A group from my Edmonds class went together to the Picasso Exhibit that was recently at the Seattle Art Museum. Perhaps you also saw the show. During the discussion over lunch, they decided to each do a painting “inspired by Picasso.” They surprised me with these paintings at the start of the 2011 series at Edmonds. Think about doing this as a group project with your painting friends, or you can choose a “in the manner of” __________ (fill in a favorite, or a challenge) and decide what you will do.
Rae Kerr’s Blue Period Cats
Kristie Langlow, like a number of others, was offended by Picasso’s attitude toward women. She chose to do a collage, Women in Flight. The women, brown sticks, are getting out of there! This careful arrangement took a great deal of study. The Cubists would claim Kristie as one of their own.
Dorcus Harb also did a piece with a classic Cubist feel. And yet there is a hint of a self-portrait in her painting, shown here on the left.
Nancy Farrar-Coughlin did several. She said she was impressed how often Picasso returned to his own image in his work. The one to the right shows Nancy in profile with a strong simple handling of her medium. Below that is an odalisque style (photo inspiration included).
Besides studyinging watercolor, Lois Yoshida taches Sumi-e painting at her studio in Tacoma.
Lois chose to tackle the image of a bull, one of the most recurrent of the themes in Picasso’s work. Here is both the photo from which she was working and the image she created. Picasso would applaud the simplicity of the stroke that captures the power of the bull.
Sally Mitchell said that she resisted the assignment until a few days before the deadline. She decided to take a painting she had done of a friend playing the recorder in concert and spoof Picasso. Her classmates feel this image captures the energy, imagery, and playfulness that define Picasso.
Sometimes when you make yourself do an assignment, you can be surprised what happens when you are a little detached from the work.
On the other hand, Jennifer Star said that she liked the brief period in the 20’s when Picasso rebelled against his own Cubist work and started painting large statuesque figures. Here is Jennifer’s quote of a Picasso on the right.
This too is a valid way of studying and growing. If you have a book of John Singer Sargent’s watercolors, or a copy of an Edward Hopper painting, try starting with trying to reproduce it. You may find yourself getting inside the artist’s head — and truly learning from the master.
On the right is a fresh a la Picasso with big, simple blocky shapes.
I missed our planned gathering because of a gale that kept me from crossing to Orcas (and icy unplowed roads waiting if I did make it across the water). I was surpirsed and delighted with what they had done. It impressed me that even though there was much work they didn’t “like” they were inspired by his creativity and energy. (See the November, 2009’s posting, “Looking at Unfamiliar Art” for how to approach such a show.)
They didn’t let me off the hook. I was assigned to bring in an “inspired by Picasso” painting for February class. While I was driving home I thought, “I have to include them in some way!” I remembered a photo I had take of Lois, Mary, and Susan in a earlier class. It reminded me of one of my favorite Picasso’s, The Three Musicians in the Modern Museum of Art in NYC.
I found the photo and had a great time turning Lois, Mary and Susan into these three characters. The challenge was to decide which parts were quotes of the Picasso painting and which were my three friends. I could do it better if I took the time to do it again.
I have said that and people have reacted that I was belittling the work. Not really. As we work we make discoveries — oh! it would have worked better if I had left this shape light –for example. As we work we see new ways. They aren’t always better ways but in order to know we have to try them. This is definitely one of the inspirations of Picasso — to try it; then try it again. Better? Differently? How do we know if we don’t try?
I also was playing. It was fun.
I suggest you think about our Picasso experience and see how you can benefit from a simi;ar focus on an established artist. If you are looking for inspiration in the Seattle area, The Tacoma Art Museum is has an exhibit of Norman Rockwell! Or choose someone like Hopper or Sargent as I mentioned above. Mondrian? Vermeer?
And if you are in the Edmonds area, come and see the show this Edmonds class will have at the ArtWorks in Edmonds from March 19 – April 17, with a reception to meet the artists from 5:00 – 6:30 on Saturday March 19.We might even have some of our Picassos there!
© Caroline Buchanan, 2011