Glossary

Cradle   

A lattice applied to the back of a wooden panel to provide support, strengthen joins and prevent warping.

Cusping

When a fabric is stretched and attached at points around its edge, the weave will be distorted towards these points, producing “cusping.”

Cut  

The direction wood is cut from the trunk influences how a panel will respond to changing environmental conditions. Wood cut on the radial is most valued.

Dendrochronology

The science of dating wood by measuring the intervals between growth rings and matching this to sequences anchored by known dates.

Engraving  

A printmaker uses a tool, called a burin, to carve shallow channels into a copper plate to hold the ink. A demanding skill that requires training.

Etching  

A material resistant to acid is applied to a copper plate and scratched through exposing the metal. An acid is then used to “bite” shallow channels into the plate to hold the ink.

Glaze (or Glazing)  

An application of a translucent or transparent paint to modify the colour of the layer below.

Gouache (or Bodycolour)  

A paint made by dispersing pigment in a water-soluble medium such as gum arabic or animal glue. Unlike contemporary watercolour, which is designed to be transparent, these paints had good hiding power  and are comparable to poster paints.

Ground 

The preparatory layer applied to the support.

Impression, State and Proof 

Any print pulled from a plate or block is termed an impression. Changes made to the plate or block are known as states, and include the evolution of the image and additions such as text. Proofs are pulled to allow an artist to see how the work is progressing.

Imprimatura (also Priming)

A layer applied over the ground, modifying its colour and absorbency. 

 

Infrared Reflectography (IRR)  

The use of an infrared-sensitive camera to reveal underdrawing that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

Lining  

The process of adhering a new canvas to the back of an old canvas that has been weakened by age or damaged.

Loom and Strainer  

A loom is a wooden framework on which a canvas is stretched for application of preparatory layers and possibly for painting. After priming, a canvas could be transferred to a strainer, an auxiliary support with fixed corner joinery and, if necessitated by size, cross-braces.

Scumble

An opaque or semi-opaque paint applied thinly enough that it does not completely hide the layer below.

Stretcher  

An expandable wooden framework over which a canvas is attached.  Invented in the eighteenth century and in general use since then.

Support (also Primary Support)  

The painting surface, commonly made of canvas or wood.

Tronie 

“Face” in seventeenth-century Dutch, the word applies to head studies that capture character or emotion, whether from life or imagination.

Underdrawing  

The initial drawing on the prepared support prior to the application of paint.

Weave   

The thread configuration in a fabric determines its weave. The three most common are normal or “tabby,” twill, and herringbone.

Wet-in-wet  

When paint, typically oil, is applied over and into paint that has not begun to dry.

X-radiography  

An x-radiograph of a painting can provide information on structure, condition and changes made by the artist.