Principles of Art/Design
Rhythm and Pattern
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Rhythm - Regular | Flowing | Progressive
Pattern - Shape Vocabulary | Points and Basic Shapes | Lines
The Interrelationships of Forms | Detachment | Touching | Overlapping | Interpenetration | Union | Subtraction
Repetition of Forms | Shape | Size | Color | Texture | Direction | Experiment
“To understand is to perceive patterns”Isaiah Berlin - political philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one of the leading liberal thinkers of the twentieth century.
In looking for ways to help students develop a bag of design tricks, I found Principles of Form and Design, by Wucius Wong. I liked that he put names to things I had been doing as a designer and creative problem solver.
I have often said that creativity is nothing more than following a systematic process, allowing random connections to take place, and using your intuition to develop unique solutions. Oh, by the way, it's much easier and much more fun when you work with others throughout the process.
The page below provides terms with visual examples to the steps in the process. Start simple and work with each of the seven elements of visual art and design - line, shape, form, space, value, texture, color. Use one step and vary elements. Combine steps and keep the elements the same. Go crazy until you either run out of time or you have found the perfect solution. You will probably run out of time, but you will also have a very good solution as a result. Perhaps not perfect, but better than you would have reason to expect.
Rhythm | Top
1. movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like. 4. Art. a patterned repetition of a motif, formal element, etc., at regular or irregular intervals in the same or a modified form. [Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA 2001, p 1652]
Rhythm is the repetition or alternation of elements, often with defined intervals between them. Rhythm can create a sense of movement, and can establish pattern and texture. There are many different kinds of rhythm, often defined by the feeling it evokes when looking at it. [http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/]
Regular | Top
A regular rhythm occurs when the intervals between the elements, and often the elements themselves, are similar in size or length. [http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/]
Marimekko - Hevoskastanja
Flowing | Top
A flowing rhythm gives a sense of movement, and is often more organic in nature. [http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/]
Marimekko - Pelimanni and Matkalla Maalle
Gustav Klimt - The Blood of Fish
Progressive | Top
A progressive rhythm shows a sequence of forms through a progression of steps. [http://www.digital-web.com/articles/principles_of_design/]
Yellow Submarine - Sea of Holes
Wayne Thiebaud - Banana Splits
Grant Wood - Fall Plowing
Pattern | Top
1. a decorative design, as for wallpaper, china, textile fabrics, etc. 2. decoration or ornament having such a design. 3. a natural or chance marking, configuration, or design. 4. a distinctive style, model, or form. 5. a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement. [Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA 2001, p 1423]
Shape Vocabulary | Top
Just as we develop a vocabulary of words to make statements to express our thoughts, shape vocabulary does the same thing through the use of, you guessed it, shapes; a two-dimensional area or plane that may be organic or inorganic, free-form or geocentric, open or closed, natural or of human origin.
A line defines the inside or outside edge of a shape.
On a very basic level words are made of letters or characters. Similarly, shapes are comprised of smaller units of points and lines.
Points and Basic Shapes | Top
In living organisms, the cell is the smallest unit of an organism that is classified as living, and is sometimes called the building block of life. In art, the point functions similarly to the cell to form lines and shapes. The example below shows basic shapes and simple orientations. Certainly, many more possibilities exist and as you develop your own shape vocabulary these possibilities will grow.
Paul Signac - Pink Cloud
Paul Signac - Palais des Papes Avignon - Detail
Paul Signac - Palais des Papes Avignon
Lines | Top
An identifiable path of a point moving in space. It can vary in width, direction, and length. The thickness, length, and "shape" of the line affects its evocative qualities, how it makes us feel when we see it.
Vincent Van Gogh - Starry Night
Edvard Munch - The Scream
Alexei von Jawlensky - Meditation - 1935
The interrelationships of forms | Top
In the context of this page I use form as a more general term to represent forms, three-dimensional volume or the illusion of three dimensions, as well as, shapes, two-dimensional objects.
A single point may not hold artistic value, however, when you manipulate it and put it in the context of other elements: forms, shapes, lines, color, value, texture, and space you create patterns and hopefully, art.
Piet Mondrian -
Detachment | Top
Two forms remain separate from each other.
As the number of forms increases within the basic pattern the spacing between and among the forms adds to the connections, symbolism, communication, and flow of the pattern.
Touching | Top
Two forms touch.
One form crosses over the other and appears to remain above.
Interpenetration | Top
Same as overlapping, but the forms appear transparent. There is no obvious above-and-below relationship among them, and the contours of the forms remain entirely visible.
Union | Top
Same as overlapping, but the two forms are joined together and become a new, bigger form. Both forms lose one part of their contours when they are in union.
Subtraction | Top
When an invisible form crosses over a visible form, the result is subtraction. The portion of the visible form that is covered up by the invisible form becomes invisible also. Subtraction may be regarded as the overlapping of a negative form on a positive form.
A white circle is over the black circle.
Repetition of Forms | Top
The act or an instance of repeating or being repeated. Repetition provides a sense of harmony, rhythm, and or discordance. It can provide information about the content elements relationships to one another. It can show movement, distance, scale, and proportion. Repeating elements can place emphasis on the whole while obscuring individual elements or place emphasis on the individual in the context of the whole.
"The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts." [emergence]
In philosophy, systems theory and the sciences, emergence refers to the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.
M C Escher - Vogels
William Morris - Floral Wallpaper
Shape | Top
Repeating shapes while changing sizes, colors, orientation, etc. creates a sense of a common idea, while exploring the notion of variety and possibly change. You may think of shapes looking exactly alike, or, by observing nature see that no two leaves or flowers are exactly alike. They are similar enough to identify them as the same, but each has it's own individual characteristic.
Georgia O'Keeffe - Autumn Leaves
William Morris - Blue Willow
Size | Top
Repeating the same or similar size of a form while changing one or more aspects of the form provides commonality or general equality, but can also place more emphasis on individual forms.
William Morris - Early Pattern | Top
Andy Warhol - Che
Color | Top
All the forms are of the same color but their shapes and sizes may vary.
Henri Matisse - Dance
Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Texture | Top
All forms can be of the same texture but they may be of different shapes, sizes, or colors.
Andy Goldsworthy - Blue and Red Stones
Jackson Pollock - Untitled, 1947
Direction | Top
This is possible only when the forms show a definite sense of direction without the slightest ambiguity.
László Moholy Nagy - Untitled Construction
Aubrey Beardsley - Design for chapter heading from Le Morte Darthur, 1893-4
Frederick Carl Frieseke - Through the Vines
Experiment | Top
You can combine shapes and lines with different relationships and repeat the patterns to create a completely different pattern.
André Derain, Charing Cross Bridge, London
Henri Matisse, Harmony in Red (The Dessert)
Melissa and I would like to