Throughout her painting practice, Krasner welcomed change with gusto. In the early 1940s, just after studying with Hofmann, her canvases swayed with geometric forms that “gave
a rhythmic swing,” as writer Claudia Roth Pierpont has pointed out
. In 1940, during a walkthrough of the fifth annual American Abstract Artists exhibition, master abstractionist
also commended the “very strong inner rhythm” of these works. Despite positive feedback, Krasner hungrily explored other styles, searching for an aesthetic that more powerfully harnessed her emotions.
Krasner had her first significant “break”—her word for the stylistic shifts in her practice—after meeting Jackson Pollock in 1942. The two artists fed off each other, and by 1946, Krasner began her “Little Image” series. The small compositions are packed tightly with bursts of symbols and repetitive strokes; she long touted them as her best work.
Krasner embraced—even celebrated—these periodic reinventions. She believed they set her apart from her contemporaries, many of whom stuck doggedly to a single style. “I find myself working for a stretch of time somewhere between four and five years on something and a break will occur [in the] imagery and I have to go with it,” she explained in the 1964 interview, “so in that sense I find it a little off-beat compared to a great many of my contemporaries.” Over time, her canvases expanded, and the forms that filled them fluctuated from sharp and splintering (as in Burning Candles, 1955) to undulating, pneumatic, and decidedly feminine (as in The Seasons, 1957, and Gaea, 1966). “There’s been many other transitions in my work, and I expect that as long as I continue painting,” she continued. “By now I accept that this is the way it moves for me.”
Likewise, Krasner delighted in unexpected changes that occurred during the process of painting itself. “I’m not interested in a prior theory when I paint my picture, because I think you get an awful lot of dead painting, not interesting, dead, sterile,” she told Seckler. “Well, that’s not very exciting, for heaven’s sakes. One wants to discover.” She allowed the action and rhythm of painting to take over, responding instinctively to unanticipated gestures or forms. “The minute you begin to say it can’t do this and it’s got to do that and it can’t do the other, well, it’s pretty boring stuff,” Krasner continued. “And you’re certainly not allowing for discovery of any kind. You’re cutting that source quickly.”
This often manifested in decisions related to her palette. “Color for me is a very mysterious thing. I might say I haven’t done anything in blue, I’m gonna use blue, but then it’s like it comes out green or Alizarin crimson or something,” she explained in a video interview
. “I’m aware of that, I’m conscious of that kind of thing, but I don’t try to change it. I don’t say it’s got to be blue. And I insist on letting it go the way it’s going to go rather than forcing it.” In Krasner’s views, these moments of “letting go” powered her best paintings, not to mention her own happiness. Miraculous things happened, she liked to say, when “you aren’t rigid with some fixed idea before you go into your studio of what a painting should be…because it seems to take all the joy out of living.”