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Re: American style

I sent this yesterday, it never showed up, so here it is again

Roger wrote:
>>One is that the aquascape simply lacks an evident intent on the part of
the aquarist.  That is the sort of result you would get if (for instance)
you just collected plants and tried to fit them into the tank so that they
were visible and didn't kill each other.<<

Or a lack of artistic knowledge. Its just a basic understanding of visual
perception. Look at each of the winners of the AGA contest. They all had
elements of dutch aquascaping for lack of a better term. They each held
strong visual impacts. Well defined spaces and groups. One of my favorites
is Cathy Hartlands small tank.  It has one single branchy peice of wood
going horizontal  across a low foreground and a nice round bush. Its
simple, symetrical, and visually appealing.

Or Jason's amazing ten gallon with the different groups of plants at varying
heights that create such a depth of field, its hard to believe its only a
ten gallon tank. http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/?&op=image&id=281

Frode roe creates his display by having groups of plants that form diagonal
lines, met with low foreground and contrasting colors. He uses java moss as
a dark "spacer" between parts of the foreground and the higher plant groups.
http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/?&op=image&id=172 Now one could argue
that this looks too contrived or planned, but I dont see that. It flows
together very easily and looks very artistic.  Anthoni Romul has the same
principal but with fewer plant groups, a more open foreground that reaches
further back into the tank, and a solid rock like background. I really like
how this tank looks. http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/?&op=image&id=205

Steve Dixons tank uses the same principal of space relation. He has a raised
substrate lined with rocks that arches towards the rear, varying heights of
plants and groups and some nice contrast. Steven emailed me the url that has
all his pictures on it, and its quite impressive.

Now compare these to others that simply look like a wall of plants and you
can tell the difference, no matter if it was planned, on purpose,  or
haphazard. I presume what Karen and the other judges meant by lack of focus
was that visually it looked too cluttered, or undefined, or not enough
contrast or balance. Its this artistic sense that has no realtion to ones
expert ability to grow plants, or keep rare plants, and  why someone like
Chris Tsang can have such a beautiful looking tank and have it be his very
first tank!

>>Once I have the viewer's eye, I want to keep
it moving around without leaving the composition. I create lines for the eye
to follow and use stops to keep it in the painting. I want to lead the
viewer around the composition to the focal point. If the focal point is too
strong, the eye is immediately draw to it and it's over. The viewer moves on
to the next painting.<<

This is exactly what is involved in good dutch and japanese style
aquascaping. A focal point isnt even noticeable if its is surrounded by
clutter...plants that do not form lines, rows, circles, or groups.

""Clear foregrounds are a bad sign IMO, as these are the key to a nice tank
feel. Often one of the more difficult elements in a tank."
I arched an eyebrow at this statement when I read it, then I went and
checked out those Discus tanks from Belgium. While I saw some nice "fish
tanks", I didn't see any impressive "aquascapes".<<

It really all depends on how the bare  or planted foreground fits in with
whats around it and how visually appealing whats around it is.  Either
planted or bare, it can look unappealing or out of place.

Robert Paul H
on vacation in rainy Oregon.