8 Lesssons Jackson Pollock Can Teach You About Art, Painting, and Photography

Jackson Pollock has taught me: art is a form of self discovery, a way of self expression, and the more we create with our own inner energy and force, the better!

Paint or make artwork for self discovery and self expression

Summertime: Number 9A 1948

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock


As a photographer, also make photos to discover who you are.

Ask yourself,

Do I see myself in my own photos or artwork?

Don’t allow your artwork to have a beginning or end


“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.” – Jackson Pollock

Art shouldn’t be super clear or easily understandable by others. Realize that you as a photographer and artist, you will always also be in a state of flux and evolution.

Don’t be afraid of changing your artwork

“I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.” – Jackson Pollock

Change is good. Allow yourself and your artwork to change! Destroy it, bend it, burn it, change it. Treat your artwork as having its life of its own; it’s always changing and evolving.

What statement are you trying to say through your art?

Birth c.1941 Jackson Pollock 1912-1956
Birth c.1941 Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

“It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement. ”- Jackson Pollock

How you make art doesn’t matter. What matters more: what are you trying to say through your artwork?

Express with your feelings

Pollock pose

“The modern artist is working with space and time, and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating.” – Jackson Pollock

Don’t worry about how your photos or art looks; worry how it feels!

Show energy, motion, and your inner forces through your artwork

Group pollock

“The modern artist… is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces.” – Jackson Pollock

Get lost in the creative zone when you’re creating!

Perspective high pollock

“When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing.” – Jackson Pollock

The artist is a builder!

Pollock at work

“When I say artist I mean the man who is building things – creating molding the earth – whether it be the plains of the west – or the iron ore of Penn. It’s all a big game of construction – some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.” – Jackson Pollock

As an artist, you’re a creator and builder! Make stuff you wish to see in the real world!


Yes if you’re curious, Pollock did know how to “really” paint, but he chose his “dripping” technique as a form of self expression.

If you see more of his work at MOMA, his compositions are on point. Balanced, dynamic, and full of life and energy.

As photographers, we can learn from his compositions. Also, we can remind ourselves to keep putting more energy, vivacity, and life into our works!

More of my favorite works by Pollock:

Image property of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Learn more about Pollock >

Masters of Art


For inspiration, learn from these contemporary titans: