Picasso lived in a time where several artists were starting to question the traditional methods and styles of painting and art. They wanted to experiment with different ways to portray reality and emotion, ways that didn't follow strict rules of perspective or color or composition. As you can see in the first portraits above, thick contour lines and simplifying parts of the body to shapes were used heavily in his work. His work inspired a movement toward abstraction (the opposite of realism) and the beginning of modern art.
A quick story about this project...I was having a hard time figuring out how I was going to do a Picasso-like portrait. I spent a long time reading books on him and looking at his work, but it all looked random to me and I couldn't quite understand his method. I knew it was more than just adding a nose where the forehead should be and putting an eye in the wrong place. Then one morning my husband was talking to me and it all clicked. He was talking to me, but looking to the side (and I obviously wasn't paying attention). I realized that if I could magically stretch the other side of his face to be level with his side profile, his other eye would totally be higher than the other one. So would his ear. He would look like a Picasso! I could see it! Hopefully you will be able to as well.
- Take a picture of yourself or your subject from two views-facing forward and facing to the side. Use your photos as a reference.
- Look for the most striking features and exaggerate those. I love my husband's large brown eyes and his smile wrinkles around them.
- Draw every contour (line) with sharp angles or exaggerated curves. Choose only one type.
- Go over the contour lines again after you finished coloring to make them thick. Though I would draw them last. I drew them first and the black smeared into the colored parts as I was drawing.
- Look for areas of shadow on the face. Draw those areas as a block of one color.
- Look for areas of highlights on the face. Draw those areas as a different block of color.
- Limit your color palette to only cool colors (blues, greens, purples) or warm colors (yellows, oranges, reds) or find one of Picasso's art pieces and copy his color palette.
Easy version: On a blank sheet of paper draw an oval for a face. Then on a separate sheet of paper draw and color the following: one forward looking eye, one eye from a side angle, a mouth, a nose, eyebrows, and ears. Use your photos as a reference. Cut out those pieces individually and arrange them in a Picasso manner on your oval face. Glue them down. Add hair, accessories, a background, and fill in any blank space.