Rhythms and patterns

This is my learning log for TAOP exercise 2-9 “Rhythms and Patterns”.

I guess I should start by noting, for the record, that I find the course material about these two design ideas particularly weak. Attempts are made at distinguishing rhythm from pattern, but I simply did not “get” the difference. So I went googling the subject to see if I could find an explanation that made more sense to me.

The best definition I could find was from SOPHIA:

Repetition refers to one object or shape repeated; pattern is a combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement; rhythm–is a combination of elements repeated, but with variations.

The page then goes on to provide 20 examples drawn from paintings, sculpture, photography and fabric weaves.

The explanations made me think of my favourite salt shakers. A few years ago I made a trick photo with a large group of them.

Scary in large groups

Scary in large groups

Is that rhytm or pattern? Going with my current understanding, it is rhythm – there is a regular recurring arrangement, and although it is broken to add some interest, the single yellow shaker is not enough variation to introduce a visual beat into the picture.

With the concepts (at least somewhat) clear in my mind, I went to work on the exercise, which called for me to make (at least) two pictures. One conveying rhythm and the other pattern. I had a walk around the neighbourhood. Suddenly every fence and every cobbled street attracted my attention. Plenty of repetition. Plenty of patterns. But I’m still finding it somewhat difficult to keep rhythm and patterns apart. I started to think of it in musical terms. Dum-dum-dum-dum-dum is repetition. Dum-di-dum-di-dum-di is a pattern, and a 4/4th hearth-beat dum-di-da-da- dum-di-da-da is a rhythm. But repeated enough it’s also a pattern. Help!

Anyway, this wall at the old dis-used church-yard with all the lovely texture in the weathered stones screamed out to be my “pattern” example. They fill the entire frame so the viewer gets the impression that there is no end to them, and I hope the bright green moss and the leaves above break the pattern up enough to give it some visual interest.

Weathered brick wall

Picture 1: Pattern of weathered bricks

For my rhythm example I didn’t have to look much further. A partly overgrown path, with the cobblestones arranged in overlapping concentric semi-circles:

Picture of cobblestones in a rhythmic arrangement

Picture 2: Rhytmic cobblestones

Going back to my confusion about the difference between the two concepts, I now believe that they are, to a large degree, two sides of the same coin. Very closely related. But to make a distinction, pictures with rhythm have a less rigid and more free-flowing pattern than, errr, those with patterns. It fits the definition I borrowed from SOPIA, and it fits the examples here and in the course material.

On the way home, I stopped at our Saturday-market and bought colourful dried fruits and nuts, thinking that they could make a nice still life for the exercise. But now I’m thinking they can might also be used for one of the pictures in the next assignment. And best of all – once done, I can eat the props!

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  1. Assignment 2: Elements of Design | Imaginary Visions - [...] have documented earlier in my learning log the confusion I have about the difference between rhythm and pattern. When…

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