Tag Archives: Picasso

Florence, Day 23: Picasso and Being “Painterly”



I stayed in a Florence a extra day to see this exhibit, Picasso at the Palazzo Strozzi. I love Picasso’s work. You either do or you don’t, but in my world, you must, either way, recognize his place in history, his impact. He influenced entire movements in art, and through his innovation, handed out permission slips to others to pave their own way.

So here I am in the land of the Renaissance, and what makes my heart leap? Picasso. Likewise, when I asked my love today which was his favorite piece of art in Florence, he said, “The Picassos,” and I smiled, knowing his point.

I look at all these Renaissance giants and I’m in awe. I cry over the beauty. But my heart has not leapt in sheer joy until Picasso.

I became a painter so I would no longer be bound to the confines of my camera. My camera did not tell (though I know some whose cameras can) how I felt about a place. It did not convey the relationship I had with that moment. In my mind, I never see a stop sign, a power line, or any obstructions to my view. Angels occasionally sigh from the sheer beauty, if only in my mind. My eye captures what I want to see; my camera captured everything.

So for me, the most important part of my art is to be “painterly”; that means that I want to see the paint, feel the hand of the artist. I do not wish to see the artist’s brush disappear. I desire to see it — better yet, feel it.

So after all of the angelic faces, halos and versions of “Madonna and Child” — while I adore these — Picasso was a breath of fresh air.

Two inventions made being painterly possible: the camera and tube paint. Imagine the possibilities. Picasso, though he came after these inventions, also valued being painterly, and this is why his work excited me. He says every painting is not about the subject (nor is it ever finished), but rather, it’s a way to explore what a painting can do. His brush work is strong and fast and without attention to all that detail. It’s not that he was careless, just more interested in the process than tiny brushes would allow.

It was my last day in Florence, and what a perfect way to end it, for the Renaissance paved way for everything that came after. Think of it as the foundation upon which others could build. Jump ahead 400 years or so and you have Picasso yielding his brush as if he were a swordsman. That would not be possible without a strong foundation.

There was also some food that I could indeed write home about as well as some wine from the region and some amazing scenery to round out my “studies.”

Next stop: the Dolomites. It’s been on my hot list for almost 20 years. I’ll let you know if it was worth the wait!


Note: Top three pics are courtesy of the Internet — no cameras allowed at the Picasso exhibit, unfortunately!

Art in Action: How to rock it out with the wee ones!



“Aunt Stephie, um, can we paint?” This said in the softest, sweet voice that belongs to my 5-year-old niece.

This request is almost certain to pop up after family dinner at my house. My well-mannered sister-in-law has no doubt instructed her that the polite thing is to wait until we are all fed. Claire is asking on behalf of herself and her older brother, Colton, and it’s a request that is met with a resounding YES!

I save old cardboard and T-shirts just for this occasion. I roll out a sheet of plastic and set out water buckets and bring out the tub of paint and we play right on the floor. It’s the greatest thing ever I don’t have to offer suggestions; they are kids, not yet old enough to have lost their imagination. They always attack their pieces of cardboard with the authority of one who knows what they are doing. I love this bit. It reminds me we are all born artists. To paraphrase Picasso, the key is to remember how to stay one as we grow older.

Looking at their masterpieces — both bought from the artists for $5 each (I can’t bear to see them go, and Colton and Claire like the cash) — I said to my husband, “I love the abandon in their work. I wish I could paint like that, totally free and without regard for outcome.” He smiled, admiring their work. Kids have long inspired me in this way.

I’ll leave you with this thought: Paint with your children — or other kids you love — often. It takes nothing more than the basics: a surface to paint on, paint, a plastic throw and brushes. And join in the fun! Don’t have them paint alone — fun is not reserved for the wee ones. An imagination is indeed a terrible thing to waste!

A welcome interruption: Claire and Colton take a break from painting to watch the wildlife outside the studio!


Claire’s finished rendition of Muchacho Libre. I see the resemblance, don’t you?