Art Can be Just as Rhythmic As Music
This month the topic I’m studying in my masters’ class is rhythm. (Hopefully by the end of this month I’d finally learn to spell rhythm right- without omitting the first letter H 🙂
Rhythm typically refers to music – yet it’s used to describe art too. Visual rhythm is about repetition and movement. It is repeating a design element a number of times in a way that makes the eye travel around the artwork. Repetition has the effect of creating unity in a piece. It pulls a piece together eliminating a disjointed look.
I went back to my handy-dandy book on design basics by Lauer, which I’ve read umpteen times already. In the book the authors point out that the senses of sight and hearing are so closely related that we often use words meant for one particular sense when talking about the other. For example we say a color is loud or soft when technically we cannot ‘hear’ how loud or soft color is. So it’s no wonder visual artistsalso use an auditory concept to describe a visual sensation of movement.
As a visual artist, this is how I see it. The aim for me as I design a piece, is to ensure that I have a repetition of objects that violates the viewers expectation and therefore creates some sort of tension.
For example, suppose I arrange the objects in the following pattern: black/white – black/white – initially it will be pleasing to you as a viewer because it forms a pattern that you can readily understand. But very soon you’ll lose interest in the pattern because it’s too predictable. My job therefore is to balance repetition with complexity.
Perhaps black/white – black/white – black/black/white – black/white – white/white/black . That is sure to catch your attention more; because it engages not just your visual senses but it makes your brains want to figure out what to expect next. It also makes your eyes move around the entire piece of artwork looking for more clues and in the process enjoying what you see.
I can’t say I’m musically inclined. Actually I can barely hold a tune. But my cousin who is a music producer and I, often discuss the similarities between the visual arts and music. However, we’ve never before discussed syncopation (which is the equivalent of visual rhythm in music). Next time we chat, I know for sure we have something new to talk about.
Here are three sketches I drew based on the concept of visual rhythm.
How do you think I’m doing?
I’ll love to hear what you’ve got to say.