Creating Visual Pathways Through a Painting

In today's advanced oil painting lesson, creating visual pathways through a painting help keep the work of art interesting. The other purpose of a visual pathway is to create an interesting focal point. It is a way of keeping their attention on the main point of the work.

One way to create this visual path into the painting is to manipulate objects so that you are creating an entrance into the work.

It is the artists job to create an entry point that trains the viewer’s eye from the bottom to the middle part of the painting and then to the background. The natural progression of training the viewer’s eye is usually from the foreground to the background although a very skilled artist can create a painting composition that is the reverse.

Design an entrance to the work, perhaps at the bottom, which the viewer perceives as closest to her (although other entry points could also be used). This encourages a natural progression toward the middle part of the painting, which represents middle distance, and so forth.

Ways of creating an entrance are to make the foreground or background less entrancing by placing it in shadow and brightening up the focus of the painting with whiter hues and vivid colors. This painting technique automatically tells the viewer’s eye what to look at.

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Creating a focal point in art is paramount. This is easily accomplished by creating a contrast in textures, colors or values. You can also try contrasting colors against a muted background. You should also keep interesting details in or near the painting focal point so that the viewer will look at what you want him or her to see.

Balance and placement is also very important in painting. Put what you want the viewer to look at front and central and make everything else recede into the background or obscure it with shadow.

Another rule is to never let points of interest touch the edge of the picture plane. That will cause the eye to wander away from the picture’s central focus.

Creating strong directional element in paintings such as pathways, roof lines or particular groupings can also help keep the viewer’s eye focused where you want it to be. For instance painting geese flying in a V ship could definitely point your viewer’s eye in a particular direction.

Just make sure that if you are going to train the viewer’s eye with the depiction of a path or a road in a painting that there is something interesting for him or her to look at by the end of the trip!

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