Picasso’s Portraits

This year we started our study of Famous Artists



one of the world’s most famous artists – everPablo Picasso 1962

May I tell you how my kid felt about his art?

Well – my kids went, “Blech!”

They HATED his style.

It completely offended them.

“It is ugly.”

“It is stupid.”

“It doesn’t even look like art!”

“Some pictures are rude.”

Art is so subjective, so emotional, so personal.

We talked about his works as we browsed through the library books.

To let my kids know that I heard them, I simply repeated what they said –

“You don’t think this picture is pretty” or

“Those squirmy shapes instead of real body shapes look gross to you”

… not mocking them …  just telling them what I hear them say.

We keep the discussion neutral this way.

They are entitled to their own opinions, and Picasso wanted an emotional response!

As I explained what Picasso was doing in his art,

they started to see the positives!Dora Maar au Chat, 1941




We did a quick cubist type collage with portraits.

Simple Picasso portrait lesson

  1. tear out faces from magazines – profiles and full front  (Picasso often combined these in his portraits)
  2. cut out parts of faces
  3. paste hair and skin on the page
  4. add features such as nose, eyes, lips, chin, eyebrows
  5. finish the picture with design, patterns, coloured pieces of paper

Were my kids happy with their portraits?


Did they understand what Picasso did?


Did they have a personal encounter with his art?


Successful art appreciation lesson.

How have your kids responded to Picasso’s portraits?  Share with us in the comments.


11 thoughts on “Picasso’s Portraits

  1. Congrats to your son for commenting on how rude some of the pictures are! I believe that your son probably has some seasoned spiritual discernment when it comes to what he was sensing with his response to Picasso’s work. As an art teacher – I love to do Cubism lessons (and it is usually one of the projects that beginners can usually do with a lot of success-a nd today is Juan Gris’ b-day – who also contributed to Cubism) but IMHO – so much of Picasso’s work is heavy and dark – and some is even perverted!! And of course there is much artistic value to some of his wonderful work – and studying his rose period and his blue period can be wonderful explorations. But there is also something creepy about many of his pictures – and his art speaks in a way that I personally feel reflects a man struggling with inner stuff.

    And I do not want to get into it now, but I have heard some other art teacher’s reflect on the self-portrait picasso made where he made himself look like a monster- (this self-identify may have revealed much that people just gloss over) – and then how the picture of Boy with Pipe (which sold as a top selling painting in the world at one time) has a suggestive emphasis on the genitals – not to mention the pipe and other aspects – like is the kid high? – But they pointed out some things about this piece that reminded me AGAIN about how much gets portrayed through art – how many subtle messages scream off the page – or how the artist reflects so much about their spiritual life and their essence in their work – and in my opinion, Picasso has some very questionable messages.

    So I think your son had some Godly discernment in action and he may have sensed kingdoms in conflict!


    • @Yvette, thank you for adding more to the diverse responses about Picasso. Just so that others know, I referred to my 2 youngest daughters’ reactions to Picasso’s art. They are so young that I don’t think they even perceived symbolic, sexual or other perversions. They just felt that his art was unattractive to them.


  2. Pingback: A Cultural Heritage Cubist Portrait | Art Education Daily

  3. With respect… Picasso’s father was a drawing master. By the time Picasso was fifteen he had surpassed all his father’s students and many of the greatest artists of the time in his renderings. He lived to be 92 years old and painted or drew every day of his life. Most people know him for his Cubist works. If that is ALL you show people, then many respond the way your children did at first. To be truly fair, to both your children and to Picasso, you need to show them the SPAN of his work. Life Van Gogh, Picasso’s work changed over time. Truly, if one is to do a study of Picasso’s work, one really ought to make it at least a year long project given the breadth of his production. We were lucky enough to have a chance to see a retrospective of his work — all works that HE kept and which had never been seen until after his death. There were some cubist pieces — one bronze sculpture comes to mind — but there were pen and ink drawings, photographs, etc. I am glad your children came to see his creativity but I think it would be much more meaningful to introduce them to the entirety of his creation than to limit them to a single brief period.


    • @Jennifer, great point! Yes, Picasso was an absolute artist! But this post is one of several lessons which, when we’ve completed them all, cover a wide range of Picasso’s works. I mentioned that we looked at several library books. 3 of the 5 books cover his life story with examples of works from all periods of his life. My kids do see a broad overview. In this specific lesson we focused on his modern portraits which featured his famous modern style.

      I did pop over to the website you suggested. All the paintings selected are in the classic style, and this, too, is not reflective of Picasso in full, but does demonstrate his amazing artistic talent.

      You see, our response to art is emotional! 🙂 We don’t have to like it, or even understand it. I suppose art appreciation is a wide range of visual observations, mental thoughts and emotional reactions – unique to each individual. I think that when we continue to talk about, and look at, and discuss art, we may come to viewing, thinking and feeling about it differently to our first glance.


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