A Copy After Picasso

Copy After Picasso's "Nude and Still Life, c. 1931" Oil on canvas 18" x 12" © 2011 Marilyn Fenn
Copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″ Oil on canvas 18″ x 12” © 2011 Marilyn Fenn

On Google+, a very vibrant community of artists has been growing all summer and fall.  A challenge was proposed to do a study after Picasso or an interpretation of one or more of his works.  While most of the other artists did an interpretation, I chose to copy this delightful painting of Picasso’s.  Perhaps I am trying to make up for two copies I never completed in art school.

When I first found this work online, I thought it looked like a cartoon version of a Picasso painting, or what Picasso would paint if he were painting a cartoon version of his own work.  It is such a fun image, I couldn’t resist!

I couldn’t find this painting in any of my books on Picasso.  Online, there are many copies of this painting, but they are all different in how the colors are displayed.  I finally found what I can only guess to be a fairly accurate version, which I found at this website, at the far end of row 7: Picasso paintings.  This image seems less manipulated to me than many of the others online (for instance, you can see the cracks in the paint very clearly) and the colors strike me as being more representative of what colors would have been available to Picasso at that time.  However, I’m no expert, so don’t take what I say as definitive.

Even though this painting displays practically the whole spectrum of the color palette, I think Picasso used only 8 or 9 colors to mix that whole spectrum. These are the colors I decided to use to attempt to replicate this Picasso work:

  1. flake white
  2. ivory black
  3. cadmium yellow lemon
  4. cadmium yellow medium
  5. cadmium red medium
  6. alizarin crimson
  7. ultramarine blue
  8. cobalt blue
I also used a smidge of cadmium green to green up the shape in the lower right-hand corner, though now I think he may have gotten that brighter green mix with cerulean blue instead.
my guess about Picasso's color palette
The 8 colors I think Picasso used in Nude and Still Life, c. 1931

I did try to mix my colors to match his exactly, and now that I am able to view a photo of my painting next to the work I was using for reference, I see some differences; but overall, I think it’s pretty close.

I also tried to match the way he applied paint, though as I painted this whole thing in two days, and my paint was wet throughout the whole process, I wasn’t really able to replicate what I think he did. For example, I think he may have begun with the black lines and then painted the colored areas afterward, as you can see quite a few areas where the colors are painted over the black lines, leaving just a tiny bit of black peeking out from under the edges. I painted the colored areas in first, as I knew it would cause a terrible mess if the colored paint ran into the still wet black lines.

There are areas, though, where he very clearly painted white lines to cover black lines. I think he probably did this for the purposes of the design of this canvas, as once the white lines are applied, it really changes how the whole image reads, plus they help pull your eye around the canvas, from the head down what I think is an arm, around the–are they breasts?–then a hop to the white lines through the blue areas down to the bottom left and center of the canvas.

Picasso's “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
My copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″
My copy After Picasso’s “Nude and Still Life, c. 1931″











Has copying this Picasso helped me understand him? I don’t know; I do feel like I understood his process of painting this painting, though I still cannot figure out what all the parts of this painting are and what they belong to. Wall, floor, chair rail and baseboard, pitcher, head and eyes, I get; the rest is a mystery to me. If anyone knows more about what Picasso did in this work, what he meant, or how to read his image, I would be delighted to hear.

If you’d like to see all the other artists’ interpretations of Picasso, you can find them here on Google+.