Launchpad: Repetition in Visual Arts (Student)

Repeat After Me: Repetition in the Visual Arts

Practice Makes Perfect? Introducing Repetition in Composition | Repetition and the Use of Color | Working together: Form and Color

 

1. Practice Makes Perfect? Introducing Repetition in Composition

Part 1

In this activity you are going to searching for visual repetition. Begin by taking a look at the following painting by Claude Monet:

Palazzo del Mula Venice

Print out the line drawing of this painting provided here, and use this print out to show all the instances of repetition that you can find in Monet’s painting. After discussing your findings with the class take a look at the following diagrams:


Did you find all of the instances of visual repetition that are shown in these diagrams?

Part 2

Now, take a look at the following painting by Thomas Eakins:

Thomas Eakins’ The Champion Single Sculls

Visual repetition in some ways acts like an echo. There is frequently one feature (often this is the object that is in the foreground of the painting) that appears as the "original," with additional recurrences seeming to repeat—to echo—the first. Think about what happens when they hear an echo. Usually, you hear the first sound, and then you turn your attention to the echoed "response," and soon you begin searching with your ears for additional recurrences. Visual repetition can have the same effect: the recurrences of the visual "echoes" draw a viewer’s attention to that point in the image, and soon they are searching with their eyes for additional references. In this way repetition is often used as a tool by artists for guiding the viewer’s eye around the canvas.

Print out the line drawing of Eakins’s painting available here. Work with your group to identify instances of visual repetition in this painting. Think about the path that your eyes take as you look at this painting. Draw that path on the print out, either in a line, or by numbering the order in which your eyes fall on objects in the composition.

  • Where did you look first?
  • Where did your attention shift to next?
  • Did you notice anything particular about the path your eyes followed?

 

2. Repetition and the Use of Color

Part 1

Begin this activity by taking a look at the following painting by William H. Johnson:

William H. Johnson’s Harlem Street

Print out the line drawing of this painting. Work with your group to note instances of repetition in this painting on your print out. Remember that visual repetition is not only the repetition of form, but also of color.

Once you have had a chance to note on the print out instances of visual repetition in this painting, discuss with your group the ways in which Johnson has used visual repetition to guide your eye around the image. Look at the following diagrams which highlight Johnson’s use of color repetition:


Once you and your group have had a chance to discuss Johnson’s painting, you will present your findings to the class.

Part 2

Now, take a look at the following image by William S. Schwartz:

Mining in Illinois

Print out the line drawing of Schwartz’s painting and use it to mark the instances of repetition that you find working with your group. Once you have identified of repetition in Schwartz’s composition view the following diagrams:


You and your group should use the diagrams to help you answer the following question:

  • How do the similarly colored elements within the composition help to move the viewer’s eye across the picture plane?


Part 3

Now, view the following image by the American painter Alan Rohan Crite:

School’s Out

Print out the line drawing of this painting and work with your group to identify examples of repetition in Crite’s painting. Once your group has identified examples of repetition view the following diagram together:


This diagram highlights the repetition of one color, however, that is not the only color that is repeated throughout the composition. Work with your group to identify and mark at least one other use of color repetition in Crite’s painting. Then use this diagram to answer the following question:

  • How do these similarly colored elements within the composition help to move the viewer’s eye around the painting?

 

3. Working together: Form and Color

Part 1

Begin by viewing the following painting by the well-known American artist, George Bellows:

George Bellows’ New York


Your teacher will either assign you to concentrate on form repetition or color repetition. Print out the line drawing of this painting and use it to mark instances of the type of repetition that you have been assigned. When you feel that you have found as many examples of repetition that you can, you will work with another student who was searching for the other kind of visual repetition. Explain your findings to your partner. You will compare your notes, and should pay particular attention to the places where repetition of form and color occur simultaneously. When you have finished your discussion compare your findings to this diagram:


This diagram doesn’t show the only possibilities, so it may not match your findings exactly.

  • Were you and your partner able to spot the repetitions shown in this diagram?
  • How do the repetitions shown in this diagram draw the viewer’s eye into the picture?


Part 2

Now, take a look at the following painting by the artist John Biggers:

Your teacher will either assign you to concentrate on form repetition or color repetition. Print out the line drawing of this painting and use it to mark instances of the type of repetition that you have been assigned. When you feel that you have found as many examples of repetition that you can, you will work with another student who was searching for the other kind of visual repetition. Explain your findings to your partner. You will compare your notes, and should pay particular attention to the places where repetition of form and color occur simultaneously. When you have finished your discussion compare your findings to these two diagrams:


This diagram doesn’t show the only possibilities, so it may not match your findings exactly.

  • Were you and your partner able to spot the repetitions shown in this diagram?
  • How do the repetitions shown in this diagram draw the viewer’s eye into the picture?