Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Where is the focal point?"

I've just had a reminder that ducking the focal point issue never ever works. I created this at the weekend, working directly from life - they sat on a plate on a table right next to where I usually work. And yes, this was yet again a case of going round the supermarket doing the weekend shopping and finding a still life subject on my way round (and I've got another one in the fridge which needs to be done quickly, and then there's the flowers - I've got a queue waiting for me!)

It's a small work in coloured pencil - size 7" x 5" on Arches Hot Press paper. (I'm totally devoted to their blocks of HP paper, they're just so easy to work on - but I digress.....).

Anyway, I showed it to my best painting buddies on Sunday night - you know, the ones who'll always "tell it like it is" - no happy clappies or shirking allowed!

And back came the comment - as I should have known - from one of them.............

"I like them, but I'm having that "where is the focal point" thing going on"

And yesterday I was pondering what to do, again with the help of buddies..............
  • Can the work be rescued - can a focal point be created?
  • Would the best (and possibly quickest?) option be to mark this one down to learning and get on and do another one with a better composition?
  • How do you create a focal point in a string of scallions? (Which is where I started on Saturday!)
  • Can you have a painting which has form and pattern and no focal point - and it works?
I'm never ever averse to putting a work on one side and starting again and do it quite often. My reasoning is that so long as I get some learning out of what I've done to date that's bound to help me tackle the next one (and the one after that........).

I was sort of hoping that writing all of this down might give me the answer - I'm leaning more towards starting again but I'm still well and truly stuck on how to get a focal point into this - or do I just go for a macro form and pattern option - with no specific focal point?

So, OK - I'm now open for a bit of extra input - what do you think?

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  1. Hi, just found your blog via the Creative Challenge group. It is great to read your posts and, later on (when I don't have a bus to catch!), I will read more.

    I agree a focal point in a still life such as this is more restful to the eye, if resteful is what you are wanting. If your aim is discordant, though, you could use many focal points to unsettle the eyes.

    The best way to do this in this case, is to find an area in your picture that sits on the golden section somewhere and work that item up a little more. A good way to sharpen it would be to increase the dark/light contrast on it and immediately, it will be stronger.


    Kari x

  2. Ick, sorry I mean I found your blog, via Artworkbooks Group not Creative Challenge Group(tsk less haste more speed!)

    Kari x

  3. You could create more compositional interest by grouping the shallots differently, creating a variety of negative spaces between the shapes, instead of the overall sameness of shape you have now. You could use dramatic lighting, highlighting some, putting others in shadow. You could add one thing that is not an onion to the composition. Even a garlic head would work---the key is to inject a little tension into the spatial and formal dynamics of the drawing. If tomatoes were in season, one tomato could add a color accent. You could put the onions on a cobalt blue plate and let that color and shape show through, at least in part. And so on. As always, though, you've done a lovely job drawing.

  4. Came upon your blog from the artworkbooks group.
    My first thought when I saw this and your question is similar to what Kari and Laura had to say. Intensify the area you wish to have as your focal point and create more shadow. I can see tthe bottom portion laying in shadow as if an object not in the picture was casting a shadow over the scallions. And a brighter light on your point of interest.

  5. Hi Katherine, as you could probably guess from some of my own artwork I don't always feel a focal point is necessary...I'm a bit weird that way. I delight in visual patterns and love the onions very much as they are..

    I just want to say also how much I enjoy your blog. A veritable treasure of interesting tid-bits ...and of course your beautiful art. Thankyou once again for including me as one of your tid-bits :)


  6. I was going to suggest adding some contrast to one of the shallots. For instance, adding more yellow/gold in one that's northwest of center.

    But really, it's still a lovely work!

  7. Thanks for all the comments - and I guess I'm still pondering this one. I've got another (larger one) one on the go at the moment but will be coming back to this one to finish it off.


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