“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso
Imagine how powerful those words are to a child — that whatever they can create or think-up is real. It opens up all sorts of possibility. That sense of possibility is one of the lasting life mantras that makes us so fascinated with Picasso. After all, he just opened up worlds with six words.
But making his creative genius accessible to elementary school age kids? That takes a bit of literary gumption. Luckily for our kids, author/publisher Mauricio Velázquez de León and illustrator Violet Lemay were up for the challenge.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Pablo Picasso and at duopress we’ve been trying to do a book about him for a long time,” said Mauricio (who also happens to be a Baltimore dad). “We had a few good ideas but they were all too conventional. Somehow, doing a biography about such a creative artist in a conventional way didn’t seem right.”
Instead of a conventional biography, the duo (pun intended) brought Picasso to life through a counting narrative, asking readers to search for 100 Picassos throughout the book all while immersing themselves in vignettes about his life.
“As you know kids at elementary schools celebrate the 100 Day of School every year. One time, sitting in the library, I saw a few books that use an element — an animal or such — to count from 1 to a 100. Please don’t ask me why, but at that moment the idea of our Picasso book and the 100 Day of School concept just clicked. I think it is because Picasso was really prolific and created so much art. I remember thinking he did as much work as hundreds of artists.”
I’ve lost count how many times the Bug has sat down to read through this book. We’ve talked about his blue period — and his rose period — and how color influences feelings and emotions that art evokes. It’s a complicated message for a pint-sized kiddo, but one that the book helps her understand.
Not only was Picasso a prolific artist, he was open to new experiences and artistic challenges. He took on ceramics at an age when most people are thinking about retirement and became a master. His boundless artistic passion and adventurous quest of knowledge are two things Mauricio hopes kids come to understand about Picasso while reading the book.
“The takeaway of the book should be do what you love and do it with passion. Take chances and be ready to hear that you are wrong. If you believe in yourself chances are you’ll be right,” said Mauricio.
extend the book
Create Picasso-Inspired Art. This Picasso Art project for kids is so much fun! As mentioned, the Bug and I had a chance to talk about how color evokes emotion in art while discussing Picasso’s blue and rose periods. Extend that discussion by creating blue and rose period color art! I found this Big Face Painting tutorial from Art Projects for Kids and did it with the Bug, but amended it by just providing shades of blue paint for her to experiment with. She loved creating a face using the ‘whole paper’ and mixing the blues together to create new tones.
Visit the Baltimore Museum of Art. The BMA Picasso masterpieces in their Modern Art collection. Go see them!
Make a Picasso Head. There’s an app for that. Or a website rather. Let your kiddo virtually visit PicassoHead.com and make their own cubist face!