Guardians of Your Secret

Inspired by Jackson Pollock’s Guardians of the Secret, 1943

Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret, 1943; collection SFMOMA, Albert M. Bender Collection, Albert M. Bender Bequest Fund purchase; © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Key Concepts

  • Shape, color, and line
  • Planned vs. Chance
  • Symbolism

Materials

  • Sheet of light blue construction paper, 9” x 12”
  • White construction paper, 6” x 6”, folded in half
  • Dark blue or dark gray construction paper, 8” x 2 1⁄2”
  • Images of a dog, wolf, alligator, shark, etc. (find some in a magazine, or draw your own!)
  • Glue
  • Colored markers, pencils, or crayons
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Introduction

  • What is the first thing you notice about this painting?
  • Describe the colors you see in this work. What color do you see most? What color do you see least?
  • Describe the lines you see in this work. Imagine you are painting one of the lines. How would you move your hand and arm?
  • What shapes do you see in this work? Do the shapes remind you of anything?
  • Do you think the artist carefully arranged his lines, shapes and objects, or did he randomly paint things on the canvas? What do you see that makes you say that?
  • The artist titled this painting Guardians of the Secret. What elements might represent guardians? What do you see that makes you say that?
    • Where or what do you think the secret is? What do you see that makes you say that?

Instructions

  1. Take a piece of light blue paper, the folded piece of white paper, and a pencil. Write your secret inside the folded piece of white paper, and attach it to the light blue background. If you want, you can seal the secret so nobody can see it.
  2. Select a photo of a dog, wolf, shark, etc. for the “guardian” that you’ll attach to the blue paper underneath your secret. You can also draw your own guardian.
  3. Now take 2 pieces of dark blue or dark gray paper and tear each piece to create more guardians. You can also cut the paper to make your guardians or draw guardians on either side of your secret.
  4. Now use colored markers, pencils or crayons to add marks, secret writing, and other shapes to your artwork.

Relevant Information

In this work, Pollock combines symbols and images that seem to resemble the shapes of ancient hieroglyphics, African masks, mysterious (totemic) figures, and a wolf or a dog, with layered lines of paint and brushstrokes. The work conveys a feeling or a kind of energy, more than anything concrete. The secret meanings that might be here are still a secret!

Discussion

  • Do you want to share your secret? Was your secret real or pretend? Funny or serious?
  • Why did you choose the guardian/s you did?
  • Did you leave anything to chance? What part/s did you plan?

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