You can do it Cha Cha Cha! You can do it Cha Cha Cha! You can do it Cha Cha Hooray!
As you read that you should have felt a pattern, or flow, of fast and slow. That sense of pattern is rhythm.
Probably the purest form of rhythm is music with its fast and slow, and soft and loud notes, and pauses of silence. To get that same feeling or sense of movement in visual art, pattern or lack of pattern is what we have to work with.
Pattern can be created by many things. The obvious place to start is to use the same shape or object multiple times, such as a fence post, or tree. But you can have other things like, light and dark, contrasting colors, repeating angles, undulating line, and even the space between things.
In this illustration by Arthur Rackham there is definitely a feeling of rhythm. Our eye speeds down the cloud in a back and forth S curve, but then we are slowed by two stopping points.
The first is the woman’s hand in the back, this is actually the beginning of a series of lines to lead us around the composition. And the second stopping point is the feather in the hat and it is also there to lead us back into the action. But they both set a cadence where we stop following the continuous form of the cloud and start to look for staccato points.
The staccato points form implied lines that give us the sense of movement and set a tempo of action. Our eyes jump from the woman’s hand to Alice, then her knees direct us to the crashing plates, and they lead us to the table leg which leads us up to the feathers and back to the hand.
He also sets up another rhythm with the repetition of the plates. They create almost a counter swirl to the main group and help us feel the rhythm of chaos that is happening in the kitchen.
This work has lots of other implied lines and rhythms. It’s a great one to study to see how many devices he actually uses to create this very well thought out composition, and yet we feel that all of it is in chaos.