How to Paint Like Frank Bowling | Tate

How to Paint Like Frank Bowling | Tate

My name is Frank Bowling and I’m a painter Today, my friend, Spencer Richard, and my grandson, Frederick Bowling will show you some of my procedures Today we are demonstrating some of Frank’s techniques from the artworks in the Tate collection Spread Out Ron Kitaj and Sacha Jason Guyana Dreams We both assist Frank with his paintings and over the years we’ve seen him experiment in many, many different ways. Here are some of the materials that he uses in his paintings Canvas Acrylic paint in bright shades Ammonia Found objects Acrylic gel Water and spray Spatula, palette knives and brushes String Chalk and a file to grate it Glitter in a salt shaker Lots of jars, buckets, containers Ammonia is corrosive and should not be inhaled, touched or swallowed When following these steps at home, please wear suitable protection such as masks and gloves We are starting off by completely saturating the canvas It breaks the surface of the canvas Sometimes it’s treated a little bit We put an extra piece of canvas on the floor to absorb the overflow of at this stage water but eventually paint Squeeze some paint directly from the tube onto the canvas Spread the paint evenly across the canvas Once the canvas has stained, we begin to add multiple colors, paint, gel and ammonia With the ammonia, that breaks down the paint and also the gel so it can flow into each other more so it’s a push and pull The gel is to thicken up the paint to increase and facilitate the viscosity As I pour it onto the canvas, it will bleed into the other colour that’s already there or you could establish your own patterns of what you want to see Geometry is an important feature of Frank’s work because of this, circles and rectangles often appear What I’m about to do is put this gel bucket under the canvas and then trace some shape on the surface of the canvas so we have additional elements for improvisation as the canvas develops In Spread Out Ron Kitaj and Sacha Jason Guyana Dreams you can see that he uses semi-circles This can be achieved by tying a piece of chalk to a piece of string and securing it in the center of your hand or if you can’t reach a pin, or even better a friend who can help you As you move the chalk, the string will make sure it’s always the same distance from the center creating an arc or circle Frank’s paintings develop over many months with many layers of paint and materials being applied to the surface Each application of paint is a new chance to explore Try different colours and concentrations Apply the paint in different ways, such as pouring, using the pallet knife or spraying water so that it runs down the canvas in droplets What we’re doing at this stage is just picking the canvas up and folding it to allow the paint to spread across the surface and then we see where we go from there Frank’s painting work is a sort of diary in his life They often include embedded objects which help tell the story of the time that actually the painting was made We’ve collected a few items from around the studio You can embed these using acrylic gel which creates a thick transparent layer on top of the painting Dollop the gel onto the canvas using a spatula and then place the objects in it We’ve placed these shells in the gel randomly and then the next stage is we smash them up Anything that looks interesting or attractive or colourful, just go and put it in your painting We enforce the composition with some strong mark-making Frank does this in a number of ways In this work, we have sprinkled gold dust on the shattered shells and then we will pour ammonia on it to turn the gold into blue and create another shimmer aspect to the surface In the final stages Frank is still concerned with the element of continuance in spontaneity and as such, any brush that is filled with paint will be flicked onto the surface of the canvas to create punctuation in the conversation that has already been established I guess the key element of all of this is to just go for it

Dereck Turner

49 thoughts on “How to Paint Like Frank Bowling | Tate

  1. deelot1 says:

    Wow that is generous to say the least to share these trade secrets lol. I’m interested to see this but at the same time wish I didn’t see it so I could regard the process as a remaining mystery. I know you can’t please everyone lol

  2. squarz says:

    This was already old in the 60s

  3. Cliff DaRiff says:

    Guys you never showed us a difficult part, and that would be stretching the finished canvas on to a stretcher frame?

  4. Dries Ketels says:

    Sometimes I believe nothing is more abstract then reality itself… other times I look at abstract art of Frank Bowling and think of the words of Mondriaan "abstract art is not the creation of another reality, but the true version of reality."

    I guess I'm pretty consistent in my thinking after all…

  5. Óscar Jökull says:

    Stop making stupid non artist people famous. #hampart #hamparte

  6. purewonka says:

    Kind of like Helen Frankenthaler but without the subtle lyricism and restraint. These paintings mostly look like overworked and muddy messes. Not for me.

  7. Mokosh says:

    usually kids in nursery age are more talented and creative – another example that Art studies are a waste of money

  8. Molly Burkhart says:


  9. Richard Weaver says:

    Could the Tate do some videos on the processes of earlier artists such as Leighton, Reynolds and Pre-rapaelites too? The emphasis these days is too much on contemporary practices rather than the entire breadth of art history.

  10. Eduardo Moreira says:

    Fantastic, thank you for sharing such valuable information. to me Frank Bowling is one of the great artist of his generation! love his work !

  11. missing Link says:

    go for it….i like that

  12. Phoebe says:

    I really enjoyed this. =)

  13. Neil Aspinall says:

    I know that the young guy is an artist by his pointy moustache!

  14. Daniel Levy says:

    Is no one going to mention the moustache?

  15. Paul Lewey says:

    A beautiful film thank you very much, what a great artist and so playful with his paintings! I like how his friend Spencer A Richards and his Grandson Frederik Bowling create a painting in the approach of Frank Bowling, I have to say they created a great painting themselves! Again thank you for this film.

  16. Lizzie Lay says:

    Such a soothing video

  17. Patti Turville says:

    I don't know very many artists who work with a loose, unframed piece of canvas. This certainly adds to the freedom of applying the colors and/or objects. I'm usually not a fan of anything created by using pouring techniques, but the way he does it is, it somehow works out nicely. I watch too many artist who use and apply colors directly out of the container – and the results are often what I call – lazy + ugly painting. But Frank clearly gives a lot of thought to the mixing and finding the colors that he wants. A good example of how art for many of us is about the journey and not so much about the destination. Thanks for this video – I hadn't heard of Frank Bowling before.

  18. Anuradha Bhalla says:

    Lovely. Loved your style of art 💕

  19. vicente Benedito says:

    It's a very ridiculous video ' where's the value of art in here???

  20. Mike Bleu says:

    wonderful!!! Thanks a million!

  21. TRANZCO says:

    I don't have a studio, or a grandson, so I did this in my living room, my dog is covered in paint, the carpet is ruined, and my wife is about to get home. Is there a second video on how to clean this up?

  22. ramelep says:


  23. Hudjimin says:

    The cultural elite: stop making stupid people famous!
    Also the cultural elite:

  24. leela stoma says:

    What a hot mess . People will buy anything . There is a rat somewhere looking for his tail . Dear rat , A dude has it on his lip. 😜😜😜😜😜😜😜😜

  25. Cristian Dachelet says:

    Que desperdicio de material una mierda cero talento y aporte

  26. Yseson _ says:

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing

  27. antonis kyriakou says:


  28. ohmercy says:


  29. ohmercy says:

    Thank you so much. Your works are gorgeous and the fact you are sharing your techniques is such an act of generosity.

  30. Patricia Villegas says:

    Interesting. Thank you for sharing 🤗

  31. 3 3 says:

    A true artist shares secrets. Sure they are unable to be replicated.

  32. ChickenxBoneless says:

    This guy gets it.

  33. BOSS MAN says:

    This is bullshit.

  34. Bernardo Acuña says:


  35. maria s says:

    Thanks for this video!

  36. Great Quotes Daily says:

    Thank you 25,928 times. (That's how many views when I came along)

  37. John Castle says:

    basically their saying anybody can do this .

  38. stian w says:

    I can't wait to come home and splash paint around and talk deep and emotional about it and sell it for 1000s

  39. Tsetsi says:

    How does a Jamaican guy get to have a salvodor-dali white grandson?

  40. Muse suddenly comes. Arts says:

    That's a great looking videos!

  41. rocha333 says:


  42. Ayyo Tube says:

    I migt not create any meaningful things but I am glad I starred painting…so fun

  43. Jahha H says:


  44. Jennifer 2726 says:

    What he did was like mixed media art. Only done on a giant canvas!! Wow!!

  45. Lorne Malvo says:

    I like abstract art, but this is just stupid..

  46. Lunes de comida says:

    The key is layers

  47. Gina Friend says:

    Fun experimentation. I like!!

  48. thetalkingfly says:

    Art that looks amazingly fun to make and fun to look at! Cheers, Steve aka The Talking Fly

  49. vicente Benedito says:

    Art don't need explanation

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