Fibonacci intersecting nature and art

For me, the archetypical example of the intersection of art and science (and math) is the sequence of numbers commonly called the “Fibonacci numbers.” By definition it is the sum of the previous two numbers in a series. So, it gets started with 0 and 1, and then picks up speed. Next is 1, then 2, then, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc. The sequence plays out visually in things we may encounter every day, like in the spin of the Milky Way or the magnitude of the increasing size in a chambered nautilus shell the swirling cream in a cup of coffee and even the ordinary sunflower so abundant on the Midwestern plains in the summer.sunflower photo sm

The following link is a gorgeous visual of the occurrence, beauty and magnificence of the diversity in nature that illustrates and validates the Fibonacci series. Click the link and then click on “Nature by the Numbers.” Mathematics in Sunflowers Shubha Bala, associate….

“Ideal proportion” and the geometry of visually pleasing balance is also suggested by the Fibonacci series. It correlates to how we perceive things that are beautiful and balanced. For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, demonstrates the proportions of the human body that (at least at that time in the 15th Century) were considered ideal.

The illustration of a fellow from Tuscany (who knows he may have been from Florence, Milan, or da Vinci’s town, Vinci) presents a drawing of someone who was well proportioned and elegantly composed within a circle within a square.

In a 2017 book by Walter Isaacson, he suggests that the model for Vitruvian Man may have been da Vinci himself. Here da Vinci, who was an inventor and engineer as well as an artist, created an illustration that was not only a masterful expression of the human body, but also suggests a parallel and mathematical design of a balanced and harmonious universe.

Traditionally trained artists–even today–spend plenty of time in drawing classes learning about proportion and balance, and in working within the divisions, ratios and “chambers” of a visual composition. They may not know that a primary source for what seems pleasing to a Western sensibility is. History shows us that it has been carried forward by the repetition of the concepts portrayed by da Vinci in the geometry and balance of Vitruvian Man, which itself was founded on early works from the Romans.

And now, perhaps the underlying sense of what is balanced and pleasing to the eye has been permanently ingrained in us, as illustrated and quantified by the Fibonacci series, and illustrated by da Vinci.

Yet, it still makes us consider the hidden mathematical sequences in nature and therefore the predictability in the patterns of the seeds growing in sunflowers… it is awe-inspiring and a bit of a dichotomy since it’s calming and invigorating at the same time.

Leonardo book cover

Click here to purchase the book by Walter Isaacson mentioned in this post.


About artinthecenter

I am a lifelong artist having studied painting, photography, drawing, and other media, in schools in the US and Italy. I won my first art contest when I was five--at a museum-- and my point of view tends to be as a five-year-old creative child embracing life. Creativity is a core response for me. How can we bring the infinite knowledge and excitement held by our museums and academics into the heart and minds of everyone? There is so much to share. Let’s ask questions, and discuss. Follow me on twitter @janemmason. Check out all sort of artsy information at: +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This policy is valid from 1 January 2016 This is a personal, educational, blog written and edited by me, Jane M. Mason. For questions about this blog, please contact: Sincere effort has been exerted to cite, recognize, and thank all sources of content, including images, quotations or concepts that are not those of Watching Paint Dry LLC (WPDLLC), including Jane M. Mason. If you feel we have included something in this blog that has not been accurately noted or recognized to be from a source other than the intellectual property of WPDLLC, please let me know and I will adjust the citation when presented with specific citation sources and details. As an artist and writer, a core principal of mine is to respect and recognize intellectual content of others. If you are interested in using concepts, photos or other intellectual property from this blog, please contact, Rights Manager, Danielle Raub at This blog does not contain any content that is likely to present a conflict of interest, although opposing points of view, as long as they are respectful, are welcome. This blog does not accept cash or paid topic insertions. However, we will consider accepting and keeping free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations. The compensation received will not influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. Those advertisements will be identified as paid advertisements. The owner of this blog, WPDLLC, is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics within the content of this blog. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of Jane M. Mason or the associates of WPDLLC. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. This policy has been adapted from For your own policy, go to

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