Thursday, September 30, 2010

Principles of Art - Movement

Movement: the principle used to create the look and feeling of action and to guide the viewer's eye throughout the work of art.

(Movement and Rhythm are very closely related)

Movement implies that an object is in motion. In art, we can create a work so it appears to be in motion. for instance, in a cartoon, we often see little lines that indicate a character is running, or their legs may be blurred to indicate speed. another aspect of movement in art is creating a work which invites the observer's eyes to move around the picture.

Artists are particularly aware of the importance of movement as it allows the artist to direct the observer's eye.


1. Medieval (Gothic) cathedrals use vertical movement with their pillars and high ceilings to draw the viewer's eye heavenward.

2. Horizontal movement tends to be perceived as safe and stable.

(Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, c.1932 by Charles C. Ebbets)

3. Diagonal movement gives a sense of instability and action, as evident when we see flowers bending in the wind or an athlete running.

4. Spiral movement gives us a sense of depth and space.

So, by using the correct techniques, we can create a real sense of movement in a work.

Look at the images below. Notice how the lines lead your eye to a specific point. In the first, your eye is drawn up and to the right, where the lines converge. In the second image, your eye is drawn into the concentric circles. in the last image, the curved lines as well as the straight lines all lead your eye toward the black square. these are all examples of how movement can be used in a drawing to move your eye (or draw attention to) a specific point. In a drawing or painting, artists use different techniques to draw the viewer's eye to a specific point on the picture plane. They can use any of the elements or principles of design as attention-getters:
  • color
  • line
  • value
  • shape
  • emphasis

Even Leonardo used some of these devices to get the viewer to focus on one particular part (her face). As you can see, the places where the light and dark meet create lines that point to her face. No matter where on the painting we look, the lines lead our eyes back to her face.