Doug Craft

There is a perfection and unity of form in nature that I believe represents fundamental aesthetic beauty.  Nature is sublimely organized from the subatomic to the cosmic scale following the mathematics of fractional symmetry (fractals), self similarity, and the Golden Ratio.  For example, adjacent bones in your fingers, adjacent chambers in the shell of a chambered nautilus, and the positions of the features on your face are all scaled according to the Golden Ratio.  Golden Ratio proportioned branching is seen in microscopic crystals, bird feathers, and trees.  The same forms also appear at vastly different size scales in nature: the structural model of the atom is repeated at the solar system and galactic scale, and many microscopic and satellite images are very similar in appearance.

In addition to appearing as a proportion throughout nature, the Golden Ratio has been recognized and used as a formal element by artists throughout the ages.  My collage, photography, and painting continues the ancient tradition of appreciation for this universal geometry with forms based on the Golden Rectangle (aspect ratio of 1: 1.618), overlapping Golden Rectangles (square root of 5 rectangles, aspect ratio 1: 2.236), and other combinations of proportional squares, Golden Rectangles, and Golden Triangles. My work juxtaposes Golden Proportional images of nature from several levels of magnification, from the microscopic to the cosmic, that I call the Collage of Backgrounds. These abstract natural images are actually representational and obey the same geometric and mathematical laws of form that are similar at all scales of enlargement.  This combination of micro, macro, landscape, and planetary scaled images in Golden Ratios dramatically underscores the unity of fractal forms in nature.  Further, my work suggests that formal beauty in art is based on a recognition and emulation of universal structure, and that abstraction and realism are part of the same underlying process.

The pieces seen in this digital gallery are digital collages created using Photoshop, and are framed by square root of 5 rectangles.  The square-root of 5 rectangle contains two overlapping Golden Rectangles that share a central square, and these pieces also feature acute and obtuse Golden Triangles as collage elements. For this work, I created a large body of images of geologic and chemical crystals photographed through a polarizing microscope, a tool used by geologists to identify mineral and crystal composition in rocks.  This technique uses plane-polarized light that interacts with crystalline materials to form vivid colors (pleochroism) that change as the microscope stage is rotated. I also photographed many biological specimens using dissection and phase contrast microscopes. The natural abstract forms of crystals and biological structures follow forms based on the Golden Ratio and are also fractal - that is, they exhibit formal structure and shapes that can be found in nature at all size scales. I created mathematical fractals as collage elements using the Ultra Fractal 5.0 software.


Doug Craft (b. 1953) is an artist and musician currently living in Pensacola, Florida. He worked for many years in Colorado as a research environmental chemist, published extensively in the scientific literature, and has exhibited his art on numerous occasions in Colorado and Florida since 2000. Having a strong science and art background has given Doug a unique perspective regarding the mathematical structure of nature and its relation to aesthetics. Doug co-authored an article for Math Horizons magazine with Carla Farsi, University of Colorado, One in Two, Two in One: Mathematics and the Arts, and published his theory of art as a chapter in a recent book edited by Professor Anna Ursyn, University of Northern Colorado, called Biologically-inspired computing for the arts: scientific data through graphics. His microphotography was awarded Image of Distinction honors by the 2008 and 2009 Nikon Small World competition, and in 2009 his artwork appeared as the cover and illustrations for the journal Cybernetics and Human Knowing. Doug was a member of Core New Art Space Gallery in Denver and is currently arranging his own exhibitions. His artwork is displayed on his website http://www.dougcraftfineart.com and his Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/doug.craft.37
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