E4 Repetition, Variation & Rhythm

Repetition and Variation are both independent principles that are frequently combined with stunning visual affects, and often towards the development or illumination of a story or narrative.

Repeating something is one thing, but aside from any need to create unity, what is there about that thing or item that makes it worth repeating? Are we talking about repeating a precise shape or maybe “being influenced” by a shape in general? Is this thing a texture, a movement, a color, a palette of colors, a meandering pattern?

And aside from making the soup of life interesting, variety can also introduce creative individuals into unexpected and engaging paths. Below are some examples: A cloud covers the base of Mt. Fuji and its unique shape gets repeated and varied into a pattern of marshy grass clusters; ■  A Cy Twombly-inspired drawing is populated by arcs, loops, and straight lines – repeated and varied by widths, textures and tones; ■  Marge, Not the Neighbors Again features a cluster of onlookers whose individual shapes are somewhat similar to exclamation marks – even down to their comparable sizes. ■ But at the end of the day, repetition and variation may serve to engage or even settle the human spirit much like a pair of warm slippers or – here goes – a mixed box of donuts.


Yoshiwara/Fuji Marsh by Utagawa Hiroshige (1855, Chicago Institute of Art)








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