how to create a focal point in art that attracts the viewers into your paintings

  • What is a focal point in art?

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.

does every painting have a focal point?

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

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.

Value contrast is the strongest painting technique an artist can use for creating a focal point.The boat is the main attraction.

how do you create a focal point in art?

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.

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

value contrast

  • The easiest and the most valuable tool for the artist is value contrast.

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.

single objects

  • Solitary items automatically attract attention.

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.

Artists use animals and people to draw the viewers into their paintings. The egret, an animal, a single object with value contrast is the focal point.


  • Brighter, more saturated colors attract attention.

The red comb and wattles on the chicken are the brightest red in the painting.

Detail draws attention to the focal area.The details on "Lacey" attract attention


  • 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 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. They are red and green, yellow and violet plus blue and orange.

See the bluebird painting below for a good example.

Complimentary colors are a good way to attract attention to the focal area of a painting.Complimentary colors and warm vs cool colors

use warm and cool colors

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

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.

How to mix warm colors and cool colors.


  • Use any 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

  • Painters Art Terms

    Did you ever wonder what an artist was talking about? This glossary of art terms explains what todays painting artists are saying; supplies, techniques and more.

  • Animal Paintings

    Animal paintings are lots of fun! Oil and watercolor paintings of all the intriguing critters God created; dolphins, koi, giraffes, sea turtles, birds and more…

  • Values in Paintings

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

  • Painting Daily by Carol May

    Can painting daily really make you a better artist? Regular painting will put your art into overdrive! You don’t have to paint perfect. Just paint more often.

share with others