Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “puzzled’. It took me the entire week to find time to sit down with my art journal as all my free art time has been spent on Inktober and my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project (which you can see on my other blog). By that time, however, my creative cogs had been turning for long enough for me to have arrived at an idea. I decided that I would create a self-portrait because sometimes I am a puzzle to myself and, like a jigsaw puzzle, I am made up of many different pieces. Taking that idea further, I decided that my substrate should be a collaged layer of pieces of paper. And taking that idea further still, I thought it might be fun to break my face down into elements of shapes and forms rather like a Picasso portrait. I remember as a child that the thing I found most engaging about Picasso’s art was the way that my eye could take in all of the information and my brain would then reconfigure everything so that I could understand what I was seeing, what was being portrayed. It was like resolving a visual puzzle.
I am back from vacation (more of which soon!) and am trying to catch up on some of the art lessons and art time I missed out on while travelling. It is impossible for me to catch up entirely so I have determined I will do 50% of the missed lessons and journal prompts. That way it forces me to eke out some art time during this busy summer while not putting me under pressure.
I chose this Life Book lesson because it looked like I could easily fit it into a small chunk of time. I did it in three stages – gesso, drawing, painting – but in total it probably took me about half an hour. In the lesson, Misty Mawn used Picasso’s line drawing of a female head, part of his War and Peace series. Normally I would do my own thing but a) I have always loved this Picasso drawing and b) I needed to just crack on with the art so this time I decided to use the same drawing as my starting point. The drawing – done with Neocolor II crayons – was quick to do. The final stage was also quick and easy as I simply filled in the shapes with white paint, blending the crayon. I usually use Neocolor as a layering element in mixed media pieces or as a sort of watercolour so it was new to me to use them to tint white paint. I think I will use that technique again.
The boys loved our Picasso studies last Summer so were very happy when they pulled a slip of paper from the pot luck box inviting them to draw a favourite book, film, or television character in a wonky Picasso style. There is definitely something very liberating about not having to worry about accuracy of shapes and proportions when constructing a character. The key to this activity was, therefore, keeping enough of the character that would enable them to be recognisable while simultaneously having fun with the composition and shapes.
My 10 year old comic book nerd chose to draw Wolverine before and after being Picassoed. My 9 year old chose to draw Predator because he knows that Predator is one of his Dad’s favourite characters from the movies and graphic novels. My 13 year old and I both drew Harry Potter and it was fun to compare our different versions of the same character. My 7 year old chose not to draw a fictional character and instead drew a Picasso portrait of our tripod cat, Satchi.
It was a lot of fun to teach the boys about Picasso as part of our History of Art project. It is possible to be really playful with Picasso plus not having any worries about even attempting verisimilitude meant the kids were much less inhibited. Guernica is my favourite Picasso painting so we spent some time looking at the details of that painting, the impact of the tangle of figures and the way they conveyed messages about the chaos of conflict, the emotions of anguish and suffering. We then looked at some portraits and the composition of the features so that they appear familiar and yet awry simultaneously. That then became the inspiration for our creative responses to the lesson.
I demonstrated with some quick sketches. I asked the kids to suggest some animals and then I produced rapid drawings with wonky features.
My 9 year old produced a drawing of a man. The eyeball in the middle of the bearded chin is effectively disconcerting.
My 8 year old drew Robin. I think it’s brilliant.
My 12 year old predictably opted to draw a penguin and his penguin is flanked by a peculiar looking seal and a narwhal.
My 6 year old took a completely different approach and drew a diagram of choosing the different components to make up a human figure. I love his imagination.
I painted a self-portrait as my response to the Picasso lesson and had a lot of fun doing so. It is definitely quite freeing to not be concerned about the accuracy of proportions and shapes.
You can see my Picasso Bunny by hopping over to my art blog.