So, What is Action Painting?
Action Painting (also known as Gestural Abstraction) is the energy charged practice of applying paint in a spontaneously manner rather than carefully with a brush. It's an exciting process, often with very exciting results!
The art movement is closely associated with Abstract Expressionism and was most prevalent in the 1940's to early 1960's. It celebrates the physical act and process of creating, more so than the final piece. You have probably heard of Jackson Pollock (aka Jack the Dripper) and his unique style of drip painting?
Action Painting will take you back to your childhood, when art was nothing but pure explorative fun. It is the perfect way to unleash creativity without the hindering pressure of perfection - so far I'm loving every second. Here's some of my early exploration on paper and a larger work in progress! I'm using a mixture of M.Graham Watercolor Paints, M.Graham Gouache Paints, Indian Ink and homemade gesso
5 Action Painting Techniques to Try
1. Dripping and Flicking
Try Dripping and flicking paint using all sorts of tools. See what different marks and patterns you can achieve using items laying around in the kitchen or even found in nature. Why fork out for a fancy paint brush when there's a perfectly good stick laying over there.
Try standing over your face-up canvas and pouring your paint from different heights. The level work surface will allow it to puddle, swirl and mingle together. Or keep your canvas upright and allow gravity to work it's magic.
Get your hands dirty and smear that paint across your surface. This is wonderful hands on technique that will allow you to really connect with your chosen media.
Use a spatula, palette knife or even a bit of cardboard as a scraper. Move or remove paint from your surface and reveal the mysterious layers beneath.
Grab a clean spray bottle and fill it with water. Try pre-spraying your surface so you are working wet on wet. Spray the paint with more water to allow it to really flow and travel across the surface. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the more diluted your colours will become.
A Couple of Hints
1. Be Prepared
Protect your floors with a drop sheet, an old bed sheet or newspaper. Don't be surprised if even your walls and ceilings aren't as safe as you initially thought. Choose your location very carefully!
2. Consider Compatibility
If you're working on a keeper, ensure you are using a surface that's suitable for your chosen media. You'll see early on in my experimentation I was just using paper. The large amounts of water cause some serious (but very much expected) warping. After some initial playtime, I switched to primed MDF and canvas. Both of these held up much better.