Golden Mean

Aspects of Design





The Golden Mean or Golden Section is a mathematical relationship of 1:1.618. It is believed to be the most beautiful and perfect proportion.

Golden Rectangle

A rectangle constructed with sides in a 1:1.618 relationship is called a Golden Rectangle. It is believed, but has never been proven, that the Greeks based much of their architecture, pottery and painting on this rectangle.

Constructing the Golden Rectangle

A logarithmic spiral can be constructed by breaking up the golden rectangle into smaller and smaller components all of identical proportions. This spiral is believed to be the basis for many spiral structures in nature.

Start by drawing a square.

Logarithmic Spiral based on the Golden Rectangle

Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is based on the ideal male human proportions set out by Ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius Pollio. It exhibits a number of golden ratios. Most humans are not of ideal proportions so it is difficult to say how accurate the application of the golden mean is to the human body.



A report in the American Journal of Psychology, 1974, Vol 84, (1) Concluded, after testing a large number of people, ” that preference for the golden section is an artefact of its position in the range of stimuli presented and of the measures of preference rather than of any intrinsic aesthetic quality.”

A mathematical obsession accurately applying the golden mean to visual artworks is probably not worth the effort. Rough approximations are generally near enough. 3:5 or 5:8 is about as close as can be detected without resorting to a ruler for confirmation.

(1) Davis S, Jahnke J, 1991, Unity and the Golden Section: Rules for Aesthetic Choice, University of Illinois Press.


Instant Video Projects

Unlimited Access

John Lovett


John Lovett is an Australian artist working in oils, watercolor and mixed media. Since commencing his career John has held over thirty five solo exhibitions and taken part in many joint ones. John’s work is represented in private and corporate collections in Australia, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and USA. John’s passion for his work and his open easy approach to teaching make his books, DVD’s and workshops thoroughly enjoyable, extremely informative and always very popular. His articles are regularly featured in “International Artist” magazine.      



Postal Address

PO Box 254


Queensland   4223


  • Facebook Social Icon

© 2017 John Lovett (all text and images unless otherwise stated)