Contrast Focus

Another excellent way to create a focal point is to use value contrast. Value is the quality of light or dark in a picture. In theater, spotlights are used to isolate individual actors on the stage. In art, the same approach can be taken to focus attention on specific areas. Rembrandt used contrast focus in almost all of his paintings. If you take a look at Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem in Figure 6.40 again, you can see how the light shining on the prophet illuminates him like a spotlight.

To create a focal point using value, the artist places the highest contrast between light and dark at the focal point. All other images in the picture will have less contrast between light and dark, as shown in Figure 6.43.

In Figure 6.43, you can see a more subtle use of contrast focus. Notice how the greatest contrast in value is in the girl's eyes. The eyes demand that the viewer pay attention to them.

Figure 6.43 The contrast in the eyes draws attention.

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