Design Series: Repetition

Sandy and I got together, virtually, of course, and recorded another episode. This time the topic was Repetition, which is a Principle of Design. Repetition is closely related to Unity, another principle of design and a topic we discussed in this series previously. If you didn’t listen to the Unity podcast, you would be well served to listen to it before you listen to this one.

As a reminder, the design definition with which we are working is:  Design is a problem solving activity within all the arts, placing or creating subject matter so it is of visual significance and interesting to the artist. (from The

“The principle of repetition is very versatile. It not only promotes the existence of unity, but it plays a significant role in the appearances of the principles of rhythm and harmony (Adventures in Design, pg. 97)

Definitions of Repetition:

  1. “[Repetition] provides visual clues to help move the eye about the picture. Similarities in elements reinforce the viewer’s recognition of symbols, strengthen the rhythm, encourage movement, and produce patterns. Introduce variations of repeated elements to prevent boredom.” (Liz Berg handout entitled Principles of Design from “Design the Abstract Quilt” workshop). Nota bene: When she uses ‘elements’ in this definition, she doesn’t mean design elements, but elements in the design; parts of the design, e.g. repeating a checkerboard at various intervals.
  2. “We use the word repetition to describe the practice of using design elements over and over again” (A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design, pg. 124)
  3. An element that repeats in various parts of a design to relate the parts (The Quilter’s Book of Design, 2d ed, pg.155)
  4. “Repetition in design is simply repeating one or more elements. (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg. 97)
  5. “…something simply repeats in various parts of the design to relate the parts to each other. The element that repeats may be almost anything: a color, a shape, a texture, a direction or an angle.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.28)
  6. Provides visual clues to help move the eye around the image. (Liz Berg handout entitled Principles of Design from “Design the Abstract Quilt” class)

“…repeated elements will help bring unity to our artistic creations.” (Art+Quilt, pg. 80)

“A definite focal point is not a necessity in creating a successful design. It is a tool that arts may or many not use, depending on their aims. An artist may wish to emphasize the entire surface of a composition over any individual elements.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.57) One way to do this is to repeat a motif or element.

  •  In Andy Warhol’s 100 Cans painting, there are “a hundred repetitions of precisely the same image with no change, no contrast, and no point of emphasis. But the repetitive, unrelieved quality is the basic point and dictated the design.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.57)

Repetition is used frequently in quiltmaking.

  • blocks
  • similar fabrics or colors
  • fabric repeats
  • Repeated vertical stripes in an Amish Bars quilt (Art+Quilt, pg. 80)

Repetition can be used in representational work as well. In Degas’ painting, The Millinery Shop, the artist often repeats a circle motif. The circles are a repeating element of visual unity, but the circles fit into the painting, because they represent objects such as hats, flowers, bows, the woman’s head, bosom, and skirt. (Pentak & Lauer, pg.28)

Examples of repetition in quilts and not:

Integrating with other Principles and Elements

  • Repetition is the element of choice to create unity. (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg.97)
  • “Repetition promotes the existence of unity, but it plays a significant role” in the appearances of rhythm as well. “Repetition that flows fluidly throughout a design allows rhythm to come forth. When Repetition and Rhythm work together in a visually pleasing manner, harmony is created.” (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg.97)
  • “…at least one repeating element” can serve to create unity.” (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg.97)
  • “If no repetition exists there is nothing to hold the design together.” (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg.98)
  • “Pattern is a repetitive design with a motif appearing again and again. A pattern is created when the viewer is led to anticipate the same elements in a design. The repetition does not have to symmetrical, nor does it have to be precisely placed for the view to be able to anticipate or a find a pattern.” (The Quilter’s Book of Design, 2d ed, pg.49)
  • Repetition is “a valuable and widely used device for achieving visual unity.” (Pentak & Lauer, pg.28)
  • Rhythm is “the repetition of a regular pattern, or a harmonious sequence or correlation of colors or elements.” (Art+Quilt by Lyric Kinard, pg.80)

Tips and Tricks

      • “Every element does not need to be repeated. If too many elements are repeated, predictability, visual monotony, and disinterest can result.” (Wolfrom, Adventures in Design, pg.97)
      • Elements can be repeated in different sizes, shapes or textures, etc and still be considered repetition. (Pentak & Lauer, pg.28)
  • “Similarities in elements reinforce the viewer’s recognition of symbols, strengthen the rhythm, encourage movement, and produce patterns. Introduce variations of repeated elements to prevent boredom.” (Liz Berg handout entitled Principles of Design from “Design the Abstract Quilt” class)

Notes:

If you have not seen Wayne Thiebaud‘s work, not only are his cakes and candies paintings whimsical, they are GREAT examples of repetition.

  •  “Repetition is another way to create unity in a quilt design. The repetition of an element in a composition can tie the whole together, creating a relationship among the elements.” (The Quilter’s Book of Design, 2d ed, pg.15) Nota bene: again, ‘element’ in this context means part.
  •  “…repetition of an element creates visual rhythm.” (The Quilter’s Book of Design, 2d ed, pg.15). Static rhythm, alternating rhythm and progressive rhythm have an effect on unity through repetition, but we will cover that when we cover the Principle of Rhythm.
  • “Repetition that flows fluidly throughout a design allows rhythm to come forth.” (Adventures in Design, pg. 97)
  • “When repetition and rhythm work together in a visually pleasing manner, harmony is created.” (Adventures in Design, pg. 97)

Repetition Resources

 Examples of Repetition:

Source: google.com via Jaye on Pinterest

 

Source: flickr.com via Jaye on Pinterest

Source: umla.tumblr.com via Jaye on Pinterest

 

 

About Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.
This entry was posted in Accessories, Design and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Design Series: Repetition

  1. Chris C says:

    Jaye, this is a very helpful article on design. Thanks for all the links to visuals to reinforce the concepts and all the time you spent putting this information together.

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