Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On dots again

One could state that I have become obsessed by dots, but while writing on my post  Dots rule I remembered art-class in High School (lucky me, because this way I wouldn't have to take a course in biology). When the modern artists were discussed also Pointillism was reviewed: a technique that uses dots instead of brushstrokes to create an image . One known contributor is Georges Seurat (1859 - 1891), of whom the  painting "Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte" (Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) is shown below.

In fact, Pointillism was derived from Impressionism. Impressionists wanted to catch the light of the moment in the painting as accurate as they perceived it at the exact moment. To achieve this goal, often colours were blended on the canvas itself instead of on the palette, the brushstrokes were harsh and black was hardly ever used. The reasoning behind this was that even a shadow holds all colours, only it is lacking enough light for our eyes to be able to perceive it. To use black would deny this fact and would deprive the image and experience its quality.

The Pointillist way of achieving the same goal was a bit more artificial:  they tried to replicate the perception itself, by not painting in colours that match as closely as possible the colour(s) perceived. By not physically blending different pigments, but merely placing them next to each other on the canvas, the viewer would in his or her mind automatically recreate the colour intended. The eyes would do the trick, so to speak. You could view this as a kind of optical illusion. To illustrate this, view the next image  for a while and try to distinguish the individual colours you perceive (detail from "La Parade" (The Parade)):

If you look very close (click to enlarge) you will find that in the face there are touches of blue, dark red and perhaps even a hint of green. Colours you wouldn't normally expect in the pink and fleshtones that would be used to paint a face "the old-fashioned" way. The darkness of the hair in the back of the neck is not achieved by black paint, but by dots of dark blues and greens lying very close to each other. Still, when you look, you don't see an alien but a human , in normal human hues.

I was thinking about this again when I was reading my copy of "Beaded Embellishment" by Robin Atkins and Amy C. Clarke. In the book is a high quality picture of a beaded piece by Amy, that when I viewed it with the book at a reading distance in my hands, didn't make much sense. It was named: Apple.

Then it came to me to hold the book at a greater distance and Lo and Behold ... two hands carefully holding an apple came forward, presenting me with its beauty. So vividly that I wanted to take a bite out of it and savour it all to the last piece.

This is exactly what the Impressionists in general and maybe the Pointillists more particularly aimed at: you, the viewer, wanting to be a part of the experience. Looking at a painting had to feel like you were there, at the waterside on a sunday afternoon:  feeling the breeze, the warmth of the sun on your cheeks, hearing children shout and laugh, dogs bark,  and maybe holding an apple and admiring it before eating.

I feel so delighted by the idea that painting and beading to me once again fall into place, though I have never held a brush in my hands for art-purposes since kindergarten. Painting is not my cup of tea, as much as I admire those who do have the gift. It does pose me however with the challenge to blend my beads for the BJP-pieces to come, in a way I feel like I honestly am journalling, beading the experience instead of the mere thought.

I also gained a new appreciation of how intricate our eyes work and work together with our minds in combining (the frequency and intensity of) light and prior expierence, to make sense of a whole that is truely composed of parts. This even to the extend that qualities that are in fact not there are added, like motion:

So I want to leave you with this thought:

"A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind."

Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994) Romanian-born French playwright.

1 comment:

  1. ahhhh Dees, great post! I have that book too by Robin and Amy. very intense work, that, of the apple.


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