Dot Dot Dot
Pointillism is a real nifty painting style for any budding art lover to acquaint him or herself with. Not only is it an interesting moment in art history, but it’s also a great technique to play with and explore in one’s own work. In this project, we’ll make our very own creations comprised of dots. It’s a wonderful way to explore texture and color. This project is suited for anyone and is a perfect mix of fun and education for kids. If working with little ones, supervision or assistance is strongly recommended since there is a flame involved (see below).
First, a little background: Pointillism is a painting technique pioneered by artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac towards the end of the Impressionist movement (late 1800s). The artist uses dots of color to create a larger whole picture. The connection our eyes make between each dot can create the impression of different colors and specific images. Pretty neat, huh? It’s similar to Impressionism in that the brushstrokes are visible and central to the aesthetic of the painting, but pointillism is more precise and controlled—you can see each dot. You may have seen these famous pointillist paintings:
It may look super complicated, but don’t let that stop you! You too can create your very own pointillist masterpiece! You’ll need: a canvas or sturdy piece of paper, a pencil, wax crayons (with the paper wrappers removed), and tea light candles. Ideally, you’ll want a lot of crayons—a couple shades for each color to add depth and make the dots stand out. For example, if you’re creating a blue sky, try using a dark, medium, and light blue.
Okay, let’s get started! First, take your pencil and lightly outline the picture you want to create—just big, general shapes… nothing too detailed. When you’re ready to start filling the picture in with dots, start with the background and work your way up to the foreground. Take a crayon and hold it about an inch over the candle flame. Once it starts to melt, but before it drips, start dotting the desired section of the canvas. Leave some spaces so you can go back with another shade of the color. Repeat this process until you’ve worked through the section, then start with your next shade. The process is time-consuming, but I actually find it strangely soothing. The relaxed repetition of creating dots and seeing them slowly build a picture can be both calming and fulfilling. Also, don’t feel obligated to finish your whole picture in one sitting. Sometimes it’s better to take a break or even work on it over a few days.
Here are some great examples of homemade pointillist projects (click links for each blogger’s tutorial):
One good alternative to melted crayons is using acrylic paints and unused pencil erasers (the pencil acts as a great brush handle and the round eraser makes perfect dots). This creates a similar look, but avoids using a flame.
Photo: Classic Play
Once you have a feel for the general method, feel free to make it your own. Art is a wonderful combination of understanding established techniques and experimenting to make them your own. Happy dotting!