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The Golden Ratio–Creating Balance and Order in Our Art

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

By Diana de Avila, M.S.Ed., Pen Woman in Art

The Golden Ratio visualized through the Golden Spiral was first rendered by a mathematician and math professor from the University of Arkansas named Edmund Harriss. He used the Golden Ratio to create a beautiful fractal curve. It’s something most of us can recognize through the beautiful swirl in a Nautilus shell. The beauty and order created through this render is a pleasing pattern that can be seen throughout nature and classic art. Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa provides the perfect use of the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio spiral can be created from a framework of Golden Rectangles. The Golden Spiral is also knows as the Fibonacci Spiral or the Logarithmic Spiral and is directly related to the Fibonacci sequence ( 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…), a pattern found in the leaf arrangements of plants, the patterns of florets in flowers, the spines on pine cones, the scales of pineapples, and in other natural occurrences where we see patterns. Think of the smaller thing/pattern as just a carbon copy of the larger thing/pattern and it can repeat ad infinitum.

Given the beauty and balance of this concept, how do we use the Golden Ratio in our own works? One of the most common ways is through the use of a Golden Rectangle.

We can begin with a rectangle with sides in the 1:φ ratio. Partitioning that rectangle into a square and new rectangle gives that new, smaller rectangle the 1:φ ratio. As you do this partitioning inside each new rectangle, your Golden Rectangles get smaller and smaller, but are still in keeping with the ratio. The small version of the rectangle is like the whole. The main change is in the scale of each rectangle. This is the concept of self-similarity, something found throughout fractals and throughout nature.

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