To teach my son about Pablo Picasso, I decided not to focus on his role in the cubism movement, but rather on his remarkable painting The Old Guitarist.
Since our last fine art lesson (on Van Gogh) taught us about the connection between color and emotion, this piece from Picasso's Blue Period was a nice segue.
To start, I gave my son a coloring page that I’d made based on the painting and asked him to follow the directions at the top of the page, considering what the man might be feeling/thinking and using colors to reflect that. (Download the coloring page I made here.)
Kids have THE best interpretations of art. My son thought the old man was thinking about his boy and imagining the two guitars he was going to make for him; that’s why his eyes were closed! The old man was excited about the project. I asked my son what color would show his excitement and he selected green.
When he was done coloring, we figured out how many years ago the original painting was made. Then, I showed him a print-out of Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and shared the following:
- For three years between 1901 and 1904, Pablo Picasso used mostly blue in his paintings. I asked, “Why do you think he used so much blue?” He was sad.
- When a close friend of Pablo’s died, he painted LOTS of sad things like people who had no friends or money or were sick.
- The Old Guitarist is a painting of an old blind man who has no money.
Then, my son made his own guitar.
Here’s the supply list: an empty tissue box, a paper towel tube, brown postal mailing paper, six rubberbands, a small piece of cardboard, and six brads. I traced the sides of the box onto the brown paper and my son cut them out. Then we glued them to the box (1).
Next I cut out a circle at the top of the box where the guitar’s neck would be attached (2). I used a glue gun to apply glue on the circle’s edge and we wedged the tube tightly in the cut-out hole (3). Then my son cut two slits in the top of the tube opposite each other (4) and we slid a trapezoid-shaped flat piece of cardboard into the slits. I applied a little glue to hold it in place.
My son added six rubberbands to the base of the guitar (5) and slid the brads into the cardboard edges of the trapezoid top (6).
When the guitar was made, I showed my son the two pictures of The Old Guitarist – his and Picasso’s. I asked him what kind of music he thought the two men were playing (was it fast or slow?) and had my son play his instrument the way they might.
When we were done, my son didn’t put his new guitar down for a whole hour. He even held it while watching a movie we rented. Maybe I’ve got a budding musician on my hands!