Vocabulary for IELTS Writing: Topic Art

It’s time to study some art words. Another popular topic in IELTS! Ready to start? Be attentive, work hard, and you will get your target or an even higher score!

Let’s start with the term Art itself. It’s often used in expressions defining different types of art. There are quite a lot of them.

  • Fine arts – Type of art that creates beautiful things. It could be painting, sculpture, or music.
    Example: The museum collection consists of thousands rare original works of fine art.
  • Arts and crafts – the activity of making beautiful and useful objects.
    Example: You should visit one of the local stores selling arts and crafts, such as pottery and baskets.
  • Visual arts – creations that we can look at. For instance, painting, sculpture, architecture, film
    Example: Another good example of popular visual art is film, which includes documentaries and short films.
  • Plastic arts – every type of art we can touch. Sculpture would be a good example.
  • Performing arts – a very wide term meaning anything from cinema, theater, or any other form of visual art to modern computer presentations. The key characteristic is that it’s performed.
    Example: Participating in performing arts programs helps students develop a stronger sense of individualism, self-reflection, and self-esteem.

I hope you now better understand what is the difference between the various types of art. Now let’s discuss some other words connected with art. Let’s start with watercolor. Firstly it’s a pigment used with water to create paintings. Secondly a watercolor is a painting created with watercolors.

Example: Watercolors are ideal for landscape painting.

You probably heard the word sketch when discussing some projects, but in art it is a quick informal drawing to capture the essentials of an object.

Example: Sketches are often done in ink or charcoal.

  • portrait – is a portrayal of a person showing the person’s face (could be a drawing, a photograph, or a sculpture).
    Example: Some people say that artists merely paint self-portraits as it solves the problem of having to find a model.
  • landscape – is a work of art that features a scene of land or countryside (in other words nature)
    Example: Landscapes can range from oil paintings to gauche and pastels.
  • still-life painting – is a painting featuring anything that does not move.
    Example:Still-life art was common in the ancient world.
  • oil painting – is a technique of painting with oil paints. The second meaning is a picture painted with oil paints.
    Example: Fat over lean is one of the fundamental concepts of oil painting.
  • figurative art – is any type of art that accurately represents an image from the real world.
    Example: Figurative art has a history as long as the history of representation itself.
  • contemporary art – a bit controversial term. The easy definition is contemporary to us. It means that it has been created during our lifetimes. Usually contemporary art refers to artworks made after 1970 by still living artists.
    Example: Anything can be done in contemporary art, because there is no set way to create this modern art style.

Now let’s talk about which art styles exist.

  • Realism – an artistic movement attempting to portray the lives of ordinary people and their environments
    Example: Realism, also known as the Realist school, was a mid nineteenth century art movement.
  • Abstract art is a genre of art which does NOT depict a person, place, or thing in the natural world. Objects are often simplified or distorted.
    Example: Abstract art might look as if it were simple to create, with a splash of paint here and a brush stroke there.

Another artistic style is impressionism – a style in which the artist captures the image of an object as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it. In other words, it’s about the artist’s impression.
Example: Manet significantly influenced the development of impressionism.

When talking about art many people talk about harmony. Harmony is a pleasing combination or arrangement of things. For instance, a harmony of colors.
Example: Once you understand the basics of color theory, you can start learning how to combine colors into a colorful harmony.

Apart from harmony it’s important to know what composition is. It is the organization of the elements of design in an art work done according to principles of design.
Example: Composition rules provide a starting point for deciding on a composition for painting.

Now let’s discuss what the principles of design are.

One of them is unity.

Unity is the coherence of an artwork. Unity allows us to feel that all parts of the piece work together.

“The essence of beauty is unity in variety. “ William Somerset Maugham

In general the principles of design refer to the ways in which artists organize the visual elements of art. Traditionally they include: balance, emphasis, contrast, unity, movement, and rhythm.

Quite interesting, isn’t it?! Now let’s move on. What trait of character do you think is important to have to create works of art? That’s right, creativity! Creativity is using imagination rather than imitating something.

Example: Creative people are able to look at things and situations in novel ways and from different angels and perspectives.

Another important phrase is focal point, which is the center of interest or activity in a work of art.

Example: A painter can emphasize a focal point through the composition, color or the range of tones used.

I have also added some very useful art related terms and phrases.

They all have definitions. Look through them and try to memorize and use them in a context.

Additional vocabulary

  • Aesthetics – the study of beauty;
  • Pattern – a principle of art which means the repetition of elements;
  • Motif – a repeated pattern, often creating a sense of rhythm;
  • A culture vulture – someone who is very interested in art and culture;
  • art gallery / exhibits – place where pieces of art are displayed;
  • curator – a person who is in charge of the things in a art gallery, museum, etc.
  • artifact – a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past;
  • masterpiece – a person’s greatest peace of work;
  • heritage – the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation;
  • philistine – a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values;
  • visual metaphor – visual pattern or object.

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