Monday Motivator: Skip the Focal Point

Monday Motivator

“I approach everything the same way. I move all over the canvas. Someone asked me: what is my focal point for a painting? I don’t have a focal point—I want a symphony! I want people to move all through the painting and not be stuck on a focal point.

… I’m not big on simplification. I want a symphony. I want highs and lows. I want loud. I want quiet. And I want a big story. So, simplification is not my thing.”

Cynthia Rosen, interview Palate & Palette by Amy Allen, 18 Jan 2024

There are lots of things to think about with a painting, and there are all sorts of checklists floating about as to what should have priority. I know colour, pattern, and mark making at the top of mine. One of the reasons the quote above resonated with me was that it made me realise I don’t think “what’s the focal point” when I’m painting.

There’s subject, the bit that interests me most, where I start, angles and strong lines in the subject, colours to use (or not), do I take things off the edge of the sheet, those sorts of considerations, but my internal dialogue never asks “What’s the focal point?”. That’s not to say I may not end up without a focal point, but that’s not the same as it being a starting point.

Flower Garden I painting by Marion Boddy-Evans
“Flower Garden I”. Acrylic on wood panel. 30x30cm, grey frame. £375

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