Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Maxfield Parrish Mystery

Happy Fourth of July folks! I'm taking the day mostly off to enjoy fireworks, barbecueing, and birthday cake. Both my toddlers have birthdays close together (they're 11 and a half months apart) and we're celebrating the little monsters' birthdays today. So no art from me today on the blog but some from Mr. Parrish should get you through.

I'd also like to mention that I have some fairly encouraging news on my first novel (not The Horses of Roan, but The Queen's Bidding) but I'm not breathing a word of anything until I have something for certain.

Now. Most importantly. I was reading up on Parrish last night and I came across this term "dynamic symmetry." Apparently it's a compositional concept that Jay Hambidge rediscovered in 1920, used by the ancient Greeks. Parrish was fascinated by it and used it extensively in his own work. I know it has something to do with ratios but even after crawling the web like a legless lizard looking for water, I am no closer to finding out how exactly one applies it to their artwork.

So! The first person who gives me a coherent explanation of what dynamic symmetry is and how the heck Parrish used it to design his compositions can pick a free print from my store. I'm desperate. I must know.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maggie, try this site. If it's all still gibberish find a 16 year old physics student to translate. I had to have my son translate for me! I would never be able to relay the info to you clearly.... good luck :)

http://www.public.asu.edu/~detrie/msj.uc_daap/article.html

Lorna said...

Google "dynamic symmetry" with the term"Golden Section" ... loads of stuff on it. The victorian used it alot.

I need orange said...

What, you mean this doesn't make any sense to you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_symmetry

Me, neither...............

;-)

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one . . .

leslie said...

There is no coherent explanation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...or in other words, if I had to do math to make art, I probably wouldn't draw, and you couldn't make me.

Golden Section...in esthetics, the division of a line or figure so that the smaller length is to the larger as the larger is to the whole, roughly a ratio of 3 to 5.

OK. What I hear in that definition is the word "roughly". Brings to mind horseshoes and hand grenades.
So, my conclusion is, only worry about this rule when drawing the bottoms of horses' feet.

Regula Scheifele said...

Maggie – I love mathematical or logical puzzles… ! There is a theory behind the dynamic symmetry that does make sense. I found a good explanation by Karyl Knee .

While the mathematical formula is all about square roots the visual formula is not that complicated.
Take a square – measure the length of its diagonal – prolong the base side of the square to the measured length (maybe use a compass) and draw the resulting rectangular shape. You end up with a rectangular shape with a square in it – or rather a vertical line. The ration of where the line cuts the base line of the new rectangular shape now shows dynamic symmetry.
Or technically speaking: the ration between the base line of the original square to the base line of the resulting rectangular is 1 to the square root of 2.

And then you can do the same with the new rectangular shape: measure the length of its diagonal – prolong the base side of the shape…. you get it?

There are some good diagrams on Karyl Knee's webpage.

I'll send you some jpgs where I tried to see the symmetry at work in Parrish's paintings - THAT was fun!

Anonymous said...

Maggie - This is something I have been "in love with" for a number of years. Google "Fibonacci sequence" and you will flooded with the information. The ratio is 1.61803398874989484820458683 it is arrived at by dividing the larger number of the Fibonacci numbers into the smaller number. The numbers are 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 etc. etc. As you can see the next number is found by adding the last two numbers.
One of my art students gave me the book "Divine Proportion: In Art, Nature and Science" - absolutely fascinating. Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, ad infinitum used this ratio in almost all their work, both in size of canvas and in composition. It would take volumes to tell the whole story. Enjoy your new explorations. Helen Scott in New Bern, NC

Anonymous said...

P.S. From Helen Scott in New Bern NC - the book's author is Priya Hemenway. Also Google the phrase "Maxfield Parish Fibonacci Sequence" - LOADS of hits for you there. There is also the Fibonacci/Golden Mean/Divine Proportaion SPRIAL that relates to a LOAD of things in nature, DNA spiral, the spiral of seashells, etc. etc. etc.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Helen's was good, but Regula inched her out by getting her comment in first - and sending me some cool jpegs. Thanks and I'm going to be babbling nonsensically about this more tonight or tomorrow.

I'm weirdly fascinated.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your pick of answers Maggie. Regula did a bang-up job with her answer. I am thinking that with her explanation I am going to apply a bit of Fibonacci to it and may come around the "other way" and meet her explanation. Why DO we get so fascinated with all this. It's got to be a genetic mutation of some kind. Notice we are all females doing this??? Hmmmmm?!!!! Helen in North Carolina

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Helen, you're right - it is all females mulling over this!? What does that say about Maxfield Parrish, though . . . ?

visioneerwindows said...

It says only that Parrish did not have to mull over it, but saw it as an easy proportionalism to compositions.... you have to remember, in those old days and further back, there were few or no 'standard' sizes to deal with, as we have around us today, so proportions meant a deal more in getting their ideas out in acceptable forms - especially as in the Rennaissance period and onward there was much more vivid use of symbolism, particularly religious, that involved hierarchial relationships which today are not as important, but which are 'transferred' to more common objects from a visual standpoint instead.....