The Principles of Art represent how the artist uses the elements of art to create an effect and to help convey the artist's intent. The principles of art and design are: balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, unity and variety. The use of these principles can help determine whether a work of art is successful, and whether or not it is finished.
Balance refers to the equal distribution of weight or force among visual units. It is a sense that the painting feels stable and "feels right." Imbalance can cause a feeling of discomfort in the viewer.
There are 3 main ways balance can be achieved:
Symmetrical Balance: Where the art elements in the composition are balanced in a mirror-like fashion. (it does NOT have to be exact but close)
Asymmetrical Balance: The composition is balanced due to the contrast of any of the elements of art. It could be something as simple as a large gray circle on one side of the composition that is balanced by a small red square on the other side. Here are a few more complex examples:
Radial Balance: A kind of balance where the elements branch out or radiate from a central point.
Contrast is the difference between elements of art in a composition, such that each element is made stronger in relation to the other. Contrast can be achieved by juxtapositions of any of the elements of art. Contrast is one of the best ways to create a focal point or emphasis. Complementary colors placed side by side is an example of contrast.
Emphasis is when the artist creates an area of the composition that is visually dominant and commands the viewer's attention. This is often achieved by contrasting size, color, value, style or shape. Converging lines and isolation can also create emphasis.
Movement is the result of using the elements of art such that they move the viewer's eye around and within the image. A sense of movement can be created by diagonal or curvy lines, by edges, by the illusion of space, by repetition, by energetic mark-making.
Pattern is the uniform repetition of any of the elements of art or any combination thereof. Anything can be turned into a pattern through repetition.
The arrangement of elements to give the viewer the feeling that all the parts of the image form a coherent whole. However, too much unity can create monotony, so make sure to balance unity with variety.
The use of different elements in an image to create visual interest. Just remember that too much unity creates monotony and too much variety creates chaos, you need both. Ideally you want areas of interest in your composition along with places for your eye to rest.