Find at least six examples by a range of artists and look at how they have used the Golden Section in the composition of their pictures.
I’ve chosen landscape pictures through the ages for this exercise as that is what I’m focused on right now and this is a very useful time to be considering this topic.
John Virtue, Landscape 715 – This seems to conform very precisely to the Golden Section with a bottom third of the canvas defined by the top of line of the water and textural detail and light in the top left of the lower third. Not easy to describe but I’m not including the picture for copyright reasons. I cannot see the use of the Golden Section in Landscape 301 although the rule of thirds is apparent.
Andrew Wyeth, The Turkey Pond – This wonderful painting also seems to conform but many of Wyeth’s works don’t. Night Sleeper on the home page of www.andrewwyeth.com does not conform to the Golden Section or the rule of thirds and yet it is compelling and pleasing. Perhaps because it gives us separate individual components to look at and enjoy (the views from the two windows, the sleeping dog) and we don’t need to worry about their relationship.
Kurt Jackson, Morning Bulbfield, across to Gogh from St Agnes – This conforms even though the shape of the canvas itself does not comply with the golden ratio. What a lovely picture! I am reminded of the need to simplify my work and let small details have room to sing out.
J M W Turner, Norham Castle, Sunrise – this conforms approximately as marked up.
Seurat, Bathers at Asnières – this also seems to conform.
Claude Lorrain, Landscape with Apollo and the Muses – this roughly conforms. I looked at several other painting by Claude and most did not conform to the Golden section or if they did, it was in an approximate way. The rule of thirds is usually evident though in the placement of horizon lines, positioning of trees etc.
This was an interesting exercise and it led me to look at my points of view drawings. When I published these on my blog I noted that I was pleased with the composition of just one and that the others needed more consideration… and lo and behold the composition of this drawing conforms quite nicely to the Golden Section!