View Full Version : How much do you know about art #2: focal points

Drew Davis
09-19-1999, 11:36 PM
Scott wanted the new question in a new bulletin board thread, and since I happened to be the next one along, I didn't think Johannes would mind if I split off the new question. Which was:

"What are good resources to create impact in the center of interest? In other words how can we enrich this area?"

To get people to look at your focal point, you need to supply some contrast. You can contrast just about any design element (or more than one of them): sharp differences in value, color (versus complements or neutrality), sharp edges instead of lost ones, sizes and shapes, and so on, tend to make those areas stand out more. It's an old rule to save your lightest lights, darkest darks, and brightest colors for the center of interest.

Another form of contrast is in the paint application. Thick impastos stand out over thin, transparent background. Painterly strokes versus smooth paint, large strokes and small -- differences in technique can make the focal point stand out. Collage and mixed-media techniques have a lot of opportunity to vary even the materials used.

Content is important, too. Composition directs attention to the focal point(s). A road leading up into a landscape is practically a cliche, but it certainly takes the viewer's eye where you want it to go. The forms in the painting can do the same thing more subtly. Contrast in content, such as a (man-made) building in the middle of a (natural) forest, stands out more than, say, just a particular tree. Certain subjects automatically command attention, especially people. A human figure in a picture almost always seems to be a point of interest for me. Details help direct attention to the focal point, whereas other areas can be less detailed to attract less attention.

09-20-1999, 03:34 AM
I was always told to keep your lightest light against the darkest dark for the focal point,

Johannes Instructor
09-20-1999, 01:27 PM
Drew answered this question in complete full detail with text book quality. I wouldn't change a word of what she submitted. If the point is well understand a lot of artists will greatly enrich their work. I will post the next question.

07-08-2001, 09:25 AM
I like to do still life and find that I tend to put too many objects in my composition. They fight for attention because I love each piece I put in and tend to want everything to be the Focal Point.

I know that one solution is to just restrict myself and not put all those objects in.

I know that one other solution is to choose one area to make my focal point and let the others just be support.

Just wondering if anyone had other thoughts?