The Robot

Where Science Meets Art

“After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.”

Albert Einstein

As true partners, Dulcinea and Paul Kirby work together to create one-of-a-kind artworks. Each painting captures the unbridled creative passion and demonstrates the power of fusioneering.

Layer upon layer of brushstrokes make up a painting, but the paint on the canvas also represents years of programming, hundreds of thousands of lines of code, and the actualization of a fantastic vision.

Meet Dulcinea

Inspired by the Renaissance masters, Paul Kirby wondered if it would be possible to build a machine capable of creating classically elegant brushstrokes – and Dulcinea was born. Dulcinea captures the best of human art and machine-powered capabilities. With a fully flexible hand that mimics the movements of a human wrist, Dulcinea can do anything your hand can do – and more. Unfettered by the limitations of the human anatomy, Dulcinea can even create sweeping, twirling brushstrokes that would be impossible for human painters to accomplish. Over the years, Dulcinea’s brushstrokes have only become more and more elaborate and evolved, allowing her and Paul to push the limits of the imagination.


Naming Dulcinea

In Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, the protagonist aspires to be a knight and win the heart of a fair princess. Dulcinea is a character in a neighboring village who is a hard-working wench, though, in Don Quixote’s eyes, she has all the qualities of a fair maiden. Likewise, Paul has named his robot Dulcinea because she is hard-working, never complains after thousands of brushstrokes, and is in his eyes a thing of true beauty.

“To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.”

Isaac Asimov

Requirements for Dulcinea

  • Make Elegant

  • Use Various

  • Change Paint

  • Wash the Brush
    Between Colors

  • Manage and Store
    Paint Colors

  • Seal Each Paint
    From Drying Out

  • Handle Large

  • Paint Unattended,
    Often Over Night

  • Sign Her Own

  • Power Down Upon

How Does Dulcinea Work?

Dulcinea is powered by 7 motors and runs several programs concurrently. “Artificial intelligence” doesn’t begin to cover it – Dulcinea’s complex and layered programming includes several forms of AI and adaptive systems to bring original artwork to life.

Standing about 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide, Dulcinea’s painting process is fully automated, and her complex coding and systems allow her to run for thousands of brushstrokes – often overnight and unattended. She changes paint colors, washes her brush, and signs completed paintings without direction from Paul. When a painting is completed, Dulcinea seals the paints, washes her brush one last time, and travels to the lower-left corner of her work envelope before turning off her own power.

Having painted a canvas 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide (and capable of much larger works), Dulcinea is always willing to tackle the challenge of the next original work of art. Explore Dulcinea’s many components by clicking each dot in the interactive photo below.

  • Cabinet Electronics

    Robot work cells include electronics to create, control, and organize their activities. Dulcinea has electronics filling a six-foot-tall cabinet, including a computer controller from Adept Technologies. All that space is necessary to control Dulcinea’s actions and environment from creating complex brushstrokes across sections of canvas, to detecting paint levels, to washing brushes, to exchanging paint colors, to signing her name at the bottom of each painting.

  • Gantry

    Motors and gears move Dulcinea across a 2000 lb free-standing, steel wall. Additional motors control her wrist. The gantry structure necessary to support the work takes up an entire wall of Paul’s studio, floor to almost ceiling. Dulcinea herself, the robotic work cell with shelves of paint and brush washer, and the arm with which she paints, all function inside this structure.

  • Motors and Gears

    Motors and gears vivify Dulcinea. Programming may control how she moves, but when you watch her wrist turn on three axes, and her body zoom to different parts of the canvas, pause a moment to get still, and then paint, you forget that Dulcinea is electronics telling gears and motors to move and you see her for the painter she is.

  • Software (Painting and Robot)

    A hierarchy of hundreds of programs make just one painting. Differential calculus and controls for the robot, vector math creates light sources and shadows, real-time concurrent multi-tasking V+ programming for the robot, Lisp for complex genetic evolutionary computing systems, scripting algorithms for rich brush strokes. Kirby uses software and programming to create “worlds” inside of which play occurs and magic happens.

  • Different Brushes

    Dulcinea paints with diverse high-end artist brushes retrofitted for her robotic arm. Each brush brings feeling and haptics to the paintings. They necessitate adjustments to how Dulcinea paints, how her arm moves, how much paint she uses, and what strokes she can make on the canvas, and then they impact how the brushes are cleaned and dried.

  • Brushstroke

    Brushstrokes are the heart of painting, With her software and the building of her robotic wrist, Dulcinea can do what all artists do: she can create the right brushstroke for the tone, feeling, and composition of a painting. Many systems make the strokes based on points of contact, pressure, direction, and rotation. As her skills evolve, Dulcinea becomes a deeper collaborator.

  • Brush Washer

    The brush washer demonstrates Dulcinea’s breadth and depth as a completely autonomous robotic collaborator. To paint and change color and then complete a painting and be done, Dulcinea had to wash her own brushes. This involves controlling clean and dirty water, washing and rinsing, blow-drying, and many hours of failure and patience to make the systems work together.

  • Changing Paint Colors

    To paint continuously and fully autonomously for thousands and thousands of brushstrokes, Dulcinea must change paint colors. Dulcinea uses a separate pneumatic arm to retrieve a specific jar of paint from shelves of paint colors. After she uses the paint, she replaces it and retrieves the next color.

  • Wrist

    Dulcinea’s wrist makes her art alive. Because it is fully articulated, it is able to be the hand of an artist: creating exquisite strokes by carefully orchestrating the sequencing of how the brush approaches the canvas, how pressure is applied, the rotation of the brush, the pathway of the stroke, and the multitude of ways of lifting the brush from the canvas. Reverse engineering how a human hand creates brushstrokes, Paul gave Dulcinea the power and the soul to work with him in his pursuits.

  • Electrical Noise

    Cables containing control signals and high-energy, servo-motor current travel fifty feet from the electronic cabinet across cable carriers out to the wrist. Without careful design and precautions, electrical noise can cause havoc during operations, disrupting Dulcinea’s movement across the wall, the rotation of the wrist, sensing of paint levels, exchanging of paint colors, and washing of brushes. Without clean signals, no art is possible.

  • Paint Sealer

    Dulcinea dips in and out of paint colors, as would any artist. She has a palette of colors with which to work and any good collaborator takes care of supplies when finished. Paul created a paint sealer that Dulcinea uses to cover the paints when she is not painting, complete with a strong seal, to preserve her materials.

  • Painting robot Dulcinea's signature


    Artists don’t walk away from a painting without leaving a mark to claim it. Dulcinea is no different. Paul created a program that runs when she is finished painting that allows her to sign her name, making sure the world knows that she was a collaborator in the art Paul makes.


Building Dulcinea

When he retired at 40, Paul’s passions took form. While studying art and learning to paint, he spent nine years building Dulcinea and her components. He machined and built mechanical systems, designed and assembled electrical systems, pneumatics, robotic motors and gears, and coded the control language – a testament to what is possible with drive, innovation, curiosity, and problem-solving. Dulcinea’s systems collaborate, create, and delight as the other half of how Paul creates.

Following the path of his passions, Paul continues to evolve Dulcinea, her brushwork, the code that generates her art, and her finished works. Each project is a new challenge and pushes the duo to stretch their skills, whether it’s mastering an intricate new brushstroke or capturing intense and layered emotions. Their work is never stagnant, and something new is always in the works at Paul’s studio!

How Do Paul and Dulcinea Make a Painting?

Do whatever you do intensely. The artist is the man who leaves the crowd and goes pioneering . With him there is an idas which is his life.”

Robert Henri, “The Art Spirit”

Two Sides to Every Story

The science behind Dulcinea is only half of her story. To truly understand this painting robot, you have to see what she and Paul are making.

Experience Dulcinea’s Art

Get Inspired

Build the life you love. Learn more about fusioneering:


What Is Fusioneering?

Why pick which passion you should follow? Fusioneering allows you to cultivate many interests into something innovative and revolutionary.


Experience The Magic

Meet Paul and explore how blending your interests can empower you to follow your enthusiasm and bring your passions to life.