a focal point in art works like crazy to attract the viewers

what is a focal point?

  • The focal point in art is the main attraction of a painting.

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

The focal point is what attracts the viewers into a painting. Then their eyes move on to other areas of the painting.

does every painting have a focal point?

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

If a painting is basically a display of patterns, there may not be a specific area of focus.

The fish painting below is a painting of patterns. There is no outstanding center of interest.

There is not always a focal point in art paintings."Schoolin'" is a painting of patterns

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

The boat painting below is an example.

how do you create a focal point in art?

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

placing the focal point

A well placed focal point makes a pleasing painting.A well placed focal point
  • A focal point in art should be well integrated into the design of the painting.

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

An easy method of placement is the rule of thirds.

people, animals and vehicles

  • 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.

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. As in the example of the bird painting above.

If they are looking out of the painting, their view will carry the viewer's eye right out of the painting.

single objects

Artists use animals and people focal points to draw the viewers into their paintings. A single object is the focal point.
  • Solitary items automatically attract attention.

The egret draws the attention of the viewers. It has several things going for it that make it the focal point of the painting.

First, it is a solitary item. It's a single object. It's all by its self, not in a group.

Please notice, there are two palm trees, not one tree.

A lone tree would attract too much attention. Two trees together, sets them into the background.

Second, it's a bird. People and animals automatically attract the viewer's attention.

Third, it is moving. Moving objects grab the viewer's attention.

Fourth, there is a high value contrast between the white bird and the darker background.

value contrast

  • The easiest and the most valuable tool for the artist is value contrast.
Value contrast is the strongest painting technique an artist can use for creating a focal point in art.The boat is the star of the painting.
The buildings are secondary focal points.

Value is the light and darkness of an item. The eye is automatically drawn to a high contrast of 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.

The boat in this painting of a "Cedar Key Canal" easily becomes the focal point because it is a man-made object, a solitary item, it is painted with hard edges and it demonstrates high value contrast.

color and detail

Detail draws attention to the focal area.The color and details on "Lacey" attract attention.
  • Bright, more saturated colors attract attention.

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

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

There is more detail on the chicken's face and feathers, then the background which is somewhat out of focus.

soft and hard edges

  • Soft edges are easier to look at. Hard edges attract more attention.

Compare the hard edges on Lacey to the soft edges in the rest of the painting.

complimentary colors

Complimentary colors are a good way to attract attention to the focal area of a painting.Complimentary colors and warm vs cool colors
  • Complimentary colors vibrate when they are placed next to each other.

They are great for attracting the viewer's attention into the focal area.

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

use warm and cool colors

  • Painting warm colors against cool colors is another great tool artists use in their focal areas.

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 above exhibits both complimentary colors and a warm orange chest with a cool blue body.

How to mix warm colors and cool colors.


  • Use any or all of these tools to create a focal point in art paintings. Your paintings will be sure to attract the viewer's attention.

i wish you the best success on your painting journey!

more pages to check out

  • How to Mix Colors

    Learn how to mix colors. Mix your colors, don’t buy them. You will save money at the paint store. Create color harmony in your paintings by mixing your colors.

  • Values in Painting

    Color is fun, but use values in painting. The light and darkness of colors create strong, attractive paintings. Values are the backbone of successful paintings.

  • Easy Composition in Art

    Take the stress out of composition in art. Use the rule of thirds and other easy tips in your paintings to create appealing paintings that draw in the viewers.