Splatter Matters: How to Paint Jackson-Pollock Style

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Splatter painting, the technique made famous by Jackson Pollock, is energetic, unpredictable and a whole lot of fun. It's also a lot harder than it looks.

But it can be done! We'll show you three splatter-painting methods that will help you add abstract expressionist style to your art with either acrylics or watercolors.

Be warned: Things will get messy. You’ll want to wear your designated painting clothes and move away any objects you want to keep clean — you never know where the pigment will fly!

What You Need

One of the best things about splatter painting is that it really doesn't require any special tools.

  • Acrylic or watercolor paints
  • A brush (or brushes) with stiff, sturdy bristles
  • A canvas
  • An old toothbrush (optional)
  • Gloves (optional)

Use Two Paintbrushes

Fill the bristles of a paintbrush with pigment. Then gently tap it with a second brush (or stick) that you're holding in your opposite hand. This will give the paint enough force to travel across your canvas.

This technique works best if you want to cover a large surface.

Use a Toothbrush and Your Fingers

Fill the bristles of a toothbrush (or a stiff-bristled brush) with pigment. Hold it at a downward angle, so the bristles are pointed toward the ground. With your opposite hand, run your fingers along the edge of the brush; you may want to put on gloves first. Go slowly and pull the bristles back so they launch paint onto the canvas.

This method works best for smaller areas and finer details.

Use a Stencil

Control is a big challenge when splattering paint. A stencil can help. It can be complex or simple, but make sure there’s plenty of positive space around it so the extra paint won’t get on your canvas.

More Splatter Tips

  • Dilute your acrylic paint with a little water to make splattering easier.
  • Don’t be afraid to use multiple colors! This will give your splatter depth and visual excitement.
  • Make splattering the last thing you do for your painting. Think of it like an accent color and be deliberate when you use it.
  • Next time you want to paint stars in the sky, splatter them!
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Splatter Matters: How to Paint Jackson-Pollock Style