Pointillism, Plein Air and Impressionism

My work (aside from digital) is typically in this juncture represented in 2 particular styles – pointillism and (post) impressionism. Generally my impressionist pieces are plein air or commissioned. My pointillist pieces are done from imagination and photograph references in the studio.

Pointillism as a painting technique was created in the late 19th century and pioneered by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. The style is focused around creating a scene with small dabs of paint or dots. It is a fairly time consuming method, but I feel it creates a beautiful end product. While Seurat and some of Signac’s work is initially painted in base color zones and the dots are added over top of them, I prefer to only use the dots, leaving exposed wood or canvas in some circumstances to become a part of the piece itself.

It’s a style that really fractures the piece up, and creates an almost mosaic appearance in some cases. In others, such as Seurat’s Sunday on Le Grande Jatte, its produces this blurry, fuzzy image that looks like an unstable atom. Signac’s landscapes have a mosaic quality which uses more of a brush-length dab rather than a concentrated dot of the tip of the brush. I use this technique often with my own paintings and the end product is a mosaic that provides a stimulating scene that retains an element of freshness even after seeing it over and over again.

With a piece such as my Eagle Nebula, I aim to convey a look that seems so fleeting, that the dots could just be blown away – the fleeting of time.

Obviously painting in plein air (just the fancy pants way of saying painting right there on location), the pointillist technique is just about impossible, as an 11×14 pointillist landscape painting will take me anywhere from 5-7 hours, therefore, I follow in the path beaten by Monet and use a loose style. Although, where purists of impressionism generally keep that somewhat vapid look, I do tend to anchor my pieces with hard definite lines…I take this large in part from my admiration/appreciation for comic book illustration and the work of post impressionists like Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh and an intermediate like Manet.

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