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 Golden Mean

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Callie
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PostSubject: Golden Mean   Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:02 am

Do you use the Golden Mean when planning compositions? If you don't purposely use it, do you see it in the composition of your completed works?

Why golden ratio pleases the eye: US academic says he knows art secret
Many artists have proportioned work in shapes that facilitate scanning of images to brain, says professor.
Link to article:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/dec/28/golden-ratio-us-academic


Example:
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:50 pm

Very interesting article Callie. Thank you for sharing it. I don't use it but maybe after I get a handle on the basics I might venture out into other areas. I do keep the rule of thirds in mind when croping a photo to paint. Smile

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:48 am

I don't draw any fancy lines/grids on the canvas, but most of the time, the focal point ends up in that "golden spot" - if there is a focal point!
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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:23 pm

I've been scrounging around the web, trying to find out if it makes a noticeable difference to how we perceive a painting (good or bad), whether the golden ratio was used or not. I came across this photography site that has a good article about composing scenes. The photos towards the bottom show the golden mean/rule of thirds - mouse over the photo to see the grid come up:

http://www.thinctanc.co.uk/design/photography_tutorial_02.html

Another photography site; he's imposed the golden mean over some photos so you can see how his compositions work within it:

http://jakegarn.com/the-rule-of-thirds/

I wonder, are some artists just more aware (subconsciously) than others of this when they lay out their compositions? Does anyone have a painting they feel is successful, even though it doesn't follow this rule?
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:08 pm


The division isn't actually in thirds, but slightly larger. If you look at the gray rectangle above, it's 300 pixels across, and the orange square is 185, not 100. The magic number for a true golden mean ratio is 1.618 (300/1.618=185.)

A quick way to work it out is to start with a square, like the orange one above. Divide that in half (blue line) and draw a diagonal line to the corner (green line.) That green line is the radius of the blue circle. Extend the bottom edge of the square to where it meets the circle, and that's the edge of your rectangle.
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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:47 pm

The site author calls it the rule of thirds the "lazy counterfit" and shows the difference to the golden mean:



The other also explains the difference between the golden mean and the rule of thirds, and then says this:

Contemporary photography, recognising that it's quite
tricky to work out exactly where the golden ratio (currently
calculated to 10 million or so decimal places) is across
your tiny viewfinder, has taken this precise figure underpinning
all life as we know it and rendered it as, "things look
a bit nicer when you plonk the object about a third of
the way across."

Still, it's much easier to work with.


I'm more curious about breaking the rule - does putting the focal point dead center ever work? Does it always have to be off-center to be a good composition? Do all people have the same response to the golden mean, or are some less bothered by an imperfect composition? Do I spend too much time on the internet.........
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Sofie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:02 pm

I think dead centre can work for a very balanced composition - there are some geometric designs that are centred and work - and anything geometric can be translated to more representational work.

Anyway, isn't it true that all rules were made to be broken? Wink
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:53 am

I'm all for breaking the rules. I think if you find it looks good then it should be fine. Smile

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Last edited by Janet on Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:12 am

Well OK then! Every once in a while I come up with something that puts the main subject in the middle, and it really doesn't bother me. Then I start over thinking it - got to get it off-center or it will be "wrong". I often wonder if this is a failed painting because of the composition:



I've stood in this spot - looking at this waterfall and wanted to paint it just as is, I really like the view! Would a non-artist look at this and have a nagging feeling that something was off?
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:53 am

Callie, I love this painting! It's a perfect example of the focal point being in the center not being an issue. Smile

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Sofie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:00 pm

Very pretty! I think the composition is great. The waterfall may be centred in the pic, but you've also divided your canvas horizontally into thirds.
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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:18 pm

You also have all the rocks and the green of the trees directing your eye to the falls. The trees on either side frame it in giving it the feel that it is off center since the trees are not spaced evenly from the edge.

Judy

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:56 pm

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for pictures that "break the rule" and yet are appealing - that seem to have a sound composition. If anyone comes across a good example of this, feel free to post it!
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:47 pm

It isn't that stationary or symmetrical designs can't work, but that they're static by nature, and tend to be rather boring.
Personally, I think if it was less symmetrical it would be more visually interesting. For example, in the re-draw below the top of the waterfall hits the golden mean intersection by moving to the right and down slightly, and there's another tree trunk on the left side:

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:42 pm

Dave, I tried various versions (sketches) and in the end - I preferred to paint it from the trail that ends at this spot (artist's brain clicks off-tourist brain clicks on). The area is a popular rock climbing destination, so our climber-friends all respond very well to the painting since it's a view they're all familiar with.
I think if I didn't know the area I could have looked at it differently, and then it wouldn't have mattered that it wasn't the popular viewpoint.
So my painting is more of a postcard than a painting!

That's my big excuse for breaking the rule!
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:17 pm

My sketch is just an illustration of my point about symmetry, not really a statement of how to make it "better."

Also, I should say that the proportion of your original doesn't quite match a true golden mean rectangle, so I had to cheat it somewhat. A "rule of thirds" might be more appropriate in this case.
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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:26 pm

Thanks, David! And Happy New Year!

So, when you paint, do you make a conscious effort to build a composition based on the Golden Mean, or does it just sort of happen naturally? If you see artwork/photography that doesn't conform, does it nag at you?
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 7:22 pm

I can't think of any time I've deliberately used any sort of mathematical positioning, unless it was back in the dark ages of school. I don't care to be that precise. Rhythm, balance, and direction for the shapes within the frame are what matters to me. The design is subordinant to the content. I'm sure that I'm very influenced by the work of others, but I try and catch myself from being too predictable or academic.

Catching flaws in other artists work is a difficult thing since it's hard to tell whether it's deliberate or not. Fine by me; it's their art.
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Sofie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:05 pm

Callie - you might find that if you submit your painting to be juried for a show, the jurors will use rules of composition as part of their judging process, but when you show your work the general public will look at it with a different point of view. If your painting brings a well loved scene alive for them, it will be truly appreciated.
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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:27 pm

So true. I've been to juried shows that made me wonder who judged them and what they were thinking. Composition is important, but the rules don't always work.

Judy

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:48 pm

Here's an example of a composition that breaks the rule - very well, I think. So if this were a painting, would we find it boring because of the symmetrical composition? Think that it's not show-worthy?

So are our brains really "hard wired" to seek out/prefer things that conform to the Golden Mean?
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:56 am

I'm not really sure. Are we drawn to symmetry as well. I love this photo and to me it's more about symmetry. Smile

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Sofie
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:36 am

I think it would make a beautiful painting.
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:56 am

Callie wrote:
Here's an example of a composition that breaks the rule - very well, I think....

I disagree. If we look back at your waterfall, it's an "X" shape from top and bottom with trees on both sides, and your main focal point dead center. Here the focal point is lower, and the bottom isn't symmetrical to the top. If there was more road at the bottom it would better fit golden ratio porportions, but that would also center the vanishing point. You could change the position of the camera, but then you're no longer on the road which is contextually important.

Callie wrote:
So are our brains really "hard wired" to seek out/prefer things that conform to the Golden Mean?

Not necessarily. It's the overall layout structure that matters. The golden mean is just one method.
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: Golden Mean   Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:47 am

I found this site that you might find interesting which like David pointed out the golden mean is just one method.

http://photoinf.com/Golden_Mean/L_Diane_Johnson/The_Basics_of_Landscape_Composition.htm

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