Don’t let mysticism surrounding the Golden Mean fool you. The real important ratio is 1:3. No artist or tree is going to get as fiddly as “The Golden Mean” However, everyone from painters in Italy, Native American Quill beaders, Islamic mosaic makers, to woodcarvers in Sub Saharan Africa use the rule of Thirds. Here is a nice graphic below demonstrating the principle of layout, used in most places throughout time.
The red dots show where one would put important objects. The diagonals are the possible lines of movement across a canvas, and the vertical blue lines divide the frame up into thirds. Yes, this can be used for differently shaped canvas, or even on a log.Note: WP is not formatting correctly today, for some reason. Nor has it been for a while.
And this is a good example of work that uses it.