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.
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.
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!
Learning to draw and paint is predominantly a practical activity but there is much you can learn from books and magazines about art. A few learners I’ve met haven’t seen the point in reading about art while others seem to be addicted to buying books, magazines and reading websites. I think the ideal balance is to read but use what you read and put it into practice. Not all books, websites and magazines are going to inspire, there are so many that you will need to do a bit of selecting, only read what really inspires you. Here are some great reasons to read about art:
Art magazines, websites, blogs and art books are a great source of information. It can be a wealth of knowledge for those starting out in learning to draw and paint. I’ve learnt a great deal about materials from magazines and websites, the great thing about living in the information age is that the information is out there! It is so easy to find out about things that were very difficult to learn and understand in the past. Knowledge can mean saving yourself years of wasted money, time and effort. Sometimes picking up something small can be really valuable.
There is no doubt that reading about an inspiring artist is motivating. Sometimes it can have the opposite effect however, thinking that you will never get to ‘that stage’ so what is the point of starting? I have read a few art magazines that have made me feel that way, try to pick websites or magazines that are aimed at those at your level. There are some magazines aimed at ‘beginners’ that to me seem quite complex, often using terminology that is not explained and not fully explaining techniques. I have also found some excellent blogs for beginners, there is a wealth of information online on beginner forums and art interest websites.
I have accepted that I will never be an amazing watercolour artist but it doesn’t stop me being inspired by those that are. I find it best to be inspired by artists that do something that is closer to my own strengths and interests. What you find inspiring will be personal to you, so don’t feel you have to read everything about art.
There are some really good magazines, books and websites out there where you can learn about techniques. If you have never really understood a certain technique or skill reading about it on blogs, magazines or books can really help. I have taught myself a great deal from these sources. I wouldn’t be without my art books because they have taught me basic printmaking techniques and some of the basics of practical painting like how to stretch paper. If you are not sure you are getting a technique right it is worth watching a Utube tutorial about it because you can see clearly the technique being demonstrated which is more useful often than reading about a technique.
Understanding Other Artists
It can also be very inspiring to know how artists develop their ideas, where their inspiration comes from. It can be fascinating to read about the idea process behind a final piece of art. It makes the work much more meaningful to know how it was created and the story or inspiration behind it. The more you read and see the more you realise that art is a very big world and you understand where you might fit into it. It should open up a world of exciting possibilities and make you feel inspired and raring to get drawing and painting, so get reading!!