The Golden Rule of Thirds
The human body consists of parts that can be divided into thirds. Let’s take the face as an example. From the front view we can see the forehead, nose and mouth. From the side view we see the top of the head, ears and jaw.
Our arms are also divided into three sections: the upper arm, the lower arm and the hand itself. The hand is more or less one-third of the lower arm. Your fingers are in three sections too.
Great artists like Michelangelo used the rules of thirds when painting landscapes.
In Nature Aquariums, we also want to follow the golden rule of thirds. We would divide the tank into thirds vertically and horizontally and put the focal point at one intersection.
Japanese Art and Zen Lifestyle
Wabi-sabi (佗寂) is the Japanese world view or aesthetic centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Objects that are square, rectangular or in pairs are deemed to be complete, stable or perfect. But Buddhism puts forth that humans are incomplete and imperfect, and art should reflect this. Objects placed inside the theatre, or boundaries of the viewing area, should be in odd numbers to indicate imperfection or incompleteness.
In ikebana (生け花), the Japanese art of flower-arranging, the number three is very important. Flowers are positioned according to three basic heights called Sin, Soi and Kai: Sin is the tallest object, followed by Soi, and the lowest object is Kai. These three objects should be placed proportionately in scale of 7:5:3 (meaning the tallest point has a scale of seven, the middle point is at five, and the lowest point is at three). These three heights reflect the distance between God, Earth and Man. Usually man is placed far from God and Earth to denote that we are imperfect and not worthy of being close to God or Earth.
Similarly, bonsai (盆栽), the Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers, employs techniques based on the same principles of ikebana. The use of three sections is strongly emphasized. This time, the trees are grown in scalene triangles, where the sides are all of different lengths.
Japanese rock gardens follow the same rule of threes. Stones are placed artistically to create a sense of serenity and peace.
In Your Nature Aquarium
Start by studying a natural landscape and then mimic it in a Nature Aquarium, making the stone arrangement as natural as possible. The focal points are strategically placed at the intersection of the three horizontal and vertical segments.
You can also use autumn colors to create a beautiful Nature Aquarium that looks like a fall landscape.