Creating a strong focal point in your art is an easy way to strengthen your work overall. Many beginners look at a scene and try to paint all of it, leaving the painting without any focus. But we aren’t photojournalists, we are painters! In paintings, we don’t want the viewers eye to just wander all about. On the contrary, it’s the painter’s responsibility to direct the eye and to orchestrate its movement within the painting. The best way to do this is to provide a focal point. Using a focal point in your art is one of the easiest and fastest ways to create a composition that will keep your viewers interested and lead them to the subject of your painting. A focal point will help your viewer understand what is important about your scene and what you wanted to say! The focal point is often the most important part of the work, and it’s what the viewer will remember
As every rule is made to be broken, don’t forget that not every design needs a focal point. We often use an all over pattern, without a focal point, to provide depth and texture. But if you’re trying to communicate an idea or call to action, or if you want a resting place for the eye to land in an environment, you will want to have a focal point.
Think of the focal point as the star of your piece. The focal point of a painting is the main thing that you want the viewer to see or understand. Everything else becomes a supporting character visually. Your viewer will look first at any part of a painting that has one or more of these characteristics.
Below, we will get our ducks in a row and we will explore 9 types of focal points that you can use in your own art.
1. Contrast in Value
One way to create a focal point in your artwork is to use value contrast. This means making the most important elements in your work stand out by making them darker or lighter than the surrounding area. This can be a very effective way to draw the viewer’s attention to a specific element and make it the focal point of the work.
2. Contrast in Color
3. Contrast in Texture
4. Contrast in Saturation
5. Contrast in Edges
6. Contrast in Scale
7. Anomalies in a Pattern
9. Gaps in a Pattern
In another Minilesson, I will illustrate a number of simple ways you can create focal points in your compositions, taking examples from my work and famous masterworks, as well.