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Lesson Plan Jackson Pollock Study In Creative Thinking

Student Teacher: Essex Garner,
Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri,
In cooperation with Lincoln University and the Boys and Girls Club, Dr. Clifton Pearson, Instructor (EDU 203) 1999

Unit: Constructivist and Abstract Thinking

Grade Level: Elementary (3 through 8 Grades) Adaptable to higher grades

Objective Demonstrate and teach students a new creative thinking process in art through the techniques of the Action Painter (Jackson Pollock) i.e. while listening to Jazz. Expand on the students intrinsic interpretations and to facilitate divergent thinking while working together in a constructivist environment (Constructivist Learning). 

Strand: Enjoying Art, Making Art, Art Appreciation and Music Appreciation.

Supplies Needed Black or White construction paper (role paper preferably), tempera paint, brushes, small plastic containers for drip technique, protective clothing, scissors, drop cloth if done indoors and Music (Bob James) works best for me. Drop cloth, string and
a picture frame.

    Introduction: Discuss the abstract "Action Painter"  Jackson Pollock and others within this art movement;  William de Kooning, Lee Krashner, ect. Discuss the  indigenous Jazz movement in America (Charlie Parker,  Dizzy Gillespie, etc;  tie together the importance  that neither of these two art forms were copied (both  were and are original concepts). (Note: reframe from  music with lyrics, these can be suggestive and or  leading in creativity). Show examples of Pollock's  work (Black and White or Lavender Mist, etc.). This  lesson is appropriate for the disable child.

Key Concepts-Goals:

(1) Students experience working as a collective and individually in this abstract format.
(2) Express their inner interpretations and feelings onto a two dimensional surface.
(3) The understanding that there is no right or wrong answer
of their interpretation of the music (freedom of expression).
(4) Understanding that Jazz and Abstraction are similar within spatial and musical intelligence (Howard Gardner
(5) Demonstrates different approaches to painting other than traditional styles.
(6) The incorporation and appreciation of an indigenous American music form with an indigenous American painting(er).

Caution Statement: I have found that this is not a class for large amounts of students. No more than five to ten students per exercise.

Day 1: After introducing abstraction and your non suggestive/lyrical musician. Introduce students to the materials necessary for the "Drip Technique" and the techniques of painting in motion. If your not familiar with the techniques used by Pollock at this time it will be imperative for you as the instructor to study them in detail before attempting this lesson. Introduce to the students simple instruction from one or two of Pollock's many utensils to be used that fit your comfort level as an instructor.

Step 1. Cover area for painting with either news paper or drop cloth (indoors or out). These are only your best behaved students. Respect of others during the painting process is immanent. Separate colors into containers for painting.

Step 2. Role paper over drop cloth area either onto a table or the floor. White or black or both. White or black construction paper adds for higher contrast. (Start your music). Emphasis the importance of the feeling in the music to gestured movements. Here is why lyrics could predisposition this creative process, not to be led (Bach) could work as well.

Step 3. Have students under controlled advise start manipulating one color at a time to the surface area. At this point string dipped generously into paint and moved across the paper works for me very well. This is a very controllable technique. Insure that all students work on more than one section or part of the paper. If your using multiple background colors for negative space insure all students work on both section or all sections.

Step 4. Emphasis that there is no edge in this painting process. Have students go off and back onto the edge of the paper not exceeding the drop cloth or newspaper (This is preferred); they will see why latter in the exercise. Also stress there is no right or wrong way for directionality of the paint nor repetition.

Step 5. After the paintings are completed, allow the paintings to dry overnight in place and clean-up brushes and other used equipment.


 Day 2: After the paintings have dried completely, introduce the picture frame.

 Step 6. Sense the students worked as a collective on the painting, there is no ownership. The whole thing belongs to them. Have the students select an area  of the painting either the black or white and place the picture frame around an  area that appeals to them.

Step 7. Trace the inside edge of the picture frame with a pencil and cut out with scissors. With some of the students, this may be their first abstract expressionist  work of art, so hold your excitement. Suitable for framing.

 Step 8. Have students talk about their artwork, and the feelings they  encountered while listening to the music. Have them express in their own words feeling of joy, sadness, etc of the music and the painting process.  Now ask them what they think of Jackson Pollock.

Action Painting, Jackson Pollock, Jazz, drip technique, abstract, Black and White/ Lavender Mist, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, William de Kooning, Lee Krashner, freedom of expression, negative space, and picture frame.

Recommended Web Resources:

Guggenheim Collection - Artist - Pollock - Biography
Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Jackson Pollock
Charlie Parker (Frank Driggs Collection);


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