Picasso’s, “Dora Maar with Cat” sold for $95 million in 2006!

Were you one of those kids who carefully colored inside the lines, careful of breaking the rules?  I was.  As a small girl, I remember taking pride in my perfectly colored pages. Teachers, parents and restaurants alike still encourage and glorify these early crayon versions of paint-by-numbers by taping them to their bulletin boards, refrigerators and the walls at Apple B’s!

Okay, it does show a sense of skill and eye-hand coordination that every teacher and parent is proud of, but how boring! Nowadays, I actually get excited when I see a child’s energized crayon drawing that moves outside the lines.

As I’ve matured as an artist, I have grown to disregard the word ‘rules’ when it relates toward art. To me, art is the way we can freely stretch and push the boundaries with visions of our own world. But, before we haphazardly dive in and attempt to rebel against the rules, artists must first understand them.

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These are all Picasso paintings!

  • You can see the progression from the genius traditional painting “First Communion” done at age 15 is more impressionistic,
  • “Boy With a Pipe” in 1905 to the abstract,
  • “Head of a Woman” in 1909 and I have to add that the woman was Dora Maar – his girlfriend!)

Picasso first learned the rules of art then he slowly and systematically explored all the ways to break them.

He learned the illusion of volume then he deliberately learned how to flatten it. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, he spent his whole life trying to remember how to paint like a child! Despite his childlike painting, there was never a man who explored art more seriously.


Here’s a little interesting story:

  • During Picasso’s later years, my Great Uncle John McNee was a close friend and student of Picasso’s.
  • Uncle John was a professor at the Department of Architecture and Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1955-1977.
  • Very talented in his own right but lacking in originality, Uncle John spent his whole career trying to paint like Picasso! But then again, Picasso told my Uncle, “Good artists copy, great artist steal!”
  • My Uncle John McNee painted, “Girl with Apples” in the 1950’s – you can see Picasso’s influence.

The point is this:  There is no rule that can’t be broken in art as long as it is broken with a purpose.  If there is no purpose the painting will fall flat.

And remember…Picasso loved rules, because without the ‘rule’ of art, he had nothing to bend and break!

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The Importance of Being an Artist in Today’s Modern World

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