August 10th, 2016
It took a trip to the MoMA in New York City to fully understand the nature of Jackson Pollock's work. Until then, I had only known him as a revered abstract expressionist who's technique challenged the formal approach to painting. At first (1930's), he was seen, more so, as a Picasso copy-cat, using a similar linear style and exaggerated perspective of the real-world. As he progressed as an artist, he started to seek ways in which he could establish his own style and set himself apart. It wasn't until I was standing in front of some of his largest and most popular works (1950's) that I could see what he was trying to do. He was exploring his own creative process. With a hyper focused lens on his own approach to his own expression, he crafted an all new way to address the canvas. The output from this process was truly original, and in person it was quite arresting.
Inspired by this new understanding, I returned home to try and, at the very least, repeat his process. There had to be more to it; the freedom associated with literally tossing long splatters of paint across a large surface. He danced around his canvas using sticks to dip into cans of paint to rhythmically project color into seemingly arbitrary directions. Surely there was more to it?
What you see below is the result of my own interpretation of Pollock's process.
This piece is 82.75" wide by 37.75" high. I used a standard size sheet of plywood as my canvas and some left over paint from some recent home remodeling projects. I laid a large drop cloth on the floor, and then the plywood on top. Using paint stirring sticks, I began, slowly at first, to repeat his process. Using only a single color at a time, I began moving around the plywood gingerly tossing red stings of paint across the bare wood. Each time I circled the plywood, my momentum increased. Changing colors and layering them was when I started to see a direction for the work. The combined lines and splatters began taking shape. A narrative emerged from the visual chaos. I began moving quicker around the plywood, my legs crossing with each throw of the paint. The flick of my wrist mirrored the intensity of the arching blade of paint. Longer and more interesting the weaving colored lines continued. I was giving away control of where they landed. The process became a playful physical expression, a way of giving up control, of letting it lay where it falls. It was freedom.
The final work, which I have titled "Through the Thicket", now hangs in our dining room. It's enormous, consuming nearly the entire wall. But it's beautiful, visually stunning, and complimented often. Each color leads the eye through the painting. They are testament to my own version of Pollock's creative process. They each tell a story about the moment they were made (momentum, direction, intensity).
It is obvious to point out, this work imitates Pollock's style, aesthetic, and creative process. Consider it a symbol representing my utmost respect for his work.
Interested in learning more about Jackson Pollock's work? See Artsy.net
James Walton - "Through the Thicket" - acrylic paint on wood - ($2000)