Project 1 – Exercise 2: Dripping, dribbling and spattering

Another exercise I couldn’t image how to embed this into my personal project. Thus another fresh run with fun and experiments with different media. I was hopeful that I will be able to build some ideas for my project while experimenting ‘the deterioration of a residence building – an uncanny experience’

Contextual research:

Looking up some information about Pollock’s painting approach, the paint to use, what is all about enamel paint and how to paint in the floor (Khan Academy, MoMa).

Main take aways for me (KhanAcademy, a):

  • using sticks or dried paint brushes
  • fluid low viscous alkyd enamel paints
  • painted on the floor
  • essentially drawing in space
  • a rhythm of poured paint
  • a performance of making the painting, the action of the artist almost like a dancer
  • a sense of being in the painting
  • a sense of all-overness: composing one line in juxtaposition with another one
  • Line becomes autonomous, liberated from its historical role in painting of describing other shapes.

Paint specifications (MoMa): 

Alkyd enamel paint: Common household commercial paints that use a chemically modified version of linseed oil that dries quickly to a hard, often glossy finish.

Enamel paint: A commercial paint used for household or industrial applications. Enamels only suggest certain working qualities including a low viscosity and high covering power; enamel paints can be made from Alkyd resins, acryclic resins or emulsions, polyurethane resins, and others.

I found the information interesting that the obvious drippings on very large murals were not done on the floor but on the mural itself (vertically). A regular oil paint was used, thinned with turpentine and mixed with boiled oil (obtain a higher viscosity). The results achieved are intricate shapes often in figures or eight and curves. The mix develops very fine beads and streams of paint dripping down from the vertical surface. (KhanAcademy, b)

Examples of Pollock’s dripping paintings:

The painting approach by Pollock went even into art therapy (Laengle, 2010) as an approach for patients to reflect on perceptions and emotional responses. It is said that Pollock himself was inspired to use his dripping approach by his earlier consultations of a C.G.Jung psychiatrist.

 Work in progress:

Experimenting with household alkyd enamel paint and brushes and sticks, free slowly around my paper on the floor. I protected the surrounding space well as my drip and splash marks didn’t land all on the paper.

1) Enamel on unprimed cartridge paper (70 x 100 cm)


Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #1

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #1

=>  Now I understood how one can draw in space. The unique physicality of the paint allowed me to dance with my arms in the space above the paper and the paint dropped down in thin threads.

=> The paint merges over time together, As I used all three primary colors I was quite disappointed to see the result day after: a dark muddy something (see image #4 in below progress series). Therefore I decided to add another layer with ‘dancing’ thin thread of yellow paint – to bring back some ‘life’ and good spirit.

=> I was impressed how the paint moves through the unprimed paper. I  took a picture of the backside (see above).

Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #1 - progress

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #1 – progress

=> The overall impression for me – not intended at the beginning – is that the previous blended paint acts as a background where the last yellow lines are dominantly popping forward. Reminds me of a fisher net.

2) Enamel on primed cartridge paper (70 x 100 cm) 

Based on my learnings above I prepared the paper with a thin gesso ground mixed with a middle grey acrylic paint. Embracing already the next project 2 ‘textured grounds’  I played with some markings in the applied ground, working with palette knives and envision my subject of the deteriorating residence building (see steps #1-#3 in work in progress below).

I decided to go for monochrome (black and white enamel) to focus more on the my mark making and ‘dancing’ paint threads.

I was more careful this time not to put too much paint considering the ‘moving  -merging’ physicality of the paint.

Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #2

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #2

=> Overall I can see a certain visual depth and space exploration. There is a dialogue between the white and the black in front of the grey background.

Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #2 - progress

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #2 – progress

=> Certain shapes may trigger some connotations with forms or figures e.g. the middle foreground back blots that one could imagine as a human figure. This would give already a scale to the complete picture and the net of black and white looks rather terrifying. A sublime topic. But it resides within the associations of ambiguous shapes and forms by the observer. Without an association there is only an abstract painting.

3) Glue paint on unprimed cartridge paper (70 x 100 cm) 

For this experiment I wanted to work with other paints that may have similar characteristics as enamel paint. I found earlier on that glue or distemper size paint (German: ‘Leimfarben’) do have a unique flow characteristic. Therefore I made some paints with. I didn’t follow the thorough process in making it (see webpage of EarthPigments). Made it rather quick and dirty with glue solution, prewetted pigment and shaking all together in a paint bottle. Worked pretty well, though some smaller pigment lumps were still visible. It didn’t bother me and I went along in a similar paint application process as above with enamel paint.


Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #3

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #3


=> In between I scraped some additional markings with a knife and blending partly the black and white threads. After drying the white disappeared nearly and the light grey turned into a middle-dark grey. As last step I added a layer with yellow pigment.  I felt – contrasting to painting 2) – that a color should be added to the image, making it more solid and giving more visual depth.


Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #3 - progress

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #3 – progress


4) Enamel on primed textured wallpaper (70 x 100 cm) 

Alongside my initial idea of the deteriorating residential building I decided to work on material close to that: I purchased roll of textured wall paper, primed it with a black acrylic paint (to seal the surface). I took the opportunity of the paper texture to scrap the acrylic paint rather over the surface, leaving some white marks. After drying I added layers of enamel paint above.

Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #4

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #4

=> Another ‘dance of paint’ and interrogation of the flat surface with abstract patterns. While making it I thought about my ideas, but most of the time I played joyfully with the paint and the variety of dripping threads and left markings. At the end I decided to complete the image with another layer of black enamel paint – it resonated better for me, the image feels more complete and ‘protected’.

Stefan513593 - Project 1 - Exercise 2 - #4 - progress

Stefan513593 – Project 1 – Exercise 2 – #4 – progress


  • When is the painting finished? In all four paintings I decided by my emotional response and – I assume – a certain aesthetic appreciation. Other artist would possibly decide differently. Visual impact, balance and space perception were for me key criteria. Mostly the previous step decided on my next step in the painting process. At the end some conscious decisions were required to stop.
  • I felt there is a combination or pure chance and conscious application of paint required. The first steps are rather based on chance and entropy , towards the end other criteria played a role as well.
  • Abstract paintings can develop eventually shapes that trigger associations of forms in the observers mind. That experience would change the way of looking at the image and the emotional response to it as in examples b)
  • I can envision this technique – like the already several tested approach of decalcomania – as a way to start a painting, to cover the surface, to trigger visual ideas. The process driven painting approach – resonating well for me – can be used to create direct emotional responses and to visualise for example music.
  • What I like the very glossy and smooth surface of enamel paints and the ability to paint resp. draw in thin continuous strings. Experiments with acrylic paint in my sketchbook did show a disruption of the paint string with acrylic paint.
  • Making the different paintings in this exercise I became aware of how – unconsciously or consciously – I covered the support with paint in a rather landscape manner (foreground, middle-ground, background), especially painting #2 and #4. Not sure why, especially as I worked on the floor, but at times also sitting in front of the support. Although I thought that – like Pollock- the paintings would be completely abstract, it seems that I tend to be influenced with some preconceived ideas of landscapes (coming from ideas from my personal project?). I need to look out for this representational aspect of myself while moving ahead with my personal  project.

Next time:

  • Most of the marks in my paintings are lines, threads. Only occasionally I worked that much with single blots. Something to explore more.
  • I didn’t have time to explore the wall painting approach with thickened oil paint as mentioned by the research (KhanAcademy, b). In the context of my previous paintings in ink and at the wall something more to explore. Considering that an external force, gravity, is impacting the result in timely manner. At smaller scale and perhaps in only part of a painting, it would be an option to create appealing textures. For that to use either masks or to overpaint.


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