Friday, May 27, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Emphasis on Focal Point by Placement

 I found a few examples of my own work for this weeks examples. To emphasize your focal point by placement, you need to have elements that point the way to the focal area. In the piece above, the rocks are all pointing in towards the rush of water. I didn't really do that on purpose though, it just came out that way. This piece was done as an experiment and has multiple layers of paint and paper and the focal point developed with the layers.
 In this felted piece entitled "Half way?", the trail and several wedges of darker color point towards the focal area.
The last example is showing a focal point that is a bit too close to the center for me. I should have put the moon off to the left or right a bit more. All the branches are pointing towards the moon and keep your eyes traveling back to the focal area.

I hope everyone in the US has a wonderful Memorial Day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Focal Point Using Isolation

 After searching through my photos and artwork, I realize that I rarely use isolation to emphasize my focal point. The illustration above from Bonnie Skaalid shows a still life set up. Because the rest of the pieces are grouped together and the glass is separated from the main group, it becomes the focal point.
Here's another piece by Quilter Beth in which she demonstrates using isolation to emphasize the focal point. The triangular piece at the bottom looks as if it is falling away from the rest of the group and your eye is therefore drawn to that piece.

Do you use isolation for emphasis? Look through your recent work and see if you find any focal points that are emphasized with isolation. Do leave a comment and let us take a look!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Focal Point Through Contrast

 I think the easiest way to emphasize the focal point or area is by using contrast. In the picture above (source unknown), The cardinal is contrasted not only by color but by shape. Even if the cardinal had been in black and white, it's shape would still be the focal point because it is different from the leafy background.

 In this painting by Karen Tarlton called aptly Red Umbrella, the use of color contrast is aptly used to emphasize the focal point. I love the wet, rainy feel of this painting.
This quilted piece by Quilter Beth uses a contrasting shape and value changes for the focal area. Beth is working through Lyric Kinard's design book and she has several other examples of using different methods to develop a focal point.

Have you been thinking about how to emphasize the focal point in your work? Do let me know and leave a link so we can see the examples. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Center of Interest or Focal Point

We've made it through all of the elements of design and today we start with the first principle of design, the focal point. How do you get someone’s attention with your work? Without an audience’s attention, any message or artistic value is lost. To attract the viewer’s eye, a center of interest or focal point is needed. This emphasized element can attract the eye and encourage the viewer to look further.

Ways to achieve emphasis:

1. By contrast – one element in the design differs from the others – can be contrasting values, contrasting styles within the composition, contrasting shapes or sizes, contrast in color, hard edges vs. soft edges, the actual size of the work itself may draw the eye. This is called emphasis by contrast. The element that contrasts with, rather than continues, the prevailing design scheme becomes the focal point.

2. By isolation – one element by being alone, by itself, gets our attention. The contrast is achieved by placement of the focal point in an isolated manner.

3. By placement – If many elements in a design point to one item, our attention is directed there, and a focal point results.

4. By content – a human form or any living thing draws the eye, letters or words can give emphasis, the meaning or story behind your work may be the emphasis.

5. Absence of focal point – A focal point is not always necessary. You may wish to emphasize the entire surface over individual elements i.e. Andy Warhol or traditional quilts.

illustration from

The focal Area is roughly 25% of a work of art and should overlap the center of the piece. The placement of this area should be one of the first things you think about when beginning your creation. The rule of thirds says that most designs can be made more interesting by visually dividing the page into thirds vertically and/or horizontally and placing our most important elements within those thirds. Take this concept a step further, especially in photographic composition, by dividing the page into thirds both vertically and horizontally and placing your most important elements at one or more of the four intersections of those lines.

Questions to get you started:

1. How can I use each of the elements of design to create a focal point? Line? Shape? Form? Texture? Color? Value?

2. What happens if the focal point is in the center of the piece? Does this make the piece stronger or weaker? What happens if you crop the piece to move the focal point to a different area?

3. After you’ve put in your focal point, stand back and look to see if it catches your eye. Are there other contrasting elements that could enhance your focal point/area?

4. Looking at other art, ask, where is my eye attracted? What draws it there? What elements did the artist use to develop the focal point?

5. Can you create a focal point in a composition by contrasting realistic and abstract elements?