Experimenting with Pollock

I decided today was the day to channel Jackson Pollack, partially because I have a lot of older paints I want to finish up and partially because dripping paint onto a canvas just seems like a lot of fun.

Pollock would lay the canvas on the floor and then find various ways to not apply paint with a brush – drip, pour and throw were some of the approaches he used. While it seems like a haphazard, uncontrolled way to apply paint to a canvas, Pollock stressed that “There is no accident” all his paintings were fully intended.

After doing with experiment I have to agree. You may not know where the paint will go exactly, but you apply with intention and then the forces of nature simply take over.

If you haven’t seen Pollock painting, here is a re-enactment from MOMA:

Pollock used very fluid, enamel paints. As I was using low quality acrylic paints, I added a gloss medium or water or both to lower the viscosity (of course, this only occurred after I tried squeezing the thick paint onto the canvas directly, needless to say, it was blobby not flowy).

My canvas is small in comparison and had a black gesso layer to start.

I then swished a layer of varnish over the gesso in a swirly pattern. From there I squeezed red, yellow and magenta, which had very little impact. So mixing it up, I combined water and blue which I poured over the canvas and it blended nicely with the underlying red and varnish. After that I flicked a light green across the surface of the canvas which really brought it to life. But it wasn’t finished. I applied purple using a syringe. Then yellow by flicking with a brush.

Although given the quantity of paint now on the canvas, the yellow mostly disappeared into the surface, like it was being swallowed up by cracks in the earth. (Although there was plenty of yellow and green now on the walls of my room).

As Pollock said “try to receive what the painting has to offer” rather than try to interpret it.

Fun with Pollock


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