Look at the work of Jackson Pollock whose paintings are explosive in effect. Think of how these colours have been applied and work out how you could create your own effects by dripping, dribbling and spattering paint. For this exercise, prepare a large sheet of paper or cardboard and spread around plenty of newspaper.
Mix up several colours into dilute solutions. You can plan effects by choosing colours carefully and mixing in advance, or mix more colours as you progress. You could just make solutions of four of your colours unmixed. You could prepare a coloured ground in advance or work on a white ground.
Collect pots and cans for paint solutions and some household paintbrushes. Cover the floor, the furniture and your clothes. Put your support on the floor as you’ll be working from above.
When you’re ready, apply paint in as many different ways as you can. Dip a big brush into paint and flick it onto the support. Dribble the paint from a container. Build up layers of colours and allow them to run together. If you feel an impulse to add another colour in a particular way then do it. Be aware of how deep tones and light tones or pure white could add a feeling of receding space or layers.
Try making several paintings in this way. Notice how paint behaves and how colours run together. Is there a point where you feel that you have finished?
Make notes in your learning log. How could you exploit some of these paint effects in your future work?
Some background research:
In looking at the work of Jackson Pollock I came across references to the work of Janet Sobel who, according to one reviewer, could be seen as the ‘grandmother of drip painting’. Haber’s Art Reviews. Available at: http://www.haberarts.com/sobel.htm [Accessed: 28 October 2014], and certainly seems to have an impact on Pollock’s own work. In Sobel’s work “…paint moves freely, one colour flowing into the next. Her work really does have that all-over fabric one thinks only Pollock achieved. And yet it has an intimacy all her own.”
Her subjects can be seen to vary between abstraction and people, as can be seen in “The burning bush”, with ‘line-ups’ of faces almost breaking through the overall abstraction:
Jackson Pollock’s own work also challenged traditional ways of easel painting by using different medium such as synthetic resin-based paints, laying the canvas on the floor, painting large by using hardened brushes, sticks, basting syringes for applying paint – spontaneous splattering, smearing and dripping:
Using colour and form in a non-representational manner, ‘Abstract Expressionism’, and Pollock’s ‘Action Painting’ put an emphasis on the act of painting as opposed to the end product as a ‘work of art’. The American art critic, Harold Rosenberg, first named the style ‘Action Painting’ in a 1952 essay “The American Action Painters”, in which he observed that the the canvas was not an object in itself, but rather “…an arena in which to act”.
Jackson himself is quoted as stating: “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides, and literally be in the painting.”
What’s more, his ‘action paintings’ have often been associated with the improvisational performances of jazz musicians
From working on my sister-in-law’s croft in Caithness I inherited 3 rolls of wallpaper lining paper. This paper seemed ideal for this exercise, so I cut 3 lengths initially of 86x56cm.
I collected jars, flower pots, plastic tops of spray cans, etc. for mixing and holding paint. I decided to work with the three primary colours and made up diluted solutions of red, yellow and blue acrylic. Brushes used were 4 and 2.5 inch household brushes.
Using the garage floor as a base I laid out plastic sheeting and placed the first sheet of paper on top and began spattering and then dripping:
My first attempt looked like this:
with paint running and pooling all over the surface. At this stage I decided to let the paint dry a bit and then periodically hold it up in different directions to let the remaining loose paint to run and dribble.
Work in progress:
This has been left to dry out completely for a couple of days. I want to come back to it and try some overlaying of other washes to test effects.
Next I laid out the next two sheets of paper on a separate plastic sheet and prepared them with a ground wash of primary red and primary yellow respectively:
On the red sheet I placed some wooden shapes and began to splatter primary yellow:
I built on this with spatterings of primary blue:
which, mixed with the yellow began to merge into green patches in places on the paper.
On the yellow ground paper I dripped a pattern of primary red, followed up by some more primary yellow and then blue:
This time I mixed in some impasto with the paint as a thickening agent.
To complete this stage prior to lifting and running before drying I used some paint straight from the tube to provide a hint of form to the emerging shapes:
As with the first painting, these have been left to dry out completely over the next dew days after which I plan to add some more experimental touches. I didn’t start out with any preconceived ideas about what these paintings might represent, but after these initial stages of dripping, dribbling and spattering I have some ideas about what might become finished pieces.
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
1st November 2014
Painting 1 – I added three areas of intense primary colours in a kind of triangle – don’t know why really – is this finished?
Painting 2 – I had no real concept in mind for this, but as it developed it seemed to represent some kind of political statement to me on the recent Scottish Referendum – a possible bright new dawn, but on a shaky foundation?
Painting 3 – And even more so with this one – post referendum – confused and emotional – Scotland today!
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
10th November 2014