Thursday, June 21

Visual Cues Create Interest

A Painting With Several
Visual Cues (copyright 2010)
One way to keep your viewers interested in your painting is to give them something to look at. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

So why do so many paintings fail to keep the viewers' interest? A boring motif is the obvious answer, one with little contrast or emotion.

But you also need to have visual cues. What do I mean by that?

In addition to a focal point, you should have counterpoints that move the eye around or bounce it back and forth across your work.

You need to lead the viewer into the painting. Usually this is some element that gives entry or points the way into the painting, like a road or a shadow or an object of some sort. Most often a viewer enters a painting from the lower left or lower right but not always.

You need depth--a foreground, a mid-ground, and a background. Otherwise the viewer is stuck in a static plane unless that's what you intend.

Depending on your subject, you will have perspective and/or a viewpoint to not only let viewers know where the picture plane is but also to orient them.

If there is an animate object in the painting, a person or animal or other creature, there will often be an eye-line. This means that the person or animal is looking in a direction such that the viewer is compelled to look in that same direction.

These are just a few basic ways to keep you and your viewers from being bored to death by your painting.

Keep On Painting


  1. Do you teach art lessons? My 9 year old son has been drawing since he was 3 years old and I think it's time for him to take art lessons. He draws with pencils and pens every day. His great grandfather is Norman Baxter so art is in his DNA. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your comment. No, I do not teach art lessons as painting takes up my whole day, but I do appreciate your asking. I don't know if you are located in the Houston area, but the Glassell School has art programs for younger artists in the summer and perhaps year round.