Most of us will have heard of Pi.
It represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
If the ratio isn’t 3.14159265359 you don’t have a circle.
You have something else.
An oval perhaps, or a squiggly shape.
Omicron has been the most talked-about Greek letter of recent months.
Last week I discovered Phi.
This like Pi is a Greek letter that also represents a semi-mystical number. This is more obscure and is commonly considered the Golden ratio.
Understanding it is a little trickier – it is a ratio present when for two numbers, their relationship represents the sum of the larger of the two quantities.
I won’t draw the algebra as that would be me pretending I understand it.
It is 1.618033988749.
In case you were wondering.
I read about it this week in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. The book that has, I understand been made into a movie with Tom Hanks.
The book has been on one of my shelves for years. It might have originally belonged to my dad.
I’d avoided it as somehow I’d assumed it wouldn’t be interesting.
So far, and I am only half-way through it is an action thriller, my kind of thing.
It seems that in art, nature, architecture and design this number pops-up as somehow providing an ideal symmetry or form.
In the book (DVC) there is a suggestion that Vitruvian Man, the drawing by Leonardo demonstrated a transliteration of this ratio, as if, we, that is humans, ideally made in God’s form, are a perfect reflection of the perfect.
It would be nice were it true.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the creation of Vitruvian Man (named after the 1st century Roman architect Vitruvius). And, indeed, Leonardo conducted extensive measurements into the ratios inherent in the human form – distance of chin to forehead, eyes to ears, middle finger to thumb and so on.
A person who is six-feet tall is the height of six of his feet, kind of thing.
Most of us will have worked-out that humans are not necessarily that consistent or symmetrical (although, I have to say, in a rare moment of flattery, my optician told me I was ‘quite symmetrical’ the other week. I don’t think that was a come-on, more an observation.) (I think he needs glasses).
It is interesting nevertheless.
Last night, watching the n’th re-run of the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was wearing a T-shirt with the Fibonacci spiral. I tried to impress my daughter.
She didn’t believe me.
I had to Google and show her.
Here is the spiral.
Here is Sheldon’s T-shirt.
After reading the Leonardo book (Isaacson’s) I also realised that although you have great artists, people who can see and render the world around them with incredible facility, there are also underlying rules and, you could call them tricks.
The reason I mention this is my own feeling of entire inadequacy when it comes to drawing.
I doodle, it’s something I have always done and for the most they are the geometric shapes I mentioned in a previous blog.
I’d love to draw a face.
When I draw faces they usually don’t look great.
And then, I realised, I was not applying any rules.
This led me to watching Darlene Nguyen’s ‘How to draw a human face’
With the realisation that whilst 1.618033988749 is not necessarily something I can achieve, I can follow the rules, paint by numbers.
Whilst drawing this morning I debated whether to show this picture.
What the heck.
Below are some un-rule based drawings and at the bottom the one I sketched this morning.
Please don’t tell me what you think; just accept my openness!
Here is to numbers and all things Greek and obscure.
Have a good weekend.