If you happened to see on Instagram, I visited a Picasso exhibit last week that focused on his landscape paintings. I was surprised how much I learned about my own work by getting up close and looking at his! So, today, I want to bring you along and share more in-depth my own reflections after my afternoon at the art museum. Let’s go!
I honestly hadn’t been to the Cincinnati Art Museum in years, but I’ve always loved Picasso’s work (last time I saw an exhibit of his was when my mom took me to it at the Philadelphia Art Museum in the 1980’s). So, it was about time to venture out for this very special field trip.
1. COLOR IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA.
It’s no secret I love color! But if I’m honest, I sometimes wonder is it too much for people? Seeing the vibrant colors of Picasso’s oil paints encourages me to stick with a palette that makes me (and I know others) happy.
2. AND SO ARE SHAPES AND PATTERNS
Shapes, lines, and patterns are super fun for me to explore in my paintings. This piece by Picasso taught me to keep being playful and paint what I see or feel.
3. EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT MATERIALS
This is a close-up of a much larger painting that I took from an angle so to see the ridges. Can you tell what material Picasso used for this masterpiece? From afar, I was admiring this painting and as I started to walk past, my eye caught those ridges which I thought looked like cardboard. I stopped to inspect closer and read the material list which read, “oil on cardboard.” It is cardboard! This was so good for me to see for while I’m very conscious with my materials and how I work with them so my artwork will sustain over the years, it is at times, to my detriment. I can easily overthink and overcomplicate things which can also stifle the creativity. Not only was it refreshing to see that Picasso painted on whatever material he had handy or selected for whatever reason, but that it still looked beautiful after over 50 years!
4. SIGN YOUR NAME WHEREVER WORKS
This is one of two paintings I saw on display where Picasso had signed his name elsewhere than the bottom right hand corner. Can you see where he squeezed it in this painting? I tend to be a big rule follower and once I decide how to do something, stick with it. This painting taught me to be more spontaneous and do what works for each individual piece. The rule is that there are no rules!
5. IT’S COOL TO PAINT FROM A PHOTOGRAPH
There was a period of time when Picasso used photographs to inform his own landscape paintings. I was so intrigued and couldn’t believe it as this is something I’ve been brainstorming for my own work lately. So, learning this couldn’t have been more timely! Side-by-side above, you can see the photograph Picasso referenced with his landscape painting below it. As a photographer, I’ve been contemplating using my own travel photographs to inform my paintings. Picasso taught me this is such a cool idea and inspired me to press into it more as I journal and ideate.
6. PINK IS ALWAYS IN FASHION
Pink is prevalent in my work and it’s my favorite color to use. Picasso showed me pink is always in fashion and a smart color to use! I love that it’s not just a fad. I love seeing pink in so many of his paintings which were created so many years ago. It’s a big treat!
7. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
During my time at the exhibit, I sat and watched a 43-minute film created in 1954 by filmmaker Luciano Emmer titled, Encountering Picasso. The filmmaker had spent the day with Picasso and filmed it all. It features Picasso sketching, painting, molding clay, inscribing, and making art with whatever materials he had on hand. He was always impulsively, without hesitation, creating. The subtitles in the film indicated that critics were hard on Picasso at times for not staying true to his style. However, it shared that what they didn’t understand is how Picasso always followed his instincts. That was his style. There are times I become paralyzed creating art in hesitation that I’m veering from my style as my work evolves. I loved learning from Picasso that as long as I follow my intuition and instincts, it’s all good. It will all make sense.
8. VISIT THE ART MUSEUM MORE OFTEN!
Not only did I find myself being a student of Picasso’s for the afternoon, but I simply had the best time! After the exhibit, I picked up a sweet book and chocolate bar in the gift shop. I look forward to returning real soon and learning from other master artists.