Paint Like Jackson Pollock! Activity

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Updated on Jul 24, 2014

In the second half of the twentieth century, Jackson Pollock and fellow modernist painters revolutionized our idea of what a painting could be. On giant canvases, Pollock experimented with “random” drops and splatters of paint and other materials.

In other words, he built a career on art and color expression that any preschooler would know a thing or two about. Pollock’s work offers wonderful inspiration for young artists exploring the wild and exciting world of form and color. The following activity offers academic benefits as well: practice with painting builds hand-eye and visual coordination skills (fine motor skills) that kids need in order to tackle the complex job of writing.

What You Need:

  • Flat cardboard tray, such as the box on the bottom of a 24-pack of soda or bottled water (you could even use an old baking sheet)
  • Piece of white construction paper, at least 11x17”
  • Three primary colors of tempera paint (diluted slightly with water so they’re not too thick)
  • Marbles
  • Masking tape

What You Do:

  1. Put the construction paper in the flat tray/box and tape it down lightly along the top and bottom edges.
  2. Squirt 2–3 small pools, or one 6-inch line, of paint on the paper in one color. Then place the marble on the paper and have your kid move it around by gently tilting the box. Where does the paint go? How does it move?
  3. Repeat this process using each of the other colors, and invite your child to pay attention to what happens. Which colors blend? Which seem to lie on top of one another? What surprising patterns emerge?
  4. After letting the piece dry, make a construction paper frame for the masterpiece, and invite your child to study again. What title does this work deserve? Give him a marker and a strip of paper, and help him write it out and glue it to the bottom of the frame.

Painting activities work especially well when your child does them regularly. As young writers, children need to be able not only to see but also feel how they can move their hands to enact the shapes and lines that they see in their minds’ eye. With activities like this art exploration project, they can “read” those shapes and lines and make meaning from them. But even without these technical benefits, it’s hard to go wrong when you mix paint, marbles, and a preschool kid together!

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