Sunday, 8 February 2015


Repetition is the fourth of five principles of composition identified by Arthur Wesley Dow in Chapter 3 of Composition.

The first three principles are:

Dow defines Repetition as:
"The production of beauty by repeating the same lines in rhythmical order."
He identifies repetition as the basis of all music and poetry, but stresses that repetition by itself does not create beauty:
"A mere row of things has no art-value. Railroads, fences, blocks of buildings and all bad patterns are like doggerel rhyme examples of repetition without art."

The chapter contains exercises based on creating repetition in borders and surface patterns.  I gave them up last April because the hand position required to hold the Japanese brush upright was stressing my forearm, but I restarted them a few weeks ago. I am experimenting with different hand positions, but I don’t enjoy using the brushes and this has led me to question the benefit of the assignments and whether completing the book is a good use of time.

Happily, Paul Foxton published a post about Repetition this week that has encouraged me to persevere (see Hidden Patterns: How to design pictures like Veronese). 

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