Glossary: M


Greatness in size or significance. Also see colossus, colossal, depth, diameter, direction, height, length, measure, and width.


Also called a bridge, a long wooden stick used by painters to support and steady the hand that holds the brush, conserving the arm's strength and protecting the painting's surface. Traditionally, the end of the mahlstick placed on or near the work is wrapped in leather. Also spelled maulstick.


Capable of being shaped or formed by hand or with tools; plastic, pliable, pliant, ductile. Moist clay, modeling clay, polymer clay, warm wax, molten glass, and metals are incredibly malleable.


A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions. Although usually of a political nature, there is a history in art, especially in modernism during the first half of the twentieth century, of the spokesmen of various avant-garde movements publishing manifestos that declare their theories, motivations, and direction, stimulating support for them or reactions against them. These movements have included Futurism, Rayonism, and Surrealism. To see an important example, read The First Surrealist Manifesto, 1924.

Manual Skill

Dexterity. Educators refer to manual skills as well-developed fine motor or small muscle control. Also, see the craftsmanship, manipulation, and talent.


To fabricate or process raw materials, especially using a large-scale industrial operation. And either the act of manufacturing or the manufactured product itself. Also see Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI), ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), collectible, commercial art, commodity, interdisciplinary, paint-by-number, and Velcro®.


See book, bookbinding, duodecimo, folio, illumination, incunabulum, lettering, octavo, quarto, rotulus, sextodecimo, signature, text, tricesimo-segundo, typography, and vicesimo-quarto.


A small sculpture made as a preparatory study or model for a full-scale work.


An edge and the area immediately beside it, as of a page. A border. Also, see marginalia and remarque.


A line, shape, figure, or symbol that is made as an indication or record of something.

Mark Making

The act of making any visible trace or impression on a surface, such as a line, dot, spot, stain, scratch, blemish, mar, bruise, crack, dent, boss, kerf, or pleat. See also abrade, align and align, carve, change, distress, draw, etch, paint, palimpsest, patina / patinate, register, rugosity, signature, or transform.


This painting medium is soft and silky, like a gel. It maintains the body of the paint and produces a luminous atmosphere while suspending and supporting the paint in a soft gel. This medium was used by the old masters. It allows you to overlay thicker light impasto over previous layers without collapsing, and it maintains the transparency of your oil colors. Some Marogers contain lead and can be very toxic.

Mass Tone 

A pigment appearing straight from the tube before mixing or diluting with another color or medium; see also undertone.


Material with which an artwork is created (for example, charcoal, pastels, oil paints, or clay). Medium also refers to the technique used to make an artwork, such as painting, sculpture, or etching. (plural - media or mediums).


Is a reverse engraving process used on a copper or steel plate to produce illustrations in relief with the effects of light and shadow. The surface of a master plate is roughened with a tool called a rocker so that if inked, it will print solid black. The white or gray areas in the print are rubbed down so as not to take ink. It was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries to reproduce portraits and other paintings but became obsolete with photo engraving.

Middle Ground

The part of an artwork that appears to lie between objects in the foreground and background.

Mixed Media

An artwork created by using more than one medium. For example, a collage mixing drawing and painting can be a mixed-media artwork. for more information, visit


Someone or something that serves as a subject for an artist. A miniature replica of another larger object is usually built to scale. Also, to create an artwork by shaping a malleable substance such as clay.


The description of form using a controlled set of light and dark values.

Monochrome or Monochromatic

Color scheme limited to different values of one hue. Also, a monochromatic artwork.


A single print is made from a plate, after which the plate needs to be reworked to pull another monoprint. A monoprint is similar to a monotype, but in a monoprint, part of the image is repeatable but has less quality and is called a "ghost." The result is still unique but includes elements that can be repeated in multiple prints.


One-of-a-kind print that is made by painting on a sheet of metal or glass and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper by hand or with an etching press. If enough paint remains on the master plate, additional prints can be made. However, the reprint will have substantial variations from the original image. Monotype printing is not a multiple-replica process since each print is unique.

Montage (Collage)

An artwork comprising portions of various existing images, such as from photographs or prints, and arranged so that they join, overlap, or blend to create a new image.


The feeling or emotion created in a work of art.


An artwork created by setting tesserae (small pieces of glass, tile, stones, paper, or similar material) into the mortar or onto another adhesive background to create a unified pattern or image.


An element that is repeated often enough to be an essential feature of a design.

Motion Blur

Softening of edges that occurs when a form rushes in front of a stationary object.


Action is the path the viewer's eye follows throughout an artwork. Movement is caused by using elements under the rules of the principles in the art to give the feeling of action and to guide the viewer's eyes throughout the artwork.

Movement can be defined as the motion of objects in space over time and is often described in one of two ways:

1) Literal movement is physical movement. Examples of literal movement include Products such as the automobile, motion pictures, and dance.

2) Compositional movement is the movement of the viewer's eye through a given composition. Static movement jumps between isolated parts of a composition. Dynamic movement flows smoothly from one part of the composition to another.


A large artwork, usually a painting, applied directly to a wall or ceiling. Murals often appear on or in public buildings.


An institution designed for acquiring, presenting, studying, and exhibiting works of artistic, historical, and cultural value.

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