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Rhythmic structure in visual art and design are often described in terms borrowed from
music vocabulary. The connection between visual rhythms and musical rhythms can be
more than simile or metaphor. In some cases the visual rhythms composed by an artist
seems to resonate with memories or associations in our senses. With visual experience
actually stimulates one of our other senses, this effect is called kinesthetic empathy.

Visual rhythm: rhythm as a design principle is based on repetition. Repetition, as an
element of visual unity, is exhibited in some manner by almost every work of art.
However, rhythm involves a clear repetition of elements that are the same or only slightly

Shapes and repetitions
We may speak of the rhythmic repetition of colors or textures, but most often we think of
rhythm in the context of shapes and their arrangement. In music some rhythms are called
legato or connecting and flowing.

Legato: a connecting and flowing rhythm.

Rhythm is a basic characteristic of nature. The pattern of the seasons, of day and nigh, of
the tides and even of the movements of the planets, all exhibits a regular rhythm. This
rhythm consists of successive patterns in which the same elements reappear in a regular
order. In a design or painting this would be termed an alternating rhythm.

Alternating rhythm: A rhythm that consists of successive patterns in which the same
elements reappear in a regular order. The motifs alternate consistently with one another to
produce a regular sequence.

Converging patterns

Another type of rhythm is called progression or progressive rhythm. The rhythm
involves repetition, but repetition of a shape that changes in a regular manner. There is a
feeling of sequential pattern. This type of rhythm is most often achieved with progressive
variation of the size of a shape, though its color value, or texture could be varying

Progressive rhythm: repetition of a shape that changes in a regular pattern.

The most complex rhythmic structure we can ascribe to an artwork, or musical piece for
that matter, is a polyrhythmic structure. This overlay se rhythmic patterns produces a
complex result, even if the parts are simple. Check p 122

Polyrhythmic rhythm: a complex pattern employing more than one rhythm or beat.

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