Whenever I see blossoming cherry or plum trees, I think of my favorite art project. As some of you know, I am rather artistically challenged. That’s why this pointillist painting activity is so terrific. Whether you are doing a pointillism art project with preschool students, a pointillism lesson plan with middle school students, or a pointillism painting as part of an adult art class, learning the pointillism technique is easy and requires only a few simple supplies. It’s a snap to be successful with this pointillism project!
What is Pointillism?
According to the Britannica website, pointillism is “the practice of applying small strokes or dots of colour to a surface so that from a distance they visually blend together.” The movement was most popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and was invented by French artist Georges Seurat. Whenever I teach a pointillism art lesson, I try to have an art print of Seurat’s for students to observe.
I have students observe the art print from a distance, then observe the print from about one foot away. They are always astonished at the difference.
A Primary Grades Project
White drawing paper cut into 6 inch squares (or light blue for very young children, to eliminate having to paint the sky)
Sharpened pencils for sketching
Unsharpened pencils with brand new erasers for making the dots of paint
Tempera paint in red, blue, green, brown and white (or you could have students mix yellow and blue to make different shades of green)
Brown marker (if you don’t have brown paint)
Paper plates to use as palettes
Paper towels for blotting
I usually have a discussion with students about lines. If the weather is nice, I like to take the students outside to observe the straight and curved lines in nature, specifically a blossoming tree, if there is one nearby. Then we go inside, and I have the students create a simple line drawing along with me.
I have the students draw a series of straight lines in the shape of the letter Y for the tree trunk and branches. Then I have the students draw a curved line for the ground. If students wish, a sun may be sketched in, or clouds, but nothing too complex. After creating a simple sketch, each student uses the brand new eraser end of an unsharpened pencil to dip into tempera paint.
Painting Pointillism with Patience
Each student should have squirts of paint in desired colors, with enough room on the plate for mixing colors, if desired. I always demonstrate how to load the paint on the eraser, blot on a paper towel if needed, then press straight down with the eraser onto the paper until more paint is needed. I have students put dots on the tree trunk and branches first, with either a marker or paint. Then I have students add dots to the sky and the ground. Later, maybe even after a short break, students may add the pointillism blossom dots to the tree.
When I display the student artwork, I like to place the art print by George Seurat nearby. Students seem to enjoy having their work displayed alongside that of a famous artist.
An Upper Elementary Project
The basic concept is the same for an upper elementary project, with the same supplies. Mainly, the difference is in the number of details in the sketch as well as the size of the painting. This example was created on nine inch by twelve inch paper. Older students may wish to add other landscape elements, such as a mountain.
A More Advanced Project
On a recent visit to see my parents, I noticed that my dad had created his own pointillism painting. He had taken an art class, and had used Georges Seurat artwork as his inspiration as well! Here’s my dad’s painting:
Although the supplies are different, the basic concept is the same.
One 1/2 inch flat brush
One little round brush with short bristles
One wider brush for painting a base coat of light color
One 12 inch by 18 inch canvas, pre-treated with sizing, available at most craft stores
As with the previously-described pointillism projects, begin by sketching a landscape or other design, then fill in with dots of paint. My dad’s best tip: To speed up the painting process, use a wide brush to paint a light base coat of color for each area of the painting. That way, the dots do not have to be painted so densely. Thanks for the tip, Dad!
Is Pointillism in Your Future?
Do you think you might like to try pointillism? Whatever your level of artistic expertise, a marvelous creation will result. That’s my kind of art project, and maybe it’s yours as well.
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Have a fantastically creative week, and thanks for visiting the Fluxing Well site. Oh, also, if you thought of a name for my dad’s painting, your ideas are most welcome. I look forward to reading your suggestions!