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A Splatter, a Blob, a Swirl: The Art of Jackson Pollock

Encourage freedom of expression with this activity focused on the art of Jackson Pollock.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Display reproductions of several Jackson Pollock paintings. Ask students to select favorites and explain what they like about them. Encourage discussion of color, movement, shapes, and feelings.
    2. Read “Action Jackson” by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan. Why do students think Jackson Pollock’s paintings created such a controversy when they were first exhibited? Ask them to refer to parts of the text that indicated that his works were not initially well received.
    3. Invite students to use Crayola® Washable Kid’s Paint to create paintings by experimenting feely with lines, shapes, movement, and color in a style similar to Pollock’s. Remind them that they can create additional colors by mixing two or more paints. Encourage them to leave bits of white paper showing and to look for happy “accidents.”
    4. One interesting technique that students may wish to try is “marble painting”. This can be done by putting a piece of white paper in the bottom of a shallow box and dropping blobs of colored paint on it with a plastic spoon. Then drop a marble or small ball into the box and roll it around. As it rolls through the puddles of paint, it will create trails of color across the paper. Follow up with a second color and a clean marble. Where the paint trails cross, the colors will mix creating new colors.
    5. Once each student is satisfied with his or her Pollock-like painting, display student work where all can see. Encourage discussion and observations. Invite students to title their paintings.
    6. How might the works best be displayed? Provide time for students to mount an exhibit. Invite others in to see the exhibit and encourage students to discuss the project with visitors.
    7. Ask students to write about the experience. What did they think of Pollock’s paintings when they first saw them? How did they feel about trying this painting technique themselves? How did they feel about their results? What observations did they make about the class exhibit? Do different color combinations create different feelings? What do they think of the relationships between the paintings and their titles?
  • Standards

    LA: Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    SS: Demonstrate an understanding that different people may describe the same event or situation in diverse ways, citing reasons for the differences in views.

    VA: Know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures.

    VA: Understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

    VA: Reflect upon and assess the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.

  • Adaptations

    Play various types of music and ask students to describe how each piece makes them feel. How might these feelings be translated into art? Discuss such elements as color and motion. Provide time for students to create art in the style of Jackson Pollock while listening to music. Encourage students to share their works with the class and discuss the experience.

    Share other books with the class about artists whose works created controversy when they were first displayed. Introduce them to works by Expressionists, Impressionists, Cubists, and other abstract artists. Why do things that are new or different often create controversy?

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