Posts Tagged ‘Bea’

It was another of Beatrice K.’s unassuming tranquil photos, probably taken at the Botanic Garden. ( See also 3.12.11) But its harmony, I could tell right away, was grounded in the ratio of the Golden Section.  Oh, no, not math.  Yes, math and very beautiful math, at that.

Pythagoras did his math on the coast of Asia Minor around 600 BCE.  He came up with this ratio that keeps on giving.  Take a line, any line.  On that line is a point that will divide the line into two sections, call them a and b, such that the whole string is to the long section as the long section is to the short section, which looks like this in  algebra,  (a+b):b = b:a.  Then if you take just a to be the whole string you can start the whole subdividing and ratio forming again, ad infinitum.  The Greeks thought this was so beautiful that they used this ratio over and over not only in building their temples but also in constructing the bodies –and faces—of their heroic sculptures.

And here it is in Bea’s painting.  The Golden Section was already in the photo, but it was important not to lose it while pushing the paint.  The reason this was important is that without the Golden Section, this peaceful landscape painted in soft tones of blue, sienna and green would drift into sentimental swampland.  The painting is far from a faithful reproduction of the photo.  In the photo the rivulet was lined by dark shrubs on its right bank.  In the painting, such a dark line in the foreground would have detracted from the tension in the upper left corner, where the Golden Section holds forth.

The last stage of the painting involved the sky.  Originally it was the same blue as the water.  This flattened the landscape.  By turning the sky very pale and grayish and, most importantly, painting a white-ish halo around the trees, the illusion of special depth became convincing.  Entrancing, I would say.

For more on the Golden Section see “The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art and Architecture”  by György Doczi.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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