Art and Design

The golden section and composition of paintings

Some painters thought hard about the golden section and others came to the same result by instinct. Here are two paintings by very different Welsh artists from the 1930s.

Vincent Evans was a painter who planned his paintings carefully with techniques of composition. After the Blast shows miners repairing an underground roadway in a coalmine after an explosion. The artist created a symmetrical shape of timbers and a strong line across the middle. He then used the golden section to position the two miners. The clarity of the composition helps you imagine the skill and care of the miners.

Vertical features on the golden section are: on the right the face and knee of the kneeling miner and the foot of the standing miner, and on the left the head of the standing miner. Horizontal features on the golden section are: the top the belt of the kneeling miner and the hat of the standing miner, and on the bottom the hands of the standing miner.

'After the Blast', Vincent Evans

Cedric Morris liked to work naturally and instinctively. He didn’t plan his pictures at all. But his ‘eye’ for what worked well in a painting often showed the golden ratio. Caeharris Post Office has strong features on the golden section. Vertical features are: on the right, the road-sign and the chimney above it, and on the left the middle tree and the red brick building. Horizontal features are: in the lower area the shadow under the roofs, and in the upper area the top of the roof on the left, a line in the red brick building and the top of the short chimney.


Caeharris Post Office from Gwernlwyn House, 1935, by Cedric Morris.

© Estate of Cedric Morris / Bridgeman Images