Design Principles in Everyday Life #3 – Movement

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I’ve recently been sharing with you about a class called Intro to Design that I took as a freshman art student. In the class we learned 3 basic design principles: Dominance, Balance & Movement, and I’ve been sharing some thoughts about how I see those principles at play in the arts AND in everyday life.

Part 1 discussed the principle of Dominance, and Part 2 was about Balance.

For today, I want to focus on MOVEMENT. 

In art & design, MOVEMENT is the principle that refers to the way objects seem to move or cause your eye to move as you view an image (think of a painting of water rushing around a boat on a stormy ocean). Similar ideas apply in other artistic forms. Think of how you might feel when a song makes you want to move or sway or of the literal movement you see when dancers perform. Skill and knowledge allow artists to use specific tools to create a sense of motion in their work.

In our everyday lives, MOVEMENT can literally refer to physical motion, which is necessary in order to accomplish responsibilities and to keep our bodies working. Movement can also be figurative, as in our desire for a sense of growth, personal expansion, or progress over time. There are times when movement can be easy to make happen and other times when it feels like we have to throw all our effort and weight against something to get even the slightest budge . . . or still get no movement at all.

Here’s a simple example of movement in art:

The well-known painting “Starry Night” (by Vincent Van Gogh) applies a variety of basic techniques to create a sense of motion: swirling lines, diagonals, and a variety of long and short lines follow the flow of motion. Contrasts between dark and light cause your eye to bounce back and forth, up and down, taking in the energy of the scene.

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Here’s a handful of simple, everyday-life examples related to motion:

  • If I work or study at a desk most of the day, sometimes the urge to move will compel me to stand, stretch, or take a walk. I’ll probably need to intentionally add movement to my life, either through time in nature or a structured exercise routine.
  • If I’m in an active career or maybe a parent with young children, my life may sometimes feel non-stop, and I’ll need to learn how to direct my energy of movement for the greatest efficiency (and to allow myself rest when appropriate).
  • If I suffer with a physical illness or disease that limits my ability to move, I may experience the frustration that comes with those limitations and may see negative overall health impacts from the more sedentary situation. Sometimes doctors, medical staff, friends, or family can assist with helping me to get healthy motion into my days.
  • If I’m faced with a personal obstacle, such as a friend or loved one standing in the way of something that I want or need, I may try to exert pressure on that person to make the necessary movement happen, but it’s important that I not attempt to manipulate or deceive this person to get my way–I may need to look for an alternative route or see this as a time to be still and wait.
  • If I’ve been working at the same job for years with no change in responsibilities or opportunity for advancement, I may become restless and desire a change or promotion. Making a move to channel this desire into positive action or probing questions can help me to either find contentment where I am or to take whatever steps may be needed to make a change.

What’s Your Story?

In your creative life and work, how do you use the principle of movement? Do you consider this when you’re painting, illustrating, or in any other creative outlet? If you’d like to learn more about the principle of Movement and ways to apply it artistically, a simple Google search yields dozens of results explaining more.

In your daily life, do you feel a positive sense of motion? Do you have a good amount of physical movement? Too much or too little? Do you feel like something is standing in the way of the progress you’d like to make? Are there wiser habits you can build so you’ll get the movement you need to remain healthy (mentally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise)? If you struggle with getting enough movement in any area of your life, are you willing to admit this to yourself and seek a better path?

I’d love to hear any thoughts about this that you might be willing to share. If you read this & think it might be of value to anyone you know, would you pass it along?

I’m wishing you health, joy, and the ability to keep on moving.

❤ Nicole


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