Paint Like Pollock: Art Project for Grades K-2




As much as I love creating a big mess with paint, I wasn’t inspired to create a Jackson Paint Like Pollock art project until I saw this post.

I knew the technique of dipping yarn into tubs of paint would be a huge hit with my first graders. And it was. Plus, I could finally read Action Jackson!

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

If you don’t have this book, it’s a must-read about Jackson’s painting process, not to mention a perfect read for the art room, which I define as the right amount of text to illustration ratio.

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

To start:

  • Place 18″ x 24″ sheets of construction paper on the tables for placemats.
  • Mix 3-4 colors of tempera paint into tubs and place on the table. I use cafeteria trays to get all the supplies distributed and sorted before placing on tables. I used Crayola Washable paint but Laura from the blog, Painted Paper suggest Premier Tempera Paint. Worth trying!
  • I didn’t have clothes pins like the Mrs. Seitz so I used a combination of masking tape and popsicles sticks. Clothes pins are a far better choice if you have them.
  • Place either a colored or black piece of construction/sulphite paper at each table setting.
  • Add small brushes to each tub of paint.

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

How to Paint Like Pollock:

  • Children are a bit hesitant at first but I remind them of Jackson’s fearlessness with paint. This seems to loosen them up.
  • The idea is to dip the yarn into the paint tub and then drag or dribble the goopy yarn over the paper to create marks. This works, but the first time the children try to dip the yarn into the tub, it doesn’t work. The yarn is dry and doesn’t sink into the paint. This is why I make the brushes available. Give the yarn some help by using the brush to dunk into paint.

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

Have a little extra time?

To paint like Pollock takes very little time. Only about 30-minutes or so. The mess it creates takes a while to clean up so factor that into your prep time.

I used one 40-minute class with my first graders to finish unfinished projects. Many chose to add black paint markings to their dry Pollock Paintings. I gave absolutely no directions as to what to paint, only that they could add whatever types of lines, shapes, patterns or objects they wished.

They really got creative. I love their reflection and thought process throughout the last detail. In many ways, it really made the project.

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

I’m always tempted to look at these paint-splattered papers and turn them into something else, like the cool guitars that I referred to in the link. But in the end, I decide that they were beautiful statement pieces all on their own.

What do you think? Leave them alone or turn them into something else?

First Grade Pollock Paintings

First grade kids read the book, Action Jackson, then create a Pollock Painting using a cool technique.

For more resources and information on teaching art to children, check out my podcast Art Made Easy by clicking HERE to learn more about what goes on inside the art room.

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  • Virginia

    this might be a fun way to create painted paper for another project.

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Virginia,
      Yes, I think so too. I am tempted to turn them into something else but decided that they were beautiful as is. More like Pollock?

      • aniyah

        me too

    • Saharla

      and i like pollock

  • Veronica

    Works of art! Each piece has own character – leave as they are.

  • Sue keith

    i am interested in the summer workshop

  • Kathy

    When our author-of-the-month was Eric Carle, I asked the art teacher to have my first-graders do similar painting. When dry, they cut out parts of large animal and plant shapes from the painted paper, using parts of many papers. We glued the parts on bulletin paper, cut out the final shape, then decorated our library corner with their Eric Carle-like art. It looked very much like Eric had been to our room and made the pictures. So this can be a two-artists-for-one project.

  • Suzi

    Do you do workshops during the school year? Where are you located?

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Suzi,
      No. I don’t have any planned, although something might happen in No. Cal in late January. Working on something. I’ll have a 2-day event in Santa Barbara next June. Thanks for asking. I’d love to do more workshops!

  • Beth Lindvall

    (1st-2nd Grade) This was a wonderful project for my students to do! They loved that they didn’t have any rules to follow in this project. We also tried to make the experience complete by listening to jazz music (which it said that Pollock did in Action Jackson.) Thanks again for a wonderful project!!

  • Ashley Bruce

    Jackson Pollock is one of my very favorite artists. I love looking at his paintings for hours and hours. I always find new fun creatures and shapes in it. It is also my very favorite lesson to teach and there are so many fun ways to do it. I love seeing the kids get into it. Their comments at first are all over the place. Some love it and think it’s exciting to see his art while others are totally turned off and thing it looks messy. But after they create their own pieces they all LOVE IT! Because it’s so much fun to create. This year I taught Jackson Pollock as marble art in special Ed preschool, kinder, 4th and 5th because I had so much fun with it not to mention I was exhausted with creating so many lessons for a new program. However I don’t think it ever gets old. Every grade loved it and felt successful. They had a few marbles in a Dixie cup with a small amount of paint in the bottom of the cup. They were sorted into groups of warm colors, cool colors, primary colors and just go for it and use whatever colors you want…colors. LOL. I let them pick where they wanted to go. And they all had enough time in a one hour class to make at least two of them. One for the art show and one to take home. They had an 8×10 piece of paper in a cereal box we had had cut into trays. They picked a color and dumped the marbles out on their paper in the box. Then they tipped and manuvered the marbles around the tray. When they ran out of paint they picked a new color and rolled it around. They did this with three colors and black and white if they chose to. They came out so cool. Anyway, I just wanted to share because it was so much fun!

    I also took kinder outside last year with an old 4’x 3′ canvas I was repurposing and gave a few kids at a time a stick or a house painting brush with a can of house paint, or a condiment bottle full paint, and Lat them throw it or drip it or squeeze it all over the canvas. It was awesome. And it’s what got our school a new art program. It was auctioned off at our gala for $1000 and then a local business donated money for all of the supplies for this years program. Well I do love Jackson Pollock. I was blessed to see one of his pieces at a local art museum with my three year old. Just before it we saw another piece and he said it made him feel scared. But then he saw the Pollock piece and I asked how it made him feel, and he stared at it in awe and said, “Amazing.” It was awesome! A favorite mommy moment for sure.

  • Margaret

    I wrestled with this lesson last year and this year and after field testing 12 times, we now do “Jackson Pollock Letters.” I found that the graphic design works really well for us and I would like to share that with you. My blog is here: http://www.margaretalarcon.com.

  • Phyllis Trujillo

    I love this idea! I used it it in a one day” meet and complete” artist renditions. I had a small group of 6th graders that said it was awesome to be able to just express with just color and drizzles of paint. Thanks you.

  • carlaarnouville

    There is so much to teach in art. I sometimes combines artist with other areas of art. I am starting my unit on Dr. Suess and I think that I will combine Jackson Pollock art with Dr. Suess by having students paint Pollock style for the back ground of their Cat In the Hat drawing.

  • Ginny

    So Funny way to learn

  • Amy C.

    I think they should be left alone. Great project! I plan to do this with my students as well. Can’t wait!!!

  • Rachel

    I did this with my kindergarteners, it created an absolute mess of both my class and my kids clothes, even with painting aprons on, but was well worth it and I would do it again! I let them pick toys they thought would make cool lines and shapes on the paper. They got really imaginative and used things like toy trucks which they rolled in paint and then rolled over their paintings! It was also pretty awesome when the director of my school walked in, asked what we were doing and one of my students shouted out we’ve been inspired by Jackson pollock!

    • Patty

      Oh gosh! The joys and curses of art! Glad you went all in.

  • Melissa DeChellis

    I have an Art Club at my studio and we study all artists! These are great!

  • merritt james

    love the string thing! I’ve been wanting to teach Pollock but didn’t know how to control the paint. Thank you

  • Kathy White

    love them! Leave them alone!

  • Russell Carpenter

    your the best artest

  • Saharla

    Hi my name is Saharla i like painting to.

    • rose

      i love painting too!

  • Beverley

    Your activity inspired me to give this a go with 9-12 year olds on canvas. I’m super impressed by their results!

  • Ginny Pollock Fayard

    Just delightful. I’m an artist who loves to paint w kids

    My name is also Pollock!

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