Abstracting From Pollock

When many people think of abstract art, the image of the splatter works of Jackson Pollock come to mind. The tangled strands of paint confound their attempts to understand the point of it. But even Pollock did not come to his iconic style without going through other stages.

Pollock’s Experiment with “Mural”

The first work of his that marked the start of Pollock’s experiments with larger canvases and a painting style built for large motions is titled “Mural.” The piece is about 8 feet by 20 feet, and was on display at the Getty Museum after some study and restoration.


“Mural” by Jackson Pollock. Photo by Jay L. Clendenin

The painting, owned by the University of Iowa, has been at the Getty undergoing a process of analysis and restoration. The careful studies of minute aspects of the media that Pollock used have revealed that he was very intentional in his choices of placement and layering. This selective aspect apparently grew as he continued exploring the possibilities of his splatter and dribble style.

The “Dribble Style”


“Number 1, 1949” by Jackson Pollock

A photo of either of these works does not convey the scope of them. When seen in person the sheer size of the pieces makes an impression on the viewer. When that experience is brought close by viewing in person, the energy of the painter makes an even stronger impact. The layers of the paint, and the interactions of the various colors used, all start to convince the viewer that there is little that is actually random about the works.

Creative Thinking in Abstract Painting

Because a piece of abstract art seems to start from a point disconnected for anything the viewer is immediately experiencing, there is a tendency in those who are unfamiliar with abstract art to view it as “too intellectual.” If we remember that the artist was thinking about something  during the process of creating the work, we may start to see that there is more going on in the piece.

“Untitled” by Diana Hobson

“Untitled” by Diana Hobson

Color choice and placement by an abstract artist is always intentional. If the viewer takes time to actually look at the piece and consider the interactions of colors and shape, there will be more to be found than the first glance revealed. Diana Hobson’s work invites repeated consideration. Many of her originals are available for viewing at her gallery in Venice Beach.


“Mural” by Jackson Pollock, 1943, at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Painting owned by the University of Iowa. Photo of the exhibit, by Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles times, March 7, 2014. Reproduced here under Fair Use for purposes of information.

“Number 1, 1949” by Jackson Pollock, 1949, located at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Reproduced here under Fair Use for purposes of information.

“Untitled” by Diana Hobson, copyright by Diana Hobson. Used by permission.


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