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ArtSquish special words and methods for this week

ArtSquish special words and methods for this week

Donut We make up our own more concrete terms for many traditional art concepts. This week is a very important one for accuracy and seeing things visually. Here are some of the terms we use and their definitions. Most of this is taken from the lessons’ Art Words sections.

• Accurate – Instead of saying something looks right or wrong, a work is visually accurate or inaccurate.

• Air Shape – The shape of any space around or through a solid object. The hole in the handle of a teacup, for instance, has a distinct shape. If an artist identifies the shape, it increases the visual information available, helping to achieve more accurate work.

In traditional art lessons this is referred to as “negative space“. We think there is much confusion with that term. Go ahead and ask a non-artist what they think it means without explaining that it’s an art term. They will probably mention black holes and dark matter before thinking of the shapes around objects. We don’t even mention the term, negative space, until artists are teenagers, and then only to prepare them for art school.

• Frame – The shape of an artwork’s edges. Proportions are critical to ensure that all shapes will fit inside while trying to achieve accuracy. The first step in the 3 Steps to Accuracy.

• Big Shapes – The 2nd step of the 3 Steps to Accuracy. 4-5 of the largest shapes are analyzed and drawn into the frame accurately before adding details. This step makes it easier to maintain accurate representations by not working on the details until the major shapes are defined.

• Details – Small touches, shadows and highlights. These are fun, and are most of the creation process, which is why artists tend to do them first instead of last.

• Proportions – The different parts of something, such as the body, or a building are related to each other in size. The length of one part will always be longer or shorter than the length of another part. For example, your hand is about twice as long as it is wide.

• Art Measuring – A ruler has numbers and many graduations. This logical instrument turns off the creative parts of the brain, allowing the logical analytical parts to completely take over and dictate every decision. It is a death knell for creativity. Therefore, we completely discourage use of rulers for creative measuring of Frame proportions and other connected measurements. If you use a pencil or a ruler, and hold the mark with your thumb, you have to rely on your eyes to make all your decisions. It keeps the creative part of the brain in control, and allows for much greater visual accuracy!

About The Author

Dennas Davis

Dennas is the founder of Firstlight Arts Academy in Nashville, and also of The Art Instructor (formerly ArtSquish). He has been designing, painting, illustrating and teaching in various combinations since he learned how to hold a crayon. He is the illustrator of 24 children's books with over 5 million in print worldwide. See his paintings at

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