Jackson Pollock: Action Painting for Kids

Kids love to splash and paint -- what a perfect way to teach kids about Jackson Pollock and Action Painting.

Pollock would lay down huge tarps of canvas onto the floor. Then he would literally "step into his painting". With buckets of paint, sticks, hardened brushes and even basting syringes, he would drip paint onto the canvas and create these beautiful abstract paintings.

Most students love the idea of dripping paint. I mean, who doesn't? In my experience, the high schoolers love it more than the elementary students! Either way, take care to either do this project outside where a few splatters of paint won't be a big deal.

What you'll need:
Do yourself a favor and lay out a blue tarp or a vinyl tablecloth. Also, give fair warning to the students about the messiness of this project, so I encouraged them to wear old clothes and shoes for the day of this project. Thankfully, we were using washable tempera paint.

I thinned my tempera paint with some alcohol, to make sure they had the right consistency. Adding water would have broken down the clarity of the pigments. That said, I'm not sure how the alcohol affects the washable quality of the tempera paint. Maybe I should check into that before recommending this, right?

Pass out sheets of poster board. The larger the paper, the better. Make sure everyone is spread out and has some elbow room. I'll admit, I attempted this project with a classroom of nine students. I don't know how it would have worked out with a larger class. Pandemonium, I'm sure!

Pour tempera paint into plastic cups. Give each student a variety of colors and few paintbrushes. Students can either drip paint directly from their plastic cup onto their poster board, or they can dip their brushes into the paint and drip and flick away. Overall, the students really had a blast doing this project. And there was hardly any wasted paint, which drives me nuts. One small hazard, once the tempera paint gets several coats, it tends to harden and crack off, so encourage students to keep their drips moving and not concentrated on one area.
The above project was created by fifth grader.

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