If you’re not familiar with Jackson Pollock’s work you can be forgiven for thinking this is a mindless mess of paint. Pollock became influenced by Picasso, Miro and the surrealists but soon developed his own unique style which he would later become famous for. Pollock’s notorious brush drip technique is achieved by the tacking of the large canvas onto the floor while using the medium of alkyd enamels which are a synthetic type of paint. He would then proceed by even mixing common materials such as sand and glass among the paint in a devastating fashion, flinging it recklessly onto the canvas. His implements would range from brushes to sticks and even basting syringes to apply the thick stream of paint. This technique allowed Pollock to apply paint from all angles and sides of the canvas and because of this he was able to explore revolutionary dimensions of painting; he would later become infamous for this style. In No. 1 (Lavender Mist) he manages to forge a landscape which is truly for the senses which delivers contrasting shades as well as differentiating colours which will in turn take your eyes across the whole painting.
Pollock uses mainly green, white, black and in some cases brown to give the painting an earthy appearance, further demonstrating on the idea of textual layers which are clearly presented to the viewer. The elements and principles Pollock uses here are colour, contrast, texture, emphasis and variety. The use of colour contributes to the overall effect of the painting which appears to be very earthy, atmospheric and relatively calm from the light of the whites to the intense streaks of striking black. Contrast is used here to balance the whole picture resulting in a flowing formation which Pollock was most prized and famed for. Texture in this piece is an important factor as well as in the majority of Pollock’s oeuvre. His use of texture here allows the painting to have multiple layers and of a 3D like appearance thus creating a shimmery texture. Pollock achieves this through the use of impasto with thick layers of paint from green to black to white and brown. Emphasis is rarely seen in Pollock’s work however the focal point of the painting is the thick and long streaks of black. These black streaks border the entire painting which in turn allows the viewer to be directed around the painting to the four corners of the canvas. No. 1 (Lavender Mist) contains a lot of variety making the picture not boring or for a better word monotonous. Pollock’s work and technique have seen him branded as “childish” or that his work is not “art.” However Pollock still remains one of the leading figures in Abstract Expressionism. His drip paint technique was revolutionary and the psyche he was able to get into when he applied paint to canvas. Jackson Pollock’s Avant-garde style saw many more masterpieces produced and No. 1 (Lavender Mist) rightly belongs on the term ‘masterpiece.’
- Matthew Roche 2009