Lesson 3: Repetition in the Visual Arts

view of the palazzo from across a venice canal, done in tones of blue, yellow, green and white, in the impressionist style
Photo caption

Palazzo da Mula at Venice, Claude Monet.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

When we view paintings and other works of art our eyes usually move across the surface of the canvas, hitting on various points, objects, and figures in the picture. Our attention is drawn to particular parts of the image—to certain figures or actions—which propel the narrative captured in the picture or which convey certain information to the viewer. Certainly the artist wants to be sure that the audience pays the most attention to the important elements—such as the focal point—in the image rather than decorative or background elements. In this lesson students will learn about repetition, one of the techniques artists often use to highlight important elements within a painting's composition, and to move a viewer's eye around the canvas, from highpoint to highpoint.

Guiding Questions

How do compositional elements guide the viewer's eye around the canvas?

What is repetition in the visual arts, and how does it affect works of art?

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson students will be able to: Identify repetition in the composition of a variety of art works, and how it is used to create a unified composition

Explain how the artist's compositional choices guide the viewer's eye to important components of the image

Discuss ways in which the compositional structure of a painting affects the tone of the painting, or communicates information or emotional content to the viewer.