Archive for the ‘Types of Paintings’ Category

Diptych, Triptych, Say What?

In Fine Art, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm
The bell as depicted in fine art: This triptyc...

Triptych Image via Wikipedia

A couple of fine art terms that you may hear commonly used around an art gallery or an art show are “diptych” and “triptych“.  Just what do these terms mean?

Diptych and triptych are terms used in the fine art world to refer to works of art that consist  of two or three panels respectively  The terms derive from the historic words for ancient tablets consisting of more than one page and most commonly hinged together.  Today, in fine art circles, the terms apply to works of art, including paintings, carvings, photography, glass and other media, where the completed work consists of more than one panel and the panels are designed to display next to each other, although not necessarily (or even normally) hinged or otherwise connected.

Fused Glass Diptych by Christina Lynn Johnson

A diptych or triptych is a single work of fine art consisting of more than one panel, and is not complete unless both or all three of the panels are displayed together.  The artist intends the work as such, and the panels that make up the composition are not intended for display or sale individually.  Otherwise the two or three panels are simply two or three individual works of art.

However, some artists will create such work with the intention that the two or three panels can be displayed and sold either way, as a single composition or individually, whatever the art buyer prefers. In the fine art world, as in so many other realms of activity, nothing is absolute!


What’s an Encaustic Painting?

In Encaustic Painting, Fine Art, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

Perhaps you have visited a fine art gallery and seen some interesting paintings labeled as “encaustic on panel” or “encaustic and oil”.  Just what does “encaustic” mean?  Here’s a brief introduction.

Encaustic painting uses a thermoplastic process (medium is softened to liquid when heated, hardened to solid when cooled) that uses wax, usually 90-95% clear beeswax mixed with 5-10% damar resin (a hardener), melted to liquid state and then mixed with quality dry pigments and applied to a rigid panel, most typically wood or hardboard.  The damar resin additive raises the melting temperature so the wax is less susceptible to heat damage,  allows the encaustic to cure and harden over time so it is more durable, and prevents “blooming” (a whitish haze that can appear on the surface of a painting). Resin also results in a harder surface for polishing of the encaustic to a high gloss.  The  process repeats in layers until the final image is complete.  Then the final image is carefully heated to fuse the layers together into a fully integrated whole.

The thermoplastic, fluid nature of encaustic is conducive to variety of application techniques and methods of manipulation.  A distinctive benefit of encaustic painting is its durability due to the impervious (to moisture) characteristic of beeswax.  Encaustic paintings do not need a glass cover or a protective top coating, and are very resistant to fading, yellowing and cracking.  Encaustic painting is also a very clean process that is free of chemicals, solvents and the fumes associated with them.

I’ve found some very good descriptions of the encaustic technique of painting at the following websites that I recommend for you to read to gain a better understanding of this process:

The last link above provides a helpful set of FAQ answers that address encaustic paint durability.

What’s a “Giclee” Print?

In Fine Art Prints, Fine Art Terms, Types of Paintings, Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

You may have heard galleries or artists refer to prints of 2-dimensional fine art as “giclees” and wondered why they didn’t just call them prints.  It’s not just a fancy term that is synonymous with print.  It refers to a particular high quality type of print.   In short, “Giclee” is just a fancy term for a high quality ink-jet print, made from a digital image, that uses fade resistant archival inks and papers.
Turn your digital photos into canvas giclee prints

Here’s a more detailed description:

The term giclee (pronounced “jhee-clay”) comes from the French word “le gicleur” meaning “nozzle”, or more specifically, “gicler” meaning “to squirt, spurt, or spray”.  It was selected to describe this type of print because the image produced on the print papers is sprayed on with pigments by nozzles in the printing process.

photo of the epson stylus pro 9600 large format giclee printer

A large-format, ink jet printer, as used for the printing of giclees.

A giclee, as a fine art term, means a high quality reproduction of an original, 2-dimensional work of art (such as a painting, drawing or photograph) made from a digital source using a high quality ink-jet printing process with fade-resistant, archival quality inks printed on archival quality fine art paper or canvas. This process, that evolved in the 1990’s, is different, higher quality and more expensive than the earlier process traditionally used for fine art prints that was the four-color, offset lithography process.  Offset lithography prints and are still common today, particularly for large volume printing projects, but the giclee process digital print has become the standard for high quality fine art reproductions.  The process continues to evolve as technology advances.

I found some very good descriptions of the giclee history and process at the following websites that I recommend reading to gain a better understanding of this topic:

Sometimes an artist will use a giclee print and add some paint to it to give it more of the look and feel of an original painting, or to change the look of an original painting to meet the request of a buyer.  A “paint enhanced giclee” or “hybrid giclee/painting” is still based on a reproduction of an original and is priced much less than the one-of-a-kind original.

Now when someone refers to a giclee, you’ll know exactly what they are talking about.  Perhaps you’ll even know a little more about giclees than they do!