To really get the point of Tess Riedle's art, it has to be seen in person.
Photographs of her work can't capture the depth and expression of a portrait done entirely of dots. Small dots, smaller dots and dots dotted densely create astonishing pictures.
The technique is called "stippling." It's a single color applied with a brush or pen. The denser the spacing of the dots, the darker the shading and depth of an object.
Using color with the same technique is called pointillism. Riedle is pretty much a whiz at both techniques.
Raised in Rochester, she discovered in high school she had a talent for art. She attended Lincoln Land Community College, then on to Northern Illinois University and then to Chicago, where she was employed at an art studio.
In 1992, she moved back to Springfield and worked as an illustrator for area businesses. Through marriage to her husband, Dave, and three daughters in three years, Riedle said she kept coming back to what she had been told while working at the art studio in Chicago.
"We could work on our own stuff if we weren't helping another artist or doing something for a client. A photographer there told me when he looked at my stuff that you should always do what you love," she said.
In her spare time, she was doing portraits while Jamie, 10, Lindsey, 9, and Abby, 7, were toddlers, and now that they are all in school she's turning her love into what she hopes will be a full-time business.
"I always liked doing pencil portraits," she said. "The stippling portraits are really satisfying. The problem is - you always want to do more. You have to know when to stop."
Riedle is in the process of setting up the perfect studio at her home to really get the business going, but that doesn't mean she's been idle.
A wall mural for her daughter's nursery generated enough word-of-mouth buzz to get her some additional mural work. Riedle is an expert in trompe l'oeil, or "trick the eye."
It is a style of painting that mimics a photograph. Her flowers painted on a wall look so real they seem to be waiting for a butterfly to land on them.
But stippling and pointillism seem to be her element. "Even the small pictures look good this way," she said. Riedle works from pictures, and she can take them if a client doesn't have them. If someone wants a stippling of a pet, she combines pen strokes with the technique to give them realistic-looking fur.
When the studio is up and running, not only will she be doing indoor and outdoor murals and decorative painting but also portraiture - children, families, hobbies, cars and motorcycles, pets and equestrian or still life as well as illustrations for books, stationery and cards and commercial advertising work.
She's said with something she loves, and she will be working for herself.
Story published Friday, November 7, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 6 )