There were many varieties of abstract expressionism when the label was first applied to painters like Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Hans Hoffman, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, and so on. Mark Rothko’s work, for example, feels like a quiet, studied meditation on color.
But for me, the heart of abstract expressionism is the improvisational practice of responding to the marks on the canvas–letting your hands and eyes do the dance together–exploring and discovering–rather than painting an image already in your mind. Another term applied to this practice is action painting.
In any case, I’ve been focusing on this practice in my own studio lately. In today’s painting, I applied blocks of color directly from the tube–ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light, and magenta. Then I painted the background in platinum.
After that I took a brush, added some white, and began the “action painting” process–combining colors, letting the brush strokes show in the wet paint. Next I added some raw umber, Prussian blue, and alizarin crimson to the mix.
My last step was to draw accenting lines in Prussian blue.