Saturday, July 5, 2008

Picasso's way of working

In The Family of Saltimbanques Picasso achieved a universal quality, mysterious and poignant, that lifts it out of the realm of ordinary genre. His studies for the painting show how he worked, with numerous studies of variations of the group and of the individual figures. Many of them are available at the click of a mouse in the Online Picasso Project (list of links below).

[Edited 17 June 2013: Unfortunately the Online Picasso Project has since been closed to the public.]

It could have been a sketchbook drawing at the races that inspired the picture. The first compositional study shows the main grouping, without the woman at lower right, with horse-racing in the background. In the final painting the background is plain and featureless; just barren earth and sky, similar to the "Boy with a Horse".

Seeing Picasso's approach is nothing short of inspiring. It's an encouragement to stop labouring over a study that's going nowhere and instead to do another, and another and another.

And too, as an OCA student, it validates the OCA's teaching methods. You have to do "studies" from the first project in the first painting course. At the beginning I found it irritating -- why do yet another charcoal drawing when I already have a perfectly good one? But over time it has become second nature and, although I'll never be another Picasso (sad to say), I'm attempting things I would never have done before and I can see the value of all the drill.

Links to the Online Picasso Project: Click on the picture to see a bigger version. Also, you will surely find more sketches and studies by looking through the catalogue for 1905.
Boy Leading a Horse


Acrobat and Young Harlequin

Boy with Dog
Two Acrobats with Dog
Bouffon with Young Acrobat
Study for Saltimbanques
A sketchbook study for the Saltimbanques

Gros Buffon Assis
Young Girl with Dog

The Family of Saltimbanques

1 comment:

michelle tappin said...

i do tend to agree wsith this way of working. in my earlier career, i was a bit impatient to get on with a painting so that i could make a quick sale. now that i'm older and wiser i really want to to make several studies of a subject in order to "know" it better.