Splatter Painting Techniques

Splatter painting invokes an irreverent, wild style full of energy. Paint in this style, made famous by artist Jackson Pollock, by drizzling paint from a loaded brush onto a canvas on the ground or by flicking a brush or container of paint at a vertical canvas for more explosive splashes and splatters.

Vertical Splatter Technique

Before splatter painting -- especially on vertical surfaces -- move everything that's nearby far out of range of the paint. If you can't move some things, cover them completely with plastic tarps or cardboard, including the ground. The more wild and fast the arm motions as you paint, the farther the paint can travel.

Step 1 Setting Up Your Canvas

Set your canvas -- or item being used as a canvas -- up on an easel or propped on the seat of an old chair that you don't mind painting. If painting a nonflat item, set it inside a large box positioned sideways, or tape large sheets of cardboard up behind the item to protect other surfaces from paint splatter.

Step 2 Preparing Your Paints

Pour each paint you wish to use into its own disposable bowl atop a tarp or newspaper. Set an assortment of brushes nearby to create splatters of different sizes.

Step 3 Creating Art

Dip a brush into one of the colors of paint so the bristles are completely loaded with paint. Flick the arm holding the brush from side to side or diagonally to fling paint at the canvas. Keep adding paint, flicking from different directions to create many angled lines of splattered paint. Switch brush sizes to create larger and smaller splats of paint in any colors you like. Fling an entire shallow bowl of paint toward the canvas, holding onto the bowl, to create a large splat. Repeat with other colors for added effect, allowing each color to dry slightly first if creating large splats.

Horizontal Splatter Painting

Pollack created large works of art with the canvas positioned on the floor. Mimic his style by keeping bowls or buckets of paint nearby, along with brushes of assorted sizes.

  • Drizzle a loaded brush over specific areas of the canvas, or move your arm slightly while holding the brush at least 6 inches above the canvas to create lines that follow the motion of your arm.
  • Hold the brush over one area to create larger circles or pools of paint. The farther you hold the brush from the canvas and the more paint on the brush, the greater the splat effect.
  • Create oversized splats of paint by holding the bowl of paint several feet above the canvas and tipping to toward the canvas for a second or two.

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.