creating a focal point

that attracts the viewer

what is a focal point in art?

  • The focal point of a painting is the main attraction.
  • It is the what and why of the painting.

Why was the painting done and what did the artist want to portray?

It is the main emphasis of a painting that first attracts the viewer. Then their eye moves on to other areas of the painting.

does every painting have a focal point?

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

A painting may not have a specific area of attraction, if it is basically a display of patterns. In other paintings, there may be more than one focal area.



creating a focal point

that attracts the viewer

what is a focal point in art?

  • The focal point of a painting is the main attraction.
  • It is the what and why of the painting.

Why was the painting done and what did the artist want to portray?

It is the main emphasis of a painting that first attracts the viewer. Then their eye moves on to other areas of the painting.

does every painting have a focal point?

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

A painting may not have a specific area of attraction, if it is basically a display of patterns. In other paintings, there may be more than one focal area.



As an affiliate of Amazon and Blick Art Materials I earn from purchases, no additional cost to you. Learn More

how do you create a focal point?

There are a number of different tools the artist can use to attract the eye of the viewer.

Accomplished artists use one or more of the following methods to make attractive paintings.


value contrast

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

Value is the contrast between light and dark. The eye is automatically drawn to a contrast between light and dark.

The artist uses light against dark in many areas of the painting.

But the strongest value contrast should be used in the focal area.

single element

The Egret attracts the viewer because it is all by itself.

The viewer is more comfortable when objects are placed together or near other objects.

Elements of the painting that are placed by alone will automatically attract attention.


people, animals and vehicles

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

Just be sure and give them adequate space in front of their face to head into the painting.

Do not place them close to the edge of the painting, looking out. Their view would carry the viewer's eye out of the painting.


detail

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

There is more detail on the chicken's face and on her feathers compared to the background of the painting.

The background is somewhat out of focus.


soft and hard edges

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

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

Detail draws attention to the focal area.The Details On "Lacey"
Draw The Attention Of The Viewer.

color

Brighter, more saturated color attracts attention. Notice the red comb and wattles on the chicken are the brightest red in the painting.


complimentary colors

Colors directly across from each other on the color wheel are called complimentary colors.

Blue and orange, red and green and yellow and violet are the complimentary colors.

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

When you are selecting colors for your paintings, complimentary colors are an ideal choice.

warm verses cool colors

Placing warm colors against cool colors is another great tool for the artist to use in the focal point of their paintings.

The warm colors, red, orange and yellow automatically attract attention. When we place them against some cool colors, they really sparkle.

How to mix warm colors and cool colors.

Complimentary colors are a good way to attract attention to the focal area of a painting.Complimentary and Warm vs Cool Colors

conclusion

Use any or all of these tools to create the focal point of your paintings.

Your paintings will be sure to attract the viewer's attention.

happy painting


The Walter Foster series of How-to Series of art books have been favorites for many years.

There is still a large collection of them in my painting library that I use for reference.

The series of books is still going strong with many updated art books on painting, drawing and even cartoons.

There are more than 35 different books listed on the Blick Art Materials website.

They are still reasonably priced at $8.95 each

  1. Home
  2. Learn Painting
  3. Focal Point

learn more painting

  • Art Dictionary for painting artists

    Did you ever wonder what an artist was talking about? This art dictionary has art terms commonly used by painting artists and their definitions.

  • Painting Daily with Carol May

    Can painting daily really make you a better artist? Paint more often and don’t always strive for perfection. Regular painting will put your art into overdrive!

  • How to Mix Paint Colors

    Mix paint colors to make your paintings sing with color. Painting will be fun and you’ll save money by mixing your own greens, blacks, warm and cool colors, etc.

  • Critter Paintings

    Oil and watercolor critter paintings of all the wonderful animals God created; dolphins, koi, giraffes, sea turtles, birds and more fun critters...

  • Using Values in Our Paintings

    It’s fun painting color, but values are the backbone of successful paintings. Use the light and darkness of colors to create strong, attractive paintings.

What's New

  1. Watercolor Art Supplies

    What watercolor art supplies do I need? What can I paint on? What’s the best watercolor paint, paper, brushes? Can I watercolor on canvas, plus more…

    Read More

  2. Painting Watercolor Flowers

    The single most important thing about painting watercolor flowers is - watercolor is fun! How to paint watercolor Iris, Poppies and Echinacea flowers.

    Read More

  3. Hummingbird Art

    Hummingbird art, these little birds pack so much color and personality. What a joy doing hummingbird paintings of God's flying jewels.

    Read More

  4. Oil Painting for Beginners

    Step-by-step oil painting for beginners. What do you need to paint with oils? How do you use oil paints? Paint a brilliant Oriole on Dogwood flowers.

    Read More

  5. Choose Paint Colors for each painting

    How do professionals choose colors for paintings? Learn how to choose paint colors and create beautiful, harmonious paintings with only three or four colors.

    Read More