Give That Artistic Rhythm All You’ve Got

Artistic RhythmIt don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing
(doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)

It don’t mean a thing all you got to do is sing
(doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)

It makes no difference
If it’s sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm
Everything you’ve got
It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing
(dooah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah

Duke Ellington and lyricist Irving Mills were on to something with their wildly popular tune, It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing). What I am referring to here is rhythm – artistic rhythm.

I read a definition of art this past week that got me to thinking:

“Art is the rhythmic expression of feeling.” (Harold Speed)

Artistic rhythm is the key.

The key that separates self-expression from artistic self-expression. The work that draws us in, the most successful art is executed with rhythm.

There are three ways to attain that rhythmic expression. The first two are the use of the elements and principles of art. When you know, understand and use these, well, rhythm naturally occurs.

The elements of art are the tools with which you construct your art and create rhythm.

The principles of art are the rules you apply to the elements to organize your work into a rhythmic whole. A good (or great) piece of art occurs when you select design principles to reinforce the expressive idea you wish to communicate and rely on the dominance of one element or principle to establish rhythm. Many of the principles and elements of art are words that we regularly associate with rhythm: balance, repetition, space, line, pattern, unity, harmony, dominance, contrast.

The result of pulling all of these elements and principles together into your work to create artistic rhythm is called composition.

According to Wikipedia, “composition means ‘putting together,’ and can apply to any work of art, from music to writing to photography, that is arranged or put together using conscious thought.”

But remember, there’s a third way to achieve rhythm and it is the most important. It is the one that truly separates good art from not-so-good art.

You must add your own artistic rhythm.

I love to create work that makes my heart sing. I create with the inner rhythm of an artist in love with what she is doing. My art echoes the beat of my heart. The lyricism of my soul. It’s no coincidence that I do the happy dance when I finish a piece.

The unwritten element of art, the one that draws people to your work, is the imprint of your personality on your art. If you allow yourself to create to your own rhythm, (no matter how different it looks from what everyone else is doing), your rhythm will resonate with others. As Dr. Seuss might say,

“You must be as you as you can be.”

It is imperative that you march to the beat of a different drummer, sing your own song and dance like nobody’s watching.

You’ve got artistic rhythm, who could ask for anything more?

If you find this helpful, please let me know…and share it with a friend, too! 

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