Rhythm can be described as timed movement through space; an easy, connected path along which the eye follows a regular arrangement of motifs. The presence of rhythm creates predictability and order in a composition. Visual rhythm may be best understood by relating it to rhythm in sound. This link will take you to a video clip and explanation of how the sound of a Nigerian “talking drum” follows the intonation and rhythm of speech. Another, more visual example, can be found by clicking on this link and selecting the clip of your choice. These demonstrate the blending of rhythm, movement,and visual form.
Rhythm depends largely upon the elements of pattern and movement to achieve its effects. The parallels between rhythm in sound/ music are very exact to the idea of rhythm in a visual composition. The difference is that the timed “beat” is sensed by the eyes rather than the ears.
Visual rhythm can be created in a number of ways. Linear rhythm refers to the characteristic flow of the individual line. Accomplished artists have a recognizable manner of putting down the lines of their drawings that is a direct result of the characteristic gesture used to make those lines, which, if observed, can be seen to have a rhythm of its own. Linear rhythm is not as dependent on pattern, but is more dependent on timed movement of the viewer’s eye.