Rhythm in art refers to the arrangement of shapes in a way that creates an underlying beat. It is similar to the rhythm of music, but instead of notes and sounds, we use colors, shapes, and lines.
A friend recently asked me what my newest landscape painting was about. Immediately the title “Rhythm and Blues” popped into my head. I hadn’t previously thought of a title but the words seemed so apropos.
I had been gifted a lovely, prepared arch-shaped canvas a few years ago but was saving it for the right moment. Apparently, the right moment finally arrived, as I placed the canvas in my car before I drove off to paint in the morning. This was the first time I painted on a semi-circle or half-circle-shaped format and it won’t be my last. I love it!
I appreciate the flow created by the semi-circle format; the eyes move easily around the top curve and to the sides of the canvas.
The subject I chose to paint was a view just down the road along the coast. There were a few large trees with long limbs in the foreground and the ocean with crashing waves along the lava coastline in the background.
The spacing of the trees’ trunks creates a rhythm that moves laterally across the canvas. This then creates an alternative pattern of ‘negative shapes’, the spaces between the trees. The depiction of the lava coastline moving back in space is interspersed between the trees. This allows the eyes to shift back and forth, alternating between background and foreground.
Another visual flow is created by the various hues of blues to depict air, water, and the cool of the shadows. A pattern of shifting colors and brushmarks skims across the surface of the painting.
Painting is a visual language and like music, the use of patterns, rhythm, and beats within a work of art engage the viewer that much more.