A New Vocabulary

If you enjoy this post from Robert Genn over at The Painters Keys, you can go read it on his blog, as there are quite a few reader additions.

We highly recommend Robert’s web site.

I think this can apply equally to Photography and other Art forms, which is why I wanted to offer it. I hope you find it amusing! – Bryan

A New Vocabulary

English is lacking when it comes to expressions of specific situations. In the particularly rich language of Japan, for example, “tatemae” means what you pretend to believe, and “honne” means what you actually believe.

Another Japanese expression, “arigata-meiwaku” is an act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favour, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude.

My idea is to add more compact expressions into the English language:

Outhanger: A painting you think is lousy but that others think is great which leaves you with the problem of what to do with it.

Snooler: A person who gushes over your work but who you suspect privately thinks he can do better but actually can’t.

Pormorse: The guilt you feel when you love to do your work and happen also to get paid for it.

Slovo: An artist who attends a classy dinner party with paint still on her hands and somebody makes a remark about it.

Daddylongpocket: A man who buys a painting done by a woman who is suspicious that the sale took place because she has nice legs and she has.

Seeblocker: A person with a high opinion of his own work and a low opinion of everyone else’s, neither point of view being justified.

Arstratto: A wannabe artist who knows how it’s done, knows all about it, talks about it all the time, but can’t bring himself to do it.

Dollarflopper: A dealer or a curator who tells an artist what or how to paint.

Superalphabetted: A person whose name is followed by a lot of letters.

Lugg: A husband who inquires when dinner might be ready just as the artist has wax-resisted and is laying in a delicate wash.

Ungrept: A wife who doesn’t understand she’s living with a genius.

If you have more, please send them to for consideration and possible inclusion. We’re doing pioneer work here.

Best regards,


PS: “‘Dontopedology’ is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it.” (Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, OM, GBE, AC, ONZ, QSO, GCL, PC, AdC)

Esoterica: The invention of words or expressions that describe complex actions is a way of taking possession of your personal processes. For example, “blindballing” is a system where a painting is made with no endgame in sight, which begins to evolve from the first stroke and continues to yin and yang between bravura and delicacy, glazing and scumbling, prodding with casual sloth and contriving with elegance and sensibility until a motif emerges that seems to be okay. The system is exciting but has its potential problems, including overworking. In Japan, an “age-otori” is someone who looks worse after they had the haircut. I use age-otori (pronounced ah-gee-oh-tori) as a handy noun to describe a painting that looks worse than when I first decided to stop working on it but didn’t.

(c) Copyright 2013 Robert Genn. If you wish to copy this material to other publications or mail lists, please ask for permission by writing Thanks for your friendship.

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The Painter’s Keys is the online extension of Robert Genn’s Twice-Weekly Letter. Creative folks from more than 115 countries visit this website for information, inspiration, artist advice, friendship and connectivity. Informed and successful painters and other artists make their own contribution through the Twice-Weekly responses or clickbacks. It has also been our goal to make this website an online resource of information for artists and a place to share with others what you are doing, such as through the Art Show Calendar, Art Workshop Calendar and Premium Art Listings. One of the most popular pages is the Art Quotes page, and we also share other things like a listing of Art Retreats available to artists, books, videos, and more.

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