Principles of Art

Principles of Art

 “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas  

The elements of art and principles of art are the foundation of art. As talked about in the earlier blog, elements of art are visual tools used by an artist to compose art. Principles of art on the other hand show how an artist uses those elements of art to create an impact and convey the artist’s story or message. The principles of art are Emphasis, Variety, Harmony, Balance, Rhythm, Movement, and Proportion.


When the artist uses an element that is visually dominant and stands out in comparison to the other elements, it grabs the attention of the viewer. This conveys importance and places attention on the main idea of the picture. It puts in focus the element that grabs your attention.


Variety is the counterpart to harmony and unity. Without harmony and unity, there is too much variety that makes art chaotic. On the other hand too much harmony and unity makes art very monotonous and dull. An artist tries to seek the perfect balance between the two. So this is a mixture of different elements of art so as to define an art in itself.


To define how the elements could be put together so that they complete each other appropriately. Even when certain elements are repeated they look and feel similar and create a satisfying effect. It creates a sense of connection between the objects in the artwork and thus a flow.


Balance is the stability and weight of visual elements of the art composition. There are three different types of balance:

Symmetrical Balance: Balance achieved by creating a mirror image in the composition. The design on both the sides of the centre line is same.

Asymmetrical Balance: Such a composition creates a balance by a contrast of any of the elements. This is commonly done to highlight an object in comparison to the other.

Radial Balance: Elements distributed around a central point creates Radial balance. The design is similar along the circular path.


Rhythm is defined by movement in/of an artwork. It is created by repetition of visual elements in an organized manner in the artwork and relies on variety.


The use of elements of art in a manner that makes the eyes of the viewers move in and around the image. Movement can be defined as the direction in which your eyes move when you look at a piece of art. Without movement an artwork becomes stagnant. So it is all the more important to ensure the viewer’s eyes are engaged in the work.


In simple terms, proportion is the relation of elements in an artwork to the whole artwork and to each other. While composition of an artwork, one should always ensure that the relationship between various elements is in scale so that it makes proper sense.

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