A Bit about Technique

Out of the Violent Planet
© Richard A. Kirk 2012

This is a fragment from some text that I wrote for the TOME book project. I thought that since I am often asked about technique I would share it here. I’ve always believed in sharing information about technique – it’s what each artist brings to the technique that is truly important. This describes my approach to pointillism. I hope you enjoy it. Richard.

A Bit about Technique

Out of the Violent Planet is a pointillism drawing rendered in ink. Tiny dots from a .18 Rapidograph technical pen are layered to create tonal values and line is used to define the form.

When creating a drawing with this technique, I start by executing a clean line drawing in graphite – meaning no shading – of the subject, usually on 140lb Arches hotpress paper. I have found through trial and error that this is the most suitable support in that it allows for a crisp dot with no bleed. When the graphite drawing is complete, I begin rendering.

I always start with the part of the drawing that is the most critical to its success. This is a purely practical consideration as ink pointillism at .18 can easily take 1 hour to complete 1 square inch. It is depressing to have to abandon a drawing after many hours of intense work because the focal point of the composition fails. Being left handed, it would be intuitive to work from right to left, but I find it more engaging to follow my hand. Somebody looking over my shoulder would be hard pressed to find the logic in my pattern but this is perhaps where the artistry comes in.

With pointillism there is a challenge in that all textures must be created with dots; fur and metal for example must obviously look much different. Part of this is draughtsmanship and part of it is context. A frequently heard dictum of writing is trust the reader. When working in this technique, especially when rendering the fantastic in a naturalistic way, you must trust your viewer to interpret the rendering through proximity and context; a fish will have scales and fox will have fur. Another rendering strategy is placement. By avoiding unintended intersections of line, you can head off potential misinterpretations of where one object ends and another begins.

When the drawing is fully rendered, I scan for confusing pencil lines and remove them. Other pencil lines are left because I believe that they show the hand of artist and bring humanity to a technique that can look mechanical if not handled properly.

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