There’s a science behind every painting, and it’s the principles of art! It’s crucial for every painter to know them, so let’s go through the seven principles.


In art, when we refer to balance, we mean the way an artist combines different elements to create visual stability and harmony in their work. When artists achieve balance, their work can look and feel more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Balance can be created by using symmetry or by creating an illusion that balances out what the viewer sees on both sides of the picture plane. Asymmetry is commonly known (as is symmetry), but radial symmetry is another option to try. Radial symmetry refers to a piece with different elements placed around a central point in a circular pattern.

Balance is one of the more important principles of art, and you don’t need to be an expert to feel when things are off. If you think your piece is off somehow, it might be the balance in your work.


Proportion is the relationship in size between one shape or form compared to another shape or form. No matter if you’re painting people, animals, fruit, or chairs, getting the proportions correct is essential. If the shapes and forms are not proportionate, it will distort the harmony of your work. Of course, not everyone paints in realism, but to break the rules you must first know the rules! So it’s important to practice realistic proportions and how they relate to other objects before getting funky with them.


Movement is a critical part of life…and one of the principles of art! In art, movement can be created by shape, color, value, and texture. The subject of your art can also suggest movement, like a duck with its wings spread to suggest flight.

Utilizing movement in art can be implied or explicit. Implied movement is when the artist uses elements to create a feeling or suggestion of movement. This can often be more subtle. Explicit movement is the opposite, so the artist will use elements to create a feeling or suggestion of more obvious movement.

This is a significant principle of art because it adds life, variety, and interest to art. By using elements of art, you can make the viewer think your painting is coming to life!


How you play with opposites in your work is also something you should also know how to do. These opposites may include light and dark, large and small, rough and smooth, and positive and negative space. Areas of contrast can command the attention of your viewer. So by using this principle, you can draw the viewer’s eye exactly where you wish it to go. So don’t be afraid to push boundaries and create contrast in your artwork.


Variety is another principle that can make work more exciting to look at. Anything, where the viewers have the option to look at different areas or objects in a work of art, is providing visual variety. This can be done by using a variety of colors, mediums, combining styles, adding unique details, or changing perspectives. The options to play with variety in art are truly infinite.


Emphasis has been used in both historical and modern art pieces, so it’s one of the principles of art you know you can depend on. This principle is when the artist gives importance to a specific object or area in the artwork. If there’s something you want your viewers to look at first, you apply emphasis to that object so your viewer’s eyes go right to it automatically. You can do this by creating a focal point, using contrast, convergence, or isolating the object.


Is this a true principle of art? No, but I think it’s just as important as the others for painters to know. Imagination is probably the most powerful tool for artists. It allows you to tap into your creative potential and create works that are uniquely yours. Without it, and we’d all be painting the same way! Each artist is original with a unique perspective. The way you combine the other principles of art with your imagination is what sets you apart from everyone else.

From Principles of Art to Painting

These principles of art are not only helpful for painting but also for viewing art! So whether you’re a painter or just an art lover, I hope you enjoyed this post. Sharing my passion for painting is something I love doing. If you’d like to own an oil painting without having to paint one yourself, check out and purchase one of my paintings! And of course, if you have a question about one of my pieces, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for supporting your local Colorado artists!