August 11, 2011

Would the Real Principles of Design Please Step Forward?!!!?!

You think you know something, but then you realize you might not know it as well as you first thought!  I was working on a bulletin board and wanted to make sure I wasn't leaving any of the Principles of Design out.  When I googled it...the ones listed weren't exactly what I was thinking.  So what are the real  Principles of Design?  What do you use in your classroom? 

Unity, Rhythem, Pattern, Movement, Balance, Contrast, Emphasis, Harmony, Proximity, Dominance, Repetition, Gradation, Variety, Focal Point, Scale, Economy, Proportion


  1. I've always subscribed to the ones on the last picture which I believe is from Crystal Productions. It pretty much says it all. When you start getting into words like proximity and harmony, you start to sound like an interior designer.Just one art teacher's opinion:)

  2. Rhythm, balance, contrast, movement, variety, center of interest (emphasis) and repetition are the ones that my state has written into our standards, so those are now the ones that I use. I had the crystal production posters at another school, so I'm sure that is what I has used before. Of course, the posters I had last year for the principles of design didn't go with the state's version. It seems like my state is saying repetition instead of pattern and leaving out unity. I've never heard "gradation" or "economy" as principles.

  3. On our state website...the art vocabulary lists....

    Principles of Design: Used to organize the elements of art. The principles consist of balance, emphasis, unity/harmony, variety, movement, pattern, rhythm, and proportion.

    Count them...8 ?!?! Guess we couldn't decide either!! ha ha But contrast is not part of that list.

  4. I have the same issue especially because the curriculum we has a list of Principals AND Elements and I find some from each list being used in other sources. I have to keep both posters at the back of my room behind my student's heads so I can look at them when I'm teaching or I get confused on what "category" they are supposed to be in.
    By the end of 5th grade I want my kids to know these ideas:
    Line, shape, color (primary, secondary, warm, cool, neutral, complimentary), texture, form and pattern
    By the end of 8th grade I also want them to understand:
    space, unity, variety, balance, rhythm and color 2 (analogous, intermediate, irrigation, value)

    That gives us about 6 things to work on at each level...plenty to keep us busy:)

    I realize that I don't have proportion on either list...hum maybe that needs to be added

  5. I think that some are basically the same just a word choice difference! For example, unity/harmony, emphasis/focal point, repetition/pattern. They have been doing AP Art courses at the high school in my district so we started looking at what AP considers the elements (they have different elements for 2D and 3D) and are considering using their terminology since that's where the students are headed!

  6. I love this post - great observation. I don't think I've seen contrast or repetition listed, though I would include pattern and unity. Got us all thinking!

  7. I'm a design student and also a mom that stumbled onto your blog from Pinterest.

    In school were taught:
    focal point/emphasis

    but everyone accepts that there are more including repetition, movement, gradation and some elements such as form, value, shape, texture.

  8. And what's wrong with an artist or art teacher learning from Interior Design Pat?

  9. Absolutely nothing, Anonymous! I do have a problem with Anonymous bloggers though. We are a wonderful, crazy group of people who'd really like to get to know you! Please join us in the neverending conversation!