Sunday, April 22, 2018

My latest Pet Peeves *edited with additional goodies!

Every so often I express some personal opinions here on the blog, talking about stuff that bugs me, usually in regard to art education.  This little post is another one of those, sort of.  You can read previous "pet peeves" posts  HERE (September 2015) and HERE (October 2011).

Today's annoyances are simple ones.  Let me admit up-front that I'm kind of a freak about spelling and proofreading.  Yes, I make mistakes, but I try my best to keep them to a minimum, and to edit them if I am able to, so they don't appear for the world to see.  But there's two errors I've seen made frequently lately (in blog posts, and in several Facebook art teacher groups) that drive me bonkers!

 1) Tempera / tempura
I can't tell you how many places I've seen "tempura paint" written lately, not only in blog posts and on Facebook, but also, surprisingly, in some on-line shopping situations.

I happen to love both tempera (1st pic above) and tempura (second pic above), but they couldn't be more different.  We paint with tempera.  We do not paint with tempuraTempura is a Japanese meal where stuff like shrimp and veggies are fried in a crispy delicious batter.  It's delicious, but it is not paint!  Please don't depend on spell-check when you are writing about tempera paint.  Your phone or computer doesn't know that tempura paint isn't a "thing"!  (And by the way, NEITHER ONE of them is spelled "tempra", though I've seen that lately, too!)  Also, in case you're interested, tempura and tempera are both pronounced differently from each other.  The paintings pictured below, and the cat at the top of this post, are all painted with tempera.  I believe it represents us poorly when we talk about a common art material and confuse it with a food! 

2) Borders / boarders
A boarder is someone who pays you to stay in your home with meals included (hence "room and board").  A border is an edge or boundary.  In art, we usually think of a border as a frame that is built into your artwork, or as a decorative edging on fabric.  But over and over again, I've seen people write about putting boarders on their artwork, or putting a boarder on their bulletin board.  (Hopefully you don't have anyone living on your bulletin board and eating meals there! )
I don't have boarders in my home, but I'm kind of a nut about borders on student artwork.  I think a decorative border can really enhance a piece of artwork.  When I retired, someone collected quotes from my students to share at a retirement dinner.  Evidently several kids quoted me as saying stuff like "put a border on it!" or "everything is better with a border!"  I didn't even know I ever said that!!

Again, you can't depend on spell-check for this, because your electronic gadgetry doesn't know what you are trying to write about! The artwork pictured above and below all have decorative borders, not boarders.
 And the paintings pictured below all have white borders

There's other words that can be similarly mixed up or confused.  For example, palette and pallet both have completely different meanings.  We generally use palettes in art.   Can you think of other words that can present a spelling challenge, or that sound alike but have different meanings with different spellings?

Since I wrote this post yesterday, I've received many responses about other words that should be on this 'pet peeves' list.  So without further ado, here they are:
  • Complementary/complimentary: Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel.  A compliment is a praise or approval.
  • Principal/principle: your principal is your pal.  Don't give up your principles to do something you don't agree with.
  • A tortillon is a blending tool.  It is not spelled 'tortillion'.  And it is not a tortilla!
  • Pollock/Pollack: Jackson Pollock is the artist. Check out the spelling! Sydney Pollack was a film director, producer, and actor.
  • The spelling is Michelangelo, not Michaelangelo!  
  • Lose/loose: you lose a marker, you set a wild animal loose.  
  • Jewelry is the correct spelling for adornments like rings and bracelets.  Not jewelery, or jewlery.  
I'm sure there's still lots more common misspellings, but the ones listed above are probably the ones you are most likely to use in an art room!  


  1. I laughed when I read this post with my coffee and almost spilled it at the section about boarders. Thanks for the blog and good advice, "Hopefully you don't have anyone living on your bulletin board and eating meals there!"

  2. I love your pet peeve posts!! Stuff I just have to ignore or I will scream! Let's see.....kilm, kilim, KILN!!

  3. The whole lesson plan thing?!?!?!!? All I need is a picture...because I'm an art teacher! I want to be inspired by you & the work you are doing with your students. I don't want to copy your lesson plan. My lesson plan needs to be for my students at my school in Nashville,TN! I can write my own! If I have questions about materials or process, I will ask!

  4. I am also a spelling hound. Someone just posted, about carving clay, “i like a pearing knife.” To correct or not? (PARING) Maybe they only carve pears!

    1. I never know whether to correct or not. Some people get really annoyed, even if you inform them in the most kindly and discreet way. If it’s someone I know well, I might send a message - “Did you realize you used the wrong version of the word?” (It’s possible it’s speech to text. But still, you should proofread before you click to post!) some people, it’s best to say nothing and simply move on. But it’s hard to do!