September 11, 2018

Composition Series: 2. Focal Point


A focal point grabs your attention, it tells your eye where to begin and what the artist wants you to notice. If these are important to you then know how to manipulate the viewers’ eye with these tips.

Image may contain: 1 person, ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature
Boy with Orange Pail, 2018, Neil O. Lawner photographer, https://www.neillawnerphoto.com/index
A focal point is created with contrast.

Like a sentence that is highlighted with underlining or bold type will jump off a white page, a focal point sticks out from the rest of the work.

To create a focal point that is in contrast to its surroundings, use one or more of these techniques.

shift the value- make it lighter, or darker than its background,

or more colorful or saturated in hue,

or Larger,

or more detailed and in focus as in the face in Matisse's, Woman with a Hat.

Henri Matisse Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat), 1905 article by Masterworks Fine Art Gallery


A position in the sweet spot in the "rule of thirds", like the orange pail above, 
or dead center or near center where Christ sits in The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.
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It may have leading lines and "arrows" pointing to it. Picture in your mind, the chorus girls in a Ziegfeld Follies review in top hats and tails, standing in a line on both sides of the main dancer/singer, pointing their walking sticks to him. 


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 Zigfield Follies Lucille Ball, 1945 
Or leading lines could be like petals of a flower, or train tracks leading your eye to the center.  This is called convergence.Image result for examples of convergence in art

A focal point may be emphasized because it is in isolation- Think John Travolta dancing in the center of the floor in Saturday Night Fever
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A Focal points purpose  
Image result for piet mondrian compositionis to feed information to your brain  
It grabs attention and 
creates a starting place 
for the eye. Go back over the images in this article and notice that often an artist will use more than one way to bring attention to a spot.

Work that is without a strong 
focal point has an overall pattern like wallpaper. 
Think Pollock, or Mondrian.
As an artist, it is your choice. 

If you learned something, please leave a comment! Thank you for reading, and happy creating!
Image result for Jackson Pollock
Conversation with Jackson Pollock No. 37 by George Sanen 

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