Practice with Picasso
Take Apart SMART!
Posted: January 01, 2024
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    A girl looks at part of the “Picasso: 14 Sketchbooks” exhibit at Pace Gallery in New York City on November 9, 2023. (AP/Peter K. Afriyie)
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    A 1918 self-portrait in pencil by Pablo Picasso. It appears in a 3 ¾ inch by 5 ½ inch sketchbook. (AP/Jocelyn Noveck)
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    A sketchbook, part of “Picasso: 14 Sketchbooks,” at New York’s Pace Gallery (AP/Jocelyn Noveck)
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    People observe part of the “Picasso: 14 Sketchbooks” exhibit. (AP/Peter K. Afriyie)
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    Picasso in 1959 (AP)
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Matchbook covers. Postcards. Restaurant napkins. The well-known artist Pablo Picasso practiced on them all.

Even the best artists, writers, and creators need practice to get good. In fact, they scribble and sketch wherever they can. Take Mr. Picasso for example. As one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century, he made a big splash! But he kept some small sketchpads. People glimpsed a tiny one on display at Manhattan’s Pace Gallery last fall.

The exhibit was a celebration of the artist’s work. It marked the 50-year anniversary of Mr. Picasso’s death.

A complete self-portrait in pencil peeks out from that little book. It shows deep and piercing eyes. Not bad for something that measures a little more than three-by-five inches! Mr. Picasso made the sketch in 1918 when he was in his 30s. Back then, he filled the bitty book with scenes from his house, the beach, and his town. He also sketched ideas for upcoming paintings.

Mr. Picasso made paintings so big he needed a ladder to finish them. But his sketches are miniature. Some of the images are fanciful, like monsters and clownlike figures in red and blue pencil. Others carefully capture everyday objects such as guitars through patterns of dots and lines. With each sketchbook open to only one page, how can a curious art student see the rest? The gallery’s solution: Show other pages in video displays.

Why? Even very talented creators must practice to achieve excellence.