Just Dots

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” – 1884 Georges Seurat, oil on canvas, 81 in × 121 in, Art Institute of Chicago

One weekend, I decided to do a mom/daughter trip; to Chicago. Fun for me, and a taste of good art for my daughter. (Not to mention great restaurants and the Blue Man Group).

Of course, I had the art slot was the main draw for me, the exhibition using the Chicago Art Institute’s “La Grande Jatte“, to head the studies and history of the making of Seurat’s masterpiece. Being a light, bright work of substantial size, I figured it was interesting enough for a non-art teen.


It was more than I expected, larger than life. Every prior study Seurat prepared was meticulous and a mind-boggling visual history of one painting. My daughter didn’t rush through, but studied every piece. She was doing the teen thing, trying not to gush, silently inspecting and reading as she moved along.

The huge “dots”, the successful pointillism of Seurat, is a masterful use of color theory and composition. The exhibition changed the outlook frIom a “pretty picture” to a jaw-dropping artistic, genius creation.

And for me, pointillism was not just a technique. When I started art school, my instructor challenged us students to create a painting using pointillism. Fun, I thought. I painted a still life in pointillism and considered it to be a simple assignment. Not so! My color theory was non-existent, the dots were the wrong size, and later I just painted over it so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

Of course, I could have pursued the technique, to learn and refine my own version, but it was clearly not to be created by me. I still marvel when I think about that exhibition.

I never heard the word “bored” from my daughter. That in itself was a major achievement. I think she even preferred the exhibition to the Blue Man Group.

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