What is Pointillism?

Pointillism is a technique used in art which means to paint or draw in dots. The idea first came from neo-impressionist painters who used pure colour in dots which looked blended from a distance.  Seurat was one of the famous painters who developed this technique (as seen in header image) and below.

Today, very few artists use this technique however it was very popular with impressionist artists in the nineteenth century.  The dots of pure colour give a very bright finish due to the intense colour of each dot.  Tiny spaces of white are also enabled to come through the canvas which makes for a bright and light feel to the paintings.

How do I use this technique?

This technique isn’t easy because you have to make a judgement about the colour and where to place the dots.  Painting this way is also quite slow as coverage takes much longer.  The results are interesting however and I think dots give a soft, static feel that strokes can’t create.

Simply work in dots, building up the colours and tone,  try to allow some space between the dots at first and then fill in as the study develops.   You could try out the technique with pen or pencil at first to get used to seeing tones with dots.

Fossil study in dots using a fine pen
Fossil study in dots using a fine pen
Above we see a study of a fossil done in fine pen, all in dots.  Dark tones are built up with many dots and lighter areas have less dots, rather like the print of a newspaper close up. Once you have done a study in monochrome you could then try painting in this way with colour.
Tinted paper with pastel and fine dots with fined nibbed pen
Above is a study again using a fine nibbed pen in dots and the paper has been tinted with pastel for stuble colour.  Not for those without a lot of patience, as this study took six months to complete!

How do I get over Artist’s Block?

I think artist’s block is something everyone experiences now and then, when you know you should be drawing but just can’t get yourself motivated to do it.  Nothing seems to inspire you when you look around the room, what can you do? I have a few suggestions that might help:

Take a break!

Sometimes you can’t force it so just take some time out to do something you enjoy other than drawing and painting.

It might be time to put the pencil down

Go  Somewhere 

Lots of my students forget that they can go out to draw and visit museums, parks or just somewhere new.  It is hard to be inspired when your surroundings are so familiar.  There are lots of places to go to see interesting things, if you like animals go to the zoo, if you like observing people go into the city, shopping malls, if you like boats go to a boatyard…the possibilities are endless!

Go somewhere…with your sketchpad!

Change the Lighting 

A more dramatic lighting setting might inspire you, try drawing with just one lamp on the subject.  Try drawing in very bright light, early spring mornings are good for this, you may capture a different mood in your art.

Changing the lighting for drawing
Changing the lighting for drawing

Try a New Way of Working 

Maybe you have got yourself into a rut in the way that you work, it could be time to try out new media.  If you have never tried pastels it could be time to try them out or branch into printmaking, it could give you inspiration for a new way of working.

Give different media a try!
Give different media a try!

Take a Class

You might think you don’t need a class because you already know how to draw and paint but even if this is you, a class can get you out of your art rut. Meeting with other like-minded people and looking at others work is often inspiring because you are being introduced to new ways of working that you may have not considered. Learning new skills is always a way of getting out of a comfort zone that you may have got stuck in.

Being in an art class is always stimulating to creativity

Go to an Art Gallery 

Most can’t fail to be inspired when they visit an art gallery, it is a great way to get you itching to get the paints out once again.  If you can’t get to a major exhibition in a city then even something small and local to you could be interesting and a stimulus for new work.

The Barbican, London
Visit an art gallery for inspiration

Visit the Library 

I have always found a trip to the library to be inspiring, reading art books and magazines gives me ideas of new approaches.  I find looking at imagery usually sparks off ideas for new artworks.

Art books always inspire me

Create a Space for Your Art

It could be that you are not happy where you are working.  I know I like my art space to feel just right if I am to sit for long periods, is there enough light and is it warm enough?  The nicer the space the more likely you are to want to go and make art there.  You may not have an art space in your home, if not why not create an area just for you?  Not all of us are lucky enough to have a spare room or out-building to hand, so maybe a corner of a room could be set up for this purpose.  You will feel more relaxed and inspired if you have your own space to create art.

What helps you get out of a creative block? Share your thoughts below…