Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jackson Pollock - day 1 of the mess

This is just the beginning...
My students learned about Jackson Pollock and his painting process. They've been talking about improvisation in music class, so this spontaneous painting process really ties it together.

The kids were required to have their art shirts on to participate. They knew the would be making a mess and would be responsible for cleanup, and they did great today. We didn't bother to protect the tables, since I knew there'd be so much cleaning to do anyhow. I prepped a bunch of containers of paint, and put sticks in them, and put one large sheet of Kraft paper on each table. (The kids also had the opportunity to use old large house paint brushes if they chose.) I pulled student names from a bucket to form work groups, and then the groups rotated turns choosing colors until all the colors were taken and everyone had one to use. They were allowed to trade colors during class. I put on some fun music and everyone started dripping and drizzling and flinging paint, directing the colors toward the inside of the paper and away from the edges!

Here we are at work: Sorry I can't get them to rotate, so you'll have to rotate your head!

I realize this isn't something everyone can do. I have about 16 or 17 kids in each of two 4th grades. If I had larger classes or more 4th grade classes I would NOT attempt this. As a matter of fact, this is a project that I have done a few times, always at least 3 or 4 years apart. Enough time to develop amnesia about the challenges! I have chosen to do the project only on years when the kids were a group that I thought could handle the challenge.

The biggest challenge: drying the artwork! I had prep time after today's 4th grade, and so the paintings stayed on the tables to dry a while, and then I took them out in the hallway. At the end of the day they were still drying (4 paintings) and I put them on top of the chairs on top of the tables to dry. Tomorrow the other 4th grade class starts their paintings the same way, and then on Monday and Tuesday each class will have their turn at a second chance to add more layers to the paintings. I'll be adding leftovers of metallic paints to the paint selections.

I'll show you the paintings when they are complete!


  1. Looks like soooo much fun!!


  2. So much fun! They are so cute! AND YOU ARE RIGHT! The hardest thing is drying them:) in my experience too:0)

  3. The kids looked like they were having a great time! You are a brave woman! I don't trust all my 4ths to be that calm with flinging paint together in a group! Might try letting them work on one next week but I am going to have them take turns dribbling the paint one at a time while the others do an activity in their group. Let you know how it turns out!

  4. A little postscript: the 2nd class had their first day on their paintings on Friday, and it didn't go quite as well (though THEY thought it was wonderful, I'm sure!). A couple of kids were a little cocky and didn't want to pay attention to rules, and the floor got messy within a minute of beginning. We did get the floor messy on the previous day, but it didn't happen right away so it didn't get so bad. With the second class, I had to STOP the music several times and make the kids stop to clean up a spill before proceeding again. I'll still give them the 2nd day though.

  5. Well Phyl,it looks like you are going out with a BANG and I really admire you for that. I would probably do this outdoors cuz I'm a chicken when it comes to paint flinging......I can't wait to see the final product!

    P.S. I am LOVING summer vacation! :)

  6. 30 kids outside with taupaline stretched across the yard works just fine! My year fours just loved it!

    1. Ah, I wish I'd been able to do that! If the weather was good enough to go outside, it takes forever to GET there, and bring all the stuff. My classroom was on the second floor, a LONG walk from the front door (and the only door we were allowed to use during the school day). We would have used 1/2 the 40 minute class getting outside and back in again! Ah, how I missed the days of having the outdoors right outside my classroom door!