Rhythm in Artwork

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Pictures have rhythm, just as music or dance does.  Consider for a moment the standard Windows XP desktop background.   The green hill swells toward the top of the screen like a cresendo; the clouds in the background are a soft susurus against a steady blue chorus.

Degas often employed this principal in his paintings of dancers, as their frozen movements let us know that in just the next moment their arm will extend gracefully, and they will pieroette into the next figure of the dance.

Even a still life has a certain rhythm to it.  parallel lines, repeated structures, the curve of a container all draw the eye of the viewer into the picture.

The picture above is from my personal notebook.  This is a drawing based on a full-arm gesture, sketched in pencil and colored with colored pencils.  Notice how the waves echo the upward movement of the fish.

Objectives:
Introduce concept of rhythm.
Produce an artwork that incorporates rhythm.

Step by Step Procedures:

Also, display preselected examples of rhythm in artwork.
Degas’s dancers are a good example.
Ask students to produce their own work showing rhythm. Remind them that repeating patterns help with the effect, but that breaking up the pattern serves to redirect the eye.
Remind them that serious art work is essential; and that neatness and taking care of materials counts.

Allow students to select a variety of mediums, including collage.  Have construction paper scrap, crayon, oil pastel, colored pencil, magazines (for cutting), water color paint and glue on hand.

This lesson meets the following Missouri DESE Standards for Elementary Art Classes:
D.1 – Know the elements and principles of design.
I.1 – Select and apply two-dimensional media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas and solve challenging visual art problems
II – Elements and Principles
II.1 – Select and use elements of art for their effect in communicating ideas through artwork
II.2.D – Rhythm/Repetition
II.2.D.1 – Identify and use regular rhythm

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