The golden rule

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The golden rule

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Mike McConn wrote:
I wasn't using the 7.5 or the 8 heads approach necessarily, but rather in a general way assessing the length of limb in comparison to head size which generally proves very accurate.

Greg Scheckler responded:
Cool. The general measurements are comparative, not rooted in a particular geometric scheme. I think this contemporary way of developing and checking proportions is extremely useful too. It's interesting, because Ingres made quite different choices regarding what aspects of proportion to idealize and emphasize (personally I prefer Ingres's quieter approach).

In any case, in painting, foreshortening really messes up any ideal number system. So you have to know how to check visually rather than numerically.

I agree, and I think that this identifies the "golden mean" regarding formal rules like this in art. One error is to take the proportions as some kind of absolute rule that one must never ever violate. The other error is to say that there are no rules or principles and that one should just choose randomly or on a whim how to draw your figures. The right approach is to learn the rule, learn to apply the rule, learn its strengths and weaknesses, and learn to apply the rule (or not) taking into account all of the relevant circumstances. That's where great art (and all good engineering, politics, and design) comes from.

One should not treat rules and principles like idols, nor throw them away. One should learn and use them intelligently.

-- Brian