How to Look at Pointillism

© Copyright 2019 Tatiana Regalado-Batista

How to Look at Pointillism

There are a variety of different images that may appear in your mind when reading the word art as there are many different forms and manifestations of the how the term is used depending on the creator. A drawing is the most basic form of art as there are many ways one may go about creating one, having full control over what medium they use and what art style they wish to employ. Taking a look at the drawing selected of Gustav Ahr (also known as Lil Peep), drawn by my best friend Lilly Kelly in 2018 using markers, it is clear that drawings have much depth to them, revealed through looking closer and shifting our perspectives as viewers.

Pointillism drawing of Lil Peep (Gustav Ahr)
Pointillism portrait of Lil Peep drawn and illustrated by Lilly Kelly (@bigbadsadjuice). 2018.

As someone viewing the piece for the first time, you may see it as one single form, a character portrait of Lil Peep, but as you begin to let your eyes wander and physically look closer you begin to see a lot more than you had first intended. Microscopic green, yellow, purple and blue coloured dots are used to make up the details of his face in order to create the illusion of form. Immediately our eyes are drawn to any contrast in the drawing. This technique allows the highlights on his face to catch our attention as they are the lightest colour on the page. The dotting goes from dark green to light green and finally fading into a yellow in order to represent where the light would hit naturally on his face, like on his high cheek bones, forehead, the tip of his nose, and chin. The highlights harmonize with the darker coloured dots, which represent natural shadows, with the intention to create a contrast in order to generate the form of his face. Even looking at his eyes, the veins that seem present are illusions created by dots. Your eyes continue to follow the waves of dots and how they are slowing fading from one colour to another all throughout his face, the piece makes one feel overwhelmed but also satisfied as the individual dots flow well despite their individual intensity.

Using dots instead of the classic use of solid or mixing of colours, allows the artist to add texture while still having the same effect as shading using pencil crayons. This method where a drawing is comprised mostly of dots is referred to as pointillism. Pointillism, which first emerged in 1886 was not entirely respected at the time despite being innovative, is defined as a style of art where the artist uses dots of certain colours in order to portray the illusion of form, if done properly the colours should blend to create highlights and shadows. The clusters of dots create an illusion of form and the illusion of different colours that seem to be present but are not. This art style was invented during a time where new scientific ideas were popular in the French capital because of an artist thinking their coloured dyes were too weak but in reality, they were fine as they only appeared weakened due to being mixed with other bright colours. Therefore, not mixing any dyes entirely and instead, marking up a canvas with dots of pure coloured dye had a better outcome, especially if the artist wanted to focus on enhancing the colours within their piece. Using the drawing selected as an example, we can see that an inner softness is brought out that would not exist if solid colouring was used.

Pointillism brings out a side of art that requires viewers to use both our eyes and our mind in order to create a unified image as the artist intended, taking a step back in order to see it as a whole, despite it’s chromatic range. Once respected, it is said to have paved the way for many artistic styles such as Surrealism and Fauvism and, even artists such as Van Gough and Matisse adopted pointillism at one point. It is used in many modern forms today, such as in my example, and holds just as much depth and meaning as it did when it was first pioneered in the 1880’s.


Works Cited List

“A Movement in a Moment: Pointillism: Art: Agenda.” Phaidon, Phaidon,

Martet, Cécile, et al. “A Brief History of Pointillism.” The KAZoART Contemporary Art Blog, 27 June 2019,

Scott, Dan. “What You Can Learn From The Pointillism Art Movement.” Draw Paint Academy, Draw Paint Academy Pty Ltd, 3 May 2019,




Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.