Make Art Like Famous Artists: Georges Seurat

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Make Art Like Georges Seurat
Total Time afternoon or evening Ages school-age

Pencil-Eraser Pointillism

Art teacher Marion Abrams knows a masterpiece when she sees one: her young students create them every day at her summer art camps. But to teach the campers about world-famous masterpieces, Marion has devised projects in the styles of three great artists — Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Matisse. The simple techniques, such as painting with clay or creating a room from paper, promise lots of hands-on fun. And as you'll see, the results are so satisfying that your kids may just want to make an oeuvre of their own.

Seurat's paintings are made of dots, not brushstrokes, each color layered one speck at a time. "When you look at his work, your eye blends the colors for you," Marion explains. To get your point across in the style of Seurat, start by drawing a simple sketch. "Then turn your pencil around," Marion says, "and let the dots do the talking."

Artist Satement: Elliott Stoney, age 8

"I used to draw race cars, rockets, and dinosaurs, but my new favorite things to draw are monsters and battles! I liked making the rocket with dots because every dot had its own place but made something all together."

About Seurat

To Seurat, beauty truly did lie in the eye of the beholder. As a pointillist, he applied tiny dots of pure color to canvas and counted on the human eye to blend the dots into a unified image. In this way, his paintings resemble optical illusions, something kids often find appealing. During his short life (he died when he was only 31), this French artist produced more than 500 drawings and about 40 paintings, including "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" and "Bathers at Asnières." Seurat painted "The Eiffel Tower" (shown here) in 1889, the same year that van Gogh painted his self-portrait.

What you'll need

  • Pencils with unused erasers
  • Heavy paper or cardboard
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paper plate

How to make it

  1. Use a pencil to outline your design on the paper or cardboard. Simple drawings work best.

  2. Squeeze the paints onto a paper plate, keeping the colors separate. Set aside one pencil per color.

  3. To apply each color, lightly dip the eraser into the paint, then dab it onto the paper. For a layered effect, let the paint dry, then add dots in another color. Step back from the work periodically to see how the colors are blending. Use this technique to fill in the entire drawing.

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