Art by Jeff Knecht

Copying a Picasso

10 Jan 2009

Pablo Picasso drew this portait of Igor Stravinski.

I’m reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and one of the first exercises is to copy this portait. The twist, though, is to draw it upside down.

The idea is trick your brain into a mode where it can no longer say things like, “Oh, that’s a nose. I know what a nose looks like. No need to look at it anymore, just start drawing.” By flipping the image upside down, you begin to lose track of what it is you’re drawing; and you focus just on drawing the shapes.

Now, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is definitely a book for beginners. It is targeted at individuals who think they have no drawing talent and could never learn how to do it. And for my part, I waffle between moments of crushing self-doubt and certainty about my own mediocrity. I have no illusions that I am a great artist; but neither do I think I’m a rank beginner. So I question whether I need to revert to a book so basic as this one.

Still, I think there is something I can learn by returning to the absolute basics.

So, I dilligently followed the rules… I flipped the image over and drew what I saw. The head is a little small, but I was surprised by how close I actually got.