MCL Guest Post: Make a Pointillist Painting!


Our Museum Career Ladder (MCL) is a volunteer and employment readiness program offering opportunities for teenagers to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Thinkery to prepare themselves for future endeavors.

This post was authored by one of our fantastic MCL volunteens, Odalis! The activity below was designed for our SmART summer camp, but kids and adults alike can definitely try it at home!

Welcome to the world of pointillism! Pointillism is a technique of painting, developed by artist George Seurat, that uses distinct dots in order to create patterns or designs. Pointillism paintings  are composed of different colored dots that, when viewed as a whole canvas, form a pattern or picture. The purpose of this activity is to give campers an introduction to the technique of pointillism.

Make a pointillist painting! 

1)      First, gather the following materials: paper; paint; Q-Tips; pencils; masking tape

Pointillism materials



2)      Tape a piece of paper onto a flat surface. This will allow for campers to have their own work areas for their masterpieces.

Piece of paper taped

3)      Set out a reasonable amount of each color of paint for campers to dab from.
Paint options

4)      For the next step, campers may decide which colors they want to use for their painting. Campers can also plan out their painting by sketching lightly with a pencil.
plan out your painting

Dot dot dot!

5)      Next, Take a Q-Tip,dip it into the paint   and a dot on their paper.Make sure the campers know that each mark that they put on the paper must be one, single dot. No lines or any other shapes. Just dots!

Just dots!

dots6)      Ensure the campers know that the object of each of these paintings is to make sure that there is no white space within their design!. Now that campers understand what to do, they can now focus on adding as much color to their painting as they want.  Campers can also experiment with the orientation of how the dots are arranged. If you twist the Q-Tip on the paper, you can see that the paint is more evenly spread out than the others,which have uneven amounts of paint.

Experiment with the dots7)      After the campers are done with their paintings, they can let them dry. Then you can ask them to view their painting from a distance (maybe a few feet) and ask them what they see. This is a great way to get campers involved not only with how pointillism works, but it allows them to understand what people feel when they see paintings made by pointillists.



the finished piece


Here are a few more interesting facts about Pointillism

1)      Pointillism actually relies on a trick of the eye. From afar, the painting can look like an average piece of work, but if you get closer to it, you can actually see the different colored dots.

2)      Many artists, like Van Gogh, used Seurat’s method of pointillism in their paintings.

3)      The tiny dots of pure color, when they are side by side, give the viewer’s eye a chance to blend the color optically.

4)      Inkjet printers also use this technique, but the dots are very tiny. These dots are not even visible to the human eye.

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