May 2011 – Selecting The Focal Point

I just returned, with six other painters, from a two week painting trip to the very southwest corner of France. The trip was concentrated to the region occupied by the Cathar people and, in particular, the town of Limoux on the L’Aude River, hugging the east side of the Pyrennes mountains.

The region is rich with rolling vineyards, deep gorges, ancient castles, abbeys, and sycamore tree lined streets winding through farms, around old stone houses and shops.

It is difficult not be get seduced by the sensual impact of your surroundings. But as a painter, to succumb to this seduction, is poison!

What I honed during this two week trip was the ability to select a focal point. For a painting to ‘work’ it needs to provide the viewer with a focus, a reason for exploring the painting, rather than just providing a pretty picture; pretty pictures are for the camera. To find, or create, a focus in a painting is a tough job when you are accosted by warm weather, spectacular visions and an overload of smells, sights, sounds and feelings!

If you look at the five attachments you will see how I tried to accomplish this.

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