chapter  12
13 Pages

Rhythm and the freedom of the free drawings

I had gathered from reading that such associated ideas evoked by looking at an object were called ‘literary’ and were not the essence and core of painting although they had a secondary usefulness in the task of communicating emotion. But at that time I did not understand at all how to make the lines and shapes and colours, simply by the pattern they made together, produce a direct emotional effect, one that was apart from what objects of the external world were actually depicted in the drawing. In fact, I did not then understand in what sense painting was a sensory organic language rather than an idea language. It followed also that, although having often enough come across the word rhythm in books on painting, it had never seemed quite clear exactly what was meant. Now, however, being brought to face the problem in connection with the idea of non-willed order, I did find a fairly precise definition:

‘The word rhythm is here used to signify the power possessed by lines, tones and colours, by their ordering and arrangement, to affect us, somewhat as different notes and combinations of sounds do in music. . . . The danger of the naturalistic movement in painting in the nineteenth century has been that it has turned our attention away from this fundamental fact of art to the contemplation of interesting realisations of appearances . . . .