128: Jackson Pollock and teaching art

I really, really, REALLY dislike Jackson Pollock. Don’t start screeching – I “get” the whole abstract impressionism idea – and theoretically, it is sound ideology for creating art. However, I am not creating art – I am TEACHING art – and that is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

In twenty-two years, I have NEVER taught Jackson Pollock in my art classes – and for a VERY good reason. First, you have to understand the modern school. Art (and music and vocational programs for that matter) is the bastard child who is also attending the family picnic of school. Never mind that all the way back to antiquity, art was included in the core classes of even the very earliest Greek colleges of learning – art is nowadays an adopted, misunderstood, less-than-desirable child. CHILD – not adult. Art teachers, as a whole, have not helped to overcome this attitude.

Second, the “art room,” IF the teacher is lucky enough to actually have a room dedicated to art class, is a mysterious, murky wilderness where strange things go on that just MIGHT be dangerous. Plus, schools hold the teacher responsible for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. If paint or ink gets on the floor – OMG, it is the art teacher’s fault for vandalizing the school. You get extra points for finishing the year with the room looking as though nobody ever created any art in there – I kid you not. And your chances of being offered a new contract to continue teaching there for the next year are exponentially enhanced. I kid you not.

So – to Jackson Pollock. HE had an entire, huge studio where he could devote the entire space to creating his style of art. HE could splash paint around everywhere- floor – wall- ceiling – anywhere HIS little heart desired, in the artistic exploration of his chosen media and materials – HE could experiment with painting, throwing, splashing, etc. HE could. WE have to clean up after each hour’s lesson, so the next bunch of students can some in and work, too. Can you see where this is going? Jackson Pollock style is OUT – verboten, interdict – forbidden in art class. Do it at home – where your mom will pass out when SHE sees it.

Plus, *I* understand the whole abstract expressionist ideology. Students do not. To them, it is an “easy” way to create “real” art – which is why most of them really, really suck at it. There are still elements and principles of art at work in abstract expressionist paintings, at least the ones that are GOOD ones. You must understand ART to create a good one – unless, of course, serendipity occurs and you “luck up” and get a good one by the grace of God.  Otherwise, most of them just suck. Period.

So – generally, it is the lazy student who wants to “do” Jackson Pollock. They don’t want to learn the basics, explore the examples from history, and understand all about vision and technique. They just want to throw paint around. And, because their genuine motivation is not ART, but LAZINESS, they do NOT want to clean up after themselves. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NONONONONONONONONONONO!


4 thoughts on “128: Jackson Pollock and teaching art

  1. i dont like him becausde he ugly

  2. I came here looking for something else, but this enlightened me regardless. Inspiring stuff!

  3. I think his work is magnificent. He threw paint the way cowboys throw a lasso. Start feeling the canvas. Stop talking to the canvas.

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