|Ben, at age 4, with one of his Picasso Puppets
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary,” said Pablo Picasso, and I wonder about symmetry being unnecessary to him. Picasso is one of those artists who has made a wild and important impact on the world of art, and yet, I will quickly admit that I don’t always understand what is so great about painting a woman and putting both her eyes on the same side of her face, her lips down on her chin and her right cheek up on her forehead. What is he trying to say, I wonder?
My little son is an artist through and through. By three years old, he was creating things at his art table in 3D, and I knew that paper and crayons would only be his medium for a short time. I had a feeling he would be on to bigger and bolder art very soon. I had no idea that he would skip right over woodworking, or just cut and paste, and move directly to metal work. That is what he did. He is a welder, and finished his first major welding project – a metal workbench with adjustable legs so it can grow taller as he does – before he lost his first tooth. His dad and he work out in their garage with all sorts of safety equipment, but also with sparks flying almost as fast and furious as their vivid imaginations.
When he was only four or five years old, my son became obsessed with Picasso. Honestly, the only thing he knew about him was from a tiny line in the children’s movie by PIXAR, “Toy Story.” There is a scene where the Mr. Potato Head character puts all his parts on in the wrong place, strikes a pose and says, “Look, I’m Picasso.” When the pig says, “I don’t get it,” Mr. Potato Head retorts fiercely, “Uncultured Swine!”
That was it – that was all it took, and my artist son started drawing faces with the nose on the chin or the lips down on the neck. He did Picasso cut and paste. He did Picasso paintings. My folks started buying art books for children that would give him a little background on who Picasso was and the types of art he created.
One time, when he was in a classroom situation where all the kids were doing puppets and they’d been told where to put the eyes, where to put the upper lip on the folding paper bag, and where to put the lower lip so that it would actually form a workable mouth; my son experimented with his Picasso fascination and put the lips in a creatively alternate place. When the teacher tried to correct him, he looked straight at her, and in his tiny voice, told her that his lips were exactly where he wanted them. He was doing a Picasso puppet, he said. She took a step back and smiled. Clearly, she understood that there is no right or wrong when dealing with a true artist.
When I consider that Picasso felt that art was the elimination of the unnecessary, I become more and more intrigued by what he was trying to say. In our beauty obsessed world, could we take a clue from Picasso and not worry if we don’t look like the woman on the cover of a fashion magazine? How many of us can actually compete if that is the measure of true beauty? Aren’t we better off to eliminate the unnecessary and burdensome aim for outward perfection, and instead fine-tune the areas of our heart that bring us the most joy, that fill our eyes with a light from within the moment we speak? Inner beauty is what fills the eyes and face with radiance anyway!
How odd, that I can find beauty tips from Picasso! But here it is, October 25th, his birthday, and I think he understood women and beauty and fashion better than most of us. He would focus on an eye and paint it beautifully. He wouldn’t care exactly where it went, as long as it was captivating. He would focus on the curve of a hip, the curve of an eyebrow, the lobe of an ear. All of these things can be beautiful on a woman. All of these things can also make us think we are not good enough, if we don’t have all the curves in what we think are the right places. We can stress about whether the dimensions are right, or if the symmetry is as it should be.
Picasso revolutionized art. The Beauty World could use a revolution! I say, have a Picasso day! Let’s focus on the things that are beautiful, and not worry so much about the whole picture. Let’s wake up to our inner artist who can see beauty in the most upside down or backwards places. Let’s smile because we can see our various parts – as out of alignment with the world’s standards of beautiful as they may be – as works of art in their own right! Happy Birthday, Picasso, and Thank You!