Online Art Lessons with Nolan Clark

Artist Mistake #2 – No Focal Point

Artist Mistake #2 – No Focal Point

Artist Mistake #2 – No Focal Point

Your artwork is a play / movie.

Strawberries by Nolan Clark

Strawberries by Nolan Clark

The Mistake

No definite focal point in the artwork

The Result

The viewer doesn’t know where to look, their eye just wanders around the artwork aimlessly.

We have used this artwork a few times in our examples already, but not having a defined focal point is the main problem with it:

Painting with no focal point

I have used this painting so many times because it is not only a classic example of all the mistakes I see on a daily basis, but with just a few minor tweaks it can become an awesome painting. This artist, along with so many others is one step away from producing superb quality artworks. All they need to do is avoid making a few basic mistakes.

The Solution

Always choose / decide what is going to be the focal point of your artwork before you start.

Decide what is the single most important item that inspired you to do this artwork. Was it the dramatic break in the clouds? Is it the house nestled between the mountains? Is it the beautiful bird sitting on the fence?

Then use all the things we have talked about in the previous tutorials to focus the viewer’s attention on that focal point.

Save the highest contrasts for the focal point.

Ensure the focal point is at a pleasing position in the artwork, eg., on the thirds.

If possible, ensure there is something living at the focal point.

Ensure that the colours in the focal point are the most vibrant.

Ensure the rules of perspective are obeyed, etc.

If possible tell a story in your artworks. Think of your artwork as a play or movie.

The focal point is the star of the show and command the most attention. The camera will be trained on him / her. There may be supporting characters in the movie (secondary focal points) which get less attention, yet still add to the story.

Then you have the setting or backdrop on the set which is there to set the scene, but never attract any attention away from the star (focal point).

If your artwork doesn’t have a star, the show can’t go on.

Next time we will learn what the single biggest mistake is that artists make – can you guess what it is?

See you then
Nolan Clark

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Nolan Clark

Written by Nolan Clark

Artist and art tutor


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