Saturday, March 3, 2012

Picasso's Guitar: Cubism for 2nd graders, 2012

Picasso, 1919
Picasso - is there any better artist for inspiration? I really like talking about his work in my classes, especially the part about why he chose to work in the styles he did. One of the few artists to know fame and fortune during his own lifetime, we begin by looking at Picasso's earlest, and most realistic, works.

Portrait of the Artist's Mother, painted when Picasso was only 15 years old
Next, we look at later works and discusss the style differences.  Picasso had such a creative mind that simply recreating real life images became boring for him.  He wanted to share what was in his mind and imagination, in ways you can't produce with a camera. Cubism is a style he invented - a way of taking apart the shapes of an object, rearranging and simplifying them, and putting them back together in an interesting way. Here are two Picasso works that are related to the guitar.

Now it's time to get started. This is the second time I have taught this lesson, and I simplified it this year in order to make a few concepts really hit home. We begin with a contour line drawing from a real guitar, and note the neutral colors. We add a pop of bright color in the negative space for contrast, and cut the positive shape (guitar) from the negative. 

The final step is arranging the two compositions made from the original guitar drawing.  We use a positive shape, a negative shape, and other papers that go with the theme - sheet music, swirly lines, wood grain texture, pages from old books, etc. - to make our collages.  Picasso made probably the first collage, laughing that he could make art from the contents of a wastebasket!
Please enjoy our Cubist guitar collages, full of energy and thinking and freshness!


  1. These are great compositions! I especially like the ones with areas of black:)

  2. Beautiful collages.
    I love how your students incorporated music sheets in their compositions.

  3. Nice blog. You may be interested on a post on the Picasso exhibition currently in Sydney that is going to Toronto in April.

  4. Great blog Mrs. Knight! - I am a teaching artist and work with kids every day teaching after school programs in art for different programs at art centers and through BOE programs in my local area - I incorporate projects I create myself and those I find through terrific blogs like yours - thanks for sharing your ideas. Kids thrive through the arts.

  5. Thank you so much for this lesson. I teach 6-7 year olds 'art' and am going to try this. Your explanation is so clear and easy to understand.


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