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Old 08-11-2004, 01:53 AM
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Can focal point be inside another object

Can the focal point of a painting be inside another object in the painting? The spade is the focal point of this painting, but it's inside the clay pot. Is this allowable or is it a compositional no-no? Does the focal point of a painting always have to be outside the other objects in the painting?




Charcoal on newsprint.
Does this composition work?
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Last edited by A Few Pigments : 08-11-2004 at 01:55 AM. Reason: text editing
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Old 08-11-2004, 02:16 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Yes, it certainly can.

A focal point is anything that draws your eye to it, and for any reason.

Bill
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Old 08-11-2004, 02:58 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Thank you Bill. I thought that was the case but I decided to check before using any paint on this project. I should have also asked if the composition works or if I should change it. Iím trying to work like the old masters did by figuring everything out before I start the actual painting.
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Old 08-11-2004, 06:43 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Hi Bruce - when you say that the spade is inside the clay pot - I'm a little puzzled - are you saying that in the actual painting we would not see the blade of the spade (in the way that we do in the sketch) as it's obscured by the side of the pot closest to us? Or is the front surface removed/broken away/whatever to allow us to see the spade?

Just wanting to clarify, first

Assuming it's the latter (just trying to work out from the sketch if those are fracture-edges on the wall of the pot), I'm sure it would be fine as a focal point - and that element of the composition would work well with lots of visual interest in the modelling, and in the different textures of the surfaces - I also like the way the shadows on the back wall reinforce the interpretation of the shapes.

I'm not so certain about the placement of the object in front of the pot (gloves?/cloth?), as it seems a little midline for my liking - giving a subliminal suggestion that things are "piled up" and undermining the sense of solidity and stability - conventional compositional approaches here might reinforce a triangular arrangement with a couple of weightier objects - but perhaps you don't want that sense of solidity, are trying to suggest something else going on? There's a long history of this in still life, of course, that placements and object choices convey subtler meanings. As always with these things, a lot depends on the execution.

Dave

Last edited by dcorc : 08-11-2004 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 08-11-2004, 07:00 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

I guess I should have spent more time on the sketch but the pot is broken. If you look closely youíll see the blade of the spade ("the blade of the spade" sounds like the title of a movie about a super hero garden tool) can be seen in the pot.
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Old 08-11-2004, 07:10 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Quote:
Originally Posted by A Few Pigments
I guess I should have spent more time on the sketch but the pot is broken. If you look closely youíll see the blade of the spade ("the blade of the spade" sounds like the title of a movie about a super hero garden tool) can be seen in the pot.


OK - LOL about the movie - I added some more comments to the post above, we cross posted - interested to hear your thoughts

Dave
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Old 08-11-2004, 07:26 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

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Originally posted by dcorc
I'm not so certain about the placement of the object in front of the pot (gloves?/cloth?), as it seems a little midline for my liking - giving a subliminal suggestion that things are "piled up" and undermining the sense of solidity and stability - conventional compositional approaches here might reinforce a triangular arrangement with a couple of weightier objects - but perhaps you don't want that sense of solidity, are trying to suggest something else going on? There's a long history of this in still life, of course, that placements and object choices convey subtler meanings. As always with these things, a lot depends on the execution.

Dave
Thank you for your help on this, lately I canít seem to put a foot right with my paintings. These old masters have me in bits.

The very badly drawn object in front and to the side of the pot is an old rag. I felt the softness of the rag would be a counterpoint to the hardness of the pot and spade. The small objects to the left and right of the pot are acorns. If a rag and acorns arenít working what would you suggest as an alternative for a ďtriangular arrangement with a couple of weightier objectsĒ?
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Old 08-11-2004, 08:00 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

You're much too hard on yourself, you know.

I often wish I was sitting in the room with the other person in these sorts of interactions, chatting about the subject - rather than over the net - in trying to be clear, my tone often comes across as dogmatic or authoritative (or worse still, authoritarian ) in a way that certainly isn't intended

The short answer is "I'm not sure" - the softness of the rag will make a good counterpoint to the hardness of the pot and spade. Your own choices here, as to the acorns may well work and not need any adjustments (it's always the case with these things that the more people you ask, the more different opinions you will get )

Personally, I always find it difficult to judge what the results might be like, from line-drawings, as so much is dependent on the way the painting is carried out - how it's lit - what the colour-choices are, and so on - when one is working out a compositional sketch for oneself, one knows in one's head at least vaguely what the contribution of those elements will be - but that info isn't conveyed to others in the line-sketch itself - could I suggest a little expt? try making a colour thumbnail painted sketch - no details, just trying to get the colour/tonal relationships down for the objects, broadly indicated as daubs - like a broad brush block-in - but done small (no need to waste paint, or time), but with the range of colour, and contrast - as an example - here's a thumbnail for a landscape scene I've been working on in recent days - admittedly this one I've "faked" in photoshop to show you the sort of thing:



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Old 08-11-2004, 08:27 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Quote:
Originally posted by dcorc
You're much too hard on yourself, you know.

try making a colour thumbnail painted sketch - no details, just trying to get the colour/tonal relationships down for the objects, broadly indicated as daubs - like a broad brush block-in - but done small (no need to waste paint, or time), but with the range of colour, and contrast - as an example - here's a thumbnail for a landscape scene I've been working on in recent days - admittedly this one I've "faked" in photoshop to show you the sort of thing:
They say an artist needs to be his own worst critic. Every time I finish a painting I know I could have done better if I had just tried harder. That gives me a kick in the nether regions to try harder the next time.

Thank you for the suggestion. Iíll do a thumbnail color sketch and post it. I want to get everything worked out before I do the actual painting and that should help. Ta again for all your help mate.
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Old 08-11-2004, 09:09 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

hello bruce. welcome. there are a few things that bother me. one is composition, but since I have to leave in five minutes, I won't have time till much later to help you with that. I think more drama can be achieved if your focal point were not in a square painting in the dead center. achieving a good composition with a centered painting is actually harder to do then one that is say in the golden mean.

the other thing that's bothering me is the broken pot echos the edges of the spade exactly. wouldn't it be better if the pot had some jagged edges that partially covered up edges of the spade? this would not only be more interesting, but would then give you another means of showing depth within the pot.
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Old 08-12-2004, 06:32 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

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Originally posted by arlene
hello bruce. welcome. there are a few things that bother me. one is composition, but since I have to leave in five minutes, I won't have time till much later to help you with that. I think more drama can be achieved if your focal point were not in a square painting in the dead center. achieving a good composition with a centered painting is actually harder to do then one that is say in the golden mean.

Hi Arlene, thank you for the welcome. Itís nice to see you again. Iíll take your advice and try a rectangular canvas for this painting. Iíll do a quick, study with acrylics to show composition, hues and 3 values. Iíll post it today or tomorrow . Thank you for your help.
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Old 08-16-2004, 09:38 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Hi Arleneí

I had to scan this work and the drawing has a horizontal line about half way up I couldnít edit out.
The first pic is the rectangular format still life. Youíre right about it being more difficult to do a composition in a square format so Iíll do this rectangular format instead. May be after I get better at composition I could try a square format.


Last Friday night I had one more try at the square format. This is acrylics on sketch pad paper. I just wanted to do a color sketch but being me I got carried away and did a little more. Is this comp any better than the last square comp?
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Last edited by A Few Pigments : 08-16-2004 at 09:48 AM. Reason: to add text
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Old 08-21-2004, 08:14 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

hi Bruce

I think this latest is a great improvement on both the original and on the rectangular one. I think the fact that it is square and centred makes a strong statement, and the compositional arrangement is stronger than the preceeding versions - I'd say go for it with this one!

Dave
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Old 08-21-2004, 09:01 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

Hi Dave,

Thank you for commenting Dave. Iíll take your advice and start this one in oils tonight. Thank you for the help.

Cheers
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Old 08-21-2004, 09:45 AM
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Re: Can focal point be inside another object

bruce i agree with Dave and i'm sorry i missed the earlier drawing. (been a very busy week) I think you nailed it this time with the square comp.

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