My oldest has been begging to study Pablo Picasso for two years now, and finally he has gotten his wish. “Cubism,” he answers for every question that is style related in art…even if it is wrong, and I know he was so ready to be right. Picasso though sold over a thousand paintings in over 90 years of life, and over the span of those thousands explored far more than cubism, and so will we.
Day One: The Blue Period
Sad has so many faces, and no one saw that quite like Picasso. Studying the blue period was a great way to introduce sadness in all its shades without putting the kids and their own expression in the spotlight! A great tool
The Warm Up: Feelings Charades
Sleepy, bored, lesser (inferior), stupidity, guilt, loneliness are all words our kids come to understand as simply “sad”. One at a time I left the room with one child and the feelings wheel, I assigned a degree of sadness and had them act out, without words the body language and facial expressions for their siblings. Everyone had to discuss the clues their bodies were giving, and offer out their best guess. The kids really, really enjoyed this.
The Study: Sadness & Picasso’s Early Work
And then back to the drawing board, we are here for art after all): (I had the kids doodle this in their Wreck-it Journals for Summer 2020.)
- At 19 he lost his friend Carlos
- He felt guilt, and became sensitive to the hurt in the world
- As a result, he explored loneliness, poverty, and despair
- So he painted with only green and blue.
The Project: A Blue Self
- On the back of the sheet of paper we will use for our paintings, I want the kids to write about a time that they were sad. What was the cause of their sadness, and how did they express that sadness?
- I reviewed briefly how to draw faces, something we had done when studying Frida two years ago!!
- Looking at the mirror I want them to draw themselves making the sad face appropriate for that story.
- Using Water Color they painted their expressions with only blue and green hues.
Day Two: The Rose and African/Iberian Period
The Warm Up: Feelings Charades
Draw something in 30 seconds….and go!
The Study: Joy and then Ancient Artifacts
With just a brief overview of finding love and finally introducing hues of pink into Picasso’s work, the kids were happy to find happiness for Picasso. And then we moved on to the inspiration Picasso found in an African Mask.
About two years ago the kids and I did a study on Africa . As a part of that study we had completed a mask worksheet (found here) that was perfect for the kids to practice before watching this Ted ed talk.
The Project: The Shapes of Our Faces
- Construction Paper
- Oil Pastels
- Fold the paper, and crease it at least five different directions.
- Trace the folds in marker
- Draw in your features, allowing the distorted angles of your lines to influence the shape of your face.
- Color it.
Day Three: Cubism At Last!
The Warm Up: Shaping it Up
I handed out colorful blocks of varying colors to the kids and let them manipulate the shapes to make different shapes. (For an extra challenge have them rearrange half of their image for new fresh perspective.)
The Study: Keeping the Abstract Simple
Last week we discussed how Mondrian broke down images to lines, and today we discussed how Picasso broke down images to shapes. He drew from a variety of perspectives, in the same work.
Most things I read about Picasso became so incredibly analytical, that I myself became lost and over complicated this lesson for the kids more than I should have. So my advice with Picasso is to keep it simple. This book does an excellent job of that:
The Project: Picasso Practice Fun
- Roll Your Own Picasso
- Multimedia Paper
- Washable Markers
- Inspired a bit by Expressive Monkey the kids started with a Roll Your Own Picasso Game Board. To spice things up I had the kids roll two faces, and two eyes.
- We then looked at the sections the two faces made and traced the outline of those in different colored washable markers
- The kids then draw a variety of patterns in each section with crayon, as well as coloring in their facial features.
- Finally we took a paintbrush and dipped it in water. Starting at the marker lined edges we brought the color in, creating our own watercolor effect that just bled and beautifully!
Day Four: Wrapping It Up
The Study: Picasso Talk
Today was just about looking back on what we learned. At the beginning of the week we started a K-W-L (know-want to know-learned) chart. Today we finished as the kids listed out all that they learned about Picasso. Were their questions and curiosities answers? What new questions have they come up with as they’ve gotten to know him as a person and an artist?
Then the kids were ecstatic to finally see an artist they studied at work in this video! After the video we enjoyed the book When Pigasso Met Mootisse to make for a smooth transition into next week’s great artist!
The Project: Picasso Compilation
I love any opportunity for the kids to work together utilizing their unique strengths.
- At one table my oldest sat with a pile of construction paper doodling face shapes and facial features as he wanted.
- My oldest daughter sat at the next space taking his drawings and filling them in with brilliant colors.
- At the end of the table was the youngest, cutting and gluing the face in place on the paper as a whole Picasso image.
May not have been the prettiest project in the end, but the kids sure did enjoy it!