Design Principle - Unity and Variety


Unity

Unity is the feeling that everything fits together.  It is a feeling of oneness.  The opposite of unity is disunity, a feeling of disorder. 

  • In art, unity is often achieved by the repetition of a shape, a color or another visual element.  
  • Another method is simplicity.  Simplicity is the use of one major color, kind of shape or element to unify a work.
  • In a third technique, called harmony, related colors, textures, materials might be combined.  A fourth technique is theme and variation.  In this case, an artist might organize a work around one major element like a circle, then include variations on the circle - showing it in different sizes and colors, or including some half-circles.

Variety

Variety is often said to be the spice of life.”  In art, variety is like a spice.  A totally unified work is likely to be boring if it has no variety. 

starry-night-variety

Starry Night

by Vincent Van Gogh

 Variety is the use of contrasting elements to make something interesting.  

  • The contrast, or difference, may be subtle, such as a slight change in texture or color within an area.  
  • It may be more obvious, such as a sharp difference in the materials, sizes of shapes, color or lighting.  
  • Just as we appreciate unity and variety in nature, we seem to want unity and variety in our lives - and in our art.

Sometimes works are unified by proximity or continuity. 

Proximity means that parts are grouped together, enclosed or clustered into sets. 

Continuity means that edges of forms are lined up so your eye moves from one part to another in a definite order.

What other works of art show unity and variety?