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Creative Genius - Pablo Picasso

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

All the works presented were created by Pablo Picasso at various times in his life

Years before having become one of the greatest and most recognisable painters in history, known for his wonderful pieces that are far from realism, Picasso was learning about the perspective, practising academic drawing, exercising himself in painting. The phase of training was necessary for him to gain marvellous skills and develop as an artist.

Pablo Picasso was born on 25th of October 1881 in Malaga, Spain, as the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López. His father was a professor at the School of Crafts and later, in 1891, he became a professor at the School of Fine Arts in A Coruña. He specialised in painting birds, especially pigeons. He started teaching his son drawing at a very young age. All the boy wanted to do was drawing. He had an internal urge to sketch everything he saw. He had an extraordinary gift and from the very beginning displayed a prodigious talent. His father monitored him and cared for his education, training him in academic drawing. As a child, Pablo could draw really good sketches making fast, precise pencil strokes. When he was eight years old he painted his first oil painting “The Yellow Little Picador”, which shows that he was a really precocious kid.

These are the portraits of his sister, Lola and his father, that he painted at the age of thirteen.

By the time he was fourteen, he gained incredible skills. It is said that his father vowed not to ever paint again, because his son surpassed him, but there is no proof that it was true. Furthermore, his works that were made in following years exist there. Young Picasso was not very interested in schoolwork. He preferred to spend time doodling in a sketchbook rather than learn. Once, when he was at school, as a punishment for being a bad student, he was put in the room alone for some time, but he actually enjoyed his time there, because he could draw for a long time without anyone interrupting him. At home, he preferred working in solitude, so none could supervise him. In 1895 his father took a position at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona. He knew that his son had great skills in painting, so he wanted him to attend the advanced class. Despite the boy being too young, his father managed to persuade the officials to give him a chance. He completed the entrance exams, which were meant to last one month, in a week and was admitted. Although other students were five or six years older, he was the most skilled of them. At the age of fifteen, he painted the “First Communion”, a painting which depicts his sister, Lola, at her first communion and most probably his father on the left.

Here are some of his other works, that he painted during the time when he was attending the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona. The last one is a portrait of his mother.

At that time, he was allowed to be exhibited at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts. He was recognised as one of the great painters among the older, more experienced and acknowledged ones. However, having mastered the academic painting, he became tired of it. He began to skip classes and rebel. He preferred to walk the streets of Barcelona rather than be in the classroom. For two years he was living in Madrid alone and attending Spain’s foremost art school, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. He was more and more bored with the classes. Despite his father’s disapproval and fear of him wasting his chance to become a great artist, Picasso gave up on academic painting. He came back to Barcelona and started walking his own path. He had friends that stimulated him and wanted to discover new ways of painting. Having mastered painting skills, he wanted to create something else than realistic depictions. He had great ambition and was eager to work. He moved to Paris, the city of art. He found himself in a new place, but he was sure of his greatness. Soon after his arrival, he was able to make a living by painting. He experienced his friend’s death, later he lived in poverty. That shaped his works from the Blue Period, when he created mostly in blue. That was the first of the periods in his career that we distinguish.

Picasso wondered what was the use in painting realistic pieces since the camera had been already invented. Therefore, portraits or landscapes depicting reality faithfully had became unnecessary, because the camera could achieve the objective easier, faster and more efficiently. He believed that artists should discover new ways of creating their pieces. He was eager to look . He was on his way of seeking. During his career, his style was constantly changing. Picasso never stopped searching for new ways. He wanted his art to be novel and shocking. He believed that academic painting that he learned in school was not something that modern artist should aspire to create. He knew that artist should present another look at the world. He was interested in painting like none else before. That lead him to being one of the pioneers of cubism. He liked to look at the world as if everything was built from cubes and geometrical figures. At that time of his life, the form was the content. It had to be interesting, shocking, innovative. He was striving to come back to that childlike way of perceiving the world and depicting it. “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them” he said. However, that was his training in academic painting what allowed him to be an adept at it. Thanks to practising and his father training him, he gained skills necessary to paint extraordinary pieces and he developed his abilities to perceive the world in a different way.

The lesson we can learn from Picasso is that first we should learn basic skills. We should practice linear perspective drawing, learn how to show construction of objects and train painting. Before making abstract and unrealistic works, we should learn how to draw realistically to master the skills and learn all everything about painting.

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