DIY Canvas Paintings Inspired by Jackson Pollock
by Regina Garay
My friend, Sharon Adelman, is a true DIYer. She loves color, she loves design, she loves learning new skills…it’s the starting that’s the hard part.
We were recently on a double date with our husbands and were talking about wall art. We each liked the idea of something personal and unique for our homes — not something that was a copy. I mentioned an interior designer who had created a Jackson Pollock piece for her home and how we could certainly take a Saturday at my studio and put together our own canvases as well.
She was ecstatic at the art adventure, our husbands were worried and our day was set!
Jackson Pollock was an American painter who established a new distinct way of painting — some thought he was just a mediocre artist, others were convinced his technique, frequently called “action painting”, would establish him as one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century.
He used pour and drip actions while tapping into his personal emotions to establish marbled, linear, cohesive and striking patterns with no central theme. Some of his paintings were massive in size and they each exerted a perfect use of color, balance and intensity.
We started by prepping the studio exterior by laying down tarps and opening some of the quarts and gallons of paints in the inventory. We also had a bucket of water and a sink nearby to clean out the brushes and shake them dry.
We decided to get into our groove by starting with small canvas pieces — little did we know they alone would take all day. I had pre-based some smaller canvases in black and Sharon was drawn to those. I decided to start with fresh white ones. During the day, we helped each other on our canvases by suggesting colors and techniques — it was fun to collaborate.
Here is a piece I created — you see the big splatter along the bottom right? By dribbling paint directly from the can you can create big, nice areas of paint. Unfortunately, I created a large blob that I didn’t like so I took the palm of my hand and struck it on the blob. I did that with other colors, too.
I worked a long time on my canvas while Sharon was more prolific and having a ball working on a few of them.
We did decide that it was best to start with a piece that has an overall base color to it other than white. The white one I started with (even though small) took quite a bit of time to cover completely with paint.
Sharon was so excited that she went home and immediately hung some of hers!
I think I’ll probably do a bit more on our next outing and then see what I hang up. Either way, it made for a wonderful fun day with one of my best friends.
1) We were so worried about technique and getting it right — next time, we’ll pick out the colors ahead of time for each canvas, play some music and just let loose with the paint. You know how the first pancake never comes out how you expect it to? I think these were our first pancakes and we can’t wait to get a second day to bring out the bigger canvases and just dance with the paint.
2) Action Painting is not as easy as it looks. It does take a bit to get technique down (i.e., what hand movements cause the most pleasing formations, figuring out the best color combos, what tools work best with the materials and knowing when to stop). It is optimal to plan your canvas ahead of time but to be open to changing direction if you feel it is lacking “emotion”.
3) Timing — Your masterpiece may come quickly but it is important to note you can work with layers and come back to your artwork if need be at a later time. If it’s not coming out the way you’d like, always remember it’s just paint and you can add other colors to bring it to where you are happy with it.
4) Canvas – Start with smaller, less expensive blank canvases if you’d like to experiment first. Remember you can also group and work on a few canvases together and then separate them slightly when hanging them up. It doesn’t have to be a solo canvas.
Jackson Pollock was a tortured artist who struggled against various vices to create his enduring artworks. If you’d like to read more about him try the Web site dedicated to him, look through a book of his artworks or see the movie based on his life, Pollock.
You can also visit the Pollock-Krasner House, the home he shared in East Hampton, NY, with wife & artist, Lee Krasner. You can see the studio where many of his most important works were created. There is also a fun Web site by Miltos Manetas where you can create virtual Pollock paintings.
Regina Garay is an accomplished artisan with creativity and energy to spare. A specialist at all manner of decorative painting techniques, she shares with us tips, how-to’s and trends in surface design, as well as inspiration from the design of public spaces.
Have you ever tried painting like Jackson Pollock?