How do I lead the eye into the painting?

Here I rearranged the logs while painting this on location. The bottom one “swoops” you right into the picture and immediately points you to the major aspen. Then the log to the left of the “main star” aspen allows your eye to travel to the group of aspens to the left, and the  log on the extreme left points you back in to the picture. Notice how the log on the left is highlighted nearest the aspens and more “lost” as it goes out of the painting for less contrast there.

"End of Summer Greens - Endo Valley" 11x14 Oil has an obvious lead-in.

“End of Summer Greens – Endo Valley” 11×14 Plein Air Oil

Plan how to lead the eye into the painting!
Plan how to lead the eye into the painting!

I see a lot of paintings where students have set up a “roadblock” to the eye instead of planning how to lead into and around the painting. Think of a zig-zag or S-curve (I think these are the two easiest ways) and set it up yourself, even if it isn’t already there, which it probably won’t be. Next blog will explore other ways to lead into and around the painting. Hope you have enjoyed my blog, and, remember that you can click on the painting to enlarge it.

4 thoughts on “How do I lead the eye into the painting?”

  1. We’ll deserved Congrats on BOS! Thanks for chatting me up at the show & making me so welcome. What a stellar bunch of artwork. I was so inspired I went to the hardware & bought some art stuff & did a few quick ones. I would love to show you them. I,ll email them to Would it be possible to respectfully submit a request to be considered as a potential invited Guest artist for 2015? Thanks again for your hospitality. My trip from Spokane to see your work “live” was worth it! Best regards, lynne

  2. I love your paintings of Colorado, my home state. Annette Davis sent one of your email lessons to me. I am working on following your suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

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