ESSENTIAL VOCABULARY TO TALK ABOUT THE ARTS IN IELTS
Candidates should clearly understand that “art” does not only refer to “paintings”. When you are asked to describe a piece of art in the IELTS test, you are usually expected to describe one of the different forms of visual arts such as drawing, painting, ceramics, and photography. It may also include sculpture, architecture or one of the conceptual forms of art.
You might be asked to talk about a form or type of art (what is the most famous type of art in your country, talk about a traditional form of art in your country…for example), you may include other forms like performance arts, literary arts and applied arts.
TYPES OR FORMS OF ARTS
- VISUAL ARTS
- Drawing – a piece of art produced using tools such as pencil, pen, crayons, markers and other tools or techniques. Illustrations, animation, and comics are examples of drawings. Modern drawing techniques involve computer software and other devices.
- Painting – a piece of art mainly consists of colors. There is a wide variety of coloring materials used in paintings such as acrylic paint, pigment, oil pastel, and watercolors. These days, there are artists who use non-traditional materials such as sand, cement, wood.
- Ceramics – a form of art including pottery, tableware, figurines and tile using ceramics and clay.
- Photography – art produced by taking pictures using a camera, with the purpose of expressing the artist’s vision through photos
- Architecture – the art of designing buildings and structures, which the main purpose is to create pleasing aesthetics.
- Sculpture – the art which involves carving and modelling using materials such as wood, stone, clay, ceramics, metal and others.
- LITERARY ARTS – this includes written pieces such as poems, fiction and non-fiction prose and drama.
- PERFORMING ARTS – as the name implies, this type involves people as the main “material”. Dance, mime, theater and music all belong to this category.
HOW TO DESCRIBE A PIECE OF ART
COLORS. Here are words you can use to describe how you feel about a painting for example. These terms can also be used to tell something about your impression on the look and feel of that piece of art.
- Bright, lively, vibrant, clear, intense, strong, interesting, stimulating, rich
- Dull, flat, pale, weak, mellow, subtle, depressing, unfriendly, violent, subdued, quiet, vivid, cold, dark, saturated
- Natural, harmonious, compatible, sympathetic, warm, light, pure, deep, blended, distinctive
- Artificial, broken, muddied, contrasting, clashing
- Sticky, course, smooth, rough, hairy, uneven, polished, raised, flat
- Soft, hard, scratched
- Glossy, matte, frosted, shiny, semi-gloss
MOOD – these are words you can use to describe your feelings or emotions when you are looking at a piece of art.
- Calm, relaxed, peaceful, content, tranquil, cheerful, joyful, happy, romantic
- Dark, gloomy, depressed, miserable, somber, boring, distressing, lifeless, dull
SUBJECT MATTER OF THE PIECE OF ART
- Landscape, cityscape, urban, industrial, man-made, seascape, abstract
- Portrait, figurative, still life
- Imaginary, mythological, fantasy
SHAPE OR FORM
- Natural, realistic, abstract, static, moving
- 3D, 2D, flat, geometric, linear, hard-edged, soft-edged
- Long, narrow
- Detailed, exaggerated, blurred, sharp, overlapping
Vocabulary to Describe the General Look of a Piece of Art
- Antique, worn, battered, old, dusty, shiny, new, clean
- Commercial, industrial, decorative, functional, fancy