logo canson
logo canson

Tutorials and artistic advices

Discover abstract expressionism through the works of Jackson Pollock.

Twitter icon

Rate this article

Discover abstract expressionism through the works of one of its major figures: Jackson Pollock. Children will discover the Action Painting technique and learn to encourage physical expression and action. 

Discover abstract expressionism through the works of one of its major figures: Jackson Pollock. Your students Children will discover the Action Painting technique and learn to encourage physical expression and action.

Painting like Pollock typically constitutes an activity your children will love. Because it's fun, because it assumes hardly any constraints, abstract expressionism encourages personal and physical expression and playing with colours and materials for an unforgettable creative experience.

Historic period: 20th century.


Jackson Pollock is an American abstract expressionist painter born on 28 January 1912 in Cody, Wyoming, who died on 11 August 1956 in Springs, New York. Known around the world during his lifetime, he created more than 700 works: completed paintings, painted or sculpted drafts and drawings, as well as a few engravings. Pollock had a decisive influence on the course of contemporary art. In 1945, Pollock married artist Lee Krasner, who was a major influence on his career and the value of his works.




Context and analysis of works



In 1929, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York opened its doors to a completely new form of art. A few years later, in 1936, the "Cubism and abstract art" exhibition gave rise to American abstract art, the first wave of which remains abstract expressionism.

This movement developed during the 1950s and 1960s, characterised by the real importance of action.

In this art form, two styles emerged: Colorfield and Action Painting, in which Pollock is one of the major figures.


Analysis of works


1. In terms of form

Pollock painted abstract compositions that do not represent an object or a person in particular, but assert themselves more as a pure act of creation. Pollock also appreciated that the critics said that his paintings were without beginning or end, as they could be looked at in any direction.


2. In terms of technique

Pollock really invented a new way of painting: dripping. Unlike other artists working on easels, he put his canvasses on the ground and then used industrial paint that he squirted, poured or threw onto the canvas. Then, using a stick or with his paint pot pierced with holes, he covered the entire canvas. The movements of his body created the shapes and lines.

Pollock also used the "all over" technique, which advocated letting the paint spill over the edges of the canvas.


3. In terms of significance

Pollock had a real fascination for Amerindian art. Some art specialists even suggest that his dripping technique resembled shamanic customs like drawing on sand.

For Jackson Pollock, painting was like writing with the body without having the intention of representing a subject at any cost, but just carrying out an action. His canvases would therefore be works symbolising a transformation, a real fusion with nature.


4. In terms of use

Abstract expressionism undoubtedly constitutes the first American movement that put an end to Europe's artistic supremacy. And Pollock, by being part of this movement more than ever, is one of the worthy representatives who gave the United States its artistic credibility.

1 - Educational aims: children aged 2 to 6







  • To explore the dripping technique
  • To encourage physical expression and action


Ask children to dip a paintbrush into a pot of liquid paint and then invite them to let their arm move over the surface to be painted to let the paint drip and gradually cover the surface. Suggest that they move their arm more quickly or more slowly and observe the effect created. They can also alternate colours, overlay colours etc.

To vary things, you can also give children more unusual tools like toothbrushes coated with paint that they can rub with their thumb in the direction of the paper to splatter it, or blades of grass to dip in the paint and slide over the canvas, or picking up the sheet of paper and letting the paint run... Anything is allowed!


2 - Educational aims: children aged 7 to 11







  • To understand and experiment with the Action Painting technique using different tools and actions
  • To encourage oral and physical expression.



Lay down a large protective sheet in the playground and place a roll of white paper over it.

Give children paintbrushes and pots of liquid paint. Name an emotion (happiness, anger, sadness etc.) and ask them to express it on the paper. This can be done with a colour, an action, by gently laying down the paint, with a movement of the arm or letting the paint drip...

Then collect up what they have produced and talk to them about the emotions they wanted to illustrate, drawing a parallel with the actions made.



Tip :

Inspired by this information sheet? Why not continue the adventure? To do this, Canson invites you to showcase your students’ creations and share them with our community. Whatever the subject, we’ll be delighted to see what you’ve created! Just contact us using the contact form.

Suggested products

Canson® Graphic Arts

See also

Discover the world of Niki de Saint Phalle's "Nanas".
Discover the world of Niki de Saint Phalle's "Nanas" on this page. These dolls exude a zest for life and freedom and their differing postures challenge the laws of anatomy and gravity.