Octavia Horwitz is usually such a perfectionist that when she tries to paint, she sometimes throws away her work because she doesn’t think it’s good enough, her mother, Alex Horwtiz, said.
Saturday was different.
Octavia, 7, and 13 other elementary-school-age children learned at an art workshop in the East Hampton hamlet of Springs that one of the 20th century’s most revered artists, Jackson Pollock, created some of his best-known pieces by dripping paint off a stick, turkey baster or other object rather than meticulously drawing realistic figures.
“She’s more relaxed,” said Alex Horwitz, 42, of Manhattan, as she watched Octavia create an artwork using the drip-painting technique on a canvas outside the late Pollock’s home. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s literally thinking outside the lines, rather than being frustrated.”
Taking away the intimidation and discouragement of painting is a key reason for the workshop, said Joyce Raimondo, who has offered the sessions since 2001 at the nonprofit Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center.
“The drip painting technique is fun for all ages and doesn’t require any skill,” she said. “When they wind up painting they realize they have more to give through art than they can imagine. It’s really playing with paint. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.”
Drip-painting builds up children’s confidence, because, she said, “there’s no anxiety about the outcome.”
In an era in which schools heavily emphasize doing well on standardized tests, “this is a very freeing activity for children,” Raimondo said.
Saturday’s workshop, the last of a series of 15 sessions this year, was through Raimondo’s Imagine That! Art Education company. She coordinates similar workshops for school field trips and school visits as education coordinator of the Pollock-Krasner house.
Octavia said she enjoys drip-painting because she's able to mix colors together in the way she wants.
“Sometimes I make mistakes and I have to get a new paper, but this time I didn’t,” she said. "I liked splattering the paint and not worrying about being in the line."
Before the workshop, Raimondo took the kids and their parents into the studio and house where Pollock painted and lived with his wife and fellow abstract expressionist artist Lee Krasner from 1945 until his death in 1956.
Raimondo said that after Pollock was killed in a car crash, Krasner “painted out all of her emotions and all of her feelings.”
She encouraged the children and their parents to express themselves however they wanted — and to not worry about having the “right” interpretation of abstract art that they view.
“Modern art is really open,” she said. “It’s about you seeing it your own way.”
Olivia Fabé-Blados, 8, of Manhattan, created a riotously colored work as she dripped paint from the popsicle-type stick, moving her hand rapidly at times, more slowly at other times. "It’s more fun,” she said, than drawing people and objects realistically.
“It’s like a rainbow, but not in order,” she said of her creation. “I’m just scribbling all over the place.”