Introduction to Cubism – Painting Picasso Portraits

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Picasso Portraits are a super fun – and very interesting art project to do with children!

One of the main reasons I like this particular idea is that it is influenced by the cubist art movement which stands out to me because the artist is asked to look at an object from various angles.

Cubist artists – like Picasso during his cubist years – brought together different angles and views of a subject together into the same picture.

It is a fairly difficult concept to teach 4 – 6 year olds. My 6 year olds understood that they needed to paint the same face from the side and front and put it into one picture. The 4 year olds understood that they had to paint two faces in one picture.

We began our art session by looking at a plastic digger. I positioned everyones paper around the digger and then we all drew what we saw. This ended up in 7 pictures of the digger – all different – and from different angels. I explained that this is what the cubist artist tried to do, they looked at the same object – or person – from different angles and then combined them into one picture.

Picasso was well know for his portraits and one of the most well know – Buste de femme (Femme a la resille) was sold for 67,365,000 US dollars in 2015. If you google Picasso Portraits there are many to use for inspiration!

How to paint a Picasso Portrait?

We used a 3 step approach;

  1. Draw the face with a pencil
  2. Use a black marker to make your drawing permanent
  3. Paint or ‘color’ it in!
Usually I prefer art that does not allow for correction, like painting without any idea what it is going to end up looking like. That kind of art with kids always results in great process masterpieces!
 Sometimes planning – like we did here – with a pencil helps the process. Children who are unsure or ‘afraid’ to draw often feel more confident drawing with a pencil that they know they can erase if they make a mistake. We were exploring a fairly complicated idea – so the children felt better that they could make mistakes!!
We used watercolors to add color!
This is when the portraits came alive!
Pink seemed to be a color of choice!!
The portraits turned out great!
Each child had explored the process differently, and although difficult to understand, each child had produced a portrait that was not a flat painting – perhaps their first intentional abstract pice of art!

You can use any paint or drawing materials to make your own portraits, we used a thin white piece of cardboard (A3) in size and I mounted the final painting onto a thicker black piece of cardboard to frame it.

We drew with pencil, darkened the lines with black marker and then painted with watercolors.

Using a collage or paper mache process would also work a treat with this idea!

We would love to see your creations! Our Facebook wall is always hungry for art!! 🙂



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