Jackson Pollock literally splashed onto the American art scene in the 1950’s, eventually becoming one of the best-known modern artists of all time. Known for his innovative drip, splash, and pour styles of painting, Pollock began experimenting with liquid paint in the 1930s. Working with resin-based enamels, or household paints, rather than artist-quality paints, Pollock used everyday objects ranging from sticks to syringes. Securing a canvas to the floor, rather than the wall or an easel, Pollock splashed, dripped, dropped, and poured his paint downward, and from all sides, to create incredible, colorful, textured works of art.
Pollock’s technique is considered the launching point of the action painting movement. A dynamic process involving quick and spontaneous brushstrokes that embraced the accidental drip or paint spill, this movement encompassed the American Abstract Expressionists.
Your students can experiment with Pollock’s revolutionary techniques and explore the fluid quality of paint, following the instructions in our Jackson Pollock Expressions lesson plan. In addition to studying the artist and his major works, students will be challenged to employ several of the most critical elements of art, including the visual components of color: hue, value, and intensity; texture, or the way the surface of a piece looks; the distance, directionality, and width of their lines; the shape, or form, of their work; and the center of interest, or focal point.
Students will begin by applying an acrylic wash to their canvases, select a color palette, then use squeeze bottles filled with paint to build their designs using a variety of colors and creating their own, custom textures. Artists will continue to layer until their piece is complete, keeping in mind that sometimes less is more. A coat of varnish seals these modern masterpieces.
Click to view the Jackson Pollock Expressions lesson plan, featuring step-by-step instructions, a complete materials list, and a photo example of the finished product. This plan is designed for upper grade students.