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The feeling of rhythm is of tremendous importance in figure drawing. Unfortunately, it is one of the easiest things to miss. In music we feel tempo and rhythm. In drawing it is much the same. Considered technically, rhythm is a "flow" of continuous line resulting in a sense of unity and grace.
We call the rhythmic emphasis on a line or contour "picking up." The line of an edge, observed across the form, will he picked up and continued along another contour. The next few-drawings may serve as examples. Look for this phenomenon of rhythmic line, and you will find its beauty in all natural forms — in animals, leaves, grasses, flowers, sea shells, and in the human figure.
We are conscious of the rhythm that pulses through the universe, beginning with the atom and ending with the stars. Rhythm suggests repetition, flow, cycles, waves, and all are related to a unified plan or purpose. The feeling ol rhythm in drawing, aside from the abstract, is a "follow-through" in line, just as it is in the movements of various sports. A bowler or golfer, a tennis player, or any other athlete must master the smooth "follow-through" to develop rhythm. Follow your lines through the solid form and watch them become part of a rhythmic plan. When a drawing looks clumsy, the chances are that the trouble lies in its lack of "follow-through." Clumsiness in action—and in drawing —is lack of rhythm that results in a jerky, uneven, disorganized movement.
There are some basic lines of rhythm for which we can be constantly on the alert. The first is called the "Ilogarth" line of beauty. It is a line that gracefully curves in one direction and then reverses itself. In the human form, it is present everywhere: in the line of the spine, the upper lip, the ear, the hair, the waist and hips, and down the side of the leg to the ankle. It is like the letter S in variation.
A second line of rhythm is the spiral, a line starting at a point and swinging around that point in a spreading, circular movement. This rhythm of line is apparent in sea shells, a whirlpool, or a pin wheel.
The third line of rhythm is called the parabola, which is a sweep of line continually bending to a greater curve, like the course of a skyrocket. These three lines are the basis of most ornamentation. They can also be made the basis of pictorial composition. They seem to be so thoroughly a part of all graceful movement that they * should be given great consideration in all drawing of movement. The lines of rhythm in animals are easily observed and hence easily comprehended.
Rhythm may be forceful, as in great waves beating upon a coast,, or gentle and flowing, as in the ripples of a pond. Recurrent rhythm moves and stirs us, or gives us a feeling of rest-fulness and composure, pleasing to the senses. The so-called "streamline" is rhythm applied to ugly contour. The commercial application of this principle has been eminently successful. The lines of our trains and ships and motorcars, our planes, and our household appliances have been built upon this conccpt first recognized in nature—in die dolphin among other fish, in birds, and in all living things designed for swift motion.
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