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How To Use Focus And Create A Focal Point In Art

What Is Focus Vs A Focal Point?

Focus in art is better defined by the overall whole of a composition.  This relates to the elements and principles of art which use subject matter in delivering the message of the artist.

A Focal Point is better defined by an area within the art content which draws the attention of the eyes.  This area is often an object, subject, or convergence of objects in relation to the space within the art.

These two art terms can often be used synonymously or interchangeably when discussing artwork.  Context of the discussion is the key in determining the intended meaning of the speaker.

How To Use Focus In Art

The focus of the art begins more through concept in the beginning.  The artist has a message or desire to convey a meaning.

Through this, elements of art will be used to create a composition to visually depict that meaning.  It is here that all parts of what make the art begin to give inspiration to that Focus.

Aspects such as colors, harmony, the use of space, and perspective create the setting of the objects and subject matter.  Elements such as color can be incorporated into the objects themselves to influence this.

In its most basic form, Focus is a concept which becomes a vehicle for the artist to tell the story of the artwork.  This is called artistic communication.

It is this metric that begins to incorporate, or eliminate items which relate to the end objective.

How To Use A Focal Point In Art

Ultimately a Focal Point will become the area where the eyes of a viewer will be drawn to.  To achieve this effectively the concept of Focus must build into that point.

It acts similar to the idea of a climax within story telling.  Aspects which aid in creating this Focal Point are concepts such as movement in art, rhythm, harmony, balance, and scale to name a few.

These concepts are built within the composition to point to the desired focal point.  Each carries with it elements that influence the meaning, mood, and interpretation of the art.

Due to the mechanics of how this works, a Focal Point is more than an intersection of objects or subjects.  If the concept of Focus is not delivered within the art then the meaning of the Focal Point will be misinterpreted.

There are multiple methods by which an artist can arrive at creating the Focal Point itself.  I will review a few of the more common methods.

Know that the possible ways to create this point can be near limitless, thus there are many paths and combinations to achieve this goal.

Creating A Focal Point With Movement In Art

Movement in art is among the most common methods to create a Focal Point.  It is the easiest to achieve.

Movement can be created by the use of space, techniques of the art such as the use of the line, and adjusting ratios or scale to create depth.

Within drawing or painting the movement will be implied, such as ocean waves or a ball flying through the air.  These objects are moving towards something pulling the viewer in a direction.

Van Gogh was famous for using the line to create his art with a flow.  The direction of the line would build into the objects.  The objects would flow into how he used the space pointing the viewer in the desired direction of intent.

There are a multitude of ways by which to create movement.  Becoming creative in this process will give an artist a powerful and effective method by which to create a Focal Point.

How To Use Contrast And Gradation To Create A Focal Point

When an artist uses contrast or gradation to create a focal point it is often a point of intersection.  In intersection can be where two flows of motion, color, or balance from opposite sides meet to create unity.

Contrast most often speaks to color but can also be implied by other forms.  Gradation most often speaks to the color transition at the intersection but this too can also be implied by form.

Intersections become another easy way to create a Focal Point due to the abrupt nature of the contrast.  An easy way to see this is in advertising ads. The message arrives quickly and is to the point by using scale, contrasting color, and it is to the point.

How To Use Perspective To Create A Focal Point

Perspective within art is among the easiest ways to create a focal point in art.  It is easy to explain and relate to due to how common photography is today.

Perspective is simply the point of view from the “cameras eye” in relationship to the objects within the artwork.  This will determine other elements such as scope, scale, and the use of space.

Most often the perspective will place the object or subject in focus first.  The elements which build into the focal point will be added to build the image.

How To Use Rhythm To Create A Focal Point

Rhythm is another very easy method to create a Focal Point.  Rhythm uses a natural movement that will immediately draw the eye to the key object or subject in Focus.

A very easy way to depict this in your mind would be to imagine a rows of trees on both sides of a road leading to a house.  The trees create a natural rhythm with a path that brings the house into focus.

There are many different kinds of rhythm that can be used.  Nevertheless know that rhythm and movement are often tied together in a symbiotic relationship.

When using rhythm to create a Focal Point the overall Focus of the composition should directly relate to the message.  An error artists can make is creating an unnatural rhythm that breaks the harmony or unity of the art for the sake of trying to force a Focal Point into view.

How To Use Color To Create A Focal Point

While I have covered the key points of contrast and gradation, there are other aspects of color which build into creating a Focal Point.

Most notably color plays a major role by compliment.  You can think of this as in matching colors within the artwork that relate emotionally or mentally to the Focus by theme.

While this does not always need to directly point to the Focal Point, it certainly does directly impact the mood and emotion of the art.  It is this element that builds what is felt by the viewer rather than what is seen.

Other Ways To Create A Focal Point

There are a multitude of other ways to build a Focal Point in art.  Whether this is using concepts I have not detailed such as Juxtaposition, or combining multiple concepts to work together, the possibilities can be endless.

Thus far I have detailed how Focus and a Focal Point is used in two dimensional works.  I wish to briefly introduce how it is different within three dimensional art.

Creating Focus And A Focal Point In Three Dimensional Art

Three dimensional art is defined by artwork which has true form.  This can be a sculpture, or as within my work a wood carving.

Wood art is unique in that certain aspects of the “canvas” itself influence the Focal Point.  Wood can be shaped so that the carving is truly three dimensional, free standing, and represents life like form.

Due to this the wood artist can become limited by what is incorporated into the art.  Most often the carving will be of the subject itself with no other influence from other objects.

It if for this reason that art symbols can become incorporated into the art to influence the meaning of the Focus.

Wood art also has 2.5d, or relief art, that can be achieved.  This is commonly done on a panel or board and can be found often used in furniture or wall art.

Here the artwork becomes more like drawing or painting yet there are more limitations.  Wood itself does not easily allow depth to be perceived as within drawing.

Carving removes material leaving a raised surface in this instance.  Contrast and gradation can be used and art symbols will again have heavy influence.

The difficulty with wood art is the inability to create true gradation with shading.  Without this ability there are limited ways to allow the eye to perceive three dimensional contours on a two dimensional surface.

Sculpting within its many forms can suffer from this same mechanic whether it be in stone or done within clay.  It requires great work and skill for an artist to apply.