The focal point or focal area is the main attraction for the viewer. It's the what and why of the painting. What is the artist saying? Why did they do the painting?
It attracts the viewers into a painting, then their eyes move on to the other areas of the painting.
If a painting is basically a display of patterns, there may not be a specific area of attraction.
Some paintings may have more than one focal point. They have a main area of focus with other supporting areas.
The boat painting below is an example. The boat is the main subject and the buildings are the supporting characters.
Place the focal point well integrated into the design of the painting.
Don't place the main subject close to the edge of the painting. It will make the viewer feel uncomfortable and possibly draw them out of the painting.
Accomplished artists use one or more of the following methods to attract their viewers.
Actually any man-made things such as vehicles, buildings, boats, etc. will automatically be the focal point in art paintings.
Give people or animals plenty of space in front of their face. Have them looking into the painting, not out. If they are looking out of the painting, their view will carry the viewer's eye out of the painting.
Value is the contrast between light and dark. The eye is automatically drawn to contrast.
Artists use light against dark in many areas of the painting. But the focal point in art has the strongest value contrast.
The egret draws in the viewers.
Notice that there are two palm trees, not one tree. A lone tree would attract attention. Two trees sets them into the background.
The red comb and wattles on the chicken are the brightest red in the painting.
There is more detail on the chicken's face and feathers, then the background which is somewhat out of focus.
Compare the hard edges on Lacey to the soft edges in the rest of the painting.
They are great for attracting the viewer's attention into the focal area.
Complimentary colors are across from each other on the color wheel. They are red and green, yellow and violet plus blue and orange.
See the bluebird painting below for a good example.
The warm colors, (red, orange or yellow) will automatically attract attention. When we place them against cool colors, (blue, green or purple) they really sparkle.
The bluebird above exhibits both complimentary colors and a warm orange with a cool blue.