Painting like Pollock: A father and son journey

Bill Kalina
York Dispatch

Brody Werner was bitten by the expressionist bug.

Brody learned about artist Jackson Pollock in second grade during art class at Leib Elementary School in Dover Township. Seeing some of Pollock’s popular abstract art gave him ideas.

Brody Werner, 8, of Dover Township, uses a straw to blow paint while working on an abstract painting at Freelance York in York Township Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock, who he learned of as a second-grader at Leib Elementary School, Brody was eager to attempt the artist's techniques. Brody's father, Dustin, built the canvas and arranged for the session with help from Parliament Arts and Resource York. Bill Kalina photo

“I asked my dad if we could try out this painting,” Brody, 8, explains. His dad, Dustin Werner, agreed to help but warned it would be a pretty long process to make it a reality.

Pollock’s style of “action” painting is marked by splashing and spattering paint on canvas and using various implements for application. It's not something most parents will allow a kid to do in their bedroom.

With the help of Parliament Arts, Resource York and YouTube videos, the Werners gathered artistic and technical advice. Dustin built a 4-foot-by-6-foot canvas. Convenience store chain Sheetz donated a huge stack of beverage cups to use as paint receptacles.

Dustin rented space at Freelance York in York Township and enclosed a workspace there by hanging old bedsheets that belonged to Brody and his siblings.

Brody, now a third grader, chose to apply paint with implements including a cooking baster, various brushes, paint-filled balloons and his bare hands.

Accompanied by a soundtrack from another of his artistic icons, Michael Jackson, Brody went to work Saturday.

Dustin Werner of Red Lion and his son Brody, 8, mix paint while Brody works on an abstract painting at Freelance York in York Township Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock, who he learned of as a second-grader at Leib Elementary School, Brody was eager to attempt the artist's "drip technique." Brody's father, Dustin, built the canvas and arranged for the session with help from Parliament Arts and Resource York. Bill Kalina photo

“Today is the culmination of a year of learning a whole bunch of new stuff,” Brody's father said.

Dustin Werner and his father, Dana Werner, watched and offered aid as Brody flung, splashed and spilled paint while creating the image. He slung a paint-covered rope and tossed a paint-soaked cloth at the canvas.

The “Paw Patrol” bedsheet, and Brody himself, collected a good bit of color too.

Brody Werner, 8, of Dover Township, reaches for the paint-splattered shoes he wore while creating an abstract painting at Freelance York in York Township Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Inspired by the works of Jackson Pollock, who he learned of as a second-grader at Leib Elementary School, Brody was eager to attempt the artist's "drip technique." Brody's father, Dustin, built the canvas and arranged for the session with help from Parliament Arts and Resource York. Bill Kalina photo

“Words cannot describe how awesome this is,” Brody said, eyeing another angle to fling paint.

After two hours of work, he declared the painting finished and signed his name to it. The painting is destined to hang at the Werner house.

“I think some of the most successful people were probably ‘out-of-the-box’ kids,” Dustin Werner said of the endeavor. “If he’s thinking outside the box, I’m going to try my hardest to be an outside-the-box parent.”