Art Principles

Much like the Art Elements, there are also seven art principles. These are as follows: balance, emphasis, unity, variety, proportion, movement, and harmony.


Balance is exactly what it sounds like --balance. If there is one thing on the left side in the art, then there is also something on the right side. This creates a sense of equilibrium.
Artist: Grant Wood
American Gothic is a wonderful example of this. The man is on the right side while the woman is on the left side. Not one side is heavier than the other.


Emphasis is what the artist really wants your eyes to be drawn to first. It is the main thing, the center of interest, in the work.

Artist: George Bellows
For example, the first thing your eyes notice in this painting is the boxers. After you look at them, THEN your eyes glance around to see the people in the audience. These people, however, aren't as easy to see as the boxers; some of their faces are even blurred. This is not because of poor artistic skills but because the artist doesn't want you to look at them as much as he wants you to look at the boxers.


Unity is when different art elements and principles are used to make up an artwork and combine in a way that is harmonious.

Artist: Vincent van Gogh

For example, the picture above uses color (the "cool" blues), line and movement

Variety is much like unity in that it is a combination of different elements. However, the result does not have to be harmonious.
Artist: Joseph Cornell
In this picture, there are many different textures (the feathers of the bird, the wood of the box, the torn up paper, the cracks, etc.) and there are different forms (the box, the ball, the cylinder in the right corner, etc.)


Proportion refers to the size of one part compared to the size of another part. Whether something is bigger or something is smaller, it is in terms of proportion.
Artist: Rembrandt van Rijn
The art easel in this painting is much bigger than the man looking at it. In fact, the man looks extremely short compared to the easel. Most likely the man isn't that small and it is just the artist's way of showing that the art easel is much closer and the man is farther away through the principle of proportion.


Movement is the suggestion of motion in the artwork. It generally portrays an action, such as running or the wind blowing.

Artist: Roy Lichtenstein
For instance, we can see that the couple are not only sitting in the car, but we can also infer that the car is moving rather fast because of the lines shown.


Harmony is much like unity in that it is the result of combining similar elements.

Artist: Leonid Afremov

In this picture, each color is shown everywhere. Even though each color is different, they are placed everywhere throughout the painting which makes it harmonious. Also, there is the use of line which is the pathway; it take our eyes deeper into the painting so we can take in all of it from the multi-colored trees to the multi-colored house.

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