Principle of Art Movement

Some topics in art confuse a lot of people. Perhaps the most common one is movement, which many artists find difficult to understand and apply to their artwork. A principle of art movement is one of the basic principles of art used to create art. Movement is essential in a piece of art. It is the illusion of motion caused by some elements not being completely static in work. Movement can be achieved with several artistic techniques, including color, shape, pattern, and line.

The movement shows us that things are happening, whether fast or slow, left or right. The principle of art movement helps us understand each other, communicate with each other, and enjoy the many different types of beauty that we see. This blog article will examine different ways you can create movement in your composition. This article will discuss the principle of art movement in detail. Keep reading to learn more.

Defining Movement In Art

It is called movement in art when it creates an intention in the viewer by suggesting a path, flow, or direction. In this form of art, shapes, color, line, and the arrangement of objects in space apply to imply motion either as a visual queue or as a visual illusion.

The concept of movement is an art principle consisting of multiple elements. As a result, it can be symmetrical or asymmetric in its use in creating motifs. A motif makes a solid unifying factor within a composition, enabling the movement of the art to flow.

Creating emphasis on the arts is also influenced by the movement. An artwork’s focus, depth, and effectiveness as a communication tool can be influenced by this concept. A core concept is the foundation of some arts, and the concept behind its principle is its core concept. In many visual art and kinetic art forms, this can be seen through different techniques and visual effects.

Types of Movement

An artwork’s movement is the path that the viewer’s eye follows through it, often to the focal point. Such movement can be directed among the lines, edges, shapes, and colors within a piece of art. The artist uses movement to draw the viewer’s attention through the piece.

There are three types of movements:

  • Physical movement.
  • Juxtaposition.
  • Moving the viewer’s eye.

Physical Movement

A work of art contains movement in the form of physical movement. There is no doubt that movements are present in work. A piece of art conveys an underlying sense of motion. Drawing or painting lines in the direction of the moving object can convey this. A mobile can be an example of a three-dimensional artwork with a spherical shape.


The second type of movement is called juxtaposition. Contrastingly, the artist uses a freeze-frame approach to depict the subject. It is usually possible to use a type of movement such as this to show the subject in the air, or at a certain angle.

Moving the Viewer’s Eye

The third type of movement is to move the viewer’s eye. The way describes a work of art that the viewer’s eye moves around in it. By placing objects on the picture plane or by using elements of art throughout the artwork, an artist can determine movement. An excellent example of moving the viewer’s eye is Hokusai’s Under the Wave off Kanagawa.

Creating Movement in Art: Ideas

Everyone has a unique style of painting or drawing. Some come naturally, others take practice. But no matter if your style is abstract or realistic, if you want to build this into a business or are just wanting to share what you create with the world, one thing is certain: your artwork needs movement.

Creating Movement With Rhythm

Musical and dance rhythms are most closely associated with the arts. Musical rhythms involve the repetition of a single beat over time. Visual rhythm can appear by repeating shapes, colors, lines, or other visual components. For example, columns and rows of windows contribute rhythm to architecture. Shelves of books and tiled floors contribute rhythm to daily life. They are all repeated in some way.

Generally, repeating elements are known as motifs. For an artwork to have rhythm, motifs are necessary. If the size and spacing of a motif change, then the rhythm will be irregular. A natural rhythm is one in which there are no regularities. For example, trees in a forest grow at an irregular pace. They are all different. They may be thin or wide, but they all are trees.

A motif considered regular have the same size and spacing. The rhythm of a regular motif feels deliberate and purposeful. City streets have lamp posts that are exactly the same – each one identical. Motifs serve as guides through compositions. As we watch one motif followed by another, our eyes move through the composition. A composition’s tempo or speed depends on the amount of space between manifestations of the motif.

Creating Movement with Lines

There are two types of lines: static and dynamic. Static lines consist of verticals and horizontals. Due to their real-world stability when they meet at right angles, vertical and horizontal edges are common in most buildings. By contrast, dynamic lines imply movement much more effectively. The dynamic lines in a picture usually run diagonally to the edges and may zigzag or sweep inward.

Movement can also appear by lines in another way. Drawing a line is like drawing a path. Lines begin and end at specific points in space because of the artist’s hand movement. Lines can sometimes appear as moving dots in art. Artists use Lines to depict the path something takes in a picture.

Creating Movement With Color

Dynamic use of color can enhance the feeling of movement, just as dynamic lines can add movement to a “still” work of art. There are also different “color notes,” which are often categorized as either high or low keys. The chroma of a high key color is solid and light in value. In contrast, a low-key color has a dull and dark value. When juxtaposing these colors, they are louder and busier than a picture with a limited key range.

Implied Movement

To illustrate movement in a work of art, perhaps the most direct approach is to look at how things change as they move. For example, If a person walks versus stands still, how do they change? If a person runs versus walks, what is the difference? The artist can convey the movement of walking or running by changing a person’s balance point and posture.

implied movement painting
Credit: John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent’s painting, Spanish Dancer, shows implied movement clearly. It is important to note that the dancer’s feet are not centered over her head. The viewer can infer that she is either moving or in an off-balance position from the relative orientation of her head and feet. She is being pulled to the left by gravity. It will be extremely difficult for her not to fall if she keeps moving her feet. Since she is dancing, she won’t fall.

In addition to implying movement, an artist may position the subject so that it only means it is moving. For example, If a person throws a ball in the background, a ball floating in the foreground has to be moving. There is enough movement implied by both the ball’s location in space and the moment when the thrower makes the throw.

Creating Movement With Illusion

compositional movement in art

With the development of Op Art in the mid-20th century, a few artists elevated the concept of compositional movement. Op Art is a type of art that employs repetition and contrast to create movement. Op Art isn’t a representation; it organizes complex visual sensory information based on brain activity. It’s like overloading our visual senses. Images that convey the impression of movement engage and excite viewers. What do you think of this picture above? Does it look like it’s moving? Are you having trouble focusing?

Application Of Movement Across Many Mediums In Art

The movement can influence any medium of art. In addition to sculpture, pottery, wood art, and carving, there are many other art forms. There may be variations in the way they perform. The fact remains that they are essential components of all media.

Every artist will present movement differently in accordance with the style they prefer. They will nevertheless incorporate the essential components required to create it. Throughout the process, the artist will show their personality and creativity in how they represent this within their work. Incorporating a movement principle into your work can result in transformational experiences. This experience will forever alter how you create art and how others view your work. 

Do some media present greater challenges than others? Certainly. In general, wood is a two-dimensional material unless it is carved to a three-dimensional shape. A canvas treated as if it were made of wood becomes more challenging to move because of its grain.

Shadows and sometimes depth within a composition are difficult to achieve with wood. The easiest way to achieve movement is through pattern and repetition. This is not to say that one cannot complete the other. To find what works for them in their art, the artist must experiment and be creative. To see what works for them in their art, they need to be creative and explore.

Examples of Movement in Art

Examples of movement in the art are extremely useful for artists who want to succeed. Having many ideas about images can help you bring in more success. Knowing the simple examples of movement will help you with your artwork because it is a great way to see different art styles that have specific painting designs. If a painter has a chosen subject and wants to portray that subject, they may do it in an unnatural form if they do not know what they are doing. This is why discussing the examples of movement in art is important before starting a painting or drawing.

1. Fishing Boats on the Coast at éTretat by Claude Monet, 1884

Fishing Boats on the Coast painting
Credit: Claude Monet

Use suggestive brushwork to mimic your art’s general movement and gesture as a simple but effective way to capture movement. This watery painting by Claude Monet captures the rough and energetic strokes of the artist. The general ebbs and flows of the river are portrayed by sweeping strokes, whereas the whitewater is represented by thick dabs of gray and white colors.

2. On The Rocks At Javea by Joaquín Sorolla, 1905

Rocks At Javea painting
Credit: Joaquín Sorolla

An artist who uses broken color paints with small dabs of color that are distinct. Your eyes tend to jump between all the different colors as if your world is vibrating. This is particularly effective when depicting movement.

In line with the general movement and gesture, you can even use the broken color in conjunction with suggestive brushwork. As you can see in this painting above by Joaquín Sorolla, he used an assortment of colors that follow the flow of water; notice the different shades of blue, green, yellow, white, and purple. As the colors overlap, the rocks in shadow allow the shallow water to blend in with them.

3. Tasmania Seascape by Dan Scott, 2018

Tasmania Seascape painting
Credit: Dan Scott

A contrast of thick texture for turbulent areas and thin texture for calm ones can be effective if you are trying to convey the movement of water. This can be seen in the painting above, where thick, white paint has been applied to the areas that are crashing, while smooth, solid paint has been applied to calmer areas.

4. Lofoten Island by Lev Feliksovich Lagorio, 1895

Lofoten Island painting
Credit: Lev Feliksovi

There can be a visual rhythm to art, just as there is a rhythm to the music. But Lines, colors, and shapes are used instead of notes and sounds. You can jump from one element to another as your eyes follow a strong rhythm in a painting. The contours of the water on Lofoten Island, for example, create repetitive triangular patterns which become larger or smaller depending on how the water flows. These shapes provide a sense of movement and rhythm.

5. Snow Storm by J.M.W. Turner, 1842

Snow Storm painting
Credit: J.M.W. Turner

Scumbling is a technique in which broken color is applied over a surface with a dry brush. Dark foundations are usually scumbled with light colors. In this way, you can create atmospheric effects and movement with an ethereal appearance. Joseph William Turner used scumbling in his atmospheric paintings. Multiple layers of gray, blue, green, and white are layered over each other in his Snow Storm.

Final Words

The principle of art movement, which represents the movement of objects, is the first and most important principle of art study.  It appears in many different forms, so it can’t be easily defined. The best way to describe the concept is to say that there needs to be at least some attempt to show how objects that appear still actually do have some element of movement within the scene. The essence of this principle and its difference in function from other principles of art is that it mainly stresses the dynamic relationship between the artist and the subject. In contrast, all other principles focus more on objectivity and movement.

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