Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Last week we quite literally connected the dots in Art History. Circles and dots are the oldest symbols in art and have been found in cave paintings and petroglyphs throughout the world. The dot patterns in Aboriginal art date back thousands of years. Pointillism, using dot patterns, was a painting technique pioneered primarily by Georges Seurat in Paris in the mid-1880s. It was a reaction against Impressionism, which was based on the subjective responses of individual artists. Pointillism, by contrast, demanded a much more scientific approach. The process involved the application of paint in carefully placed dots of pure, unmixed color. According to Seurat, these would be blended by the viewer’s eye to create a more striking image than any made after mixing colors conventionally on a palette. He studied and experimented with the new Science of Perception and the visual impact related to color. It depended on the juxtaposition of complementary colors which enhanced each other's intensity. By placing red and blue next to each other the mind of the view would automatically perceive purple. Musical metaphors were occasionally used to help describe Pointillism, suggesting the composition and the technique, as in music, being in harmony. The process of choosing colors was compared to that of a composer considering each instrument while creating a symphony. It took two years for Seurat to create his masterpiece of the movement: "Un Dimanche Après-Midi À Lile De La Grande Jatte", which altered the direction of modern art. His work was a premonition of modern art, photography, and printing. George Seurat only lived to be 31 years old. He is one of the icons of late 19th Century painting and although his body of work was small, his legacy is unique and has inspired many genres and generations. Several contemporary artists that we previously studied in class, like Roy Lichtenstein with his Ben Day process dot paintings, Romero Britto, and the Dot Lady herself, Yayoi Kusama, carried on the tradition.
The classes were given a choice in subject matter, to practice the
Pointillism technique. I gave them some suggestions and images
to look at. Many were inspired by Aboriginal art.
After doing some sketches, they used a combination of paint sticks
and markers to achieve their colorful interpretations.
In the class on Saturday, we tried a different technique, a combination of watercolor crayons and markers. This worked very well so that the original drawing was still visible. Most of the class chose to create their own images to apply the dot patterns.
They work very hard on their drawings and show so much skill, so we have been experimenting with
a variety of materials to enhance, but not
overpower the images.