.
sensorial and sensory - Of or pertaining to the senses.
sensorium - The part of the brain that receives and coordinates all the stimuli through the senses. The entire sensory system of the body. Also see multiple intelligence theory and multisensory.
sensuality - Excessive devotion to delights of the senses — physical, especially sexual gratification rather than spiritual or intellectual pleasures; voluptuousness; worldliness. Also see beauty, erotica and erotic art, feminism and feminist art, gender issues, fig leaf, love, nude, obscenity, pain, pornography, quotations, Romanticism, sex, sybaritic, and voyeurism.
sentiment, sentimental, and sentimentality - Sentiment is a person's cast of mind or general mental disposition. It may be an opinion about a specific matter, or an emotion elicited by an image. Although there is no value judgment necessarily implied in noting a "sentiment," a speaker is more likely to be taking a disparaging attitude when using "sentimental" or "sentimentality." Something is sentimental when it is characterized or swayed by sentiment; or affectedly or extravagently emotional; or appealing especially to romantic feelings. See bathos, bias, bric-a-brac, emotionalism, expression and expressionism, high art, kitsch, memorabilia, memory, Romanticism, and zeitgeist.
separator - A substance applied to the inside surfaces and seams of a mold to prevent the casting from adhering to the mold; also variously known as a release agent, parting agent, or parting compound. A release agent for plaster may be a thin clay slip, or several applications of a soft liquid soap, or a thin oil.
sepia - Dark reddish brown. Usually refers to pigments of inks used in drawing, printmaking, and photography. Because so many monochromatic photographs were produced in sepia tones during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contemporary pictures made in this color scheme often take on allegorical meanings, associating such imagery with earlier times. (pron. see'pee-uh)
septum - The septum is a thin partition or membrane that divides two cavities or soft massesor tissue in an organism. In the anatomy of the human face, the nasal septum is that membrane between each nostril. The external portion also known as the nasal columella. The alar groove is typically a C-shaped depression formed where the ala is joined to the cheek. The septum is one of the sites of traditional and contemporary body-piercing. Also see ala and alar groove, bust, philtrum, portrait, and self-portrait.
sequence - An order in which one thing follows another; a linear arrangement; a successive arrangement. And, in cinema, a series of single film shots so edited as to constitute an aesthetic or dramatic unit, an episode. Also, to organize or arrange in a sequence.
sequencing - Placement of material, images, events, or information in logical progressive order.
serdab - A small, concealed chamber in an Egyptian tomb for the statue of the deceased. Also see Egyptian art.
sericel - An image which may or may not have appeared in an animated film that has been printed — by serigraphraphy — onto an animation cel, usually as part of a limited edition. A sericel would not have been photographed in the making of an animated film.
serif - A short stroke or fine line finishing off the main strokes of a letter, whether hand drawn or of type, as at the start and finish of the S's (as well as at the upper-left of the lower-case h) in the title of this page. Such strokes are characteristic of Roman letters. Common fonts which have serifs are Bookman, Caslon, New York, Palatino, and Times. Letters having no serif are called sans serif. Also see capital letters, lowercase, and typography.
serigraphy - A stencil method of printmaking in which an image is imposed on a screen of silk or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface. Also called silkscreen process and screen-printing. A serigraph is a print made by this method.
serpentine - A metamorphic rock which takes a polish, typically dark to yellowish green, sometimes brown, and often with spots or mottling — its snake-like qualities. It is often considered a marble. During the Renaissance green Greek porphyry was described as antique serpentine. "Serpentine" can also refer to other reptilian attributes, as in a curvatious or meandering form. (ser"pen-teen')
settecento - Italian, literally "seven hundred," it refers to the 1700s — the eighteenth century, and is often used to refer to Italian art of the time, the end of the Baroque and the beginning of the Neoclassical periods.
setting - The hardening process of paint, plaster of Paris, concrete, resin, an adhesive, or any other material which must harden before working with it further. Also see bleeding through and hot glue.
severe style - An early, pre-Classical, transitional style of mid-fifth century BCE Greek statuary that is formal but not rigid in pose and emphasizes the principle of weight distribution; a liberation from the archaic limitation of frontal rigidity found in Egyptian portrait statues. Also see balance, contrapposto, Egyptian art, Greek art, kore, and kouros.
sex - Male or female. The differences that distinguish the two genders are physiological, functional, and psychological. "Sex" can refer to the genitalia or to behaviors engaging genitalia, including procreation. Whether their intention is erotic, obscene, pornographic, or a means of exploring gender issues, art dealing with sexual content can be highly controversial (as works dealing with politics, religion, or criminality can also be), and may result in alienating viewers whose tastes are at variance from the artist's. Although behavioral standards have been changing over time — at various rates in various cultures — students, and others whose power is subject to more powerful authorities (whether respected or not), should understand potential consequences of making or exhibiting works with sexual content. This caution is not intended to justify the disapproval of those judging such works. Such issues are likely to be complicated, and must be studied on a case-by-case basis.
sexpartite vault - A vault with six ribs and six panels.
sextodecimo - A book or manuscript of the next size smaller than an duodecimo. Sextodecimo is abbreviated 16mo, sometimes pronounced "sixteen-mo." The next smaller size is vicesimo-quarto. Also see bookbinding, folio, quarto, signature, tricesimo-segundo.
SFA - Acronym for Section of Fine Arts. See the Section of Painting and Sculpture — part of the U.S. government's bureaucracy which administered New Deal art programs.
sfumato - In painting, the technique of blurring or softening sharp outlines by subtle and gradual blending (feathering) of one tone into another. The smokelike haziness of this effect slightly lessens the perception that a still image is entirely still, instead lending a vague sense of movement. It is best known in the paintings of the Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Correggio (Antonio Allegri) (Italian, 1489-1534).
sgraffito - A method of decorating or designing a surface, as of paint, plaster, slip (engobe), or glaze, by scratching through a layer of one color to expose a different color underneath.
shade - A color to which black or another dark hue has been added to make it darker, tending to make them neutral in color. For example, black added to green makes it a darker shade of green. Value changes from pure hues are called shades and tints. You can see this in the color wheel below. On the right, pure hues are marked by dots. The shades made from those hues are under them.
shading - Showing change from light to dark or dark to light in a picture by darkening areas that would be shadowed and leaving other areas light. Blending of one value into another is sometimes called feathering. Shading is often used to produce illusions of dimension and depth.
shadow - An area that is not or is only partially illuminated because an opaque object is between the area and the source of light. Or, the image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination. Also, a faint indication, a vestige or remnant.
shadow box - A frame that is deep enough to accomodate a three-dimensional object, deeper than frames needed for two-dimensional works, or for three-dimensional ones that are very shallow. Typically shadow box is faced with transparent glass, Plexiglas, etc.
shaft - A spear or an arrow, or something suggestive of those shapes, such as a long pole, a long handle of a tool, the central member of a feather, a deep pit, etc. In architecture, the part of a column between the capital and the base.
shaft grave - A grave in the form of a deep pit, the actual burial spot being at the base of the shaft or in a niche at the base.
shakudo - In Japanese tradition, an alloy of copper, with about 2-5% gold.
shaman and shamanism - A shaman is a priest or medicine man who (purportedly) can influence good or evil spirits. Shamanism is an archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy. The cultures in which shamanism has been noted include those of various Stone Age, Siberian, Mexican, American Indian, Inuit, and Australian Aboriginal peoples. The activities of shamans are occasionally compared to those of visual artists in non-shamanic cultures. Also see amulet, ex voto, fetish, metal, milagro, mystery, talisman, and votive.
Shang - A Chinese dynasty which lasted c. 1600 - 1050 BCE Mask-like designs with protruding eyes (taotie), are the dominant Shang decorative motif.
shank - The whole of a leg; or the whole of a piece of type exclusive of the printing surface; or the long, slender shaft of a nail.
shape - An element of art, it is an enclosed space defined and determined by other art elements such as line, color, value, and texture. In painting and drawing, shapes may take on the appearance of solid three-dimensional object even though they are limited to two dimensions — length and width. This two-dimensional character of shape distinguishes it from form, which has depth as well as length and width. Examples of shapes include: circle, oval, and oblong; polygons such as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezium, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon, decagon, undecagon, dodecagon, etc.; and such other kinds of shapes as amorphous, biomorphous, and concretion. Also see angle, curve, edge, egg-and-dart, flat, fold, French curve, letterform, manipulate, memory, obverse and reverse, positive and negative space, radial, straight, structure, surface, and vertex.
shard - A potsherd, a piece or fragment of broken pottery.
shawabtis - Alternative spelling of ushabtis.
sheen - A glossy, lustrous surface, such as found on satin. Also see glare and glitter.
sheet metal - Metal that has been flattened or rolled, and can then be cut, bent, joined, and otherwise formed, and perhaps coated or patinated. See the names of various metals, charts of steel sheet gauges, jewelry, sculpture, the names of various twentieth century style (such as Minimalism), and the names of various techniques (such as riveting and welding).
shellac - Lac is a resinous substance secreted by the lac insect, and found on trees in southeast Asia. It is melted into plates (which resemble shells) and used in the manufacture of a varnish which provides a golden translucent finish that darkens with age. Shellac has been used most frequently as a coating on wood, but also on bronzes and plaster cast. It can be toned with various pigments. Shellacs are available with a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. Also see lacquer and polyurethane.
sherd - See shard. Also see potsherd.
shibuichi - In Japanese tradition, an alloy of copper and silver.
shim - A thin brass strip used to divide the surface of a modeled sculpture into sections for a piece mold. Also see pixel shim.
shin - In Japanese tradition, a calligraphic term referring to formal or static brushstrokes. Also see gyo, Japanese art, shuji, and so.
Shinto - The indigenous faith of the Japanese people. Also see Buddhist art, chigi, and Japanese art.
Shiva or Siva - In Hindu belief, one of the principle deities, worshiped as the destroyer and restorer of worlds, and in numerous other complementary forms. Shiva is often conceived as a member of the triad including Brahma and Vishnu; or with his wife Parvati, and his sons Skanda and Ganesha. He is often portrayed holding an ax (symbol of his power) and an antelope (symbol of his rule over the beasts of the wilderness). Others of his attributes are the trident, the third eye, the flask, prayer beads, and the fly-whisk. (pr. shee'vah)
shoji - In Japanese architecture, a translucent rice-paper-covered sliding screen that serves as a room divider in traditional Japanese houses. Also see paper and wood.
shuji - In Japanese tradition, a form of sacred, phonetic writing. Also see calligraphy, chop, gyo, Japanese art, lettering, pictograph, seal, shin, Shinto, so, and sumi-e.
side loading - Also called double loading; loading a brush with two colors side by side. This is a technique typical of tole and other kinds of decorative painting. In order to side load, use a paint of creamy consistency, and drag one edge of the brush through the lighter color as many times as needed to fill that edge with color; then stroke the clean edge of the brush through the darker color in the same manner. Once the brush is loaded this way, blend the colors at the center of the brush by stroking on the palette. Using this technique, each brushstroke (application of color) deposits a gradation of the two blended colors.
sign - Something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality. An act or a gesture used to convey an idea, a desire, information, or a command. A conventional figure or device that stands for a word, a phrase, or an operation; a symbol. Sign language, or to communicate with a sign or by sign language; to signal. A structure or notice bearing a designation, direction, command, advertisement, or information, which may include lettering, symbols and other imagery; signage. To put one's signature on something, usually to mark it as one's own, or to approve.
signage - The design or use of signs and symbols. Signage may include billboards, posters, placards, etc. It may refer to a number of signs thought of as a group.
sikhara - In Hindu temples of Vishnu, the tower above the sanctum or shrine. The basic scheme of the Nagara cella comprises the pitha, or base, the prasada consisting of the garbagriha, a cuboidal inner sanctum, the mandovara, or wall which encloses the sanctum and the sikhara, a curvilinear solid of distinctive form that sits on top of the sanctum. (pr. shi:'ka-rah)
silica, silicate, and silicon - A hard mineral substance found in various natural deposits. Silica ground into a granular form is a component of glass and ceramic bodies, cement and abrasives, and, further refined as silicon, in computer chips. Silica gel is a granular substance that has high moisture-absorbing and -emitting properties and is used as a moisture stabilizer in packing and storing humidity-sensitive objects. Also see art conservation, clay, climate control, relative humidity, sand, and silicone rubber.
silicone rubber - A cold cure molding polymer compound which can withstand the heat of molten lead. It is mixed from a rubber based solution and a catalyst. Silicone rubber is used for small scale casting. As a gel, silicone is available in tubes from any hardware store. The transparent kind is preferable because it permits the sculptor to see air bubbles. A technique some employ: first extrude it under water, then apply it to the model to make a flexible mold. If a thick mass is needed, it is POISONOUS!best applied in coats. While silicone's surface can cure rapidly, if too thick a coat is made at once, the interior will not cure in a acceptable time. Many such products are hazardous. Read labels well and follow all cautionary advice. Also see release agent.
siltstone - A type of schist which is dark gray and brown.
silver leaf - Silver which has been beaten into as thin a sheet as it can be. It can be applied with the same techniques used for gold and other types of leaf. Because it oxidizes easily, unless it is coated with a durable varnish, it will eventually blacken.
silverpoint or silver point - A drawing point made of silver, which is used on a gesso coated surfaces, or the use of this technique, or the drawings made with it.
simile - Refers to any figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as. This literary term is derived from the word similar. Also see analogy, compare, likeness, metaphor, representation, simulacrum, simulation, synergy, and incongruity. (pr. si'mh-lee)
simplicity - Closely related to harmony — a principle of design — this term refers to the practice of using a limited number of similar elements to secure a more uniform appearance.
simulacrum - A representation, or an unreal or vague likeness. The plural is simulacra. Also see analogy, appropriation, copy, counterfeit, ersatz, facsimile, fake, forgery, metaphor, mirror, paint-by-number, and replica, reproduction, simile, simulacrum, and simulation.
simulate, simulation - To simulate is to take on the appearance or form of, or to create a model of.
Simultaneism - See Orphism.
sincere - Genuine, without hypocrisy.
singerie - A scene in which monkeys are dressed in human clothes, and engaged in human activities. The French word for this is singe. There are precedents for this type of anthropomorphism in medieval manuscripts, and perhaps as far back as antiquity. Use of this term is usually reserved for a type of decorative painting associated with French Rococo. Jean Berain (French) and Claude Audran (French) originated the singerie as a genre at the beginning of the 18th century. Watteau also painted singeries.
sinking - The shaping of a malleable metal such as silver or gold by hammering it into a depression. Sinking is generally done to a sheet of metal. Also see boss, declivity, emboss, raising, repoussé, and wrought iron.
sinopia or sinopie - A redish-brown earth color. Also, the cartoon or underpainting for a fresco.
sinter, sintering - To heat a mass of fine particles of ceramic, metal, polymer or other substance to a temperature just below its melting point to form a single solid or porous mass depending on the size of the particles, or a mass formed in this way. Sintered clay has been fired to a point at which it can no longer be dissolved by water, but it may be that it has yet to vitrify. Metal powders are sintered when they have been fused into a cosive mass by heating them to just short of melting. Sintering is a widely-used manufacturing process. "Sinter" came to us from sintar — the same German word meaning metal slag from which English obtained "cinder." Also see polymer clay, solve, travertine, and vitrify.
sistrum - An instrument consisting of a metal frame which loosely holds a number of metal rods, which jingle when shaken. Peculiarly Egyptian, it was used especially in the worship of Isis and is still used in Nubia.
site - In architecture, aspects of the place where a building will be constructed which might include: soil, climate, and neighborhood conditions, including zoning restrictions, along with the availability of water, food, transportation, energy, jobs, schools, churches, shopping, entertainment, etc. It may also refer to a specific place in any kind of environment.
site-specific - See installation.
Siva - See Shiva.
Six Dynasties - A Chinese dynastic period which lasted 220 - 589. During this time there were the Southern Dynasties, 317 - 589, and the Northern Dynasties, 386 - 581.
size - Any of several gooey substances usually made from glue (the best is made from rabbit skin), wax, or clay, and used as a glaze or filler for porous materials such as paper, fabric, or wall surfaces, and used in sizing. Also, the physical dimensions, proportions, magnitude, or extent of an object. Size is one of the perspective tools an artist can use to create an illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface, in that the nearer an object is the larger it appears to be, and the farther it is the smaller it appears to be.
sizing - Treatment of a fabric or other surface with size — any of several gooey substances usually made from glue (the best is made from rabbit skin), wax, or clay and used as a glaze or filler for porous material such as paper, cloth, or wall surfaces. Sizing prepares the surface of a support for priming and painting. Also see papier-mâché.
sketch - A quick drawing that loosely captures the appearance or action of a place or situation. Sketches are often done in preparation for larger, more detailed works of art. Lion by Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640) was done in preparation for his painting of Daniel in the Lions' Den. A sculptural sketch too is a quickly or loosely produced sculpture, typically made in working out ideas which the sculptor might later execute with more detail or in more expensive or more time-demanding materials.
slab construction - A pottery technique in which a form is built up by joining shapes cut from thick sheets of damp clay. Also see coil construction, scoring, pinch, potter's wheel, and slip.
slate - A metamorphic rock that splits into thin layers, most commonly used for roofing and writing surfaces, but sometimes for sculpture. May also refer to the medium-gray to black color of this rock.
slide - An image on a transparent film, usually photographic, held in an opaque frame, and generally intended to be seen by an audience by projection of white light through it onto a large white screen.
slide scanner - A scanner with a slot in which to insert 35-mm slides; usually capable of scanning only 35-mm transparent material.
slip - An opaque, creamy liquid made by mixing finely ground clay with water. Slip is an inevitable byproduct of working on a potter's wheel, its name having resulted from potters' use of water to keep the spinning clay slippery as it's worked. It is also used in the making of pottery to cement together parts that have been formed separately; in slip casting, and in decorating surfaces.
slip casting - Slush casting by pouring slip into a plaster mold, and then leaving it until a thick skin forms inside the mold. The excess slip is poured out and the hollow cast left to harden. It was introduced into many European porcelain factories in the eighteenth century, and was commonly employed for the casting of terra cotta sculpture in the nineteenth century.
slipstone - A small abrasive stone used to sharpen the inside curve or angle of a gouge or V-tool.
slip-trailing - A method of creating a linear design on a greenware or bisque ceramic body by applying slip (engobes) to the clay by squeezing (extruding) it from a plastic bottle fitted with a small opening in a pointed tip. The slip should be mixed to a consistency approximately like heavy cream (in a proportion of dry ingredients to water that is about 1:2 by volume). Also see brush and sgraffito.
slurry - A mixture of plastic clay and water, useful in ceramics in many of the ways that slip is.
slush casting - A method of hollow casting in which a liquid or molten substance is hardened against the walls of a cold mold, generally with the aim of making a cast with very thin walls. The mold is rocked and rolled to insure that all of the smallest spaces are reached, and the walls are more or less even. Excess material is often poured out. Chocolate is regularly cast into bunnies and other shapes in this way. The indirect cast wax model in lost-wax casting is cast in this way in a plaster mold which has first been moistened. Plaster can itself be slush cast. Slip casting is a type of slush casting. Also see release agent.
smalt - A particular blue pigment.
smalto - The colored glass or enamel used in mosaic.
smith - A person who works with metal, especially while it is hot and malleable, as when forging or casting it. Also see metallurgy.
smock - A loose, shirtlike garment which protects the clothes of an artist. Smocks usually hang below the waste. Alternatives to smocks are aprons — covering only the front — and overalls — loose fitting pants with an extension that covers the chest. Also see costume, easel, solvent, stain, stain removal, and studio.
snake - Any of many scaly, legless, sometimes venomous reptiles having long, tapering cylindrical and serpentine form. In Judeo-Christian iconography, snakes have often been employed as symbols of evil, as in the biblical representation of Satan as a snake tempting Adam and Eve, in images of the Virgin Mary standing on a snake to signify victory over sin, and of St. George slaying the Dragon. In even earlier traditions, snakes were often phallic symbols, sometimes signifying fertility, wisdom, or the power to heal. Consider the role played by snakes in the medical symbol called the caduceus, replacing hair on the head of Medusa, and in the Hellenistic sculpture of Laocoon. The Latin word for snake is draco, a bit of linguistic heritage to which J.K. Rowling connects Harry Potter's most unpleasant schoolmate at Hogwarts.
so - In Japanese tradition, a calligraphic term referring to a free or running brushstroke, the so-called 'grass' stroke. Also see gyo and shin.
soapstone - Steatite; a soft metamorphic rock composed mostly of the mineral talc. Soapstone is used in China for small figurative sculpture similar to work in jade, and in Byzantium it was used for sculpture similar to work in ivory. In India whole temples with highly ornate carving have been carved of soapstone.
social realism or Social Realism - A type of realism which is more overtly political in content, critical of society, marked by its realistic depiction of social problems. Paintings by Jean François Millet (French, 1814-75), a painter associated with the Barbizon school, such as The Gleaners (1857, Louvre), is considered an early example of social realism. The greatest impact of this art movement was felt in the first half of the twentieth century, however. Mexican muralists Diego Rivera (1886-1957), José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) strongly influenced many North American social realist and New Deal artists. Some of these northern artists emerged from the Ashcan school, while others, like Ben Shahn (American, 1898-1969), evolved separately. Be careful not to confuse social realism with socialist realism.
socialist realism or Socialist Realism - Socialist realism was the official style in the arts in the Soviet Union (USSR) from the early 1930s until the decline of Communism in the 1980s, disappearing entirely by the time of that country's dissolution in 1989. The onset of socialist realism meant the end of the avant-garde, notably in abstraction in such Russian art movements as by the Constructivist and Suprematism. The style was a conservative, figurative and narrative one, meant to be accessible to all viewers, and never to deviate from the Party line. In painting and sculpture, it was devoted to glorifying the state, its leaders (see thumbnail to rightsuch as this portrait of Nikolai Lenin, 1870-1924), and the people, idealizing the working class. In architecture, it excluded all but functional design within a traditional context, in a severe manner sometimes known as "Stalinist gothic." Be careful not to confuse socialist realism with social realism.
socle - A molded projection at the bottom of a wall or a pier, or beneath a pedestal or a column base. (pr. soh'kl)
soffit - The underside of an architectural member such as an arch, lintel, cornice, or stairway. (pr. sah'fit) Also see intrados.
soft focus - Especially in photography, an image made when the lens is thrown slightly out of sharp focus so that the contours of any object appear moderately soft and blurred. Also see sfumato.
softwoods - Woods from coniferous trees, some of which are suitable for carving — for example, pine and fir. Also see hardwood and heartwood.
Solander box or solander box - A readymade box of acid-free board. Solander boxes are frequently used for the storage of books, documents, framed and unframed works on paper, among other objects. Daniel Charles Solander (English, born Sweden, 1736-1782) was a botanist who was also a librarian at the British Museum. The box he designed for the storage of books is known as a Solander box. Today's conservators insist on acid-free archival materials for today's Solander boxes. Also see bin, collection, ephemera, flat file, polypropylene, portfolio, stack tray, and storeroom.
soldering - A method of joining pieces of metal by melting an alloy of tin and lead into the joint to fuse the two edges together. The application of a flux to surfaces to be soldered is generally required. A soldered joint will not withstand much stress. see thumbnail to rightHere a person holds the flame of a propane torch to a piece of solder at the position of the join. Also see adhesion, temperature and welding.
soluble - Able to be dissolved. Also see aqueous, solute, solvent and water-soluble.
solute - The material present in the smaller amount in a solution; the substance dissolved in a solution, as distinguished from the solvent. Or (as an adjective) dissolved; in solution. Don't confuse this term with its homonym, salute: a gesture acknowledging another person. Also see cleaning, soluble, solve, and water-soluble.
solve - Dissolve. See detergent, solute, solvent, and water-soluble.
solvent - A (usually) liquid substance which is able to solve (dissolve) another substance, POISONOUS!either for cleaning, thinning, mixing, or some particular step in an art technique. Common solvents include water (especially when soapy), turpentine and paint thinner, (denatured) alcohol, acetone, lacquer thinner, toluene, xylene, plastic cement (model airplane cement), and naphtha. Solvents are commonly available at hardware stores, as well as at art supply stores. All FLAMMABLE!solvents can be dangerous — most are toxic, volatile, and flammable — so be sure to study their labels carefully, in order to handle, store, WARNING!and dispose of them properly. Keep them out of the reach of children. The exception to liquid solvents is the solvent for encaustic, which is heat.
Song - A Chinese dynasty which lasted 960 - 1279, also called the Sung Dynasty. It can be subdivided into the Northern Song dynasty, 960-1126, and the Southern Song dynasty, 1127-1279.
Southern Dynasties - See Northern and Southern Dynasties period of Chinese art.
souvenir - Objects collected for the memories they evoke — often sentimental — and likely to remind one of significant people, places, or events. Anything natural or manmade might become a souvenir, although some things are made intentionally to be them: think about objects purchased at tourist destinations or concert venues, often with the name or image of the place or musicians integral to these things. Although many souvenirs could also be called ephemera, kitsch or low art, a seashell, a lock of hair, or a work of fine art might just as thoroughly satisfy a souvenir collector. Also see bric-a-brac, mass media, memorabilia, popular culture, and poster.
space - An element of art that refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within things. It can be described as two-dimensional or three-dimensional; as flat, shallow, or deep; as open or closed; as positive or negative; and as actual, ambiguous, or illusory.
space-time - A concise way of referring to the understanding of the universe as an entity composed of inextricably interwoven space and time; a conception based especially on the theories of Albert Einstein (German-American physicist, 1879-1955). In this view of the universe, anything that happens to alter the condition of space also affects the conditions of time, and vice versa. Mikhail Bakhtin (Russian linguist and literary philosopher, 1895-1975), used the term "chronotope" — literally "time-space" — to designate the space-time matrix that governs all narratives and other linguistic acts. Also see interdisciplinary, ontology, and science and art.
spandrel - In architecture, the roughly triangular space enclosed by the curves of adjacent arches and a horizontal member connecting their vertices. Also, the space enclosed by the curve of an arch and an enclosing right angle.
spanner - A wrench. (Chiefly a British term.) Also see tool.
spatial qualities - Those aspects of any image or object having to do with the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within things. See space.
spatula - Sometimes called a scraper, any tool with a blade that is somewhat flexible, but fairly rigid. It is generally used for modeling such soft materials as clay, paint, plaster, and wax. Its edge is not honed to the degree that it would cut or carve hard materials. Spatulas can be made in a variety of sizes, and typically of metal, plastic, wood, horn or seashell. Although their edges are often broad and straight or curved, scrapers with edges having other shapes — close to the contours of surfaces needing scraping — can be very useful. Historically among the oldest kinds of tools, spatulas are often used for removing materials from surfaces, for spreading or smoothing them. Also see chisel and palette knife.
special exhibition - A gathering of museum objects, usually with a particular purpose or theme, for exhibition -- public display. Also see accession, deaccession, donation, gallery, and patron.
specifications - In commisioned works, especially in areas of design, specifications are specific expectations communicated to an artist, designer, fabricator, etc. Whether the entity forming and communicating specifications is a patron or employer, an art director or a teacher, specifications must be communicated clearly in a statement listing such particular requirements of a project as its materials, dimensions, subject or theme, elements or principles of design, quantity, or other qualities of the work expected. Specifications may allow for different interpretations, however, and can even be incomplete or vague in order to provide room for greater creativity. It is generally best to give and receive written specifications, as in a contract providing a record of what the specifications are agreed to be by each of the interested parties. If a work lives up to these parameters, then the work should be considered contractually satisfactory and successful. Related issues might include deadlines, locations, tools or techniques employed, engineering and safety issues, transportation, lodgings, etc. Also see graphic design.
specific objects - Art that rejects both painting and traditional sculpture. This term was coined by Donald Judd (American, 1928-1994). Also see combine and Minimalism.
spectrum - A radiant source's emission of a distribution of energy — colors — arranged in order of wavelengths. This band of colors — a range of various kinds of light which might originate from any particular source, such as is produced when sunlight is refracted and dispersed by a prism — is comprised of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. A rainbow is such a natural display of the visible spectrum. Of all the colors in the visible spectrum, red has the longest wavelength at about 700 nanometers. Violet has the shortest at 400 nanometers. Just longer than red is infrared. Just shorter than violet are ultraviolet and then x-rays. The plural form can be either spectra or spectrums.
sphere - A three-dimensional form shaped like a ball, circular from all possible points of view. Its surface consists of points, all of which are the same distance (radius) from its center. Refers both to the surface and to the space it encloses. The mathematical formula with which to calculate the area of the surface of a sphere: multiply four times the product of pi times the radius squared. The volume of a sphere: 4/3 (or 1.333) times the product of pi times the radius cubed. "Sphere" may also refer to the extent of a person's knowledge, interests, or social position; or, one's domain — area of power, control, or influence.
spheroid - A three-dimensionalform shaped like a sphere but not perfectly round. An egg is typically a spheroid. Commonly a spheroid is an ellipsoid — generated by revolving an ellipse around one of its axes. Also see conglobe and ovoid.
spiral - There are two kinds of spirals: helix and volute.spiral
splay - A large bevel or chamfer.
splayed opening - An opening (as in a wall) that is cut away diagonally so that vertical edges (jambs) are farther apart than the inner edges.
split complements - One color plus the two colors that are on either side of its complement on the color wheel. For example, the complement of orange is blue, and the two colors on either side of blue are blue-green and blue-violet. Therefore the split complements of orange are blue-green and blue-violet. Also see analogous colors, camaïeu, color scheme, complementary colors, grisaille, monochrome, split complementary, and triadic colors.
spokeshave - A small planing tool for cutting away a thin slice of wood. It consists of a blade with a handle for each hand at its sides. Also see draw knife.
spontaneity and spontaneous - Spontaneity is the quality of being spontaneous: behavior proceeding from natural feeling or from a momentary impulse, without having been planned or labored; developing from within, without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment; not apparently contrived or manipulated. (spahn'te-nay"eh-tee)
springing - In architecture, the lowest block of stone of an arch, resting on the impost block.
sprue - In lost-wax casting, a channel through which molten metal can enter a mold (runners) and air and gas can escape (risers). This term applies to the wax rods attached to the wax model that result in the formation of these channels, and for the rods of metal that may be cast within channels once metal is put into the mold. In some regions, to attach the wax rods is called spruing, in others it is called rodding.
SPS - Acronym for Section of Painting and Sculpture, one of the U.S. government's bureaucracies which administered New Deal art programs.
square - A closed two-dimensional shape (polygon) bounded by four straight-line segments of equal length (equilateral) joined at four equal (right) angles. The formula with which to find its area: the length of one side squared (see below). The distance between opposite corners is the square root (see below) of the sum of the square of two sides. A quantity is squared when it is multiplied once by the same quantity (for example, 4 squared=4x4=16). The square root is the divisor of a quantity that when squared gives the quantity (for example, the square root of 4 is 2, because 4/2=2, and 2x2=4).
square schematization - In architecture, a church plan in which the crossing square is used as the module for all parts of the design. Also see cathedral and cruciform.
squinch - An architectural device used to make a transition from a square to a polygonal or circular base for a dome. It may be composed of lintels, corbels, or arches.
Sri Lankan art - Sri Lanka is a tropical island nation southeast of India.
stabile - An abstract sculpture that has movable parts similar to a mobile, but that is attached to a solid, unmovable base rather than suspended.
stack tray - An open shelf system, somewhat like a flat file system, each of which is especially suited for the storage of large, flat objects, such as sheets of paper, drawings, and prints. This system allows the purchasing of whatever number of stackable shelf trays as needed. Also see bin and storerooms.
staff - A sculptural and architectural medium composed of plaster, cement, and jute fibers. This material was first used in buildings constructed for the Paris exhibition of 1878. It was also employed for many buildings and sculptures at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Very few of these works still exist. Staff has proven to be suitable only for temporary works. Numerous sculptures for the Chicago exposition were executed in staff by Daniel Chester French (American, 1850-1931) and Edward Clark Potter (American, 1857-1923).
Stages of Artistic Development - Many people, including art educators have noticed that children's art making tends to follow certain patterns — stages in which it progresses as children grow from toddlers, through childhood and into adolescence.
stamp - To crush or grind with a heavy instrument as with a foot, or to form or cut out by application of a mold, form or die. Also, to imprint with a mark, design, or seal; or the device used to do so, such as the one shown here. Also see chop, impression, numismatics, philately, relief, and signature.
standards - Expectations (also called benchmarks) for what students will learn; what educators are expected to teach students. In the USA, state and national standards have been formulated and passed into law as a result of a movement to hold schools accountable for teaching students skills that are considered essential. Although the primary focus for standardized testing has been in the disciplines of language and math, eventually students may well be assessed every discipline for which states have mandated standards. Although some art educators have been reluctant to see the arts assessed in this way, many others understand that our disciplines are greatly validated and strengthened by an effort which raises expectations that students must learn art skills.
staple, staplegun, stapler - A see thumbnail to rightstaple is a U-shaped metal form, usually made of wire with chisel-pointed ends, that can be driven into a surface with a hammer or with a more specialized device: either a stapler or a see thumbnail to leftstaplegun. "Staple" is also a verb meaning to drive a staple. Staples are most commonly used on paper, corrugated cardboard, and wood. Contemporary painters typically attach canvas to stretcher by stapling it with a staplegun — either electric powered or spring-driven. Staples, staplers, and stapleguns are commercially available in many types and sizes, produced by many manufacturers. Before their invention, what painters do with staples was often accomplished with tacks and adhesives. Also see frame, join, and nail.
state - The point at which a graphic artist makes a number of prints from his block, plate, stone or screen. If he alters his print design at all, this first series of impressions is called the first state. A second series, made after the design changes, is a second state. This can go on indefinitely until a final state is produced. Also see standards and statue.
stave - In architecture, a wedge-shaped timber; vertically placed staves embellish the architectural features of a building. Also see wood.
stearin or stearine - A colorless, odorless, wax-like ester of glycerol and stearic acid, derived from animal and vegetable fats and used in candle and modeling waxes, and to supplement beeswax. (pr. stee'ah-ren)
steatite - Soapstone; a soft metamorphic rock composed mostly of the mineral talc. Soapstone is used in China for small figurative sculpture similar to work in jade, and in Byzantium it was used for sculpture similar to work in ivory. In India whole temples with highly ornate carving have been carved of steatite. Also see Hindu art.
stein guss - German for cast stone, and refers to a specific material used in Germany for sculpture in the fifteenth century. It was entirely or mostly gypsum plaster.
stela - Alternative spelling of stele.
stencil - Stiff paper (or other sheet material) with a design cut into it as a template for shapes meant to be copied. Ink or paint forced through the design's openings will produce a print on a flat surface placed beneath. The design need special to producing a stencil: balance the requirement to cut out most of the desired shapes against maintaining the strength of the loosest parts of the stencil. The relationship between the positive and negative spaces is best when no part of the sheet is damaged or lost in its use. In lettering stencils, for instance, the centers of such letters as A, B, D, O, and P are some of the shapes most likely to have this problem. The "bridges" holding these "islands" in position are the chief characteristics of stencils. Art in which stencil letters are used often make reference to flatness, cheaply hand-produced signage and package labeling, among other common applications. Patterns and other designs are also painted as stenciled architectural decorations. Pochoir and silkscreening (or serigraphy) are types of stencil processes. Also, the image produced, and the process of making it.
Stendhal syndrome or Stendhal's syndrome - Dizziness, panic, paranoia, amnesia, or other nervous conditions caused by viewing certain art objects or by trying to see too many works of art in too short a time.
stereometry - Solid geometry — the science of measuring solids. Also the measuring of specific gravities with an instrument called a stereometer. See articles on various solid forms, such as those about sphere, cone, cube, and polyhedrons. Also see science and art.
stereoscopic vision - Seeing with two eyes; also called binocular vision. Stereoscopic vision increases the ability to sense depth. Two-dimensional images don't take advantage of this capability, unless they present a different image on which each eye can fix. Several means have been devised to do this. Stereo photographs , sometimes called stereograms or stereographs have been produced since the mid-1800s. Popular since the early 1990s are computer-generated stereograms with images hidden inside of them. Other resources:
stereotype - Preconceived and clichéd notions (biases or cognitive structures) that help individuals process information through associations between reality and the "pictures in your head." Stereotyping people often takes place in the social categories of race, national or ethnic groups, gender, class, generation or age group, profession, interest (geeks, nerds, jocks, skateboarders, chess-players), etc. Although stereotypes have often fed into xenophobic behaviors, stereotypes are not always negative. Because people are the products of their genes and their environment, they can form sweeping opinions about whole groups of people from the ways that people around them feel about and treat various people. The primary source for such notions is (or used to be) one's parents. The media — television, internet, etc. — have an increasingly powerful influence on the formation of stereotypes.
Sterling - Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, it is harder and more workable than pure silver. Symbol Ag; atomic number 47; melting point 960.8°C; specific gravity 10.50; valence 1, 2. A lustrous light-to-medium gray color.
stimulate, stimulus - To stimulate is to incite or rouse to activity, to a response. A stimulus is something that stimulates. The plural form is stimuli.
stipple and stipple brush - Stipple is a drawing, painting, or engraving method employing dots rather than lines. Stippled works can be produced with any of a variety of tools, including pencils, crayons, pens, and brushes. see thumbnail to rightThe broadly distributed bristles of this stipple brush are all the same length, allowing the application of a mass of fine dots. A stipple brush is often used by painters of faux textures — simulating granite and sandstone for instance.
stone - Concreted earthy or mineral matter; rock. Examples are marble, granite, limestone, alabaster, sandstone, schist, and soapstone. In the printmaking process of lithography, a piece of limestone is traditionally used as the printing surface. Also, a unit of weight measurement in Britain is a stone: equal to 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms). Also see carving, chisel, gem, glyptics, igneous rock, living rock, metamorphic rock, mortar, mosaic, sculpture, sedimentary rock, statue, stipple, and suiseki.
storage - The place or space for the safekeeping of objects not currently being exhibited; containment for books, tools, or other materials that might be needed in the future — later today or years from now. Among the personality traits common to people immersed in the visual arts is the compulsion to accumulate stuff. We put tremendous energy into playing with our collections, much of it deciding where to put it all. We each have our ways of dealing with the stuff that lands on our floors, desks, tables, and so on. The quality of our storage becomes crucial. In the effort to store things well, we need to balance accessibility, safety, security, order, and cleanliness, against the limits of our time, energy, and other assets. In order to maintain the conservation of some things in storage, it may be necessary to control atmospheric temperature and humidity. The best types of storage also protect things from exposure to harmful vapors, light, fire, microbes, insects, and other creatures. See art conservation, climate control, Collyers' Mansion, entropy, fumigation, hygrothermograph, glassine, material culture, flat file, polyethylene, polypropylene, preparator, silica gel, solander box, stack tray, and storerooms.
storerooms - In museums, these are the rooms and vaults in which some objects are placed for study, protection, and future exhibition. No museum has all of the objects in its permanent collection on display at any time. Just as the public generally doesn't get to see backstage in a theater, it rarely gets a look at the storerooms. But museum officials often admit art students and art professionals who make appointments with them to visit their storerooms. Also see art conservator, collection, Collyers' Mansion, curator, director, flat file, gallery, hygrothermograph, and stack tray.
storyboard - A series of simple pictures that depict the important changes of scene and action in a planned film or video production. In the production of an animated film, for example, a series of sketches, comparable to a comic strip, which outlines the narration of a scene — its visual and audial changes. Traditionally, these drawings are tacked to a bulletin board, arranged, re-arranged and replaced as the story takes shape. Early rough storyboard drawings are thumbnail sketches, while more detailed drawings are called "finished" or "final storyboard panels."
straight - Extending continuously in the same direction without curves or other deviations, as might a line, edge, shape, form, space, etc. A straight angle is 180°. Some uses of straight imply a horizontal or vertical direction. Also, a quality of any communication that is direct, candid, or truthful. Or, neatly arranged, orderly, tidy, as when a mess is straightened up. Or, consecutive, uniterrupted; as when a show was open for three weeks straight. Or, heterosexual. Also see aliased and anti-aliased, alignment, axis, bias, chronology, diagonal, diameter, dimension, freehand, gender issues, generatrix, geometric, grid, heterodox, length, light, meander, moiré, measure, movement, orthogonal, parallel, perpendicular, plane, polarizing, polygon, radius, ray, regular, sequence, tangent, and twist drill.
stress - The importance, significance or emphasis placed on something, or to place importance, significance, or emphasis upon something. In physics, an applied force or system of forces that tends to strain or deform an object. Also see accent, architecture, carving, kerf, and modeling.
stretcher - Wooden bars, usually made of pine, that constitute a frame over which the canvas of a painting is stretched. Although stretchers can be any shape, most are rectangular. The edge of the canvas is attached to the stretcher with tacks, or with staples driven by a staplegun. The size of a stretcher can be changed slightly through the adjustment of keys (the small wedges visible in this example) or with expansion bolts at the four corners. A thin molding (3/4-round) should be attached to the outer edges of the stretcher, in order to keep the canvas from touching any surface other than those edges.
structuralism - A school of art or of art criticism that advocates and employs a method of analyzing phenomena chiefly by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary opposition.
structure - Something made up of a number of components that are put together in a particular way. Structure is any means of arranging or puting together a work to form a cohesive and meaningful whole, including sensory elements, organizational principles, expressive features, and functions of art. To give structure to a thing (to structure it) is to give form or arrangement to it. Sometimes structure refers to the elements of a thing that keep it from collapsing.
Structurist - Charles Biederman (American, 1906-2004) coined this term. Biederman said, "a Structurist work is neither painting nor sculpture, but a structural extension of the two." He studied art at schools in Cleveland and Chicago before years of painting in Paris and New York. Then he abandoned painting to produce painted "Structurist" geometric reliefs from 1937 onward.
stucco - The finest and whitest type of plaster used for modeling and molding. Stucco is made of a mixture of lime (often from marble), white-marble dust, and other ingredients, which might include wax, milk and other organic substances. A versatile medium in sculpture and in architectural decoration. Stucco can be either the material cast in a mold or the material of a mold, a material to be modeled in relief, or attached to something else. It is commonly used for covering walls and floors. Like all other dusts, airborne stucco is hazardous to breathe — every user must wear an appropriate face-mask. The surface of stucco must be sealed to keep dirt from building up in its pores — often accomplished with wax, shellac or linseed oil. Stucco lustro is a type of stucco with a higher ratio of marble dust, so that it can take a polish. Scagliola is another such variant. (pr. stuck'ko) Also see gesso and slip.
stump or stomp - A kind of pencil consisting of a tight roll of paper or soft leather, or of a cylindrical piece of rubber or other soft material used for rubbing down hard lines in pencil or crayon drawing, for blending the lines of shading so as to produce a uniform tint. A stump may be used with any powdery pigment such as graphite or charcoal, spreading and rubbing it. The use of stumps was in greatest favor in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although commercially available today, the use of stumps has largely gone out of favor in the last century. Also called a torchon or tortillon.
stupa - In Buddhist tradition, a type of shrine.
stylize and stylization - To stylize is to alter natural shapes, forms, colors, or textures in order to make a representation in a preset style or manner. The design of any work tends to result in its having a style, and its having been freely chosen is one aspect of its appeal. "Stylization" suggests a more controled application of a style, the artist having less freedom of choice.
stylobate - In architecture, the platform or foundation for a row of columns. On the Parthenon, the top step of the three-step platform is known as the stylobate. In each of the classical orders, the lower members of the platform can include the stereobate and the leveling course or euthynteria. The stylobate rests the base of the column, which support the entablature.
stylus - A pointed instrument used to engrave into a softer surface.
Styrofoam® - A trademark used for expanded polystyrene plastic, a light-weight, granular material, usually worked in sheets or blocks, but also available in loose granules. It can be cut with great precision and ease with an electrically heated wire. Styrofoam is an economically attractive medium for use in theater and motion picture stage sets. Styrofoam is often mentioned in print as [lower-case s] styrofoam.
subdue - To make less intense.
subject - That which is represented in an artwork. For example, a nineteenth century rural American classroom is the subject in the painting by Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910) of see thumbnail to rightThe Country School, 1871, oil on canvas, Saint Louis Art Museum. The subject of a work is one of its literal qualities.
subjectivity - Whenever conclusions are considered or reached which depend upon ideas existing within a person's mind; taking a personal point of view; personal. Quality of perceptions existing only within the experiencer's mind, but not necessarily in reality. Expression of the individuality of an artist or author.
sublime - A concept, thing or state of exceptional and awe-inspiring beauty and moral or intellectual expression — a goal to which many nineteenth-century artists aspired in their artworks. Noble, majestic. Also see aesthetics, chado, cute, harmony, Hudson River School, Impressionism, kitsch, landscape, Luminism, mystery, nature, nice, pain, picturesque, positive, pretty, Realism, Romanticism, and Stendhal syndrome.
subliminal message or subliminal advertising - Flashing a message — sometimes a graphic image, but usually a short text — in one frame of a film or video. Played at full speed, such a message is barely perceived, particularly if the viewer isn't looking for it. The theory is that even though a viewer will not be consciously aware of the message, it will make an impression on the viewer's subconscious. In 1974, the U.S. government's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that subliminal advertising was contrary to the public interest. Bill Benoit, who studies political advertising at the University of Missouri, has said that subliminal messages aren't necessarily effective. "There's no conclusive evidence that it works," he said. "Of course, that doesn't stop advertisers." The term is sometimes also used to describe softsell or indirect advertising, or to the expectation that such subtle factors as costume, scenery, or ethnicity might influence the thinking of a viewer.
subsampling - Using an algorithm to derive a lower-resolution digital image from a higher resolution image; for example, eliminating every third pixel in every direction. This selective elimination is actually called "decimation."
subtraction, subtractive - Subtraction is the act of removing. In art, an action is subtractive when it produces subtraction, as of some materials in carving, for example. Materials especially appropriate for subtractive sculpture in schools include clay, chalk, plaster, soft salt blocks, artificial sandstone, soap, and wax. The mixing of pigments is also called subtractive color mixing (as opposed to the additive mixing of incident light to achieve additive color mixing). The subtractive primary colors are cyan, yellow, and magenta. Also see angle of incidence, assemblage sculpture, blot, construction, dent, detritus, erasure, light, manipulate, modeling, primary colors, secondary colors, and solvent.
success - The achievement of something attempted. And a person who succeeds. Success is relative and temporary, but the attainment of success is among the most satisfying experiences. An artist can experience success frequently and deeply — seeing the growth of his / her artistic abilities and accomplishments, the exhibition and discussion of the work by an interested audience, prosperity from demand for the work, and hope that posterity will value it too.
suffuse - Gradually spreading over the surface and serving to color or tint, as with a fluid or a gleam of light.
Sui - A Chinese dynasty that lasted 581 - 618.
suiseki - A Japanese word (from the Japanese characters for water "sui" and stone "seki") for a stone shaped by natural erosion. The Chinese, influenced by Taoism, originated the concept, and use their own terms, calling their stones "scholars' rocks." Some in the West refer to suiseki as "viewing stones." Suiseki is the study and enjoyment of such stones as objects of beauty. The term can refer either to the study of these stones or to the stones themselves — displayed and enjoyed in interiors, and prized as objects sitting at the boundary between art and nature. One of the key ingredients of a suiseki stone is its likeness to an object or to a landscape. To be considered a suiseki a stone's shape must be clean, it must be pleasing to the viewer, and it must stir the viewer's emotions. Suiseki typically convey a likeness either to an object or to a landscape, but are occasionally simply abstract in form. (pr. suh-EE-seck-eh)
suki - In Japanese art, an aesthetic quality; artlessness. Also see wabi-sabi.
Sumerian art - See Mesopotamian art.
sumi-e - In Japanese art, painting in monochromatic ink. Also see genpitsu and tradition.
Sung - A Chinese dynasty that lasted 960 - 1279, also called the Song dynasty. It can be subdivided into the Northern Sung Dynasty (960 - 1127) and the Southern Sung dynasty (1127 - 1279).
superficial - Being on or near the surface; lacking in depth or thoroughness. Shallow; concerned with or understanding only what is apparent or obvious. Apparent rather than actual or substantial. Insignificant; trivial.
Superrealism - Another name for photorealism.
suppedaneum - A support for the feet of a crucified person, projecting from the foot of the vertical shaft of the cross. This can be seen on a typical crucifix.
support - The material providing a surface upon which an artist applies color, collage, etc. Also, holding up, as a base or column often does.
surface - The outer or topmost boundary or layer of an object. Colors on any surface are determined by how incident rays of light strike it, and how a surface reflects, scatters, and absorbs those rays. The material qualities of a surface, as well as its form and texture further determine how it is seen and felt.
surform - A metal abrasive tool fitted with a replaceable blade. As a wood plane is comparable to a shaving razor, a surform is much like a food grater. It allows small particles of material to pass through it without clogging its cutting teeth. Although only one model is shown here (in two positions), surforms are available in a number of sizes and shapes — flat and curved. Also see carve, file, gouge, plaster, rasp, and riffler.
surimono - In Japanese tradition, a presentation print on special paper and elaborately printed. Also see ukiyo-e and urushi-e.
surrogate image - A representation, usually in photographic form, used for study.
suyari - In Japanese art, a convention in which clouds are represented in band-like form.
swatch - A manufacturer's sample of a range of cloths, fabrics, paper, or other material. Here is a set of swatches representing colors in which sheets of this material are available. Also see colorways and textile.
sybaritic - Sensuous; devoted to or marked by excessive luxury. Of or relating to the people of Sybaris, an ancient Greek colony in southern Italy. Such people are sometimes called sybarites as well as Sybarites. Noted for its wealth and luxury, Sybaris was destroyed in warfare in 510 BCE. (pr. si'bh-ri"tek) Also see aestheticism, erotica and erotic art, fin de siècle, obscenity, pornography, sensuality, and voyeurism.
syllogism - An argument claimed in the form of propositions called the premises, with a final proposition called the conclusion, resulting necessarily from the premises. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction. (pr. si"le-jizm')
symmetry or symmetrical balance - The parts of an image or object organized so that one side duplicates, or mirrors, the other. Also known as formal balance, its opposite is asymmetry — asymmetrical balance.
synaesthesia - See the alternative spelling: synesthesia.
Synchromism - A style of painting employing pure colors in harmonious abstract arrangement, was developed by painters Morgan Russell (American, 1886-1953) and Stanton MacDonald-Wright (American, 1890-1973), and first exhibited in Paris in 1913, then at the Armory Show in 1914.
syncretism - The merging or fusion of differing philosophies, as in opposing art movement, especially when the result is either incomplete or incongruous. Also see synergy, synthesis, transformation, and universal artwork.
synergy - The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Also see fusion, syncretism, synergy, synthesis, transformation, and universal artwork.
synesthesia or synaesthesia, and synesthete or synaesthete - A concomitant sensation; a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated. The American Synesthesia Association (ASA) defines it this way:
synoptic - Presenting a summary, comprehensive or encyclopedic selection of the principal parts of a whole. May be used to refer to a collection of art, for instance — one comprised of works representing all periods, regions, movements, subjects, media, techniques, etc. Also see museum.
syntax - A systematic, orderly arrangements. This usually refers to the pattern of elements in sentence structure, and the rules that govern them. Also see principles of design.
synthesis - The forming of a new and coherent whole by combining separate parts; and the ability to do so. Or, the complex whole formed this way. Synthesis represents the fifth level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain — the level of understanding just beyond application and analysis. Synthesis may involve the production of a unique communication (work of fine art, writing, or music), a plan of operations (research proposal), or set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information). Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new pattern or structures. Objectives of lessons which will increase a student's ability to synthesize can be stated with such behavioral terms as: assemble, blend, build, categorize, create, combine, compile, compose, construct, constitute, conceive, deconstruct, design, develop, devise, effect, evolve, explain, form, formulate, generate, invent, make up, model, modify, originate, plan, produce, rearrange, reconstruct, reorder, reorganize, revise, rewrite, structure, summarize, tell, and transform. The next higher thinking skill is evaluation. Also see Bloom's Taxonomy, fusion, incongruity, interdisciplinary, original, simulation, syncretism, synergy, transformation, unity, and universal artwork.
synthesis of the arts - See universal artwork.
synthetic - Produced by synthesis. Artificial; not of natural origin. Also see Cubism, ersatz, fiber, nature, plastic, polymer, and resin.
Synthetic Cubism - See Cubism.