How to: Syringe Painting

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting with a syringe was a technique used frequently by Jackson Pollock and his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries. Artists have been using syringes to mix paint for decades, but the technique of actually painting with a syringe only emerged in the mid-1940s. The technique squeezes paint through the tip of the syringe, building up layers of thin strings of paint. Paintings made using this technique are three-dimensional. Large paintings should be done on artboard or wood instead of canvas to support the weight of the paint.

Push the plunger into the syringe. Insert the tip into a thick, pasty impasto-consistency paint. Pull the plunger back to fill the syringe with paint.

Fill syringes with any colours of paint you plan to use.

Carefully press the plunger down on one of the syringes, extruding paint over your canvas, wood or artboard.

Select another colour and apply paint in the same manner. Continue until the painting is complete. It is not necessary to allow the paint to dry between colours or layers.


Syringes can be discarded or can be cleaned and reused in the same way you would clean your paintbrushes.

Things You'll Need

  • Art syringes
  • Impasto acrylic or oil paints
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About the Author

Leah Newman has been a professional writer since 1999, writing about fine arts both in print and online. She specializes in how-to articles covering DIY projects. Newman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia and a Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature from Pennsylvania State University.