My heart nearly broke in half when Luke came home from school one day last week and told me that a classmate said the self-portrait he made was the worst in the class. He hung his head and handed me his artwork with disdain. He believed his critic.
I told him I loved his self-portrait. I told him I was proud of his work. I told him not to listen to people who have nothing nice to say. It was all in vain. The damage was done, and his confidence was rocked.
I have always been a believer that the process is more important than the product. Instead of lecturing Luke, I just needed to remind him how much fun art can be. So, for New Experience #11, I let my children paint like Jackson Pollock.
Those of you familiar with Pollock’s technique will either think I am a cool, creative mom or think I need to have my head examined. Jackson Pollock is famous for action painting: dripping, drizzling, or splashing paint onto large canvases laid out on the floor. First, we looked at some of Pollock’s famous paintings online. The kids thought they looked like “scribble scrabble” but they were intrigued. We watched a small clip of Pollock painting, but the quality of the clip was poor and the kids were not very interested. We did find a wonderful short tutorial on Pollock’s techniques on YouTube, uploaded by MoMA Video. After watching it, the kids couldn’t wait to get started.
While I set things up outside, I had the kids play around on JacksonPollock.org, a fun, interactive website in which the user can create artwork like Pollock’s simply by moving the mouse around.
Outside, I set up two large pieces of craft paper, 2 feet by 7 feet each. I opened up four cans of house paint I had sitting in the garage. If we were going to recreate a Pollock painting, we were going to do it right. No washable paints for us! Luckily, I had gone through last year’s spring clothes and had a pile to give to the needy. The kids were wearing clothes that were too small on them but could be tossed after this experience.
As soon as the kids came outside, they jumped right in. They had a blast dripping paint. At first they were a bit conservative, dripping the paint carefully onto the paper.
After a few minutes, they were dancing around their canvases and really splattering the paint. I loved how they imitated some of the techniques they saw on the video, moving around to each side of the canvas, alternating between using a paint stick and a turkey baster. I let them know that paint on their body or clothes was totally fine with me. One thing I did not account for is that my grass now looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, too. I don’t think the Homeowner’s Association is going to look too kindly upon a work of modern art on my front lawn.
The finished products look amazing. I may be slightly biased, but I think they could hang alongside Pollock’s paintings at MoMA. Looking at Luke’s smile while he painted was all I needed to know that he enjoyed this art project. I was feeling pretty proud of my sneaky technique to get him to love art again when he shot me back down to earth. As we were cleaning up, Luke looked at his paint covered body and said, “Mom, next time we should paint like Vincent Van Gogh. Jackson Pollock is pretty messy!”