Jackson Pollack

In which direction did Jackson Pollock paint?


Jackson Pollock was considered one of the great abstract expressionist painters of the 20th century. But if you look at his early canvases, his paintbrush didn’t even touch the canvases that he is most famous for. He dripped, splashed, and squeezed paint onto a roll of canvas unfurled on the floor.

Then, as his work progressed, he started to create recognizable images, or those suggestive of the sea and its living creatures, like his brilliant work, Moby Dick. Which clearly has an up and down.

Now here’s the question. While Jackson Pollock created his action paintings, did he decide beforehand what was up and what was down? In other words, while Jackson moved around his massive canvas did he know from the start which way would be up and which way would be down in his canvases.

I reviewed some video footage of Pollock working, and I’ll take a guess that when he started each painting, knowing top from the bottom was maybe the only thing he was sure of when he began.

Why is that so important? Look at the concentration and intensity of Pollack at work. When an artist is completely in the flow of creation, as Pollack was, he doesn’t second guess himself. He trusts his intuition to take him from one pot of paint to the next.

And in Genesis Art, while we’re not flinging paint at canvases, we’re working with the power of intention.

We decide on a topic before we begin. We write a word on the back of the paper. We choose either landscape or portrait direction. And then we begin.

While in midstream, we don’t change the word or the topic that’s guiding our creation. That would be like booking a ticket to Rome and deciding on the plane that you’d rather go to Amsterdam.

And just as we don’t change topics, we don’t change the orientation of the sketch paper, turning it upside down after a few strokes or even halfway into a drawing.

We stay committed. We work with the creation we have. And if we feel it’s not to our liking, we ask ourselves what can we do to make it likeable?

Just ask. Your intuition will whisper the answer.

And in this way, art mimics life. Committing and honoring our original intentions takes us to the finish line. Getting there without some sort of glitch, or challenge might feel good. But creative breakthroughs don’t happen usually in the comfort zone. They happen when you reach your wit’s end. When you’re ready to throw up your hands and walk away–or change the direction of the paper–here’s where the growth is.

I can say this with some assuredness because when I started drawing in the mid-1990s there were plenty of times that I became frustrated that my hand couldn’t create what I told it to. Out of my hand came other things, that had I ripped out the paper or turned a half-finished picture upside down, would have shattered my self-confidence. I wanted to prove to myself that I could stick to a drawing. And I want you to do the same.

The rewards for doing so are rich and sometimes unimaginable.


To find out more about Jackson Pollock and view his paintings: https://www.jackson-pollock.org/shimmering-substance.jsp

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