Wonder Contributors

Today, we’re celebrating International Dot Day and would like to challenge our Wonder Friends to “Make your mark and see where it takes you.” -Peter H. Reynolds

Do you love to create art? Whether you use a paintbrush, a piece of sidewalk chalk, a crayon or a simple pencil, it can be very satisfying to let your imagination turn a blank piece of paper into a beautiful, priceless treasure worthy of a prime spot on the front of the refrigerator.

If you study art, you’ll learn that there are all sorts of different techniques that artists use to create their works. Some may use paints to create a very realistic picture of something they see. Others may use certain colors in ways that trick the mind into seeing something as a whole that you wouldn’t imagine from its parts.

One form of painting that developed in the late 1800s involves using tiny dots of primary colors to create pictures in which secondary colors can be seen. This technique is called pointillism, and it was first used to describe the work of French artist Georges Seurat.

Seurat, along with fellow artist Paul Signac, was inspired by the Impressionist paintings of the day. Seurat began to paint using small, distinct dots — points — of pure color. He arranged these points into patterns that, when viewed as a whole, formed a beautiful image.

Pointillism takes advantage of the way our eyes work with our brains. Instead of seeing hundreds or thousands of individual dots of color, our eyes and brains can blend those dots of color into multiple colors that then form an image.

Pointillism is not an easy technique to master. Today, there are very few artists who practice the technique. Instead, most modern artists blend their colors on a palette to achieve the range of colors they want viewers to see on a canvas.

Many people notice that pointillist works seem brighter than other paintings. This is probably due to the fact that the individual color points used are quite bright, plus the fact that thousands of tiny points of bright white canvas are visible between the dots of color.

One of the most famous pointillist works was created by Seurat between 1884 and 1886. His Un Dimanche a la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) is a large-scale painting that critics believe altered the direction of modern art by starting a style that would become known as Neo-impressionism.

44 Join the Discussion

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  1. I knew that people make paintings out of dots but I didn’t know that they were called pointillism. What is tomorrow’s wonder of the day going to be about can you give me a hint besides is Greek to us?

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friend Kate! It’s awesome that you’re here today and you made a connection to our pointillism Wonder! You connected the dots! You might find yourself recognizing a letter or two tomorrow, even though it’s Greek to most of us! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re so excited that you’ve been WONDERing about a very cool way to create art, Kennedy! We Wonder if you have ever seen a pointillism painting up close? We bet you can visit your local museum to learn more about it and check out the artworks with your own awesome eyes! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

  2. Wow! Wow! Wow! We think that the pointillism is an incredible technique that can be used to create beautiful artwork. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of time, and patience to put all of those points in place. However, the end product is definitely worth it.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Kemp’s Class! It is so exciting that you’re WONDERing about such a cool technique with us today– pointillism! We are glad you visited us today and shared your comment, too! We really like all the words you used to described pointillism– it’s tough but worth it! :)

  3. _____________________________________________________________________
    AMAZING!!! He Did 3.2 Million Dots In 210 Hours!!! :D
    _____________________________________________________________________I Wonder What’s Next?
    Tomorrow’s Wonder Of The Day Is Greek To Us!!!
    Hmm…Maybe A Different Language Or…Coding!!!!!!
    See You Next Time!!! :D

    • Isn’t it great, Max? Art is awesome! We’re glad you enjoyed watching the Wonder video and reading all about the famous artists who specialized in the technique of pointillism. We are excited about your awesome predictions for tomorrow, too! We think you’ll be reciting a new language in no time! :)

  4. Wow…! I thought that artist colored it in instead of using dots. And I have a question to ask you do they stay up all night or do they do some each day? Someday I would love to do Pointillism. I love Pointillism do you?

    • Hey Autumn, thanks for sharing your comment and WONDERing about how an artist works! We think it depends on the artist, but some artists may choose to stay up all night long until their work of art is complete. Others may work on it for a very long time, sometimes even YEARS! We hope you will try your hand at pointillism– we think you’d do a great job! Keep using your creative imagination! :)

    • What a great idea, Wonder Friend Day522! We love when our Wonder Friends suggest Wonders of their own, just like you did! It takes some time to go from Wonder idea to completed Wonder of the Day®. We Wonder if you’ve been learning about the origin of school in class?

      Thanks for sharing your comment about our pointillism Wonder today! We hope you have an artistic day! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Claudia! While we didn’t create the Wonder video today, we love the way it’s filmed, too! The video speeds up, so we can watch all the work the artist completed in a short amount of time! The artist created a portrait of his father, who he calls his hero. :)

  5. What are some good artists and pictures we could look at? (LT). I like the way you counted all the dots in the video so we could see. (BB) How long did it take to make the picture in the video? (MT).

    Pointillism is a cool way of doing art. (XK)

    We can’t wait to see the next cool wonder.

  6. Cool! At school one day in art with our art teacher Mr. Smith we watchend a video of a guy and he dotted a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. (Wonders) Greek yogurt, Greek people, Greek homes.

    • What an awesome connection to today’s artistic Wonder, Zoe! Thanks for telling us all about Mr. Smith’s art class- it sounds like a very cool place to be! We LOVE learning about art of all kinds! We’ve even have a Wonder about Dr. King Jr. to share:

      Wonder #106– Who Was Dr. Marting Luther King, Jr.? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-was-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/

      Thanks for sharing your predictions for our Greek Wonder tomorrow! We look forward to seeing you soon! :)

  7. We figured out that it would take the artist 21 days if he painted 10 hours a day.

    DD even saw the Sunday in the Park at a Musesum.

    Thanks for the pictures.

    • Hello again, Rockin Room 16! We are so excited that you shared another awesome comment with us. Thanks for stopping by to Wonder again!

      It’s awesome that you found out how long it took the artist to complete his masterpiece. Thanks for telling us how you figured it out- NICE WORK!

      DD, we Wonder if you saw Sunday in the Park at the Art Institute of Chicago? We’ve got ANOTHER Wonder for you to enjoy: Wonder #897– Where is the Windy City? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/where-is-the-windy-city/

      Thanks for using your awesome imaginations, Wonder Friends! :)

    • Hey Keny, we are glad you visited us to Wonder about art and pointillism! The artwork is a picture of the artist’s father, who he calls his hero. We Wonder if you can see the face, even though it’s made of dots? :)

    • We hope you’ll try your hand at pointillism, Cool5! You can start small– perhaps you have a picture that you can try to recreate through pointillism? Or maybe even an object, like an apple or a phone? :)

    • Hey there, Eric, we hope you can see the video because it’s up and running! Please let us know if you’re having issues viewing! :)

    • You made us smile, Wonder Friend Bri-Bri! While it does take a LOT of time, patience and talent to use the pointillism technique, it’s also beautiful! It took the artist in the Wonder video about 210 hours to complete his masterpiece! :)

  8. Desmond the Moon Bear says that’s pretty cool. HOW THE HECK DOES HE DO THAT WITH DOTS?!?!?!?!?

    • HOORAY, we’re so excited that you’ve been WONDERing about pointillism with us today! It’s very impressive and AMAZING to watch an artist work on a pointillism piece! Thanks for sharing your comment today, Desmond the Moon Bear! :)

  9. Wow!!! That was very interesting! I can’t believe that was made just with dots! How long did it take????? I am going to try it out!!!!

    • We hope you’ll try pointillism for yourself, Isabel! Great idea! It took the artist in our Wonder video a very long time– nearly 210 hours to complete his work of art! Thanks for visiting us and WONDERing about art of all sorts! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Madeline! Artists who practice the pointillism technique take a lot of time, effort and energy to perfect their craft! We are glad you’ve been WONDERing with us today! :)

  10. This is a really great video! I bet you have to be a great artist for this. Thank you for the “WONDER” ful video.

    • Hey there, Goblue1098! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome comment today, we are so happy to Wonder about all kinds of art with you! HOORAY for WONDERing! :)

  11. Pointillism is using dots to make pictures. Only some artists know how to do that now. It looks very cool. I would like to do that someday. I can’t believe what that guy did!

    • Hey there, Aaron! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– you did a SUPER job of summarizing what you learned from this artistic Wonder! Nice work! We are happy that you are getting ready to try pointillism for yourself, we bet you’ll do a great job with some practice! :)

    • How neat, Wonder Friend Courtney! We’re so excited that you have an awesome pointillism project this summer! What fun to use your creativity and imagination through art! Dots rock and so do you, Courtney! What types of pointillism pieces are you planning to create?! :)

  12. wow i love art so much and the brightness of the picture would be amazing. Also how long would it take to make a beautiful painting out of tiny dots?

    • Great question, Bailee! It actually took Georges Seurat 2 years to paint A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Amazing, huh? Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is pointillism?
  • Who was Georges Seurat?
  • Can you create your own unique pointillist piece of art?

Wonder Gallery

904-pointillism_1904-pointillism_2904-pointillism_3904-pointillism_4Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Are you an artist at heart? Grab an artsy friend or family member to help you explore one or more of the following fun activities:

  • Ready to take a closer look at one of Seurat’s famous paintings? Grab a friend or family member and jump online to explore an online exhibit of Seurat’s Un Dimanche a la Grande Jatte. What do you think? Do you like it? Are you amazed by how the overall effect of the painting can be achieved using tiny dots of paint?
  • If you feel inspired, Paint Your Own Pointillist Picture! Just follow the online directions and create your own unique pointillist masterpiece! When you’re finished, be sure to upload a picture of your creation to Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to admire your work!
  • Up for a challenge? Learn more about basic photography by reading this article about Pixels, Image Resolution, and Print Sizes. Did you realize that the digital photos you take and look at each day are made up of millions of tiny points of color? In a way, modern digital photographs are similar to pointillist pictures, only with millions more dots of color to help your brain turn what your eyes see into a vivid, realistic image rather than a work of art. Isn’t that cool?

Still Wondering

Use ReadWriteThink’s Artistic Elements: Exploring Art Through Descriptive Writing lesson to learn how to paint a vivid picture in your reader’s mind with good descriptive writing! Artwork provides the perfect starting point for practicing descriptive writing that conveys color, shape, line, and mood.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

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