Golden Ratio

A good picture requires a main focal point, and you can direct the viewer’s eyes to this point with the use of line and placement.  If your composition is good, it directs the viewers eyes into your painting, entertains them with the area of interest, then gives them a pleasing pathway out, with no obstructions.  The way you choose to compose your picture dictates how the viewer will react to it emotionally.  The odds are, that everyone creates pleasing compositions sometimes, but if they don’t know why or how, they won’t be able to duplicate those results.  Taking the time to learn a few composition rules (tools) that people have developed over the centuries can help create consistently good results.

The rule of thirds is a pretty well-known rule, because most cameras and phones give you the option to have a grid on your viewfinder when taking a photo.  Placing your subject or area of interest on any one of the grid intersections, usually results in a pleasing composition.  Another tool that’s very effective in composing great pictures is the golden ratio.

The golden ratio is a spiral shape, and it’s perfectly balanced and pleasing to the human eye. It can be found everywhere in nature, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper were both composed using this spiral.. You can use a series of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence to create one. The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…,).  The next number in the sequence is found by adding the two numbers before it, so the next one in the series would be 55 (the sum of 21 and 34) When you make squares with these numbers it makes this shape (a practical example of the connection between math and art).

If you don’t like math, don’t worry.  You don’t have to understand the numbers behind it to use it in your art.  If you become familiar with the shape, you can imagine it placed over your picture plane (like you would the camera grid), and place your center of interest on the smallest part of the spiral. The direction of the spiral doesn’t matter, so you can flip it and turn it.  What is important is the shape and distance between the loops.

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