A focal point in art ensures your artwork has a place that demands the attention of the viewer which you can then guide the viewer around the artwork using the principles of design. Keep reading to learn why.
Focal point art definition
A focal point is the part of an artwork that first attracts the viewer’s attention. The focal point is usually the brightest, largest, or most detailed area of the painting.
Creating a focal point in your art is important because it ensures that the viewer will look at the painting in the way that you want them to.
Without a focal point, the viewer’s eye may wander all over the painting, and they may not be able to appreciate all of the elements that you have included.
Why is focal point art important?
Focal point art is important because it gives your painting direction and focus. Without a focal point, your painting may feel scattered or unfinished.
A focal point also helps to engage viewers and guide their eyes around the painting. When done correctly, a focal point can make your painting more impactful and memorable
– The focal point should be simple so that viewers can understand what they are looking at, too much detail in the focal point can be confusing and overwhelming.
– The focal point should be large enough to draw the viewer’s attention but not so large that it dominates the artwork.
Creating a focal point is an important part of the painting but it is also important to remember that the focal point is not the only important element in a painting.
A well-balanced artwork will have a harmonious composition with all of the elements working together to create a cohesive image.
Where is the focal point in art?
The focal point can be anywhere in an artwork, but it is often located near the center.
You can create a focal point in any area that you believe a viewer should start looking at your artwork and then use that starting point to move them around the artwork.
We will look at some examples later in this post to give you a better idea.
How to create a focal point in art
There are several ways to create a focal point in your painting but there are a few things to keep in mind when you are creating a focal point:
– Make sure that the focal point is well-defined and stands out from the rest of the painting. You can achieve this by using contrasting colors, values, and/or textures. You can also do this by making the focal point larger than the rest of the artwork’s subject matter.
– Use color: Color can also be used to create a focal point. You can even create a focal point in art by removing color from the focal area.
– Use values: Values are the different shades of darkness and lightness in a painting. You can use values to create a focal point by making the focal area lighter or darker than the surrounding areas.
– Use texture: Texture can also be used to create a focal point. By making the focal area more textured than the rest of the painting, you will make it stand out and draw attention to it.
– Use contrast: Contrast is one of the most important elements of design, and it can be used to create a focal point.
High contrast means that there is a big difference between the lightest and darkest areas of the painting.
Low contrast means that the lightest and darkest areas are closer in value.
You can use contrast to create a focal point by making one area of the painting much lighter or darker than the rest.
How to test your focal point
Once you’ve created your focal point, step back and take a look at your painting from a distance. Does your eye go directly to the focal point?
If not, try making it more pronounced by increasing the contrast or adding more texture or color.
You can also try moving the focal point to a different area of the painting.
Remember, the focal point should be the most interesting part of the painting, so make sure it stands out and make sure that if you want the viewer to look at other parts of the painting or artwork, you create smaller focal points.
What makes a good focal point in art?
A good focal point should be an area of the painting that is most interesting or visually appealing. It should be an area that stands out from the rest of the painting, and that viewers will be drawn to.
The focal point may be placed in the center of the painting, or off to one side. It should feel natural and not forced. If you feel your eyes are fighting the urge to look at the focal point then something is not working in your artwork’s design, there may be another element working against it.
A good focal point should be simple, and not too busy or complex.
Is focal point and focus the same?
No, a focal point and focus are not the same.
A focal point is an area of the painting that you want the viewer to look at first.
Focus is the overall feeling or mood of the painting. Some artists and writers tend to treat both the same or use the terms interchangeably but as I have stated, they are different.
You can think of a focal point as being like a spotlight that shines on one area of the painting, while the focus is like the overall light level of the painting.
Is Focal Point a principle or element in design?
The Focal Point is an element of design.
The focal point is the part of the painting that first attracts attention and holds it. The focal point can be created by using a variety of elements such as color, line, shape, size, value, texture, and form.
Can you create a focal point in abstract art?
Until I started researching the answer to this question it never crossed my mind if abstract art or non-representational art had a focal point. The focal point is usually the first thing that your eye is drawn to when you look at a painting.
However, because abstract art doesn’t have any recognizable objects, it can be more difficult to determine where the focal point is. That being said, there are still ways to create a focal point in abstract art.
By using one or more of the elements of design, you can create a focal point that will guide the viewer’s eye through your painting. Using contrasting colors, values, and/or textures to create a focal point can be applied to abstract art as well as representational art.
Focal point art examples
I have included a few examples of artworks with obvious and not so obvious focal points, each will show how color, contrast, and texture have been used. And for the purposes of showing a focal point in abstract art, I have also included an example of that as well.
“Che Guevara 1962” by Andy Warhol uses color, or lack of to create a focal point. You will see that your eyes automatically land on the center image of Che Guevara that is in black and white with a bright red background. Your eyes are then led to the top left corner and then slowly clockwise around the image.
In this Georges de la Tour painting, as with most of his paintings he uses high contrast and low contrast in the form of the bright light of a candle in a dark image to create a focal point.
Here your eyes land on the child’s illuminated face and then you will follow the light source down to his arm and back up the arm of the older man all the way up to his face.
In another Georges de la Tour painting below, you will see he uses the same technique of creating a focal point using the light of a candle surrounded by values of dark tones and colors.
In the Rembrandt self portrait below, you will see color, value and contrast being used to create a focal point that starts at his forehead and slowly guides your eyes down to his clasped hands.
Famous focal point art examples
The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and The Scream by Edvard Munch are both examples of focal point art.
In The Starry Night, the focal point is the bright star in the top right of the painting that then guides your eyes left to the windy sky and hills to the smaller bright star next to the tree.
The tree then guides you to the other stars who then guide you back to the original spot.
Van Gogh uses color and texture to help create a focal point.
Almost all famous artworks have a focal point, try looking at various examples of artworks and take note of where your eyes land the first time you look at it.
Then study that area of the artwork and see what elements the artist has used to draw your eyes to it. Was it the use of color, contrast, texture, or something else?
Some famous artworks without a focal point
There are some famous artworks that actually do not have a focal point, and that’s okay! These artworks are usually more abstract or conceptual in nature.
One example is Jackson Pollock’s painting, Number 1 1950 (Lavender Mist). In this painting, your eyes can wander all over the canvas because there is no specific focal point.
Another famous artwork without a focal point is Kazimir Malevich’s painting, Black Square (1915). This painting is a black square on a white background.
The focal point is the square itself, but because it is so simple, your eyes can wander all around it.
Kazimir Malevich- Black Square 1913 © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Russia
“Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist, 1950” by Detlef Schobert is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0
“Che Guevara 1962 Andy Warhol Poster” by Podknox is marked with CC BY 2.0
“Georges de la Tour 1593-1652” by jean louis mazieres is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Rembrandt – Self Portrait at the Age of Sixty-Three ” by Gandalf’s Gallery is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Van Gogh’s Starry Night” by Christopher S. Penn is marked with CC BY 2.0
Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech).
While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney.
While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts making Art his full time source of income from the age of 18 until 25.
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