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Dec 11 2019 
Support Center » Knowledgebase » The WetCanvas! Art Glossary: L - O
 The WetCanvas! Art Glossary: L - O


lacquer – A clear or pigmented varnish.

laid paper – Paper with lines pressed into each sheet, such as from a screen.

lake - A dye bound to an insoluble salt such as alum to produce a pigment, a process called laking. Many modern pigments are lakes of synthetic dyes.

landscape – A work of art typically depicting a natural scene, including items like sky, forests, mountains, fields, etc.

lead - the thin rod of colored material inside a pencil. Does not contain actual lead.

lead pencil - pencil made using graphite, a form of carbon. See pencil.

lean – A term used in oil painting to refer to paint with low oil content or one that has been thinned with turpentine or spirits. See also fat.

life drawing – Drawing the human figure from a live model.

lightfast – The ability of a pigment to withstand exposure to light without change. Many pigment and paint makers have their own lightfastness categories, plus there is an international standard, the ASTM ratings. ASTM I and II are considered acceptable for artistic use. See also permanence.

limited edition – A defined number of prints or giclées, which are usually signed by the artist.

linear – A style of painting where the emphasis is on the outline or contour of an object.

linear perspective – Depth created in a work by an artist, usually by following geometric rules, where the lines of objects in a work recede to a common vanishing point.

linen – A cloth made from the flax plant, often felt to be a superior support for oil painting.

linseed oil – An oil used in paints as a drying oil. Many commercial oil paints use linseed oil as a binder.

light table or light box-- A table or work surface of white glass or plastic with a light beneath it, used for viewing slides and for tracing.

lithography -- A printing process from a plane surface (as a smooth stone or metal plate) on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank area ink-repellent.

loaded, loading – Adding paint to a brush preparatory to applying it to a surface.

local color – The color of an object in daylight. The true color, without interpretation or embellishment.

long – A term for a type of paint rheology characterised by a tendency for the paint to form strings. See also short.

luminosity – The illusion that a glow or light is coming from within a work.

luminous paint – Paint that glows in the dark.


masstone - The raw color appearance of paint when used full strength or straight from the tube. Also called toptone.

mastic – A soft resin used to make varnishes and painting mediums for many centuries. No longer used for varnishes because of its yellowing and darkening, still popular as an ingredient in painting mediums. One of the primary ingredients in Maroger's medium and megilp, thixotropic gels that facilitate brushwork and speed drying.

MDF – A manufactured board made from wood fibres bonded together using pressure and heat with the addition of resin adhesives. Very stiff and resistant to warping or dimensional changes, it is also quite heavy so may not be suitable for larger paintings. See panel.

medium - An additive used to modify the characteristic of a paint, typically to ease blending and increase transparency.

mother mold - In sculpture, the outer hard mold that supports the inner mold and casting material during the casting process. Most often made from plaster, it can also be made from lighter weight materials such as resins and molding compounds e.g. Magic Sculp.


naïve art – A style of art characterised by simple, often child-like, drawing and use of colour. Very often associated with artists who lack formal artistic training.

Naturalism – A style of art that seeks to represent subjects objectively and naturalistically, without stylisation or artifice.

negative space - The space around the subject matter in a work of art. Can be very important in compositional terms and as a means to aid accurate drawing. See also positive space.

neutral - Strictly, an achromatic color, a neutral gray, white or black. In common usage with painters, the term is used more loosely to describe any of a range of low-chroma colors, near-grays, including browns.

neutral gray - A gray with no discernable hue.

newsprint - The type of paper commonly used for printing newspapers, made from wood pulp. Because it is inexpensive, it is popular for student work and for large sketches and working drawings. Not suitable for work intended to last as it discolors and becomes brittle in a relatively short time.

nib - The tip of a pen from which the ink flows.


ochre or ocher
- Natural earths used as pigments, usually tan or reddish.

oeuvre - The total output of an artist during their lifetime.

odorless mineral spirits (OMS)
- Solvents used in oil painting and printing as substitutes for turpentine with lower evaporation levels that are much safer to use in the studio.

oil paint - Paint made using a drying oil as the binder that dries by oxidation. Often said to have been invented by the Van Eyck brothers in the 15th century, in reality much older. See the Oil Painting forum.

oil pastel
- Pure pigments, inert oil and wax in stick formation. See the Pastels forum.

old master - Loosely, any acknowledged skilled artist from the 18th century or before.

opacity - The degree to which paint cover what is underneath. Often expressed in only four grades - transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque and opaque - it varies widely by pigment and by manufacturer. Opacity is directly related to pigment load and the natural attributes of the pigment or pigments used.

optical mixing - A visual effect where the eyes see small areas of adjacent colors as another color. This process allows us to see the many small dots used in color printing, or the phosphors in a computer monitor or TV screen, as smooth, continuous images. Used in painting by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, most particularly in Pointillism.

- The final layer of paint used to complete a painting, applied over the underpainting when it is dry.

ox gall - A wetting agent made from cow's bile, often used in watercolor painting and in the manufacture of watercolor paints.

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