Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Re: Jackson Pollack Ideas

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sandra Hildreth (shildret)
Tue, 01 Dec 1998 01:52:12 -0500

> Well, has anyone had success in creating a studio lesson to
> further help high schools students gain appreciation for Pollock's work?

When we study 20th century art in my high school level humanities
course, I do a Jackson Pollock type project. After my students have see
some video clips and had some lecture discussions on Abstract
Expressionism (and they are all saying how it looks like anyone could
paint that way with their eyes closed), they come down to my art room
and I try to have several old stretched canvas flats from our drama
department. These are often 8 or 10 by 20 or more feet! Big! I give them
assorted sizes of brushes, gallons of old house paint (and leftover
drama paint), and tell them to paint the big canvases in the Abstract
Expressionist style - I require NO recognizeable images or symbols, NO
words, NO structured patterns or designs and they cannot leave any blank
spaces of canvas larger than a couple of square inches at a time. (Which
I know is generalizing about a very significant art style, but it
works). The kids all think it will be easy and great fun and they get to
work. Dribbling, smearing, splashing paint while the big canvases are on
the floor. Pretty soon a dialogue begins to take place - like, no don't
put red there, there's too much of it already; add some dark lines to
this area, it's too plain looking; fill some color in here to balance
this big blob of color; and so on. It is genuinely interesting to see
the evolution of attitude that happens. It's also neat to see them
actually work together and discuss principles and elements of art (even
if some of it is accidental conversation). Students who are art majors
usually step into a leadership role although sometimes the most
unexpected kids get liberated by this project. Anyway, after 1 class
period of work they usually have a lot done, clean up, and then when
they come back the next day I have the canvases setting up so they can
view them from a distance. I talk about composition, balance, mood, etc.
and then give them 1 more day to work on or enhance their paintings. I
hear them talk about how hard it is to literally make something visually
pleasant or interesting to look at - from nothing. The last day the
paintings are again upright in order to be viewed; each group of
painters gives a brief overview of what they think they are expressing,
abstractly; then individual students write a written summary of what
they feel they have learned about Abstract Expressionism. It's really a
short activity, to the point, but the immensity of the task and the
group collaboration goes a long way towards my goal of giving them
better understanding of contemporary abstract art.

Sandra Hildreth
Home Page:
Art 7-12, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
School Pages:
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617