De Gruy Portrait and the Harmony of Phi

 “If you knew Mike, You knew that he was a warrior, a warrior for the ocean.”

--James Cameron

By Jin Yang

The nautilus is the starting point of Mike and Mimi’s lives as underwater filmmakers, so it is appropriate for it to appear as a design element to build the painting around. Like the nautilus shell, their lives spiraled from their individual careers to their marriage, their film company, and their commitments to the ocean, family and community. The ever-expanding spiral embraces them beautifully as if they are still as enthusiastic and ambitious as they were in the beginning.

The spiral is also represented by a mathematical sequence known as The Fibonacci Equation: an expanding spiral created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling. This pattern is repeated throughout are natural world, such as in sunflowers or in the shape of our ears. This pattern is variously referred to as sacred geometry, divine proportion, mathematics of harmony and Phi: the Golden Ratio. The Golden ratio is a common compositional tool in art and design.  It uses the same mathematical equation as the nautilus to create balance and compositional harmony in a painting.  Therefore, Holli chose this as the major design element in the De Gruy portrait. The portrait depicts the moment this loving couple  are holding each other happily and peacefully in front of the ocean, which they devoted their lifetime passion to.

 Mimi and Mike De Gruy, oil on canvas, 24x36

Mimi and Mike De Gruy, oil on canvas, 24x36

Holli uses a muted mild blue color palette for this painting. It successfully creates a feeling of freedom and vastness found in the ocean. Mike and Mimi are looking at different directions in the painting; following their sights, we can imagine the infinite world and dreams ahead of them. With the combination of the painting and their stories, I kind of just want this moment of love and serenity to stop and last there forever. All of the challenges, struggles and dangers are below the surface in the moment and all we can see is a couple, enjoying their lives full of love and expectations.

Their embrace unites them as collaborators in their profession but also speaks to their love as a couple and advocates for the ocean’s well-being. This moment in time prophetically stops there, but will last forever.  While this painting was nearly completed and still on the easel, Mike De Gruy was tragically killed in a helicopter crash while on assignment in Australia on February 4th, 2012.

It was a huge loss of a great teacher and an outstanding advocate for the ocean. Mike’s life was so richly lived that with his energy and power  are delivered to us through his works.  We will carry his ideas and enthusiasm into our lives as passionate human beings for the things we love.

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