Pattern in Art – What It Means Plus Master Examples

355 Shares

Pattern refers to the visual arrangement of elements in some kind of sequence or repetition.

Think of a line of trees, a floral dress, the design of a flower, the back-and-forth sway of the ocean. Patterns are all around us. Though some are more obvious than others. In this post, I cover:

Tips for Using Pattern in Art

  • Often, less is more. Subtle patterns can be more effective than obvious ones.
  • Make sure your patterns look natural.
  • Make sure your patterns fit with the rest of the painting.
  • Look for patterns that already exist in your subject. Exaggerate those patterns if it works. But be careful about artificially creating patterns.

Pattern Examples

Alfred Sisley’s The Seine at Suresnes: Notice the organic patterns in the clouds.

Alfred Sisley, The Seine at Suresnes, 1877
Alfred Sisley, The Seine at Suresnes, 1877

Anders Zorn’s A Girl With a Dog: There are artificial patterns all throughout the beautiful fabrics.

Anders Zorn, A Girl with a Dog, 1884
Anders Zorn, A Girl with a Dog, 1884

Same with Zorn’s Castles in the Air.

Anders Zorn, Castles in the Air, 1885
Anders Zorn, Castles in the Air, 1885

Charles Cottet’s Rayons Du Soir: There’s pattern in the repetitive shape and arrangement of the boats. Also, notice the subtle patterns in the water.

Charles Cottet, Rayons Du Soir, 1892
Charles Cottet, Rayons Du Soir, 1892

Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge: There are subtle patterns all throughout this painting-the vertical strokes for trees and plants, the horizontal strokes for waterlilies and flowers, the inherent pattern of the bridge, the dance between water and water lilies.

Claude Monet, Japanese Bridge (The Water Lilly Pond), 1899
Claude Monet, Japanese Bridge (The Water Lilly Pond), 1899

Edgar Payne’s Alpine Lake: Payne relies heavily on shape in his paintings and this results in many interesting and pronounced patterns.

Edgar Alwin Payne, Alpine Lake
Edgar Alwin Payne, Alpine Lake

Edouard Manet’s The Rue Mosnier With Flags: There are patterns in the arrangement of flags, the flags themselves, the fence posts and their shadows, and the rigid architecture.

Edouard Manet, The Rue Mosnier with Flags, 1878
Edouard Manet, The Rue Mosnier with Flags, 1878

Gustav Klimt’s Kiss: Pattern is a key feature of this painting and much of his other work.

Gustav Klimt, Kiss, 1908
Gustav Klimt, Kiss, 1908

John Singer Sargent’s The Athenaeum, Mountain Waterfall: The water pools, falls, crashes, and pools again. Nature is filled with all kinds of wonderful patterns like this.

John Singer Sargent, The Athenaeum, Mountain Waterfall, c.1909
John Singer Sargent, The Athenaeum, Mountain Waterfall, c.1909

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night: Perhaps the most striking example of pattern, with its swirling, dramatic lines.

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889
Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889

Additional Resources

Principles of Art

Visual Elements – The Building Blocks of Painting

Composition Guide

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

Leave a Comment

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]