Action Focus

Action and movement are very strong attention devices that are often used in motion pictures, video games, and the Internet. Because drawings don't generally move, the application of action as a focal point is somewhat difficult. Instead of having something move in the drawing, the artist has to imply movement. Implied movement is movement that is about to happen, such as when you capture a dynamic moment during a dramatic action.

Impending action is a powerful attention-grabber. If the subject in a picture looks like he is about to do something, it naturally calls us to look to see what he is about to do. Michelangelo did a masterful job of capturing impending action in his sculpture of David, shown in Figure 6.47. David is relaxed, yet holding his sling over his shoulder, looking as if he is about to move into action.

These are only a few examples of ways that lines, value, detail, color, and action can be used to focus the viewer's attention on a point in the picture. Take some time to look at the many paintings by the great masters and see whether you can tell how they used these methods to focus attention on their paintings.

Be careful that you don't overdo your pictures with blatant compositional devices to draw attention. In practice, the artist should use judgment in the methods used to focus attention. The danger in being too heavy-handed with compositions is that when any technique or method of composition becomes too overbearing, the viewer can feel manipulated. Composition techniques should be used in such a way that they seem natural to the viewer, not contrived.

Figure 6.47 David looks as if he is about to move. Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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