Focal Point in Art: Creating Engaging Artworks

The focal point in art is the main attraction of a painting. It's what attracts the viewers to our paintings.

People will come to look at our paintings. Then their eyes move around and enjoy the other areas of the painting.

What is a focal point?  It's the what and why of the painting. Why did the artist do the painting? What are they trying to say?

Focal-point-in-paintingCreate an outstanding focal point.

how do we create a focal point in art?

Accomplished painting artists will use one or more of the following methods to create a focal point.

contrasting values are sure to stand out

Value contrast is great in the focal point of a painting.Baby birds looking for mom.

A good contrast in values is the #1 way of creating a focal point in art. Values are the light and darkness of an item.

Value contrast is the easiest way to make a focal point. The eye is automatically drawn to an area of high contrasting values.

Artists will use light against dark in many areas of the painting. But the focal point in art should have the strongest value contrast.

These tiny hummingbirds contrast well against their background.

Also, the birds are painted with hard edges, that's another attention-getter.

people, animals and vehicles attract attention

People, animals or vehicles become the star of the show when they are in a painting.

Actually, any man-made things such as vehicles, buildings, boats, etc. will automatically be the focal point in art paintings.

Wildlife and all types of critters always attract people. Probably because most people enjoy both domestic and wild animals.

Give people or animals plenty of space in front of their face.

Have them looking into the painting, not out the edge of the painting. If the subject is looking out of the painting, their view will carry the viewers right out of the painting.

solitary objects will be the star of the show

A solitary object is an automatic focal point.A single object makes a focal point.

Solitary items automatically attract attention.

The hummingbird draws the attention of the viewers. It demands attention, even though it is small compared to the mass of flowers.

The hummingbird has several things going for it that make it the focal point of the painting.

1. There is good value contrast between the bird and the background. 

2. It is a solitary item. It's all by its self, not in a group.

3. It's a bird. People and animals automatically attract the viewer's attention.

4. It is moving. Moving objects always grab the viewer's attention.

where do we put the focal point?

It's not a hard and fast rule, but generally the focal point is placed "near" the center of the painting.

Generally a focal point is  not in the center of the painting.A well-placed focal point

The focal point should be well integrated into the design of the entire painting.

The subject is almost never placed in the absolute center of the painting.

When the subject is dead-centered, the viewers to look at the subject and then leave the painting. They don't spend additional time looking at the rest of the painting.

Don't place the subject close to the edge of the painting. It will make the viewers feel uncomfortable and possibly draw them out of the painting.

The woodpecker painting is an example. The bird is slightly off-centered and well-integrated into the design of the painting.

An easy method of placing the subject is the rule of thirds.

Does every painting have a focal point?

It is up to the artist whether they want focal point or not.

When the painting is basically a display of patterns, it may not have a specific area of focus. The fish painting below is a painting of patterns.

Focal-point-noneThis painting lacks focal point.

Should a painting have only one focal point?

  • Some paintings have more than one area of focus.
  • They have a main point of interest plus supporting, secondary focal points.

Do you want an automatic focal point?

How do we know our focal point will work?

Eyes are always an attention getter. People's eyes or animal eyes are always the center of attention. They grab our attention and pull us into the painting.

Focal-Point-automaticA very clever painting by Alexandra Haynak

Notice how we are drawn to the eyes. They grab our attention. Even though there is a huge value contrast between the blue and white, our attention goes to the eyes.

how do we paint a focal point?

We know where to place a focal point and what attracts attention. What painting techniques can we use?

color and detail

C-LaceyThe color and details on "Lacey" attract attention.

Bright, saturated colors draw attention to the main subject.

The red comb and wattles on the chicken are the brightest red in the painting. So, they draw attention to the chicken and her face.

Use more detail in the focal areas compared to other areas of the painting.

There is more detail on the chicken's face with her eye, beak, comb and wattles.

The feathers are painted with more detail than the background which is somewhat out of focus.

soft and hard edges

Soft edges are easier to look at, but hard edges attract more attention.

Compare the hard edges on Lacey (the chicken above) to the soft edges in the rest of the painting.

paint warm and cool colors against each other

Painting warm colors against cool colors is another great tool for focal areas of a painting.

The warm colors, (red, orange and yellow) will automatically attract attention. When we place them against cool colors, (blue, green or purple) they really sparkle.

The bluebird below exhibits both complimentary colors and a warm orange chest with a cool blue body.

How to mix warm colors and cool colors.

complimentary colors

Complimentary colors vibrate when they are painted next to each other. They are great for attracting the viewer's attention into the focal area.

C-Cleaning-Up-bluebirdComplimentary colors and warm vs cool colors

Complimentary colors are across from each other on the color wheel. They are red and green, yellow and violet plus, blue and orange.

The bluebird has several things that make him the focal point of the painting.

  1. The complimentary colors, blue and orange
  2. Hard edges on the bird, compared to the soft edges in the background
  3. He has saturated colors.
  4. Plenty of space in front of his face, so the viewer stays in the painting.
  5. Warm versus cool colors

Do you think I missed one? Yes, he is a solitary object, a bird or animal and the painting shows movement.

It's easy to create a focal point in art with multiple methods.

you can create a focal point

Use any or all of these techniques to make a focal point in your art paintings. They will be sure to attract the viewer's attention.

i wish you the best on your art journey!

more pages to check out

  • Use the principles of art to create successful paintings. Artists create pleasing compositions by using the art elements according to the principles of painting

    Principles of Art

    Use the principles of art to create successful paintings. Artists create pleasing compositions by using the art elements according to the principles of painting

  • What is the best painting medium for the artist to start with? Compare the pros and cons of today’s popular mediums, oils, watercolor, acrylics and alkyd paint.

    Best Painting Medium

    What is the best painting medium for the artist to start with? Compare the pros and cons of today’s popular mediums, oils, watercolor, acrylics and alkyd paint.

  • What every artist need to know: setting up our home art studio. What to include in our own private art painting space, so the creative juices are free to flow.

    Home Art Studio

    What every artist need to know: setting up our home art studio. What to include in our own private art painting space, so the creative juices are free to flow.

  • Distinguish 'What is Fine Art' from arts and crafts. Unravel the distinctions, appreciate the vibrancy of each, and their roles of art in our world today.

    What is Fine Art: Discover Your Artistic Genius

    Distinguish 'What is Fine Art' from arts and crafts. Unravel the distinctions, appreciate the vibrancy of each, and their roles of art in our world today.

  • Use good composition in art to draw in the viewers. Use the rule of center lines, the rule of thirds and other easy tips that attract viewers to our paintings.

    Composition in Art

    Use good composition in art to draw in the viewers. Use the rule of center lines, the rule of thirds and other easy tips that attract viewers to our paintings.

  • Artists use the rule of thirds to create dynamic compositions. It is the shortcut for easy composition. It creates balanced paintings that attract the viewers.

    Rule of Thirds makes dynamic compositions

    Artists use the rule of thirds to create dynamic compositions. It is the shortcut for easy composition. It creates balanced paintings that attract the viewers.




Recent Articles

  1. Learning to Paint

    Mar 29, 24 12:00 PM

    How to learn painting Learning to paint is fun! Millions of people are painting and you can too! Use these five easy things to jump start your painting journey.

    Read More

  2. Easy Butterfly Painting: Watercolor Monarch Step-by-Step Tutorial

    Mar 25, 24 03:39 PM

    Easy-butterfly-painting
    Get creative with an easy butterfly painting tutorial. Discover the joy of drawing and painting a vibrant Monarch Butterfly with simple watercolor techniques.

    Read More

  3. Overcoming an Artist's Block

    Mar 15, 24 12:00 PM

    How to overcome an artists block How to survive an artist's block. All artists can have blocks or delays, but we get over it. What is an art block? How do we get started painting again?

    Read More

  4. Bird Paintings

    Mar 03, 24 09:11 AM

    Paintings of Birds A captivating tribute to our feathered friends.
    The amazing diversity and beauty of birds comes alive with watercolor and oil paintings of birds.
    Get inspired to paint the birds you see or simply enjoy…

    Read More

Recent Articles

  1. Learning to Paint

    How to learn painting Learning to paint is fun! Millions of people are painting and you can too! Use these five easy things to jump start your painting journey.

    Read More

  2. Easy Butterfly Painting: Watercolor Monarch Step-by-Step Tutorial

    Easy-butterfly-painting
    Get creative with an easy butterfly painting tutorial. Discover the joy of drawing and painting a vibrant Monarch Butterfly with simple watercolor techniques.

    Read More

  3. Overcoming an Artist's Block

    How to overcome an artists block How to survive an artist's block. All artists can have blocks or delays, but we get over it. What is an art block? How do we get started painting again?

    Read More

  4. Bird Paintings

    Paintings of Birds A captivating tribute to our feathered friends.
    The amazing diversity and beauty of birds comes alive with watercolor and oil paintings of birds.
    Get inspired to paint the birds you see or simply enjoy…

    Read More



Copyright ©
ArtbyCarolMay.com
All Rights Reserved

HOME  -  BLOG  -  CONTACT  -  SITEMAP  -  PRIVACY  -  AFFILIATE