Focal Point [Archive] - Artist Forum

: Focal Point

03-15-2016, 10:16 AM
Can we talked about "focal point" in a picture verses "Main Subject". I can't count how many times I've got the comment on a painting that it "has no focal point". Or it has too many focal points, or the bright spot takes attention away from the painting. Etc., etc., etc.

I've been using Stephan Bauman's videos as a guide on this subject and since he is a great teacher and a very accomplished professional artist I tend to believe what he says. He says a focal point is an effect that catches the eye when glancing at the painting and draws you into the painting. It is NOT the main object of the painting and not necessarily an object at all. He says you should have three focal points. One that is primary and two secondary of lesser intensity that pulls your eye around the painting.

Often I feel that people who say "there is no focal point", don't have a clue what they are talking about.....but sometimes they are right. :wink:

Anyone want to discuss this or other composition must do's?

03-15-2016, 10:32 AM
My 95-year-old high school art teacher recently reminded me that generally, a drawing or a painting needs to have values ranging from pure white to pure black.

That being said, an overall light picture will draw you to the dark area, and vice versa. The same can be said for color, a red rose in the middle of a green bush is what will draw your eye.

While I do strive to follow the rule of thumb on values, I pay no attention at all to the concept of focal points, with the possible exception of making sure my background doesn't draw attention away from a depicted person.

Susan Mulno
03-15-2016, 12:15 PM
I worry about neither, I look at a photo or scene and decide if I like it, after all, with so many "experts" arguing over "rules" doesn't it come down to what pleases the artist?

03-15-2016, 02:23 PM
I'm with Susan I never worry about composition just last night in a facebook art group someone told me the composition in my the girl feeding the wolf painting was wrong, I asked ''how can it be wrong I painted it''?
she then went on to a rant about if I don't correct it it will fail so I replied '' I didn't know it was a test lol ''

03-15-2016, 02:29 PM
I agree with you both. All the techno mumbo jumbo gives teachers something to grade students on. Blah blah blah.

03-15-2016, 06:13 PM
Well I like the attitude of everyone that has answered. None of you have ever faulted me for my lack of focal point. I really am trying to work on better composition to give my paintings a wow factor. Not there yet, but I keep trying.

Below is an example of the type of critique I'm talking about.
I've gotten so many of these and it is such a sore point with me because I try so hard to get it right. BTW the painting being talked about was sold before it was even dry.

I think what ______ is trying to say(and me too) is that your painting lacks a focal point.It is a great painting and you did a LOT of progress so don't discourage BUT you do have to chose your focal point,the figure that drives attention EVEN IF the entire painting has a rainbow of colors.Look for ex at the painting bellow-it has a bunch of colors a bunch of flowers with different shapes but the eye is attracted by the white/pink and luminous peonies(I guess they are) and the other flowers fade somewhere in the background being in dark.However the painting is filled with colors. "

03-15-2016, 06:27 PM
That sounds like something that rhymes with pullskit. ;-)

03-15-2016, 06:28 PM
I've gotten so many of these and it is such a sore point with me because I try so hard to get it right.

I don't buy into critique at all ever, people can use it to try to batter you down because they're jealous of you there is NO RIGHT or wrong.
the way you paint it is the way it is meant to be in all it's perfection, even in all it's anatomical deformity.

I would never be so brave as to critique anyones art because I don't see through their eyes, the only critique I take seriously is myself the same as the only inspiration x

03-16-2016, 08:09 AM
If your paintings are sold before they're dry, what more can you ask of yourself? I can see trying to be mindful of some these instructions handed down by the gods of painting but don't make it your focal point.

03-16-2016, 08:23 AM
If your paintings are sold before they're dry, what more can you ask of yourself? I can see trying to be mindful of some these instructions handed down by the gods of painting but don't make it your focal point.

I posted an early drawing I did of Bogart on Google + and some self-styled critic proceeded to lay into me for not putting enough contrast into the pic. It was a well-known publicity shot lit from two directions. I smiled and told him thanks, then he laid into me again for not taking him seriously enough.

FWIW, I've been paid to draw portraits for happy customers using the same technique.

The danger of art is that you get discouraged and quit. Focus on your successes, learn when you can, and tune out the useless critiques.

03-16-2016, 10:20 AM
I'm one of those people that is very insecure about my work but I am trying to do the best I can and trying to improve and appreciate helpful criticism to get a picture to where it looks it's best (or as good as I can make it), but when I get slammed with a critique that I feel is totally unfair and motivated by other's ambition to feel more important my temper flairs. I know it's not the right way to be but that's the way it is. :unhappy: And I have an extremely hard time not letting it effect me mentally.

03-16-2016, 10:23 AM
My advice is to block your unfortunate tormentor here. And virtually block the rest of them from your life. And create.

Susan Mulno
03-17-2016, 09:13 AM
Terry, you have a kind heart and it is easily wounded, if someone treats you unfairly remember, it reflects on them not you! :vs-kiss:

03-18-2016, 11:53 AM
Where are they TerryCurley ??? I will beat some sense into them!! :wink:

I would love to be able to paint like you do, you have a rare gift, and don't let anyone tell you any different.

We are all going to have bad days, crappy art days, but if your paintings sell, then you must be doing something right. :smile:

03-18-2016, 01:04 PM
Thank you all. I'm beginning to think this thread was actually subconscious sympathy seeking because I was feeling so down. I'm quickly recovering and I appreciate all the support but I think it's time to let this thread go.

03-21-2016, 03:35 PM
Just found this thread Terry. Lack of focal point and composition not how I would ever have described your art. In fact I've always thought focal point and composition were your strong points. Not that I know much about art myself.

03-21-2016, 03:48 PM
Yup just took another look at your gallery. Your use of focal point and composition along with your wonderful use of color makes for some very stunning pieces.

03-21-2016, 08:53 PM
I don't like any techno mumbo jumbo either, I thought the focal point was the subject. I just try to make a composition that's pleasing to the eye.

03-22-2016, 09:31 AM
Thank you so much Eddie, you made me feel good.