Picasso Cubist Portraits

[Inspiration for this lesson comes from former Rousseau parent and Dundas Valley School of Art teacher, Sandra Greenblatt]

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist, who lived from 1881 – 1973. His one of the most famous artists of the Western world.

Picasso and the artist Georges Braque created a style of art called “Cubism” which later affected all sorts of creative arts across Europe: writing, music, and even architecture (creating of buildings). The artists believed that they could show objects and people more accurately if they divided them into “chunks” or cubes and that the cubes could be rotated to show different perspectives all at the same time.

Your instructions for creating a Cubist portrait are at the end of this page. — I can’t wait to see what you make!! You will be using PASTELS today — please, please, please keep them (and any bits of them) off the floor :)))))

In portrait art, this meant that an artist might have two eyes looking in different ways…or part of a face facing the audience, and another part of the face looking to the side. Parts of the same face could be different colours; eyes or ears could be different shapes or sizes. Here are some examples of Picasso’s cubist portraits:

Male face with a third eye – Pablo PIcasso
Harlequin – Pablo Picasso
Untitled – Pablo Picasso


Today, you are TAKING A RISK — no pencil!! You are creating your portrait with pastels directly on the paper. Do not be tempted to “start over” — whatever you make will be great! Check out Picasso’s work again — it’s a little “messed up”, right? Here are the criteria for your portrait:

1. Include a head and shoulders — not full body
2. Be sure the background is coloured in (probably a solid colour) — no paper should be showing when you are done.
3. Create your portrait with chunks of colour — not detailed like a drawing
4. Have different parts of your face facing/looking in different directions (sideview, frontview, even looking up!)
5. Use colours that inspire you, not necessarily “realistic” colours
6. You can outline sections of colour in black WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE IS DONE (I don’t recommend doing outlines until all other colours have been applied)
7. Remember, you won’t look like your usual handsome or pretty self — and that’s okay!! 🙂