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focal point

This week we learned a focal point is a compositional device emphasizing a certain area or object to draw attention to the piece and to encourage the viewer to look further into the work. We also discovered ways to create a focal point or emphasis in a composition—contrast, isolation, and placement. Furthermore, we found that a focal point is not a necessity if it jeopardizes the design’s unity.

For this journal assignment, you are to find a good example of a focal point or emphasis in a composition—a painting or poster. Yes, we’re doing this again—it’s great practice!

To get started:

  • Visit the Internet to browse and view paintings or posters of known artists or designers. There are literally thousands of images of these artworks on the Internet, in particular on artist and museum websites, as well as designer and design organization websites. They’re a great place to start!
  • Choose a painting or poster that appeals to you. Please restrict your selections to only paintings or posters. Do not use any images found in the textbook, PowerPoint, or lecture.

In your journal:

  • Use the title of the artwork as the subject of your post.
  • Provide a way for me to see the painting or poster you have chosen—either attach an image or supply the URL. It is very important that I be able to see the artwork you have selected.
  • Give the facts about the painting or poster you have chosen—the artist or designer, the title of the artwork, date the artwork was created, media used, dimensions of the artwork, and where the artwork is located or the original client’s name.
  • Write a 250-300 word critique of the artwork following the outline and questions below.
    • Step One: Description
      Describe the painting or poster. Give an objective account of what you see.
      What medium/media is used? What is the size/scale? What is the subject of the artwork? Describe the artwork as if you are describing it to someone who has never seen it before. If the artwork or design is nonobjective—no recognizable object or subject—it can be difficult to describe. In this situation, you would describe what you see using the elements of art—line, shape, texture, space, value, color.
    • Step Two: Analysis
      Analyze how the artwork is composed or organized.
      What are the relationships among the formal elements—elements of art and principles of design? Specifically for this journal: How is the composition unified? By what means did the artist or designer achieve unity? What is the foal point(s) in the composition? By what means did the artist or designer create the focal point? Through contrast? If so, what type of contrast? Through isolation? Through placement? Explain in detail. Or did the artist or designer emphasize the entire artwork or nothing at all?
    • Step Three: Interpretation
      Interpret what the artwork is about and what the artist is trying to say.
      Your interpretation should be supported by evidence found within the artwork discovered during the previous two steps. What was going on in the world when the artwork was created? What art movements or art theories relate to the artwork? What is the meaning of the artwork? Many times, knowing the historical context of the piece and art movements that relate to it help to understand why the artist created it and what it means.

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