It’s time to wrap up the series focusing on the elements and principles of design with today’s post. Our final segment will introduce proportion, rhythm and movement.
Let’s begin with the principle of proportion which raises awareness to the mathematical relationship between the parts of a whole and to each other. Keeping in mind that this design rule not only applies to the parts of a pattern, but also to the shape which contains the whole. This is the appropriate time to point the reader to the ancient Greek mathematical principles of the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio as well as findings by the 13th century Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci.
The short version of the Golden Mean ( Golden Ratio, Golden Section) is that even before the the Renaissance, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio, especially in the form of the Golden Rectangle in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio. In turn artists believed this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing. Mathematicians continue to study the Golden Ratio because of its unique and interesting properties.
In contrast: The Fibonacci Sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers, starting with 0 and 1. The sequence begins 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610 etc. Fibonacci principles have been used throughout history in a variety of disciplines. More recently quilt designers have embraced and widely taught the concept. Ricky Tims is one quilt teacher who has explored the concept successfully and shared the information in his book Convergence Quilts.
Let us return now to the final design principles of Rhythm and Movement. Rhythm refers to the movement of a viewer’s eye across repeating or recurrent motifs. This
movement uses a horizontal, vertical or oblique directional thrust into the space and across the surface of an artwork. It may be achieved with either shapes, variation of scale, stitching/quilting lines, textured embellishments or a combination of these.
The ultimate goal in combining the elements and principles of design is Unity. It is the ruling principle of artistic design and harmony, in which all elements are ordered so as to contribute to a harmonious whole: “everything appears to belong together”, also referred to as a Balanced Composition.