Sunday, February 13, 2011

Portraits of...?

A picture paints a thousand words, it's true, but words can also portray a thousand images in our mind as well.

My class created portraits based on Pablo Picasso's works. He was the forefather of Cubism and I believe that he was most likely a rather curious character. His early works are incredible - they are photo-perfect at times, so like his subjects that one must examine them closely to see that they are, in fact, painted and NOT photographed. But Picasso began to mess with art. He tried and tested stuff that people pulled faces at. He cut and paste (yes, with actual scissors and glue, not keyboard shortcuts!) a range of face parts and he tried them in other places. He looked at the way kids painted with lopsided facial features, 2 eyes on a face that was turned sideways and he thought,'Why not?' A whole art movement began because someone dared to be different!

I explained to my children that many people don't like his work. I told them to critique it - what DIDN'T they like about his portraits? I asked them to think about what GOOD art is and what BAD art looks like. Interestingly, many of them thought that this was bad art - he messed stuff up and they couldn't understand why he would do that when he could really paint!

Well, I think this gives us many insights into why and how children think and feel the way they do about their own art, why the computer or camera is 'safe' to them instead of their own work. We are often baffled by children's reluctance to 'create' when, in their own minds, they know we are NOT all born equal when it comes to these skills! Some can kick and catch, some can write and read, some can paint and draw, some can create codes and win online comps, some can do all these things! But we can't all do everything brilliantly and the reason that I chose to do obscure and imperfect portraits where we mess things around and go outside the box, was to let them see how great it is to create without boundaries.

Perhaps this is more of a portrait, then, of us as learners. Noses askew, eyes in the wrong places, ears that are 2 different shapes, hair malformed...we are absolutely imperfect and yet we are perfectly capable of trying everything. No-one would ever know what they were best at doing or loved doing if they didn't become a little bit 'Picasso' sometimes and just mess with perfection a little...

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