Betty White and Lindsey Lohan starring together in a new film about what happens when a granddaughter must move into a retirement home with her grandmother and helps her form a clique of sassy senior citizens.

Well, not in this case...but that might be entertaining if LL wasn't such a disaster.

So this is my hypothetical scene from my hypothetical movie.

The point of all of this is to illustrate my research into The Golden Mean...which is also known as: The Golden Ratio, The Golden Section, The Golden Proportion....

The use of this mathmatical principle applied to architecture, art and design goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks ( the Parthanon is a good example) and was widely used during the Renaissance. It's all over Leonardo's work. (da Vinci, not de Caprio.) So, what is it?

With a line, the shorter part is to the longer part what the longer part is to the whole.

huh?

1.618

say what? That's why we have calculators.

If a line is, say 12 inches long, divide (because we're dividing up the line) 12 by 1.618.

12 / 1.618 = 7.4165...

That MEANS (<----hahaha) that the point where you would divide the line would be located betweeen 7 1/3" and 7 1/2". (7.3" and 7.5")

In the case of a rectangle (because your canvas or piece of paper is likely to be a rectangle, measure the shorter side and mark whatever that measurement is on the longer side. Draw a line there to create a square.

Now do that again for the vertical rectangle that's to the right of the big square...and create another square in the bottom right section of the "canvas". Then do it again for the little horizontal rectangle that's "left over" on top of that square. Keep doing it to create smaller and smaller sections going in a counter-clockwise direction.

You end up with The GOLDEN SPIRAL

which is amazingly found throughout nature.

Back to the rectangle and applying it to a painting or drawing...

The reason that I'm spending a lot of tedious reading on something that is as icky to me as MATH...is because in my last year of dabbling in various mediums, I too often have become frustrated with pieces in process and it wasn't long before I started singing the, "I can't do this"...."I suck at this"....sonata, because something DOESN'T LOOK RIGHT. So here I am, back to THE BASICS of composition. I feel that unless I get a firm grasp on THE BASICS again, I'm going to continue to be frustrated with my work and I'm more likely to give up and go eat a cupcake...which will lead me down a whole other kind of spiral....and.....well, we won't go there now.

Looking at what some of the "greats" did with the Golden Mean, I found these examples:

Continue with Leonardo:

Vermeer used it:

Seurat, as well as other Impressionists used The Golden Mean...

In the 1920's, Piet Mondrian used the Golden Mean/Golden Rectangle literally and beautifully.

The placement of the elements which the artist chooses to emphasize are placed along a line or at an intersection.

That's it. Locate the "main points" at the strategic locations and TA DA..there's a better composition.

Each line of the rectangle (each side of the painting) can be divided two ways by the Golden Mean. Measure the horizonal line, to make the square, from left to right....and then do it along the same line from right to left. Do it with the vertical sides too...and when you extend the lines, you have a grid, like in the Vermeer painting above.

Now it gets messy. (-er.) Connect each of the points to the other points....

...and the resulting web shows key lines and intersections for locating key elements in your painting.

I got out a ruler and decided to give it a go with a printed copy of my hypothetical movie scene. Surprisingly, there were already some points that were right on, but others needed to be "tweeked" a bit.

- Betty, my focal point, is literally at the crosshairs!
- Faces are at intersections.
- The two "mean girls" with the sunglasses are on a line that also intersects with roughly the top of LL's head.
- The pie in the face (what puts the "mean" into the mean) is on a vertical line with the edge of her chair, continuing all the way up to the eyes of the "mean girl" toward the back. The pie itself is located in the space defined by five intersecting lines.
- Betty's elbow is at a line where points converge and her extended arm follows one of the diagonal lines.
- The leg of the "mean girl" on the right also follows a diagonal.
- The bottom of the chair and purse toward the bottom of the picture is parallel with one of the diagonal lines.

Wow! I learned a lot from this exercise.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to test this by adding the "mean guides" to a favorite painting of mine, "Nightlife" by Archibald John Motley Jr. There's a lot going on in the scene (a Bronzeville neighborhood jazz club in the 40's) and yet there was a certain order to the chaos.

- The figure in the top right with his hands raised is at a key point.
- Look at all of the arms and legs that are parallel or on the guide lines!
- Central to the # grid, is one dominant frozen gesture; the man on the left in the blue suit becons to the woman in the tight orange dress, her hands, feet and gaze already pointed toward him.

The color choices of the women's dresses are very deliberate choices...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

P.S. Tonight, hubby went to the cellar for some Syrah that would pair with the Rosemary Lentils and Sausage that I made for dinner... (yum, by the way) and I was about half way through my Friday night fare when I noticed the label of the wine bottle:

A delicious RED....not Golden...

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