When you look at a painting, your eyes naturally dart about but quickly come to rest on a place in the painting that makes you focus and think. That is, if it is a good painting created by an artist that has a workable technique and understanding of the area of interest. Some artist refer to this as the focal point. It is the starting point for the viewer of the painting. More than likely, it is probably what inspired the title of the painting. Whether you are a new artist, or an experienced artist, you should spend an adequate amount of time planning this small area in your painting. I say small, because it seldom should be more than a fraction of the entire work (some say no more than a sixteenth), but it should be the most intriguing part.
Imagine this, you want to paint a landscape scene where the light is filtering through trees creating a sun dappled patch in a small clearing of grass. The clearing is near a babbling brook from which a young fawn drinks. The fawn's mother stands off to the side, but nearby. She keenly stares in the direction of your assumed viewer with a look of anticipation, as if sensing danger. As an artist, you see the anticipation of the deer's expression in your mind's eye, and you imagine the emotion of the viewer, hoping they will be concerned that the deer may mistake them for a hunter.
Can it be? Can you really pull this off? You can if you have a clear understanding of color, chroma, contrasting values, directional shapes, and hard and soft edges. You have an artist license and you can create anything you can imagine. Whether this is true, or not, this you must believe before you attempt the work of art.
Imagine the difference of the scene being photographed instead of painted. In a photograph, the deer will still be the focal point, but in many cases the focal point of a photograph isn't near as captivating as a good painting. Why is this? It is because a photograph has details all throughout the picture. These details dull the center of interest. If you have any doubt about this, paint details equally throughout the painting and see how you confuse the viewer and dilute the main focal point. A painting should emphasize details only when necessary.
For example, painting details of tree trunks, leaves, or grass may be important in the area surrounding the deer, but the remaining trees and foliage in your painting works best if left more vague. The sun dappled patch around the stream should be more brilliant. An occasional directional shape of a limb or tree may help direct the viewers eyes to the area.
Here are 4 tips to help you attract people to your paintings.
Use contrasting values in the area of interest. They will immediately grab the viewers attention. This is especially true if you use a real dark hue next to a real light one.
How to use color in the area of interest is most important. Select a special color you only intend to use here. No matter how much, or how little you use it, do not use it anywhere else in the painting. Also, always use more brilliance in the focal point. Remember, colors that have their complements placed next to them are compelling to the eye, so use adjacent complements whenever possible.
Directional shapes work well, but always use them with moderation. Give this plenty of thought in advance in the planning stage. if directional shapes are overused, your painting will become a ho-hum instead of a masterpiece. An example of directional shapes are trees, limbs, stems, rivers, roads, houses, rooftops, buildings, signs,fences, and almost any angle or line that can indicate direction.
Use less detail and softer edges in the area outside of the focal point. Paint crisper edges and more detail within it.
In conclusion, pay particular attention to how you paint your focal area. This should be the most intriguing area of the entire painting. If you concentrate on the use of color, crisp and soft edges, contrasting values, and directional shapes, then you will have a more compelling painting. Challenge yourself to study and learn, and you will create your masterpiece. The main thing, keep painting.