Key Words

abstract art

an abstract art work is often based on an identifiable subject, but the artist simplifies or leaves out visual elements


term used to describe the people of the Canadian Maritime provinces who are of French background, descendants of the settlers of Acadia, the Atlantic region of New France


a paint which uses liquid acrylic plastic as a binder for the pigments; acrylic has many similar qualities to oil paint, but before it dries, acrylic is water soluble


parts of the artwork that appear to be in the distance or behind the objects in the foreground


dealing with the science of plants


one who practises calligraphy, the art of writing words and letters in a beautiful, ornamental style using pen or brushes


a work of art created by gluing bits of paper, fabric, scraps, photographs, or other materials to a flat surface


of or related to colonization, the peopling and control of a territory, or colony, that is ruled by another country; more broadly, colonial suggests a relationship of power over other people


the practice of exerting power and control over other cultures and people


an act in memory of an event or people


economic activity, including all forms of purchase and sale of goods and services


artwork requested for a certain purpose or place; the work is paid for by those who commission it


the historical act of joining Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in 1867; six other provinces and two territories have joined Confederation since 1867, and one of those territories has been divided into two; Confederation also refers to the federation of the ten Canadian provinces and three territories


an individual who selects art works to be shown together in a gallery exhibition, organizing art works according to artist or theme; curators add meaning to individual art works by grouping them together in a deliberate arrangement and also by commenting on them


the art of producing a plan or sketch for a finished product, a work of art, or printed materials; design also refers to a pattern composed of lines or shapes for decoration


a thing that provides or records evidence


flag or banner; the "red ensign" was for many years the flag of Canada, prior to the selection of the maple leaf flag as our emblem; it was made up of the Union Jack (Great Britain's flag) and a red field


a grouping of paintings or other art works for the purpose of showing them together

Expulsion of the Acadians

an historical event that saw many of the Acadians of the Maritime region deported from their homes by the British who finally gained control of the region from the French in the 1750s; many Acadians died during the deportation


surroundings; also suggests the natural world or the ecosystem


system of belief advocating the rights of women

figurative painting

artwork representing the form of a human, an animal, or a thing; figurative can also mean an expression of one thing in terms of another thing - an expression that is not literal, but emblematic or metaphorical

figure painter

painter who creates work focusing on the human form

figure painting

painting that focuses on the human form

First Nations

term used to describe the original inhabitants, or first peoples, of North America, previously known in European society as "Indians"

folk art

traditional art made by people who have not had formal art training or who work in art styles and techniques that are self-devised or that have been handed down through local tradition rather than through formal art history


in a scene or artwork, the part that seems near or close to you


male or female identity

genre painting

scenes of everyday life that pay close attention to detail, telling stories of place, of events, and of everyday life; often genre paintings depict scenes in colonial regions

Great War

phrase used to describe the First World War


having had colour added by hand to a black and white image


study of people and events of the past


a statue or portrait, usually of a person; icon can also suggest more broadly an image of a person or thing that has taken on symbolic meaning and value


who or what we are; our identity is often influenced by factors such as popular culture, mass media, religion, and cultural values - many artists see personal, cultural, and national identity as important topics


term meaning "native to," referring to the work of artists of native background, usually the First Peoples and First Nations of North America


type of trade or manufacturing


large three-dimensional works, often designed to be installed, or put into particular position, and shown in galleries or museums


the word "Inuit" translates as "the people"; in singular form, "Inuk" means "person"; these terms are used for the First Nations people of Northern Canada; the name "Eskimo" usually refers to the early ancestors of the modern-day Inuit and is not used in contemporary language


offering an understanding of the meaning of something based on observation of and evidence from its content


an expression of meaning, often using humour or sarcasm, using words or images that seem to express their opposite


a form of subject matter in art that depicts nature and the land


a method of making prints from a prepared flat stone or metal plate; lithography is based on the principle that grease and water repel each other. The artist makes a drawing on the stone or plate with a greasy substance, then washes it with water. When greasy ink is applied, it sticks to the greasy drawing but runs off the wet surface; a piece of paper or other material pressed to the stone will pick up the ink from the drawing, creating a print of the drawing

marine painting

popular art tradition of the 19th century, the age of tall ships and ocean commerce; often marine paintings were of specific ships, or of scenes such as battles, disasters, or other events at sea


having qualities of a male

medium (plural: media)

the materials and techniques used by the artist to produce a work of art; medium may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint


being a part of a whole that is a smaller number than the majority

mixed media

an artwork that uses or combines more than one medium


dominant idea or theme


a composition created by bringing together a variety of fragments to make up a whole


large painting or artwork, generally designed for and created on the wall or ceiling of a public building


sense of identity as a nation or country


representing forms as found in nature, realistically and in great detail, without stylization

negative space

the space surrounding shapes or solid forms in a work of art


experience of being unjustly under the power of others or being subject to continual injustice or cruelty


the selection of colours used by an artist; palette can also refer to the flat surface on which an artist mixes paint


a complete view of an area, taking in all directions


techniques for creating the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface

picture plane

an imaginary flat surface that joins the objects that lie on it


recognizing more than one system, culture, or identity


a picture or painting of a person

positive space

the main shapes in a work of art; not the background or the space around them


negative feeling, thought, or action against another person or culture because of race


style of art that attempts to record things as they appear to the eye, with attention to truth in detail


recording things as they appear to the eye, portraying a recognizable subject with life-like colours, textures, shadows, proportions, and the like


of an area of country, space, or place with more or less marked boundaries or shared geographical or cultural characteristics


to make a scene romantic or unreal; in other words, to present a scene in an ideal or sentimental way, a way in which it never existed in reality


a principle of design that refers to a type of visual or actual movement in an artwork; a rhythm is usually created by repeating visual elements and can be described in terms such as regular, alternating, flowing, progressive, or jazzy


a work of art with three-dimensional height, width, and depth; a sculpture may be carved, modelled, constructed, or cast

ship's portrait

painting in which a particular ship or vessel is painted in detail; such ship's portraits were important records of the 1800s

site specific

an art work, often an installation, created for a particular location and setting


a type of stone used for carving in Inuit culture; a very soft stone made mostly of talc. In the past it was used to make pots for cooking, and seal oil lamps called kudlitt

social conscience

concern for injustice in society and the environment, based on deeply held and practised beliefs and values


a generalized concept of a group or individual of that group; often stereotypes are based on assumptions rather than facts and are distortions of a group or individual's identity


a preliminary drawing; a rough sketch done before a final painting is created


sense of one's own identity and of being an active subject; also bringing to bear one's personal views and experiences on an interpretation of an art work


standing for something else in addition to itself; a symbol is usually an image that has a range of specific associations

topographical map

map of landscape details


an experience common to, or shared by, all people

Victorian period

the period of time from the mid-1800s to 1900 associated with the time of the reign of Queen Victoria in England (1837-1901)

video artist

an artist who uses moving images in the medium of video to create artwork