what is a focal point in art?
- The focal point or focal area is the main attraction for the viewer.
It attracts the viewers into a painting, then their eyes move on to the other areas of the painting.
It's the what and why of the painting. What is the artist saying? Why did they paint 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 area. They have a main area of focus with other supporting areas.
The boat painting above is an example. The boat is the main subject and the buildings are the supporting characters.
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how do you create a focal point?
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.
- 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 strongest value contrast should be used in the focal point or the focal area.
- Solitary items automatically attract attention. The egret draws in the 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 attract attention in a painting.
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.
- Use more detail in the focal areas compared to other areas of the painting.
The details on "Lacey" attract attention
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.
- Brighter, more saturated colors attract attention.
The red comb and wattles on the chicken are the brightest red in the painting.
- Complimentary colors vibrate when they are placed next to each other.
Complimentary colors are an ideal choice, when you are selecting painting colors.
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 and blue with orange.
See the bluebird painting below for a good example.
use warm and cool colors
- Warm colors placed against cool colors is another great tool artists use in their focal points.
Complimentary plus, warm vs cool colors
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 or all of these tools to create a focal point in your paintings.
Your paintings will be sure to attract the viewer's attention.
art books for your interest ---