Dripping Paint Action Painting

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Students will make a dripping paint “action” painting in the style of Jackson Pollock.

By Andrea Mulder-Slater



  • Students will be directed to observe the lines and shapes that make up an “action” painting


  • Students will look at the work of Jackson Pollock as they learn about Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting


  • Students will create an “action” painting using paint, paper and imagination


  • Students will learn to appreciate the art created not only by them, but by others as well.

What You Need:

  • Heavy paper or primed canvas or a roll of butcher paper
  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • A warm day (or a space where you can get messy)
  • Painting smocks or garbage bags with arm and head holes
  • A garden hose or bucket of water to make clean up easier
  • Old towels

What You Do:

It is important to note that this lesson is best attempted outside.

  1. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was an American Abstract Expressionist painter. Study the works of Jackson Pollock and discuss his technique. He would literally drip paint on his canvases in order to create his paintings.
  2. You and your students should wear a paint smock or a garbage bag with arm and head holes cut out of it.
  3. All involved should remove their shoes and socks (this can get messy).
  4. Roll out a section of butcher paper on the ground outside. The butcher paper is to “catch” any spills and drips.
  5. Place various colors of paint in small containers (yogurt or margarine containers are great). Put these containers on a newspaper covered picnic table or other high surface if possible. This will prevent any accidents involving you or your students stepping in the paint.
  6. Before beginning, walk your students through some relaxation and deep breathing exercises. Explain that you are preparing to focus on the creative task at hand. Make your kiddos aware that this is not the time for reckless play and that they should drip and sploosh their paint carefully.
  7. Place sheet of paper (or canvas) on the butcher paper. (One sheet per child or one per group of 2 children) For teachers of younger students, you will probably want no more than 4-6 students working at a time.
  8. Using paintbrushes, your students should stand directly above their paper (several feet apart from one another) and drip paint onto the paper below. They should be encouraged to use as many colors as they choose.
  9. Remember, there is a method to this style of painting. Colors should be chosen carefully and paint should be applied to the paper as drippy lines.
  10. Because this is an “action painting” your students should have the opportunity to move around as they paint.
  11. Once the paper is covered with paint, it is time to wash up. This is where a hose comes in handy.
  12. Dry and display the work on a clothesline or a chain link fence. Talk about the work.

Dripping paint in the style of Jackson Pollock

About Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock was an American Abstract Expressionist painter. Nicknamed “Jack the Dripper”, he would literally drip paint (of the most toxic variety) on his canvases in order to create his paintings. He was the first “action painter”, meaning that he would drip, pour, throw and splash his paint onto very large canvases which were often laid flat on the floor of his New York studio. Many say he would literally dance, as though in a trance, as he created his masterpieces. Pollock is widely considered the most challenging and influential American artist of the 20th century.

Jackson Pollock Links: