Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pointillism Projects

Pointillism is a technique which involves adding very small dots or dashes of color to a drawing surface.

Perhaps the most famous example of Pointillism can be found in the painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island La Grande Jatte (below), painted by Georges Seurat in the late 1880s. Pointillist works are quite distinctive, and optically they are very interesting because they rely on tricks of the eye and mind.

When we use this technique, we are mixing colors -- not by blending them together -- but by placing two colors side by side. It's called the optical mixing of colors. For instance, we may place clusters of red dots and surround them with yellow dots. Up close we will see red and yellow, but from a distance, we will see orange.

By separating paint into small dots of color, artists break their paints into their most basic elements. Up close, a Pointillist painting can look slightly confusing, but as the viewer backs away, the picture comes into focus. This is because the eyes and mind work together to blend the dots of color into a smooth picture, much like people interpret pixels on a computer screen as a single image. In fact, Pointillism is very similar to the CMYK printing process used to produce many printed materials; try magnifying a page in a magazine to see the individual dots of color which your eye has smoothed for you.

Fourth graders have been applying these concepts in the creation of their own pointillistic drawings. Most students are finishing up this week. Here are a few of them.

1 comment:

Paul Bozzo said...

POINTILISM - one of my favorites. Someday you might try oil pastels on black paper. Then you just about have to use the dash that you've mentioned.