Art Lesson: The Principles of Good Design - Movement

Artist Teresa Bernard
Bluemoon Original Oil Paintings

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Lesson #3: The Principle of Movement

principle of movementMovement is the path our eyes follow when we look at a work of art. The purpose of movement is to create unity in the artwork with eye travel. This can be achieved by using repetition, rhythm, and action. Movement ties the work together by relating the various components of a work together.

By arranging the composition elements in a certain way, an artist controls and forces the movement of the viewer's eyes in and around the composition with the painting. For example, the eye will travel along an actual path such as solid or dotted line, or it will move along more subtle paths such as from large elements to little elements, from dark elements to lighter elements, from color to non color, from unusual shapes to usual shapes, etc. Graduation of size, and repeated shapes and size of related elements subtly leads the eye as well.

repetition and rhythmMovement in Repetition and Rhythm

The use of repetition to create movement occurs when elements which have something in common are repeated regularly or irregularly sometimes creating a visual rhythm. Repetition doesn't always mean exact duplication either, but it does mean similarity or near-likeness. Actually, slight variations to a simple repetition will add interest. Repetition tend to tie thing together whether they are touching or not and is an easy way to achieve unity.

Rhythm is the result of repetition which leads the eye from one area to another in direct, flowing, or staccato movement. It can be produced by continuous repetition, by periodic repetition, or by regular alternation of one of more forms or lines. A single form may be slightly changed with each repetition or be repeated with periodic changes in size, color, texture, or value. A line may regularly very in length, weight, or direction. Color may also be repeated in various parts of the composition in order to unify the various areas of the painting.

movement in designMovement through Action

Movement can also be created by action. In two-dimensional works of art, action must be implied. Implied action in a painting creates life and activity within the composition. This is best illustrated by the direction the eye takes along an invisible path created by an arrow, a gaze, or a pointing finger. Action can also be indicated by the "freeze frame" effect of an object in motion, such as bouncing ball suspended in mid air, a jogger about to take that next step, or a swimmer taking a dive, etc.




Examples of the effective use of Movement

effective movementRepetition creates the movement in the painting on the left. The color of the gowns is repeated leading the eye into the painting. The pattern on the floor also creates repetition.

Movement is created in the painting on the right as your eye travels from the little girl on the blanket and moves up the stairs.



Your Next Art Lesson

Click on a link below to proceed on to the next lesson or go back and study a previous one or return to the
Art Lesson Index to select your next lesson.

Lesson #1: Introduction

Lesson #2: The principle of balance

Lesson #3: The principle of movement

Lesson #4: The principle of emphasis

Lesson #5: The principle of simplicity

Lesson #6: The principle of contrast

Lesson #7: The principle of proportion

Lesson #8: The principle of space

Lesson #9: The principle of unity


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