Research the Golden Mean/Golden Ratio and its applications to artistic composition.  Don’t get bogged down in the maths of this.Find out also about ‘the rule of thirds’ in landscape.Look on the internet and find some examples of landscape paintings that exemplify these compositional principles.

I read and watched many explanations of the Golden Mean/Ratio on-line and many seem to concentrate on the maths of this phenomenon rather than its application.   The ratio is 1:1.618, and this number applies to the difference between the proportions of the ‘golden rectangle, image representing this below.   These proportions have  for centuries been recognised as the most appealing to the eye. This ratio appears everywhere in nature, in art, in design, in music and in the human body therefore it would appear that it is natural for us to be more drawn to art that contains these proportional relationships.



The ratio of the whole line (A) to the large segment (B)

is the same as

the ratio of the large segment (B) to the small segment (C).

Sectioning a line to form the Golden Section, based on phi, the golden ratio

In other words, A is to B as B is to C.

This occurs only where A is 1.618 … times B and B is 1.618 … times C.

This is taken from


IMG_1719 copyOut of interest I tried to overlay a Golden Rectangle on my most recent landscape exercise using Photoshop. The proportions of the painting aren’t a fit however I do seem to have got close without realising, luck obviously, however  this raises the question in my mind ….do artists actually think about this consciously when starting a painting? They may not, but the results are more pleasing if they fit this law.    Are all commercial canvases and sketchbooks in this proportion?  A4 paper is not, I just looked, its 1:1.41. But then again its not about the size of the canvas is it? Its about the proportions of the image within that catch the viewers eye.

Examples from the internet


George Seurat – Bathers


Salvador Dali

Dali’s painting is actually done within a golden rectangle.  The positions of the disciples on either side being at the position of the golden sections, and the table is at the golden section of the height of the painting.


The Rule of thirds is for me easier to understand, having learnt this one initially for photography.  The example below demonstrating it nicely.  Dividing the area equally with two horizontal and two vertical lines, placing the interest at the junction points and not dead centre makes for a more dynamic image.


An example of its use using Dali again….