Aquascaping Masters: Arizona by James Findley

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Aquascaping master James Findley Arizona

Aquascaping is reaching new heights with master aquascapers like James Findley. In my opinion, James is one of the most innovative aquascapers we have today. He is experimenting and pushing boundaries and, in the process, taking aquascaping to the next level.

I wanted to share with you this new, beautifully produced video by James that details the making of one of his newest works, Arizona. Having been to Arizona many times, I can see it in his scape. It’s not only the colors but the overall feel of the wide open spaces and towering rocks that make this work feel like Arizona. I think James is one of the best at conveying feeling through his aquascapes.

Using layout style as a tool and not a handcuff

Notice also that this aquascape is what I could classify as an “island style” layout because the planting and hardscape make… an island. However, it takes off from there and touches the boundaries of zen gardening. The island itself is colorful and imposing, yet artfully, skillfully manicured. This, of course, is reminiscent of traditional Dutch style layouts. It’s unique and I like it.

It’s very important for understand that layouts are a good thing but they are simply a tool in aquascaping. Don’t use them as handcuffs but as starting points. They are skeletons that you, the artist, must build upon to make something completely yours and unique. And it is this uniqueness that you must find and develop. Your very own style.

What can you learn from Jame’s Arizona? Look at the color contrast and how it works with the layout? Where’s the focal point? Is there a synergy to everything going on? What feeling do you get from it?

Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to get your thoughts.

Wonderful work, James. Thank you!


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