What's with all the dots?

What's with all the dots?


I am constantly asked different versions of this question. It makes a good point, after all, who would spend tens of hours creating a piece of art with thousands upon thousands of dots when you could achieve something similar with a pencil or paint in a fraction of the time?

Once upon a time I did use pencils, but I am a messy soul and I would always end up with graphite smeared across my lovely, pristine, white paper. This drove me spare, beyond spare: it had me crawling the walls with frustration. That was why I switched to pen. Of course, the issue with pen is that you can’t shade in the same way as you can with a pencil…well, you can, but it isn’t easy.

Unbelievably, you can shade with a ballpoint pen, there are people out there who are astoundingly skilled at it – Google it, you’ll be impressed! Or you can use dots: dots of different sizes and densities, and with these dots you can create any degree of detail or shading if you are patient enough, if you are sharp-eyed-enough, and if you are as stubborn as all get-out. I sit in the stubborn and biblically patient camp, though I suspect my eyes might not be quite what they once were.

So, dots allow me to create very subtle shading and the right ink dries incredibly quickly, so there is no dirtying of the paper either. Of course, there is one very big disadvantage: there is no erasing, no going back. Make a mistake and it is there forever, whether you make it in the first ten minutes or fifty hours into a piece of work. Welcome to the artistic equivalent of tight-rope walking without a net: it is very impressive, people love to see it, not many people can face doing it, and if it goes wrong, all you are left with is a barely recognisable mess.

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