‘To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing.’ — Pablo Picasso
‘Where do you get your ideas?’ Artists hear this question all the time, and it’s the wrong question. The ideas are not as important as the work we produce out of them.
The exhibition Picasso and Paper at the Royal Academy revealed a lifetime’s worth of Picasso’s drawings, the fertile ground that nourished his most famous works like Guernica and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
If there is any one word that might sum up the vast body of Pablo Picasso’s work, it is prolific. Picasso produced tens of thousands of works over his long lifetime, creating more than 45,000 pieces of art in total.
Prints, drawings, paintings, sculptures, stage design…there was nothing this artist would not do. He never stopped to ask whether he could do the work; often he figured out what it would become while creating it.
To Picasso, the idea was more of a starting point than a goal to aim for. He liked to think with his hands.
What I capture in spite of myself,’ the artist said in conversation with Hungarian photographer Brassaï, ‘interests me more than my own ideas.’
Drawing is the thread that connects all of Picasso’s art throughout its wildly changing styles, periods and influences.
His pencil was his eye, his brain and his mouth, taking in and processing everything in his inner and outer worlds.
He sketched and drew many of his friends, including other influential artists Henri Matisse and Renoir.
Picasso demonstrated that long training and practice of drawing can set the mind free to create the most whimsical and imaginative visions.
After the exhibition, the museum shop had set up its own fantastical displays, beckoning artists hungry for drawing with beautiful sketchbooks, pencils, pens, and reams of drawing paper.
To produce good drawings, you need to draw as often as possible. Ideas are elusive, but hopefully this exhibition will provide the motivation for today’s artists to begin their own prolific journey.