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C to C A P


c. or ca. - Abbreviations for circa, meaning about; approximately. Also a common abbreviation for canvas, "oil on canvas" being abbreviated o/c.



C - When found on a tube or other container of paint, indicates a fugitive color.

 letter code

 degree of color permanence






 less than standard, though fairly durable



Also see A, AA, and B.



C. - Abbreviation for Celsius (after Anders Celsius), which is the same as Centigrade, a temperature scale on which the freezing point of water is 0°, and the boiling point of water is 100° under normal atmospheric pressure.




© - See copyright.




cabinet of wonders - See Wunderkabinett.



cabochon - Polished gemstone of rounded, unfaceted form.



CAD or C.A.D. - Abbreviation for computer-assisted design. In the production of computer graphics, this is more likely to refer to architectural and engineering design work than for graphic design work.

Also see digital image.




cadavre exquis - See exquisite corpse.



cadmium - A metal found in several compounds: cadmium oxide, cadmium carbonate, cadmium chloride, cadmium sulfate, and cadmium sulfide. In paints, inks, enamels, glazes, and dyes, and POISONOUS!permanent pigments (reds, oranges, and yellows) are prepared from cadmiums, mostly cadmium sulfate. It is also used in electroplating, in solder for aluminum, as a constituent of easily fusible alloy, as a deoxidizer in nickel plating, in process engraving, and in nickel-cadmium batteries. Cadmiums are toxic.

The following chart describes six different types of ceramic glazes, each carrying levels of concerns about cadmium, in order to help you to determine which are safe to use on dinnerware vessels for food or drink.


1. Dinnerware safe. Contains no cadmium.

2. Dinnerware safe. Contains some cadmium, but passes release tests.

3. Contains cadmium. Not recommended for surfaces which contact food or drink.

4. Contains no cadmium. Not recommended for food because of soft nature of the glaze.

5. Contains no cadmium, but does not pass lead and cadmium release due to soft nature of the glaze.

6. Contains cadmium bearing ingredients. Glaze not recommend on surfaces that contact food or drink.

Another resource about cadmiums:

Also see lead, lead glaze, and poison.



drawing of a caduceuscaduceus - A herald's wand or staff, especially in ancient times. In Greek mythology, a winged staff with two snakes twined around it, carried by Hermes (Mercury is his Roman name). As an insignia, the caduceus is also a traditional symbol of the medical profession.

(pr. kə-DOO-see-əs)

A sculpture in which a caduceus appears:


see thumbnail to leftJohan Gregor van der Schardt (Dutch, 1530- about 1580), Mercury, Bologna, Italy, 1570-1580, bronze, height 45 1/4 inches (115 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. Van der Schardt has given Mercury several attributes that signify his speediness: his sandals and hat bear wings. The caduceus he carries remind us of Mercury's role as patron of science. Mercury is the Roman name for the god called Hermes by Greeks.

Also see feather and helix.



cairn - A mound of stones serving as a memorial or monument, or simply as a marker.

(pron. kayrn)



Cairn to Commemorate the Battle of Culloden, Scotland.



see thumbnail to rightAndy Goldsworthy (British, contemporary), Cairn, 1997. See earth art.


Also see dolmen and monolith.



calcagnolo - A claw chisel with two long points. This is the Italian name for what in France is called a pied de biche.

Also see bush hammer.



calendar painting - painting having pleasing subject matter, but rarely having lasting value as art.

Also see academic, bad art, bland, buckeye, kitsch, low art, paint-by-number, picturesque, and popular culture.



calendering - In papermaking, the process of pressing paper in order to give it a smooth surface, running it between rollers under strong pressure. Supercalendering produces an even smoother, polished finish.



calidarium - The hot-bath section of a Roman bathing establishment.



caliper or calipers - An instrument photo of a caliperused to measure the thickness or diameter of an object. It consists of a pair of movable metal or wooden arms with curved, pointed ends, hinged together; or, having a fixed and a movable arm on a graduated stock. see thumbnail to rightThe two kinds pictured here are among the most common types, however there are many others. A sculptor can take an exact measurements from a model with a caliper. Inverted measurements, as well as scaled enlargements and reductions can be obtained with calipers. see thumbnail to leftThese are proportional calipers. By tightening a wing-nut one can establish a vertex anywhere along the central section of this caliper's length. They can enlarge a measurement up to 5 times, or reduce one to as much as 1/5, from measurements taken from either an inside (negative) space or from a positive space.

(pr. KA-lə-pər)

Also see pantograph, pointing and pointing machine.







calotype - An early photographic process, it was patented in 1840 by William H.F. Talbot (English, 1800-1877), the first process to employ a negative to produce a positive image on paper. The earlier daguerreotype process employed no negative.

Also known as Talbotype.



see thumbnail to rightWilliam Henry Fox Talbot, The Open Door, England, April 1844, salt print from a calotype negative, 5 7/16 x 6 5/8 inches (14.0 x 16.8 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.




see thumbnail to leftJohn Shaw Smith (Irish, 1811-1873), Nile, c. 1851-52, calotype negative, 17.6 X 22.7 cm, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.



Félix Teynard (French, 1817-1892), Large Speos - View taken from the Sand Slope (Temple of Ramesses II), Abu Simbel (Abou-Sembil. Grand spèos - vue prise de la coulée de sables), 1851-52 (printed 1853-1854), salted paper print from calotype negative from Égypte et Nubie, sites et monuments les plus intéressants pour l'étude de l'art et de l'histoire, deuxième partie, pl. 153, Cleveland Museum of Art.






see thumbnail to rightHill & Adamson (Scottish, active 1843-1848), Finlay Children, (also known as At the Minnow Pool), c. 1845, salted paper print from a calotype negative, 19.8 x 15.1 cm, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.




calyx-krater - A type of krater.



camaïeu - A painting technique, in which the painter creates a monochromatic image by employing two or three tints of a single pigment without regard to local or realistic color. Or, a woodblock print that imitates highlighted drawing on tinted paper.

An example of a camaïeu in the latter sense:



see thumbnail to rightHans Baldung Grien (German, 1484/5-1545), The Witches, 1510, monochromatic woodcut, two plates (gray and black), 0.378 x 0.258 m, Louvre.


Also see chiaroscuro.



camcorder - A small hand-held video camera. Also see monitor.



came - The channeled lead strips used in producing stained glass. It is commonly available in two kinds, distinct in cross-section: "H" came is used between pieces of glass at the interior of a design, while "C" and "U" came is used around pieces of glass at the design's outer edges. ("C" has a rounded exterior, while "U" has a squared exterior.) The pieces of came are then soldered together, and often installed in an iron framework to create a window.



cameo - A small-scale low relief in a stratified or banded material, usually a gemstone such as onyx or sardonyx, but also in calcite alabaster or shell or glass, in which the ground is of one color and the figure in relief in another color or colors.

Example cameos:




see thumbnail to rightHellenistic Alexandria, The Gonzaga Cameo, 3rd century BCE, height 15.7 cm, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. The rulers of Egypt, King Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his wife Arsinoe, are portrayed as gods from the Greek pantheon. See Greek art and Hellenistic.





see thumbnail to leftAugustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907), Mary, Queen of Scots, cameo (Williams version), 1873, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Nat. Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, NH.


Also see intaglio.





camera animation of an early movie camera -- its crank turning


camera lucida - A device much like an opaque projector, which replaced it, using a prism (lens) and mirrors to project the image of an external object onto a flat surface so that its image may be traced. Replacing the camera obscura, it was invented in the seventeenth century, but not widely used until the nineteenth. Literally, "lighted room." Artist David Hockney (English, lives and works in USA, 1937-) theorized in 2001 that many more artists than have previously been acknowledged — Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780-1867) for instance — used camera lucidas (and other lensed devices), causing some controversy over whether this is true, and whether it was in any ways unethical.

Also see copy, likeness, mirror, pinhole camera, Realism, representation, simulacrum, and simulation.



camera obscura - The origin of the present day camera. In its simplest form it consisted of a darkened room or box with a small hole through one wall. Light rays could pass through the hole to transmit an inverted image of the scene outside the room onto a flat surface on its inside. It was first mentioned by Aristotle in the fourth century BCE, and employed through the centuries as an aid to drawing. These are Latin words, literally meaning "dark room."


French, about 1750, Théâtre de l'univers (Theater of the Universe), a portable camera obscura built into a folio binding stamped Théâtre de l'univers, made with wood, metal, and glass; open: 22 1/8 x 21 3/4 x 14 3/8 inches; Getty Research Institute, Werner Nekes Collection, Malibu, CA. See theater.





see thumbnail to rightAbelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948-), Light Bulb, 1991, photograph of a corrugated cardboard box, fitted with a lens, so that light from a light bulb beside it is cast onto a wall of the box's interior. Morell has made numerous photographs of rooms that he has transformed into camera obscuras. See transformation.


Also see camera lucida, lens, mirror, pinhole camera, projection, projector, sight, and theater.



camera-ready - In graphic design, two-dimensional artwork that is ready be given to a person who will photograph it so that printed versions can be produced. Although a physical image or piece of copy is still sometimes produced, and is employed in this process, digital imaging has largely eliminated this step. When a camera is needed, copy is considered camera-ready when it is in its final version, clean, flat, and either dark ink on paper or a pasteup. Also see image capture.



camouflage - The means, effect, or act of concealing someone or something — making a person or thing indistinguishable from his or its surroundings. Also, deception, and disguise, usually for either aesthetic or defensive reasons. Numerous living things owe their species' evolutionary success to camouflaging aspects of their appearance. Humans have employed camouflaging colors, textures, materials, or patterns in the design of numerous artifacts in order to conceal them. This is in some ways the opposite of emphasis, a kind of simulation of transparency or erasure. Modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1856-1959) often built with materials found on a building's site to increase the degree to which it would blend into its environment — to make it less visually intrusive. Costumes designed to reduce the visibility of hunters and soldiers are among the most overt human applications of camouflage, each style intended for use in specific environs. It was in the late 19th century that military uniforms began to be designed to make soldiers appear drably inconspicuous. Before that time, uniforms were typically bright and bold. Since the late 20th century, camouflage fabric patterns have been chosen increasingly for reasons other than concealment. Sometimes, ironically, camouflage designs have been employed in persuit of fashion — to make their users stand out.

(pr. CA-mə-FLAHZH)

Some examples, each a one square foot detail of a shirt:




see thumbnail to rightAustralian army.




see thumbnail to leftBangladeshi army.




see thumbnail to rightChinese marines.



see thumbnail to leftFrench army.




see thumbnail to rightIndian army, semi-desert environment. This is used by artillery and infantry posted in Rajasthan — a semi-desert area. In 2003 it was also being worn by Indian peacekeepers serving in Angola.




see thumbnail to leftIndian army, jungle environment.




see thumbnail to rightIndian army, urban environment.




see thumbnail to leftMauritanian army.






Example in fine art:




see thumbnail to rightAndy Warhol, Camouflage, 1987, portfolio of eight silkscreen prints; each composition: 38 x 38 inches (96.5 x 96.5 cm); each sheet: 38 x 38 inches (96.5 x 96.5 cm); printer: Rupert Jasen Smith, New York; edition: 80; Museum of Modern Art, NY. See Pop Art .


Also see accent, compare, contrast, juxtaposition, and Prairie style.



camp - Those parts of popular culture commonly considered kitsch, artificial, vulgar, or banal, but which acquire contemporary appreciation, especially which are the most artificial and exaggerated. The things enjoying the attention of camp taste include many old movies, 1950s furniture designs, 1960s fashion, cross-dressing, and drag cultures. The camp sensibility arose simultaneously with the development of Pop Art in the early 1960s, when low art objects became high art's subjects.

Also see brummagem.



campanile - In Italian architecture, a bell-tower, usually near, but rarely attached to, a church. Sometimes they were connected by cloisters to a church. They were first a product of the Romanesque period in Italy. Campanili (the plural form) in northern Italy are often civic monuments rather than parts of church complexes, were symbols of power, and also served as watch-towers.

(pr. CAM-pə-NEE-lə)






see thumbnail to rightBecause it is about 12º away from vertical, this campanile is commonly known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Built in 1174, this tower has eight stories of arcades, with a diameter of 52 feet, its original height was 151 feet 3 inches. The belfry — atop the tower — was added in 1350. Much work has been done recently to arrest this campanile from leaning further. See dot and perpendicular.






see thumbnail to leftItaly, Campanile of St. Mark's, Venice, originally built in the early 16th century, rebuilt since its collapse in 1902 to its original design.




POISONOUS!camphor flakes - A solid, slow vaporizing fumigant for moths or larvae, often used in storing objects in a closed room or cabinet.

Also see art conservation.



Canadian art





Canadian Group of Painters - See Group of Seven.



candela - A unit of luminous intensity equal to 1/60 of the luminous intensity per square centimeter of a blackbody radiating at the temperature of solidification of platinum (2,046 K). Also called candle.



candelabrum - A candle holder or lamp with several arms or branches. The Hebrew word "menorah" means a "holder of light" or candelabrum. The plural form is candelabra.






see thumbnail to rightHenry van de Velde (Belgian, 1863-1957), Candelabrum, 1898-1899, electroplated bronze, Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels. See Art Nouveau.



candlestick - A stand with a socket or spike for one candle.



candle - A formed mass of wax with one or more wicks that provides illumination when ignited. Also a unit of luminous intensity also called candela.

Also see candelabrum and candlestick.



cane and caning - A natural, fibrous weaving material used in the production of baskets and chair seats, and in wrapping the joints of wicker furniture. Cane is cut into long strips from the inner layer or skin of the rattan plant. Various widths are available. Stains do not penetrate cane well, and paints don't adhere well either. Fortunately cane has a naturally occurring glossy finish, making varnishes unnecessary.

In glass, a cane is a thin, monochrome rod, or a composite rod consisting of groups of rods of different colors, that are bundled together and fused to form a polychrome design that is visible when seen in cross-section, as in millefiori.

Examples in the fibrous sense:




see thumbnail to leftAmerican, Shaker Community, Enfield, NH, Side Chair, c. 1840-1860, birch, caned seat, seat height 15 Inches.




see thumbnail to rightLudwig Mies van der Rohe (German-American, 1886-1969), designer, "MR" Armchair, 1927, chrome-plated steel and painted caning, 31 1/2 x 22 x 37 inches (80 x 55.9 x 94 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. This was developed from a 1924 design for a cantilevered chair by Mart Stam. It was introduced by Mies van der Rohe at the 1927 Stuttgart exhibition and has remained in production ever since. Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the Bauhaus design school in Dessau, from 1930 until its closing in 1932.




Also see bamboo, raffia, reed, and rush.



canon - In art, the body of unquestionably important artists (DWMs dead white males) and works. Until recently the canon was seldom challenged, and changed at a sluggish pace. Now it's being relentlessly challenged by art historians and critics recovering forgotten and ignored artists (especially by women, non-whites, and outsiders) both within and outside the Western world. The scope of what is considered art has been widening as new fields, including photography, performance art, video, crafts, and design, are added to what amounts to an ever-increasing canon. Postmodernism, however, has put in question the very idea of an irreducible list of masters and masterpieces. So, when referring to the canon today, one should specify what sort of canon one means.



canopic jar - An ancient Egyptian vase, urn, or jar used as a container for an embalmed human organ.




see thumbnail to leftEgypt, Canopic Jars, from a burial during the reign of Amenophis III (1391 - 1357 BCE), limestone, 89 x 35 cm, Louvre.




see thumbnail to rightEgypt, Western Thebes, Canopic Jar with a Lid in the Shape of a Royal Woman's Head, c. 1349-36 BCE or shortly after, Dynasty 18, late reign of Akhenaten, New Kingdom, alabaster with glass and stone inlays, height 20 1/2 inches (52.1 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. The carving is thought to be a specific member of the Egyptian royal family. The massive wig of layered curls is a headdress favored by Akhenaten's queen, Nefertiti, their six daughters, and a minor queen, Kiya. The jar was found in Thebes in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings that has aroused a great controversy concerning the events surrounding Akhenaten's death and succession.


Egypt, Canopic Jars of Prince Hornakht, 874-850 BCE, Dynasty 22, reign of Osorkon II, alabaster, Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Also see vessel.




cantharos - See kantharos.



cantilever - A structural member which projects beyond a line of support.

Also see balance, cantilever, counterpoise, equilibrium, equipoise.


canvas - Commonly used as a support a swatch of canvasfor oil or acrylic painting, canvas is a heavy woven fabric made of flax or cotton. Its surface is typically prepared for painting by priming with a ground. Linen — made of flax — is the standard canvas, very strong, sold by the roll and by smaller pieces. A less expensive alternative to linen is heavy cotton duck, though it is less acceptable (some find it unacceptable), cotton being less durable, because it's more prone to absorb dampness, and it's less receptive to grounds and size. For use in painting, a piece of canvas is stretched tightly by stapling or tacking it to a stretcher frame. A painting done on canvas and then cemented to a wall or panel is called marouflage. Canvas board is an inexpensive, commercially prepared cotton canvas which has been primed and glued to cardboard, suitable for students and amateurs who enjoy its portability. Also, a stretched canvas ready for painting, or a painting made on such fabric. Canvas is abbreviated c., and "oil on canvas" is abbreviated o/c.

About canvas:

Other sites concerned with canvas:


Also see easel and paint-by-number.



canvas scraper - A tool used to scrape oil or acrylic paint from a canvas. A canvas scraper has a curving blade so that its effect is evenly distributed, avoiding cuts and grooves.







capital letter - In typography, uppercase letters (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, etc.) In c. 114 CE, an inscription was chiseled into the base of a column in Trajan's Forum, Rome. That inscription had most of the capital letters known today. Until the sixth century, all inscriptions were in capital letters. And to this day we continue to use them in various ways — for the first letters of important words in titles, proper nouns, etc. They got their alternative name — uppercase — from the standard location in which typesetters stored them. Though visually powerful, whole words written in capital letters should be used sparingly, because they are difficult to read, and may suggest shouting.

A design composed of one or more letters, typically the initials of a name, used as an identifying mark, can be a monogram, and might be used as a logo (also known as a logogram or logotype). An oversized ornamental capital letter used in printing may be called a factotum. One designed with representation that carries narrative qualities may be termed historiated.

Examples of capital letters:







see thumbnail to leftRoman Capital letters. See serif.





see thumbnail to rightDaniel Hopfer (German , c. 1470-1536), Alphabet of Roman Capital Roman letters with metaphorical ornaments, 15th-16th century, etching, 15.6 x 22.6 cm (image) inches, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA. See ornament.





see thumbnail to leftWilliam Morris (English, 1834-1896), Initial Letters, c. 1840s, designed for Love is Enough, a book printed by Morris' Kelmscott Press, each letter 45 x 45 mm, U of Florida.




see thumbnail to rightEric Gill (English, 1882-1940), Inscription 'Ex Divina Pulchritudine', 1926, Hoptonwood stone relief, 30.6 x 45.7 x 3.8 cm, Tate Gallery, London. This Latin inscription of capital letters is an aphorism meaning, "The beauty of God is the cause of the being of all that is."





see thumbnail to left16 capital letters of a late 20th century font.





see thumbnail to rightCommonworld, c. 2000, letters that are distressed and partly missing. Available from See implied, lacuna, letterform, and typeface.



see thumbnail to leftModell Envelo, c. 2000, a font with a jittery high-tech mood. Available from






see thumbnail to rightSchomer Lichtner (American, 1905-2006), Ballerina Alphabet, 1990, serigraph. Living in Wisconsin, Lichtner was reknowned for paintings of ballerinas and dairy cows and his regionalist murals. See anthropomorphism and New Deal art.




see thumbnail to leftAbelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948-), Water Alphabet, 1998, photograph of a wood panel on which capital letters have been drawn with water.


Also see lowercase, monument, Roman art, and text.



caption - A brief text explaining an image, whether on a wall, in a vitrine, a book, magazine, Web page, etc. Typically a caption tells something about the artist and something about the particular work shown. A caption is sometimes called the credit lines or label.




see thumbnail to rightCount de Meurs, (Netherlandish), Drawings in a Letter, 1493, Library of Zutphen, Netherlands. Manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages often used sequential pictures accompanied by text, or sometimes even used text-balloons for captions as in this example. See cartoon.


The text above is a caption accompanying the picture beside it.

Also see description.




capture device - See scanner.





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