Motion and Emotion

Introduction to Motion and Emotion

“No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgment, Mercy.’

–John Ruskin

Developing the skills needed to depict both motion and emotion will help you reveal a sense of “narrative” in your work…the idea that something is happening or  has  happened. Narrative evokes emotion. Trying to show emotion itself can sometimes lead to work that is mellodramatic or even sappy. However, creating a narrative asks the viewer to enter into a moment and to empathize with another person or another perspective. As you’re collecting “motion” images for your Pinterest board this week, pay attention to how motion is often the concept that reveals emotion more than anything else.    

Learning Objectives

  1. Familiarize yourself with the concepts of motion and emotion  in art and to what ends artists use it.  
  2. Show that you can  identify works with motion and emotion  as predominant themes or techniques in the work.
  3. Create your own work that demonstrates  use of  motion and emotion.

 Motion and Emotion

All motion is time, time is all motion.”
‘• Khalid Masood


Each of the pieces to the right contain the suggestion of movement. In each, you can see more than one moment in time all at once. What emotion do these pieces evoke?

How can you reveal motion in your own work? What emotions emerge from specific kinds of motion?

A self portrait, above, black and white.  

Ideas for Consideration

Slow Motion in Film

Film isn’t really a medium we’re covering, but there are some interesting ideas afoot here.

Kinetic Art

Again, sculpture isn’t really the topic of this course, but nonetheless, this is worth watching if you want a better understanding of how aritsts think about motion in art. .

Nick Cave

Ok, I’m still doing it (talking about mediums other than 2D) but Nick Cave is just so  fascinating

Pollock: Action Painting

Whether you like him or not, it’s important to understand that Jackson Pollock was trying to reveal something about the  process  of painting, the  actions involved in getting the paint onto canvas. Really, his work is just the record of his body moving in space…

Technical Know How

You’ll need to watch the following videos to understand how to use Photoshop to complete your assignments this week. I’ve started a few YouTube playlists where you can find these videos and more.

Mastering Motion Blur  in Photoshop

You’ll have to master this one this week.

Motion Blur Part 2

A different approach that involves masking. You really need to master masking!

Path Blur in Photoshop

If you want to create a Francis Bacon-style portrait, this is a good tutorial to watch.

Actual Animation in Photoshop

This one is only for the bravest of souls. Did you know Photoshop could even do this?



This week, find images that exemplify the concept of “motion and emotion”.  You must link to the original source (as original as you can find) for each pin and you should provide context and an explanation of why you think each image is illustrative of this  week’s concept. Put this explanation in the notes field of each pin. 1-2 sentences will suffice. The original artist must be identified.

Choose images that reveal  the use of motion and emotion as a primary and crucial part of the work.

⊕ For this week, create a Pinterest  Board called “Motion/Emotion” and add 20 images to that board using the guidelines above. Submit your link in the form below.

Share and Discuss

Dob’t forget about Slack! Being able to have a coherent conversation about art is extremely important if you’re planning on staying in the field!

Emulate and Create


Emulate my portrait above by creating your own self portrait. I used layers, blending modes, motion blur filters, and color lookup tables. Try your hand at any of the methods from the videos above, but make sure that it’s a photo of  you and that you are expressing some kind of emotional state in the image.


This one is a freebee this week. Get crazy. Create something that reveals the concept of “motion.” No limits!