I am not AT ALL a nail art person. Even Marie’s easiest tutorials make me grumpy about my lack of patience and skills—I always end up messing up a nail (or seven). Recently, when a perfectly nice blue polish looked a bit meh on my nails, I decided to get creative in my own haphazard way.

I was inspired by the artwork of Jackson Pollock, whose paintings are wild riots of dripping, streaky color—for example, here’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30):

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Jackson Pollock, 1950 via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Jackson Pollock, 1950 via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In Pollock’s paintings, messiness is ENCOURAGED, so you really can’t screw up nail art that pays homage to his work. This manicure is totally fun to do, and the gorgeous end result is disproportionate to the effort you’ll put into it. OK, let’s go wild!

What you’ll need:


  • A nail polish (or, optionally, two) for your base coat. For my left hand, I chose a cornflower blue, Julep Nail Color in Monaco. For my right hand, I used a hot pink, OPI Nail Lacquer in Kiss Me I’m Brazilian.
  • A nail polish (or two) for the middle layer of color. I used silver (3 Concept Eyes Nail Lacquer in MT01) on my left hand and my cornflower blue on my right.
  • A nail polish for the top layer of color. I used navy (NARS Nail Polish in Dark Room) on my left hand and white (OPI Matte Nail Polish in Alpine Snow) on my right.

But really, your three layers of polish can be whatever colors you like! I recommend choosing at least one metallic and a white or black polish for contrast, but it’s totally up to you!

How to do it:

Step One:

step one

Paint your nails with your base color and let it dry.

Step Two: Open your second color and dab off any excess polish on the top of the bottle. This will make the textures of your next layer a little more interesting. It will prevent you from running into any trouble painting over too-thick, wet drips later on, too.

Step Three:


Paint slashes, streaks, and drips over the base coat with your second color. Mix up the size, direction, and shape of the streaks you make! It’s SUPPOSED to look like total chaos. When you’re done, let this layer dry completely.

Step Four:


Take the third color and paint MORE slashes and streaks over what you’ve already done. Again, mix up what these streaks look like for maximum fun and Pollock-ness!

Step Five (optional):


Use different color combinations on your left and right hands, if you like, or just go with the same colors for both! I used my blue for different layers on both hands, to tie them together visually.


Ta-da! That’s some nail ART! Feel as smug as you like—while also privately knowing that all you did was make a mixed-up mess to accomplish this beautiful final product. ♦

(Thank you, Lena, for taking photos!)