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How to work like Picasso

January 16, 2012

Yesterday I went to see the superb exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work at the New South Wales Art Gallery. I’ve never been a huge fan and only knew a little about him but thought it worth a look as the exhibit had come all the way from the Picasso Gallery in Paris.

I have to say I was blown away by the diverse styles and materials he liked to use from indian ink, charcoal and paints to sheet metal, newspaper, wire, bronze, wood and bicycle handles. I loved seeing the different eras (like the Blue Period and Cubism) he went through but also how he would break out of that style and just do what came naturally. He never limited himself, constantly experimenting and really, playing like a child without rules.

Sometimes he would take inspiration from ancient art, sometimes he worked alone and other times he drew inspiration from his contemporaries. Not just visual artists but working with composers, writers, photographers and choreographers.

Through these expert and unique connections, entire new movements in the world of art were born.

Here’s the thing that really struck me. One of the first comments on the wall at the beginning of the exhibit before you get to the artwork:

“I paint the way some people write an autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my diary…”

I thought to myself “well I always finished my diary pages, just like I pretty much always finish my work.”

Hmm, perfectionism.
Is it a virtue or a fault?

It can be great for constantly raising your standards, giving you something precious you can be proud of. (It would annoy me greatly when I got 99% in a maths or music test at school.)

But how much more could be achieved if my work wasn’t so perfect?

How much less limiting could I be?
How much broader could I experiment if I played like Picasso?

The way media, articles and videos are presented to us these days, you have to admit, quality is often waning. Does it bother anyone though (apart from other perfectionists)?

The YouTube videos with the highest following – literally millions of people viewing them – are never beautifully finished.

Content is King.

Get the message, expression, feeling, thought or punchline across quickly to match the new shortened attention span and you’ll make a bigger impression. To tweet something re-tweetable you have to be profound AND super succinct.

It’s very different from how I’ve worked before but, what the hey?

So this has become my New Year’s Resolution, albeit a couple of weeks late.

Work like Picasso.

Work prolifically.
Work fluently.
Work from the heart.
Reduce the amount of time you go back and correct what is already done.
Build on a theme but break out of it when intuition speaks to you.
Make lots of stuff – and stuff-ups – and your masterpieces will appear.

How can you use Picasso’s style of working to your advantage this year?

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 21, 2012 11:14 am

    Thanks Annabelle for the simply perfect and timely reminder! Much appreciated.

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