About the Exercises

The exercises you’ll be doing are designed to introduce you to two fundamental roots of the visual world: Unity and Rhythm. This is a course that envisions the goal of using design elements – dots and lines, shapes, color, value, space and textures – in combination with the principles of composition and structure, otherwise called the Coordinating Principles of Design.

This is not a course about concepts, ideas or narratives. You may end up producing works with those results, but that’s not the intention and should not be your primary goal during this course.

Because the problem of space relationship is a most difficult one, typically the most important in the whole field of visual arts, these exercises will be created in black, gray, and white to permit a greater sense of freedom.

It should be said that those folks who want to do a great deal of good work all at once tend to negotiate away valuable time for introspection, and as a result tend to overwhelm themselves. Do this: study each problem carefully and do the best you can. Then proceed to the next one, and the next one, etc. In studying the problems, you will perceive that each preceding problem has a definite orderly bearing on the following one. This will become most apparent as the course develops.


Here’s how to proceed: First, make sure you’ve reviewed all the Coordinating Principles of Design videos. Second, go to the menu bar: Exercises in Rhythm. Give it a good visit and be sure to view the video, Rhythm is a sense of movement created by alternating a pattern.

Third, review the instructions at the beginning of the first exercise. Next, review any accompanying video. After that, explore the links that come after the instructions. This way, the reason for the exercise will make better sense to you. After that, do the exercise. Use digital media, if you prefer, or conventional media that you can then photograph or scan.  Once you’ve completed the exercise—and not one minute before!— check out other examples of student work to confirm that you understood what you were supposed to do, and did it correctly. Finally, post your work on the appropriate blog category. Use the naming protocol you’ll find in the exercise instructions.

Do all the exercises in sequence. In order to receive feedback on your work from your student peers, you must comment on someone else’s work first. It’s important that you post comments on the work of fellow students either doing the same exercise you’re doing or who are working on an exercise you’ve already completed. Don’t worry about being perfect or if written language isn’t your greatest pleasure.

You may freely revisit exercises you’ve already done and try them again with your new and evolving insights. Each time you post something new, you also get to view something new that someone else has created. How cool is that? It’s all part of being in a living, dynamic, creative community.

Why will we be using Dots and Lines?

We’ll be using Dots and Lines as substitutions for real objects in our exercises. Geometric shapes and simple lines are the easiest and quickest way to break down the natural world into basic elements that can be easily made and modified. Imagine a square dot as a house or a round dot as a flower. Imagine a single line as a line of text or a pattern of lines as a field of tall grass.