AS SEEN in local artist Ummu Jazmin’s monochromatic stippling artworks, the high concentration of crisp, near-perfect minuscule dots on a piece of paper creates a highly technical drawing that amazes viewers with its impeccable attention to detail.
Comprising dots in various concentrations and shading degrees, each artwork balances contrasts to form a cohesion between light and shadow, negative and positive space. The art of stippling is very much similar to Pointillism, a technique developed in the late 19th century, done in oil paint to compose an image with dots of different colours.
Ummu, 19, explains that achieving a level of realism in this time-consuming art form takes a whole lot of patience.
“It requires dedication, concentration and discipline. The entire creative process is tedious and maddening. Though, I’d like to think that stippling has really helped me practice patience as well.”
How did you discover the art of stippling?
“I’ve always loved expressing ideas on paper with a pencil or pen, even as a child, until I discovered the stippling technique in my early teenage years.
“Part of my interest in stippling evolved from my own explorations in the art community, but the first portrait that caught my interest in stippling was Nomads IV by Pablo Jurado Ruiz.
“I was blown away by how incredibly detailed and expressive the portrait was, and it spurred me to start stippling and create detailed artworks of my own that tell a story.
“Since then, I’ve been using this technique as it works really well with the type of work that I do to express perceptions, ideas or opinions that I find rather hard to express with words.”
What do you mean by that?
“Some people are able to express themselves better in a subtle way. I find it easier to express [myself] through artistic terms because it offers me perhaps the greatest potential for emotional communication. Whether it’s the way I feel about a certain problem, or the way I speak out about a prevailing issue in our society; it’s the vulnerability I often present through my art.”
Your work bears elements of being mystical and conceptual, even gothic to a certain extent, with much symbolism. What are some of your influences and inspirations?
“A part of my inspiration comes from the dark side of life, like the unpredictability and ugliness of it, and my art is heavily influenced by the things I choose to engage my thoughts and emotions in.
“The story I convey is either contrived or based on real-life events that have left an impact on someone’s life or on a community.
“However, I’ve not necessarily developed a particular style of my own, but the artists that currently have an influence on my work are Annita Maslov and Tanya Shatseva. Their style – macabre and Pop Surrealism – is what I’m leaning towards.”
What goes into stippling?
“I usually start with doing the preliminary sketch on slightly heavier drawing paper. Although you can start stippling from your imagination, I prefer having a picture to reference from.
“The fine point pens I use are determined by the size of my artwork, and since they’re relatively small, I constantly switch between [size] .005- and .003-inch nibs.”
How are you able to produce details on such a small scale?
“I would observe the subject’s features based on the reference picture, then I would translate the tiny details and envision ways to accent them on a smaller scale. It’s only possible with thin width, fine point pens.”
How have your artworks changed over time?
“With regular practice, I was able to create semi-realistic textured artworks of a furry animal that I once thought was impossible, because it wasn’t my level of expertise.
“I used to have a poor perception of my ability, which is often inaccurate. Practising regularly has helped me gain confidence, develop my own skill set, and improve in any particular area that I’m interested in.
“In other words, it helped me believe that what my mind can conceive, I can achieve. Though my attempts to expand the boundaries of my comfort zone don’t end there.
“I constantly experiment with stippling on [both] larger and smaller scales, and on different surfaces too.”
How do you salvage a mistake?
“I’m on an endless journey to find solutions. Ink and stippling [are both] known as an unforgiving medium and technique [respectively]. Several dots in the wrong place could ruin the entire artwork.
“Things rarely go as planned and I might have to start over, or in some cases, I would leave the artwork the way it is to make it feel more spontaneous. Sometimes their purpose is to enhance the work.”