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How do I emphasize important areas in a work of art?

How do I emphasize important areas in a work of art?

Artwork by Johann Krammer, Drawing Academy student

Dear Vladimir,

I do not know if airplanes are an appropriate topic here in this community, but airplanes are a very good way for me to develop my painting skills.

It is much easier for me to paint technical surfaces than it is to paint human faces.

For me, it is the preliminary step to painting human faces (I failed at my first try), so I can learn about the how different painting media behave. But I remember a statement in your videos that it is not important what you are drawing.

My question is not about how to draw or how to paint airplanes, it is more a question of how to guide the interest of the viewer to the most interesting points in a picture.

The picture shows a pilot in his airplane. The picture is not finished now.

How do I emphasize important areas in a work of art

There are a lot of unfinished areas in the picture. Now I have to decide about the level of detailing in some areas of the picture.

I remember that you said in your first critique of my picture, “Man, Detail Pencil on Paper, 20cm x 30cm”: “…Parts of the portrait with greater attention to the main parts of the portrait, and less attention to secondary parts, and especially to those areas that are further away.”

Now to my question.

How can I define parts in my painting with less attention that are unclear without them seeming unfinished? I think it would be easy (but boring), if I would paint everything in extreme detail.

Is there any “visibility radius” of clarity (maybe around the pilot or around the air inlet), or should I sharpen some details in unclear areas too (maybe the at the right lower corner)? Should I remove some points there if they are not important for this picture? Is there a special technique to painting these areas (special brushes)?

I would really appreciate your professional feedback here.

It is always a pleasure to come back to your course.

Thank you in advance!

With kind regards,
Johann Krammer

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy Tutor

Hi Johann,

Thank you very much for your painting and questions.

I would recommend that you try to attract the viewers’ attention to the pilot. I agree that it is not an easy task, since the airplane takes most of the painting area.

There are several aspects to consider:
1. composition;
2. colors;
3. contrast;
4. definition of details.

Composition:

The airplane’s construction makes it challenging to focus on the pilot. There are several lines that draw the viewer’s attention in conflicting directions, which have I marked with red arrows (see attached).

In artwork, compositional triangles are well-defined vectors; a viewer cannot help but look at where they are pointing. In this case, they point away from the main focal point.

It is unavoidable, unless you want to use your artistic license and change the airplane’s construction, thus becoming a bit of an airplane designer ; )

For example, rotating the white triangles with the word “Danger” towards a pilot will redirect the viewer’s gaze to where you want them to look.

Colors:

Your piece has a very narrow gamut of colors – mostly cold, bluish tints. That will work in your favor as long as you apply bright, contrasting colors to the focal areas: perhaps warm and bright oranges, yellows, and reds. Such combinations of warm spots on a cold background will definitely make the focal area stand out.

Contrast:

Another way to attract a viewer’s attention is to play with contrasts. You may consider making the pilot’s helmet the whitest spot on the whole canvas, placing a darker background around it.

Also, you may “tone-down” the white triangles and reduce the contrast of some other secondary parts of the picture.

Definition of details:

Some details can be merely “suggested” rather than painted in a hyper-realistic manner.

I would like to stress that you don’t have to take my advice as direct orders. These are just some thoughts for your consideration. I trust that you have your own vision for this painting and just want to hear some outside opinions : )

Once again, thank you for your artwork.

Best regards,
Vladimir

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Categorized: Critique My Artworks

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Johann Krammer says:

    Dear Vladimir,

    Thank you for your always valuable feedback!
    Once it is finished, I will send you the final picture.

    With kind regards,
    Johann

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