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Art That Makes a Splash


Snack: Dip buttered toast halves into a cup of cocoa, but put a piece of paper towel under the cup first, and feel free to make a few cocoa splashes for an impromptu piece of "splash art"



You will need:


Big, open, empty space

Biggest piece of paper or posterboard you can find

(ask a construction company for a wrecked piece of drywall)

Latex paints

Brushes, sponges, turkey baster

Empty soup can and icepick or hammer and nail


One of the most influential painters in the world probably had the most fun style of painting ever. Those aren't spatters and splashes, drips and drops - those are fine expressions of fine art! The longer you study art of this style, the more you can see order coming out of chaos. But there's a lot more to this method than just spontaneous fun.



The artist was Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) and his paintings are exuberant, colorful, mysterious messages of abstract expressionism. Influenced by the great Missouri mural painter Thomas Hart Benton, and by Pablo Picasso, Pollock's unique and original style also owed part of its inspiration to Native American sandpainting, which he saw when he was a young man in Arizona.


Sandpainting is not for the purpose of display art, but instead is a part of a holy healing ceremony by Southwestern United States Native Americans. The medicine man would let different-colored sand flow through his fingers onto a surface, making a design, all the while chanting, and then the sick person would sit on the sand design and the holy man would dance around the person, chanting. When the ceremony was over, the sick person got up and left, and it was believed that the illness was left on the sand, so it was eventually thrown away, rather than displayed.


Reportedly, Pollock was struck by a demonstration of this unique ceremony in the 1940s, and adapted the style of "active painting," in which he would approach his canvas from all four sides and from above, using his whole body to deposit paint, which was often mixed with sand or broken glass to add texture.


What set his style apart was that he would secure his canvas to the floor of the Long Island, NY, barn that he made into his studio, or perhaps to the wall, and then would practically dance around it, spontaneously dripping, flinging, troweling and otherwise depositing paint - instead of the traditional methods of using a paintbrush, easel and palette.


Because of his huge influence on the art world, he became hugely popular, and his painting No. 5, 1948 is considered the world's most expensive painting, drawing a reported $140 million when it was sold in 2006.


Pollock tended to use cheaper, more available household and industrial paints, rather than artist's paints, and he used everything from a can with a hole in it to "drip" a line, to a turkey baster, to put paint any way the spirit moved him.




For more about this influential artist, see the biographical movie, Pollock, starring Ed
Harris and Marcia Gay Harden, released in 2000 and winning Ms. Harden an Oscar.


Want to paint like Pollock? You can do it if you get permission from the necessary grownups and go outside where you can't wreck anything. You can get the biggest piece of paper you can find, or use the back of a used poster board. Get at least three colors of latex paint - that's paint that will wash out with water - perhaps using the last of some extra house paint or wall paint. Experiment with flinging paint right out of the bucket, dripping it with a stick, or flinging it with an overly full paintbrush. You can even punch a hole in the bottom of an empty, washed-out soup can with an ice pick (ask a grownup to help if necessary), and try letting paint drip and run out of the hole onto your canvas.


For a much less messy, but still fun, experience, try this:


By Susan Darst Williams Art 03 2008




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