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.