The Divine Proportion
I find it interesting how a single number has had such tremendous influence on me that it has opened my mind to a new way of thinking and a new way of seeing the world. I am not alone in this fascination with a number. Throughout history, many have discovered the mysteriousness of the number Phi.
Recently, I have been reading a book about Phi entitled The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio. A while back, artist Skip Whitcomb turned me on to a study of Phi and encouraged me to consider using it to develop my compositions. Also known as the Golden Ratio, the Divine Proportion, the Golden Section, and the Golden Number, Phi is fascinating in both its unique mathematical properties and its manifestations in countless diverse places. It, along with closely related Fibonacci numbers, can be found in the patterns of a sunflower, the pedal arrangement of the rose, mollusk shells, and in the Milky Way. It is abundantly found in nature. With great aesthetic appeal, many artists, architects, musicians, and others throughout history have used it to their advantage.
I wonít bore you with a discourse on Phi. If you want to learn about it, check out a few books on the subject.
However, it has been so enlightening to me that I decided to share with you the growth I am seeing in my artwork. My compositions are becoming stronger and more dynamic as a result of using the ratios inherent with Phi. I now use the Golden Section to determine the placement of the major elements of the composition. I divide up my canvas based Phi. My center of interest in a painting is now placed on the Golden Section or at a derivative of it. I donít want the work to look mechanical, but rather harmoniously pleasing to the eye. I want the compositions to look natural.
I used to compose my paintings more intuitively. I did what Ďfeltí right. Looking back at older compositions, I find that many are coincidentally close to Phi. Some arenít. I do realize that this wonít guarantee a stronger painting. It is however another tool I can put in my toolbox.
So profound are the possibilities that it will likely take a lifetime of study to even partially incorporate them into my artwork. Most of what I have learned still needs to be sifted through. And there is more still to be learned. It is a wonderful road of discovery, experimentation, and artistic growth.
PS. As the most irrational of all irrational numbers, I am intrigued by the prevalence of Phi in the natural world. This number, which is farthest of any number from being expressible by a fraction, has qualities which make it far from random. There is order to it. It supports my firm belief that what may appear to our limited, finite minds as chaos is governed by a higher law which we donít understand.