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P to P A R



package, packaging - yogurt packagingA package is a wrapped, boxed, or otherwise contained object. Packaging is both the material used in making such containers, and the container itself.Jolly Rancher candy packagingHershey's 'Fun Tin' packaging Graphic designers design packaging, especially their exterior appearance. Packaging appears everywhere. Ubiquitous in popular culture, it is found in stores, homes, offices, schools, promising wonderful products, and as litter for land fills and recycling. Packaging has been employed as a material in or a subject of art of numerous genres and styles, including trompe l'oeil, collage, Cubism, Dada, Fluxus, Arte Povera, and Pop Art.




see thumbnail to rightJapanese, Nintendo, Tomb Raider for Game Boy Color, 2002, cover on packaging. See anime and game theory.




see thumbnail to leftAmerican, Hasbro Corporation, All Your Base Are Belong to Us Rayn & Imposter, 2003, printed card and vacuum-formed sheet plastic packaging of plastic "action figures." These are dolls of course, but they're known as action figures when they're marketed as toys for boys. See the site about "All Your Base Are Belong to Us."


Also see advertisement, advertising, cardboard, cellophane, corrugated cardboard, costume, ephemera, foil, form, graphic design, ink, label, logo, paper, plastic, preparator, printing, and Styrofoam.



paddle - A flat piece of wood used to beat damp clay, to remove air pockets and consolidate the mass.



page - One side of a leaf, or sheet of paper in a publication, letter, book, or manuscript, often with reference to its contents. "Page" can also refer to a Web page. It is also a common field of reference in graphic design. In a book, the right-hand page is called the recto, the left-hand the verso. These two pages are often arrayed on a signature (a folded sheet of paper) so that it has four pages altogether.


Andrea Palladio, author; Venice: Domenico de'Franceschi, 1570, publisher, I Quattro Libri dell'architettura di Andrea Palladio..., 1570 (4 parts in one volume), printed book; 128 p. : ill., maps ; 12 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Palladian.
see thumbnail to rightIllustrated: title page of Andrea Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'architettura and engraved portrait of Palladio from the frontispiece.

Also see bleed, colophon, dyslexia, folio, margin, marginalia, quarto, octavo, rectangle, and signature.



paginate, pagination - To paginate is to number pages. This was first done in 1471 by a German printer. Pagination can be either the assigning of numbers to pages or the designing of a sequential arrangement of pages for a publication.

(pr. PA-jə-nayt, PA-jə-NAY-shən

) Also see align and alignment, book, bookbinding, composition, concatenation, direction, graphic design, juxtaposition, order, periodicity, and signature.



pagoda - A Buddhist tower with several winged eaves; derived from the Indian stupa. Its function is largely to house sacred objects. Such a temple is typically a several-storied tower. From the second and third centuries, pagodas were constructed of wood. During the Song dynasty of the tenth century, Chinese pagodas were built on a tetragonal plan. During the T'ang dynasty, which immediately followed, pagodas were built on an octagonal plan. The number of stories vary greatly, with the height of each story demising regularly from the base to the summit.

(pr. pə-GO-də)




see thumbnail to rightJapan, Pagoda at Horyu-ji Buddhist temple complex, c. 8th century. See Japanese art.



China, Pagoda, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127 CE), a model made for burial, tri-colored glazed pottery, 98.5 x 30.5 cm, Henan Museum, China. Unearthed at Xinmi, Henan. An inscription on the doors of the pagoda tells us it was made "in memory of Benefactor Qiu Xun on April 28th of the 2nd year of Xianping." Xianping is the title of Emperor Zhen's reign during the Northern Song dynasty.

Also see chinoiserie.



pain - Pain is any of a range of unpleasant sensations any individual may experience. Along with love, fear, angst, and the sublime, it is one of the sensations artists have most frequently attempted to objectify — to represent.




see thumbnail to rightLaocoön and his Sons, Roman copy of a Hellenistic original from c. 200 BCE, marble, height 1.84 m, Vatican. Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons are attacked at an altar by giant snakes. Pliny said it was the work of three sculptors from Rhodes, Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros. The date of the Laocoön is controversial, some scholars arguing for the late second century BCE, others for c. 50 BCE. See Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman art.



Also see body art, distort, expression, glisk, incongruity, scarification, senses, sensitivity, sensuality, sentimentality, talent, ugly, and xenophobia.



paint - animation of a brush splashing paint from a can as it stirsPigment that is dispersed into a liquid, called a vehicle, that includes a binder to make it adhere both to itself and to the surface to which it is applied. Many can have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. Types of paint include tempera, watercolor, oil paint, gouache, enamel, encaustic, fresco, lacquer, oriental lacquer, acrylic, and secco.

POISONOUS!There are health hazards associated with the handling of various paints. They are described on the paint's container, and more fully on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which can be obtained from the paint's manufacturer.

Also see blot, Duco, filter, ink, painting, painterly, toluene, wash, and xylene.



paint-by-number or paint by number



painterly - A painting technique in which forms are created with patches of color, exploiting color and tonal relationships. The opposite approach is known as linear, in which things are represented in terms of contour, with precise edges.

Examples of painting in this manner:

see thumbnail to rightClaude Monet (French, 1840-1926), Grainstack, Sun in the Mist, 1891, oil on canvas, Minneapolis Institute of Arts. See Impressionism.




see thumbnail to leftGeorge Wesley Bellows (American, 1882-1925), Steaming Streets, 1908, oil on canvas, 38 3/8 x 30 1/4 inches (97.5 x 76.8 cm), Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA. See Ashcan school.




see thumbnail to rightHans Hofmann (American, born Germany, 1880-1966), Simplex Munditis, 1962, oil on canvas, 84 x 72 inches, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA. See push and pull.


Works by Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929), and Susan Rothenberg (American, 1945-) are also painterly, while the linear style is typical of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519), Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965), and Keith Haring (American, 1958-1989).

Also see paint and pastel.






paisley - A pattern or a fabric figured with a pattern of abstract, curved shapes. The term's origin is in the name of a town in Scotland, famous for its production of textiles.

(pr. PAY-zlee)





see thumbnail to rightNorthern India, a paisley design, 20th century, hand block printed in five colors with natural dyes on cotton. In India, the large shapes with the white edges are called kairi, meaning mango. See mehndi.









Also see arabesque and decorative arts.



pale colors - Any tint; colors having high lightness and low saturation. When prepared by mixing pigments, a large amount of white is mixed with a small amout of a hue. The opposite of pale colors in their value — much lighter, but just as low in saturation — are called dark colors. Opposite to pale colors in saturation — highly saturated, but just as low in lightness — are called brilliant colors. Opposite to pale colors in both value and saturation are deep colors.

Also see aquamarine and pastel.




Paleolithic - The Old Stone Age.



palestra - In ancient Roman architecture, an exercise room.

Also see Roman art.







palette knife - A knife with a spatulate flexible blade, for applying or scraping off a plastic material. There are a variety of types, but the most common are pictured below. The first two on the left have "straight" handles, and the rest have "offset" handles.

Painters use palette knives for mixing, applying, and cleaning up paints, especially on their palettes, but sculptors find many uses for them too.

Examples of paintings in which paint was applied largely with palette knives:


Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906), Portrait of the Artist's Father, c. 1866, oil on canvas, 78 1/8 x 47 inches (198.5 x 119.3 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Also see Post-Impressionism.




see thumbnail to leftNatalya S. Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962), Green Forest, 1912, oil on canvas. See Rayonism.



see thumbnail to rightMikhail Larionov (French, born Russia, 1881-1964), Rayonist Composition: Domination of Red, 1912-13, dated on painting 1911, oil on canvas, 20 3/4 x 28 1/2 inches (52.7 x 72.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.


Other sites concerned with palette knives:

Also see impasto.



palimpsest - An object or image that reveals its history, just as a chalkboard sometimes allows us to see partially erased marks. Out of necessity, creating palimpsests was an early method of recycling. For much of history, writing surfaces were so rare that they were often used more than once. When parchment ran short, many a writer would wash or scrape away an old manuscript to remove old marks, so that new marks could be made right over them, usually at right angles to the old lettering. Fortunately for modern scholars erasing was generally ineffective, because original texts can frequently be distinguished under the later writing. Any old objects — for example: ancient ruins, antique furniture, and battered toys — that show the effects of their past can be seen as palimpsests, relating information about their histories. A palimpsest then may be anything having diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath its surface. Close examination of a painting's layers might reveal changes made by the original painter, by later painters, conservators, restorers, by environmental factors, or by vandals.

(pr. PAL-əmp-sest or pə-LIMP-səst)





The Archimedes Palimpsest. (see thumbnail to leftdetail of one page ) This medieval palimpsest on parchment was discovered in 1899 in a library in Istanbul. The overlapped writings on the pages of this book are works of the ancient Greek mathematician, engineer, and philosopher, Archimedes (287? - 212 BCE). In the 10th century a monk in a Greek Orthodox monastery in Constantinople copied Archimedes' work from older documents onto these pages. In the 12th century the parchment was washed and scraped (although only partly in this case), and religious Christian texts were written at right angles on top. The religious reasons justifying the reuse of this parchment included religious intolerance: some Christians of the time thought it was a holy act to destroy a pagan text and replace it with a Christian one. The location of the Archimedes Palimpsest was unknown between 1916 and 1998, when it appeared at auction at Christies in New York, and was sold on behalf of an anonymous seller. The man who bought it for two million dollars agreed to make it available for scholarly research. Although parts of Archimedes's text in the Palimpsest have been previously available, some found here are apparently closer to the original, and some have very important sections not otherwise known to have been preserved. See scriptorium and xenophobia.




see thumbnail to rightCy Twombly (American, 1928-), The Italians, 1961, oil, pencil, and crayon on canvas, 6 feet 6 5/8 inches x 8 feet 6 1/4 inches (199.5 x 259.6 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. One of the "second generation" of abstract expressionist painters, art critics have described Twombly's paintings as akin to painted palimpsests.




see thumbnail to leftCy Twombly, Untitled, 1961, oil and charcoal on canvas, St. Louis Art Museum.



see thumbnail to rightCy Twombly, Leda and the Swan, 1962, oil, pencil and crayon on canvas, 6 feet 3 inches x 6 feet 6 3/4 inches (190.5 x 200 cm), private collection.




see thumbnail to leftCy Twombly, Ohne Titel (Roma), 1969, oil and crayon on canvas.


Also see analogy, eraser, fragment, gemütlichkeit, graffiti, lacuna, marginalia, page, patina, remarque, sgraffito, and x-ray.



Palladian - In the classical architectural style of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (Andrea di Pietro della Gondola) (Italian, 1508-1580). Largely an English development of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Palladian architecture is characterized by symmetry and by elaborated adaptation of classical architectural elements.

Examples of Palladio's work:



see thumbnail to rightAndrea Palladio (Italian, 1508-1580), Villa Rotonda (Villa Capra), begun 1567, general view of exterior, Vicenza, Italy. This building has an identical portico on each of four sides. see thumbnail to leftOne of the Villa Rotunda's windows. See fenestration.



Andrea Palladio, author; Venice: Domenico de'Franceschi, 1570, publisher, I Quattro Libri dell'architettura di Andrea Palladio..., 1570 (4 parts in one volume), printed book; 128 p. : ill., maps ; 12 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Palladian.
see thumbnail to rightIllustrated: title page of Andrea Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'architettura and engraved portrait of Palladio from the frontispiece.


Also see Neoclassicism.



palladium - A ductile, malleable, tarnish-resistant metal, resembling platinum, used primarily in silver alloys for jewelry.



pallet - A large flat board or box-like construction on which materials may be stored to protect them from damp, and which make them easier to move with a fork-lift. Not to be confused with palette.



palmette - An ornamental motif based on a palm leaf, a radiating cluster of petals. It is often seen in ancient Egyptian and classical Greek ornament.




see thumbnail to leftGreece, Antefix decorated with a painted palmette, from the Archaic temple at Aigira, 500 BCE, Archaeological Museum of Aigion, Greece. See antefix.




see thumbnail to rightGreece, Funerary stele crowned with a palmette and bearing the inscription "Timagenes Dionysos", end of the 4th century BCE, marble, as is: 88 x 51 cm, Archaeological Museum of Syros, Hermoupolis, Greece.


Also see dingbat.


a photo of several pamphlets on a table

pamphlet - A brochure or booklet; a small, thin book, either bound or unbound. It is usually a photo of an unfolded pamphletone or more folded pieces of paper, its usually 6-48 pages defined by the paper's folds and / or their edges, and its cover made of the same or only slightly heavier weight than that of its pages.

Also see broadside, catalogue, ephemera, handbill, and propaganda.



pan, panning shot - To pan is to rotate a camera about its vertical axis.

Also see cinema, cinematography, fish-eye lens, tilt, tracking shot, video, wide-angle shot, and zoom.



panache - A spirited quality in style or action; verve, dash, flourish. Originally, in French, a bunch of feathers or a plume, such as might sprout from a hat or from a helmet.

(pr. pə-NAHSH)

Also see arms & armor, eccentric, flamboyant, and pretentious.












pantheon and Pantheon - All the gods of a people, or a temple dedicated to all such gods. A particular building is called the "Pantheon" in Rome, although it's actually not certain that this was its ancient function.

(pr. PAN-thee-on)

Images of the Pantheon (the second sense):


see thumbnail to leftThe Pantheon, Rome, 118 CE. The building consists of a great circular hall (roofed by a hemispherical vault), which is entered by first passing through the pronaos. All sixteen columns of the pronaos are monoliths of Egyptian granite. The pediment was decorated with reliefs in gilt bronze as were the internal trabeations of the pronaos. In 609 CE the pagan gods were banished in a ceremony converting the Pantheon to a Christian church — Chiesi di Santa Maria ad Martyres (the Church of Saint Mary and the Martyrs) — and creating All Saints' Day, with the following day becoming All Souls' Day — also known as Halloween. As the burial place of royalty and many great artists — including the Renaissance master Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio, 1483-1520) — the Pantheon is a national monument and a miracle of architecture. See portico.



see thumbnail to rightInterior view of the Pantheon. At the top of the Pantheon's coffered dome is its oculus. In this photo, sunlight projects through this open hole to the sky. There has never been any glass or other cover for this opening. Anticipating the rains, the Romans placed twenty-two small drains in the floor, which continue to function well today.




see thumbnail to leftHeneage Finch, Fourth Earl of Aylesford (English, 1751-1812), Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, pen and ink and watercolor on paper, 26.4 x 18.3 cm, Tate Gallery, London.



see thumbnail to rightEnglish, from the encyclopedia, 1897: Four views of the Pantheon: front elevation, flank elevation, cross-section, and floor plan, late 19th century, engraving. See cross-section, elevation, and plan.


Also see architecture and Roman art.



pantograph - A device for copying a two-dimensional figure to a desired scale, consisting of styluses for tracing and copying mounted on four jointed arms in the form of a parallelogram with extended sides. Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519) used one. Pantographs are based on the simple principle of the parallelogram in Euclidean geometry understood 2300 years ago. The artist moves a pointer attached to one part of the pantograph along the outline of the original image, and a pencil attached to another part copies the image at either the same size, larger or smaller. The placement of the pointer and pencil determines the overall scale.The one Thomas Jefferson (American, 1743-1826) devised and used to copy letters as he wrote them can be seen at his Monticello home. Such tools have been made largely obsolete by photographic and other technologies, but are great for studying scale.



see thumbnail to rightAmerican, Sorenson's Engraving Pantograph, an engraving of one in use by the U.S. Coastal Survey, published as Fig. No. 27, Report of Superintendent, 1867, Historic C&GS Collection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Central Library, Washington, DC.




see thumbnail to leftAn easily improvised pantograph. Cut narrow strips of cardboard or of wood using the dimensions in this diagram. It's okay to make your dimensions different from these if you'd like to see how to modify the scale of your copyies. If you experiment with various changes in these measurements you'll learn more about how to alter the scale. You'll also need four push-pins, a pencil, a screw, a nail, a small block of wood, and some adhesive tape.

See caliper, drawing, pantograph, pointing and pointing machine, and proportion.



Pantone Matching System (PMS) - A color matching system developed by the Pantone, Inc. Based on 14 standard Pantone basic mixing colors, it includes over 1000 different shades. The Pantone Color Formula Guide is the printers' guide to the Pantone Matching System, representing shades on both coated or uncoated stock, along with the precise printing formulas to achieve each color. The fan format guide makes it easy to select colors and check printed colors against a recognized and achievable standard. The Pantone Color Formula Guide is the essential color reference tool for printers, and should be replaced by new book every year to maintain accurate color communication.

Also see CMYK, color correction, color look-up table, color management systems, color permanence, color separation, color scheme, color space, color temperature, color wheel, dynamic range, and RGB.








paper-maché - See papier-mâché or papier mâché.



papermaking - The basic papermaking proces takes advantage of the ability of plant cell fibers (cellulose) to adhere to each other when a watery pulp made from the fibers is spread on a screen called a deckle, and dried. Today, paper is made principally from wood pulp combined with pulps from waste paper or, for fine grades of paper, with fibers from cotton rags. For newsprint, tissues, and other inexpensive papers, the pulp is prepared mechanically, by grinding the wood, sometimes boiling it with various chemicals. The pulp is poured onto a deckle, where the water drains away and the fibers begin to mat. The paper layer then passes through a series of rollers that dry, press, and smooth it, and add various finishes.





see thumbnail to rightGerman, A man making paper, works pulp on a deckle, as a child carries a stack of the final product, 17th century, woodcut. Through two windows see paddle wheels that power the production of pulp. Even today, most large commercial papermills are sited beside rivers.


swatch of white paper with horizontally lined texture


Other resources concerning papermaking:

Also see calendering, mold, and vellum.



papier-collé - A type of collage in which paper shapes are combined into one work of art. French, literally "stuck paper."

(pr. PAH-pee-ay kə-LAY)





see thumbnail to rightDiego Rivera (Mexican, 18), Still Life with Bottle, 1914, drawing with pencil, papier-collé and gouache on paper, 35.5 x 19 cm, government of Veracruz, Mexico. Among the papers Rivera used is some wallpaper. See Mexican art.



Juan Gris (born "Jose Victoriano Gonzales Perez") (Spanish, 1887-1927), Fruit Dish and Carafe, 1914, oil, papier-collé and charcoal on canvas, 92 x 65 cm, Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo.




papier-mâché or papier mâché - A material, made from paper pulp or shreds of paper mixed with resin, wallpaper paste, or flour and water (2:1 by volume), which can be molded or modeled into various shapes when wet and becomes hard and suitable for painting and varnishing when dry. Other substitutes (less likely to mold or mildew) are white glue and water, liquid starch and water, and methyl-cellulose paste and water (one 2 oz. package per gallon of water).

Papier-mâché's permanence is relative of course, but its light weight, minimal expense and the ease of its making recommend it for many uses.

Celluclay is a powdered-paper product for making papier-mâché.

Papier-mâché is a French word, literally meaning chewed-paper. The equivalent Italian term is carta pesta. It is known to have been used for low reliefs in Italy in the fifteenth century, and was occasionally popular in Europe for ornamental furniture, etc.

Papier-mâché is almost always formed on an armature. An extraordinary variety of free and inexpensive things can serve. Consider cardboards of any type, cut, folded or curled and taped together with any combination of wood, wire, crumpled paper, Styrofoam, and pieces of scrap plastic packaging.

To slow mold in wallpaper paste or flour and water paste, add 3 tablespoons sugar per gallon. Also helping to retard spoilage is a teaspoon of salt per batch.

(pr. American: PAY-pər mə-SHAY), French: PAH-pee-YAY mə-SHAY)

 Two Easy Papier-Mâché Projects

Starting with a balloon's form

Tear strips of newspaper (1-2 inches wide by 2-4 inches long) and, one at a time, dip them into a bowl of prepared paste, applying each to the surface of a balloon. Overlap about 3 or 4 layers, alternating layers-- one of newspaper and one of paper bags or paper towels-- in order to see that each layer is completed. Spread the paste onto each completed layer instead of dipping and wiping each piece of paper. Let this dry, then pop the balloon. Use the result as the starting point for a mask, a sculpture, etc., painting the final form.

Forming pulp into a small sculpture

Tear paper into pieces about 1/2 inch square, or obtain what is produced by a "paper shredder" -- often used in offices that must destroy sensitive documents. Each participant will require enough such pieces to pack at least a cup measure. Place the torn paper in a container and cover with water and stir it to make sure all the paper becomes wet. Add a teaspoon of salt to retard spoilage. After letting this soak at least two days, mix and squeeze by hand until it becomes a pulp. Mix in one of the adhesive substances noted above, preparing only the amounts of pulp needed. Now model or mold this mixture into the forms you wish to produce. Allow to dry thoroughly. Finish surfaces with any type of paint, small objects, etc., and varnish.




see thumbnail to leftLindsey Haché (Canadian high school student), Mask, papiér-mâché, fall of 2000, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. This feline head reveals the artist's interest in Egyptian art and in contrasting day and night-time imagery.





see thumbnail to rightEllen Carlier (Belgian, contemporary), Blue Elephant, a coin bank, height 20 cm (7 1/2 inches), pulp over a latex balloon, acrylic paints, and varnish, collection of the artist.


Related links:





papyrus - papyrus plantAn ancestor to modern papers, see thumbnail to rightpapyrus was used especially by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. A papyrus can also be a document or drawing produced on papyrus. The plural form of the word is papyri. Sheets of papyrus were made from stems of the see thumbnail to leftpapyrus plant, which is native almost exclusively to the delta of Egypt's Nile River, which made it an important trading commodity in the Mediterranean region. It is possible for students to use specimens of this plant to produce their own sheets: cutting the stems length-wise, flattening them, overlapping them side-by-side, and again overlapping a second such layer perpendicular to the first. The dry climate of Egypt has made it possible for papyri to remain largely intact, in many cases, for two, three, or more millennia.

(pr. pə-PI:-rəs)



see thumbnail to rightEgypt, Western Thebes, Section from the "Book of the Dead" of Nany, c. 1040-945 BCE, Dynasty 21, reigns of Psensennes I-II, Third Intermediate period, painted and inscribed papyrus, height of illustrated section 13 3/4 inches (34.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.



Egypt, second-first centuries BCE (Ptolemaic Period), Fragment of a Book of the Dead Belonging to Paheby, Son of Ankhpakhered and Takhebyt, paint and black ink on papyrus, 8 x 11 1/4 inches (20.3 x 28.5 cm), Michael C. Carlos Museum. See fragment.


Papyrus is made from the pith or stems of a tall, aquatic plant, called Mediterranean sedge, also known as Egyptian paper rush and paper plant. The plural form can be either papyruses or papyri. (pr. pah-pi:'rus)

Other resources concerned with papyrus:

Also see Egyptian art, hieroglyphics, palette, and rush.




parabola - A plane curve formed by the intersection of a right circular cone and a plane parallel to an element of the cone. A plane curve formed by the locus of points equidistant from a fixed line and a fixed point not on the line. (pr. pə-RA-bə-lə)

Related links:

Also see arc, cone, cylinder, ellipse, hyperbole, mathematics, parabola, and sphere.



POISONOUS!paradichlorobenzene - A crystalline compound used as a fumigant for moths and larvae. These pests are notorious for their destruction of various fibers. See art conservation.



paradigm - An example that serves as a pattern, an exemplar, or a model.

(pr. PAY-rə-di:m)

Also see paradigm shift.



paradigm shift - When one era shifts into another, the habits of the earlier one are disrupted by new ones which eventually settle into a familiar routine. The phrase is used to describe any sort of major shift of mind-set or world-view. For example, the change from pre-modern to modern art was effectively a change from a paradigm in which paintings were seen as windows through which one looked, as in Renaissance and Baroque illusionism — to a new paradigm of abstraction. Similarly, the change from modernism to postmodernism is now commonly viewed as a paradigm shift.



forms of paraffin

paraffin or paraffin wax - White or colorless flammable oil or wax obtained in the distilling of petroleum. Paraffin is often used as a material for modeling and in such wax-resist techniques as batik, either as a substitute for beeswax, or as a supplement to it.

(pr. PA-rə-fən)



paragone - From the Italian for "comparison", this is a critical term referring to the debate begun in the 16th century and continued in the 17th about the relative merits of painting and sculpture.

Also see illusion.



parallel - Two or more straight lines or edges on the same plane that do not intersect. Parallel lines have the same direction.

see thumbnail to rightThis illustration is a field of horizontal lines — all parallel to each other. A staggered pattern of black and white squares is arranged in such a way that the viewer's perception causes him/her to doubt that they are parallel. Our eyes perceive diagonal lines at varied angles. This is one of many possible optical illusions.

Also see butt, corrugate, kerf, point, counterpoint, and mathematics.



parallelepiped - A polyhedron with six faces, each a parallelogram, and each parallel to its opposite face. A regular hexahedron is a type of parallelipiped.

(pr. PAY-rə-LE-lə-PI:-ped)

Also see mathematics, polygon, rhombohedron, and vertex.



parallelogram - A four-sided polygon, all opposite sides being parallel to each other. An equilateral parallelogram is called a rhombus.

Also see geometric, mathematics, pantograph, parallelepiped, quadrilateral, rectangle, rhombohedron, square, trapezium, and trapezoid.



parameter - A factor that either restricts what is possible or what results, or determines a range of variations. In mathematics, a parameter may be a constant value in an equation that varies in other equations of the same general type, especially such a constant that describes a curve or surface, such that changing it changes the curve or surface in some way. It may also be a variable that stands for the coordinates of a point. And, in other sciences, a parameter may be one of a set of measurable factors — such as temperature, volume, color, or acidity — that define a system and determine its behavior.



paraph - In a signature, a final squiggle or flourish. Although it may seem to have resulted simply from flamboyance, its original function, during the Middle Ages, was to discourage forgery.


signature of Queen Elizabeth IIsignature of Queen Elizabeth II



see thumbnail to rightQueen Elizabeth I (English, 1533-1603). These signatures present several paraphs. Elizabeth I was famous for her refined penmanship. Her pretty paraphs remind us why she was called not only as "Good Queen Bess" and "The Virgin Queen," but also "Her Paraphine Highness." [Just kidding about the last nickname: a double entendre which would imply that Elizabeth had waxen qualities. Judging from some portraits, this might not be far from the truth!]


Franklin's signature


see thumbnail to leftBenjamin Franklin (American, 1725-1802).



parasol - An umbrella atop a Chinese pagoda; a vestige of the chatra on an Indian stupa.



parchment - An ancestor to contemporary paper, parchment is a material on which to write or paint prepared from the skin of a sheep or goat. It replaced the use of papyrus during the ancient Roman period. Monastic scribes of the Middle Ages practically monopolized its use in Europe preceding the introduction there of papermaking techniques utilizing plant fibers in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Parchment may also refer to paper made in imitation of this material.

Examples of works on true parchment:



see thumbnail to rightPetrus Christus (Netherlandish, active by 1444, died 1475/76), Head of Christ, c. 1445, oil on parchment, laid down on wood, overall 5 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches (14.9 x 10.8 cm), parchment 5 3/4 x 4 1/8 inches (14.6 x 10.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See miniature.





see thumbnail to leftSofonisba Anguissola (Italian, c. 1535-1625), Self-Portrait, c. 1555, oil on parchment, 3 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches (8.2 x 6.3 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The artist holds a medallion inscribed in Latin around the rim: "The maiden Sofonisba Anguissola, depicted by her own hand, from a mirror, at Cremona." Inside the circle is a cryptogram whose entwined letters are included in the name of Anguissola's father, Amilcare. The meaning and original purpose of this enigmatic portrait remain a mystery. See Baroque, circle, cryptic, feminism and feminist art, miniature, mirror, oval, and self-portrait.


Related link:

Also see bristol board, illustration board, incunabulum, oaktag, scroll, and vellum.



parergon - A part of a work of art which is secondary to the main subject or theme of its composition, such as a still life or landscape which is a detail within a portrait. Also used to refer to a work made by anyone working at another sort of job or profession, when made either apart from or as a part of their work, as would be a criminologist's drawing of the scene of a crime.



parget - Ornamental work in plaster.

Also see gesso.

(pr. PAHR-jət)



parody - A work that imitates the characteristic style of another work, either for comic effect or ridicule. Parody is one of the basic tropes.




see thumbnail to rightAmerican, Voting for Dummies, 2000, a mock book-cover satirizing the causes of the contested US presidential election of 2000, as it parodies the series of for Dummies books, 1990s-the present. See text.



American, Apple iPod, 2004. A poster, and a still from an iPod TV commercial showing a grid of posters for Apple's MP3 player on an exterior wall.


A parody that replaces the silhouette of the iPod user with one of the hooded torture victims of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. It substitutes the original text "iPod" with "iRaq." This political / human-rights protest poster was placed in a New York City subway station in June, 2004. Similar posters can be downloaded from


Also see appropriation, content, caricature, homage, irony, and satire.



parquetry - Inlay or veneers of wood forming a geometric design; as related to marquetry, which forms a pictorial image. It is most commonly seen in parquet floors.

(pr. PAHR-kə-tree)




see thumbnail to rightDetails of three parquet floors.




see thumbnail to leftCharles Le Brun and Jules Hardouin-Mansart (French architects), Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), 1678-1684, 10.5 x 12.3 x 73.0 m, Pallace of Versailles. See coffer and mirror.



see thumbnail to rightScott Mutter (American, 1944-), Untitled (Forest), 1975, gelatine-silver print photomontage, 11 x 14 inches, American Museum of Photography. This forest has a parquet floor.


Also see intarsia and mosaic.



parsemage - A method of making an image by scattering dust from charcoal or colored chalk on water and then skimming the design off by passing a stiff paper or cardboard just under the water's surface. Parsemage was invented by surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.

(pr. PAHR-sə-MAHZH)

Also see aleatory and aleatoric, bricolage, collage, coulage, découpage, femmage, frottage, fumage, marouflage, montage, and photomontage.




Parthian art - See Mesopotamian art




parting agent or parting compound - See release agent.







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