Figure 12. Illustrating a Method of Focusing Attention on Different Parts of a Building.
Now in making a drawing it is assumed that the artist is looking in some one fixed direction. He gazes at some interesting object or, if the entire object is too large to come within his range of vision, he selects some prominent feature which then becomes the center of interest or focal point. In making the drawing more detail is shown near this center of interest than in the other parts, which are allowed to become more and more indistinct towards the edges of the picture, just as they appear in nature. Every drawing should have this center of interest or focal point and all else should be subordinated to it.
Now turn to the illustration, Figure 12. Cover the lower two drawings and study the upper drawing "A." In this sketch the spectator was looking towards that part of the old farm buildings nearest to him, so this becomes the center of interest or focal point; all else is subordinated.
Look at sketch "B," first covering up sketches "A" and "C." Here the spectator's eye has turned towards the center of the building and interest centers in the large doorway and adjacent walls - here the details show most plainly and here are the strongest accents of light and shade. The two ends of the building become rather blurred and indistinct; they are subordinated.
Now uncover "C" and cover "B." In "C" the spectator is looking still farther to the left and even though that portion of the building is some distance from the eye, it is the portion on which the eye is focused, hence the strongest contrasts and accents are there and the rest of the building is subordinate.
Turn to Figure 13, the street scene. In the drawing at the left the spectator is looking at the upper part of the tower; that becomes the subject of the sketch, the focal point or center of interest. The street is blurred, the detail is softened. In the second drawing the spectator is looking down the street; the archway becomes the center of interest and the tower is almost lost against the sky. Now in drawing such a subject as this street scene from nature the student is likely to get into difficulty. He looks first, perhaps, at the tower and draws that. If he stops there all well and good; the tower becomes the subject of the sketch. But if he lowers his gaze to the street and adds the archway to his drawing it is quite possible that this will form a second focal point which will compete with the tower. Then the drawing will be a failure for the eye will jump back and forth between the tower and the archway and the balance will be destroyed. In such a composition as this, where there are two possible centers of interest, be sure that one is subordinated to the other.
Now turn to Figure 14, the little interior Where is the center of interest represented in the drawing at the top of the sheet? Where does the eye see the most detail and the strongest contrasts of light and dark? The window with its seat is outside the focus and it is only when the eye turns towards it as it does in the lower picture that it becomes the center of vision or focal point. In this latter case the mantel is out of focus and might be omitted from the drawing; in fact, this room could be made the subject of two interesting sketches, one of the fireplace and one of the window and seat. In such a room as this we can well imagine that in the evening the fireplace with the family drawn up enjoying a cheerful blaze would be in all ways the center of interest in the room, while in the daytime the window with its seat would doubtless gain greater attention.
Now turn to the delightful sketch by Mr. Watson on page 66; - notice that he has built up his center of interest very effectively yet without forcing it upon the attention unpleasantly, and observe, too, that the drawing is allowed to soften or fade away gradually from those parts which come most directly within the range of vision.
Let it be plain, then, that in starting a drawing it is important to first of all select something of interest to draw; next, it is necessary to find the best point from which the drawing can be made; then we must analyze our subject to determine the center of interest or focal point, and having done this we must use every care to subordinate all those parts which have little or nothing to do with our subject, and which might detract from the center of interest.
Figure 13. Illustrating Methods of Accenting Different Ports of a Street Scene.
Figure 14. Illustrating Method of Accenting or Subordinating Parts of a Room.
Sketch By Ernest Watson.