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January 18, 2019

How to look at art: Art of new ideas


Pablo Picasso, a genius of contemporary art, said that art is discovering what’s in your mind and putting it out there.

He believed that the secret to creating new and original work is to ‘saturate’ yourself with a thought and then upload this saturated sensation on paper.

Picasso’s breakthrough work was a product of this strategy — a continual filling and emptying of mind.

During his ‘blue period’, from 1901-04, Picasso ‘saturated’ himself with the shades of blue and the themes of human misery and alienation. The painting ‘Old Guitarist’ is an example of this technique.

The ‘blue period’ was followed by the ‘pink period’ with the shift to more vibrant colours and themes (‘Arlequin’ painting).

He used this principle: after he got ‘filled’ with his subject, he would start his painting at a random point, proceeding in a similar manner to the end.

This method is depicted in the film 'Mystery of Picasso', which shows him beginning with a flower, transforming it into a fish, then into chicken, and then into a cat.

As his thinking flows, it changes and so do the images. You, too, could try this technique. Collect as much information about your subject (problem) as possible. ‘Saturate’ your mind with it. Then start a mind-map (a diagram, a simple line drawing) with some arbitrary theme of your subject.

Let your thoughts and associations flow. Allow your mind-map to evolve naturally as your thinking changes.

When you finish, ask yourself what your mind-map means. Can you uncover themes you did not think were there? Did you notice any patterns? What are they? What new ideas (solutions) popped into your mind? Uncovering the depths of your thinking helps new ideas to occur.


Alla Tkachuk is a founder of the MASK School for Creativity and Innovation for young people in Kenya.

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