Design Principle - Rhythm & Movement

Visual rhythms, like rhythms in music, are created by repeating elements in a regular beat or order. Several types of rhythms are commonly used in visual art.


Visual rhythms can be very simple, as in a regular one-beat rhythm. An example might be a series of identical circles repeated one after another.

A progressive rhythm is built on regular changes in a repeated element. An example would be a series of squares, each slightly larger than the next.

An alternating rhythm is like a regular series of visual changes - circle-square, circle-square, circle-square and so on.

A flowing rhythm has a graceful path of repeated movements with no sudden changes.

In a jazzy rhythm, the repeated elements are varied in complicated patterns and combined with unexpected elements.

Not all of the visual movements in an artwork are rhythmic.  Sometimes a work has a dominant path of movement that adds to a mood.  The sense of movement may come from a tall, vertical form reaching upward.  Sometimes there is a path of motion leading to a center of interest.  Even the absence of motion can be expressed.  For example, a quiet, still, calm feeling may come from the use of many horizontal lines or forms.

Can you give examples of visual rhythms in nature, everyday life or dance?