Thursday, October 15, 2009

Study of Picasso

written by Michelle Smit for Duniway Elementary, Adapted with permission for use at George Kelly Elementary by Lynne Millar

Principle: Abstract, Asymmetry, & Cubism

Concept: To create an abstract portrait in black line on newspaper, then use chalk pastels to fill in Cubist shapes in and around the portrait.

Objective: To learn about the artist Pablo Picasso and his style of abstracting a face through asymmetry and Cubism.


*One folded full page of newspaper 13x20 (preferably the classified section in black and white. Keep folded so paint won’t soak through)

*one 8½ x11 white scratch piece of paper


*chalk pastels

*hairspray to set the chalk after they are done


Cover tables with old sheets or vinyl table cloths.

Set out pencils for students to write their names on their papers.

Place students drawings on table

Chalk pastels

Demonstration: Show students pictures of Picasso’s work (Power Point Slides). Talk about his portraits of people and how abstract (weird, twisted, crazy), asymmetrical (one eye high, one eye low, etc), and cubist (show the picture of the Three Musicians) they are. Tell students Picasso lived in Spain, he spoke Spanish and his first words were “piz, piz” – a shortening of the Spanish word for pencil. Picasso’s father was also an artist. When Picasso was 13, his father found him painting over one of his sketches and realized the young Picasso would be a better painter than himself. (See Wikipedia for detailed information on Picasso and his life, as well as the biography at the end of the lesson).

Talk about different ways to draw a nose. Use the chalkboard and go crazy! Draw a silly face with asymmetrical eyes an angular nose etc. Divide the face or hair into geometric odd shapes. Erase your drawings on the chalkboard after you have done a demonstration. We do not want the kids to copy Picasso or even to copy you, but to come up with their own drawing.

1. On a separate piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper, have students practice sketching their abstract face. If students are confused about drawing their own free form abstract face, they can create an abstract face by using simple overlapping shapes such as squares, triangles and circles.

Encourage students to draw their face large by using of the entire sheet of practice paper.

2. Have students paint the lines of their abstract portrait on the newsprint. Remind them to draw big and bold and asymmetrical, but DO NOT fill in the shapes with black, just draw black OUTLINES of the face and if they want they can draw the body too using charcoal. Talk about the quality of the black line: their lines will be more interesting if they vary their lines using thick and thin lines instead of all the same thickness. Use the long shape of the newspaper to create wonderful lines and shapes. Remind them they will get to fill them in with chalk pastels later.

3. Tell students they can pick three colors of pastels to use. Suggest at least one bright color if they chose neutrals. Show them how you use chalk pastels on their sides and rub, sometimes using your finger to smear colors. If they want to use more than three colors, have them share with their neighbor. Using different colors, have students fill in large areas (or shapes of color) throughout. See samples. It is okay to let the newsprint show through or even be pure newsprint in some areas, let them decide. There is no right or wrong way to do this…Have fun!

4. Have them title their art and write this on a label and stick it onto the back of their paper.

After Class: Set chalk pastels by spraying hairspray on the work. Allow to dry, then place in folders with an extra sheet of newsprint to protect it.

Vocabulary: Abstract – Creating art that is not a realistic image but an imaginative, creative, expressive way to show the essence of something. Kid’s words - weird, twisted, crazy, strange.

Asymmetry – Not symmetrical, not the same on each side. Kid’s words- lop-sided.

Cubism – A style of painting where you divide your portrait or object into geometric shapes.

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