Today isn’t my birthday


Today isn’t my birthday, but it might be yours. If it is, I hope you are having a wonderful day- a day of joyful simplicities contemplation and celebration. Every birthday not just the once marking a new decade, it is significant millstone. Every age brings with it three hundred sixty five real life lessons. We turn, not older with years but newer every day.

Today, let us celebrate 133rd Pablo Picasso birthday, who was born on October 25, 1881, and lived until April 8, 1973. He was a one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century.  He was a Painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer who spent most of his adult life in France.


His real name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.

picasso (1)

             So happy birthday!  Happy birthday to Pablo !!! I have that feeling that he deserve it!!!

As a teenager , Picasso painted fairly realistic portraits and landscapes.

Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is a painting by Pablo Picasso

He then went through his so-called blue and rose periods from 1901 to 1906, in which he depicted such things as poverty-stricken children and circus scenes, respectively. “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a distorted portrait of five prostitutes that is considered one of his most revolutionary pieces, came in 1907. It opened the door for Cubism, an abstract style that reduces subjects to geometric forms. By 1912 Picasso had invented collage by attaching oilcloth, newspaper clippings and other materials to the surface of his paintings. This, along with an increased emphasis on color, precipitated a transition from what’s known as Analytic Cubism to Synthetic Cubism. Later in life, he practiced a form of Neoclassicism and recreated paintings from such masters as Diego Velázquez, Édouard Manet and Eugène Delacroix. At various times, he also incorporated Surrealist, Expressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Symbolist elements into his art.

pablo-picasso-the-seated-harlequinThe Seated Harlequin 1923      seated_harlequin_1905_berggruen_berlin1_440_592

Picasso is known for having extended the boundaries and traditional means of the printmaking techniques shown below and often combined techniques in producing his original graphics. Although Picasso’s use of the burin was not always orthodox, he and other artists would use the burin to create sharp crisp lines on the etching plate, translated to the same on the printed image. Engraving, drypoint, etching, and aquatint are intaglio forms of printmaking. Some of his prints were printed on smaller margined papers and some of the same images were printed on larger paper and therefore wider margins. Picasso used drypoint combined with original print-making techniques, usually to produce lines of  simplicity and expressive quality. This technique dates back to the 15th century, and although it is not widely used, it includes Dürer and Rembrandt among its practitioners. A drypoint (form of engraving)  is made by scratching a sharp needle into a metal plate, raising tiny ridges that also catch ink. When the plate is printed, the ridges produce a velvet-like burr. After a few printings, however, the fragile burr wears out. Picasso, in 1968, created 347 etchings for a single suite at age 87! In etching, a metal plate is covered with an acid-resistant ground, usually varnish, through which the image is drawn with a pointed tool, exposing the metal below.


The plate is then immersed in a bath of acid that bites away the metal where it was exposed by the drawn areas that were no longer protected by the ground. After the plate has been “etched” and cleaned, it is ready to be inked and printed — or reworked by the artist. Sugar aquatint or lift-ground etching was mastered by Picasso in 1936. Picasso would draw directly on the metal plate with a black watery ink thickened by the addition of dissolved sugar and gum Arabic.


The dried drawing is then covered with an acid-resistant varnish or etching ground and immersed in warm water.  This penetrates the ground and dissolves the drawing material.  The plate is lightly rubbed so that the drawing as well as the varnish on top of it “lift off”,  leaving the bare plate.  The protecting vanish will still stick to the plate where the plate has not previously been treated with the ink and sugar mixture. With copper plates the direct action of the acid is not sufficient and is too smooth, leaving gray tones were the acid has been bitten directly into the plate. To achieve textures like brushstrokes Picasso would lay down an aquatint ground on the lifted design.  This resin ground now covers the bare metal of the open lines or brush stokes lifted from the first ground and provides well defined textures and tones.  When preparing the artwork on the plate the artist would work spontaneously with the pen or brush.  Sugar-lift etchings are often combined with aquatint.  Picasso liked the medium (even though it was difficult to control) because of the variety of textures it would produce.

With an aquatint a porous ground of acid-resistant particles is used to cover areas of the metal plate.  Heat is then used to fuse the particles to the plate.  This allows the acid to bite away a fine grid of small dots into the plate as when the plate is dipped in an acid bath, the particles prevent bits of the surface from being eaten away.  The resulting dot texture creates an illusion of tonal range that Picasso favored. Picasso also created lithographs on zinc plates as they were lighter and did not require him to work at the lithographer’s studio.  It was 1945 that Picasso took up residence at the Mourlot studio in Paris.


Picasso’s linocuts were made by gouging out a sheet of linoleum which had been fused onto a harder block of wood.  (Linoleum, softer and lighter than wood, allowed Picasso to work more quickly than would have been possible by working from woodblocks alone.)  Using gouges, he would cut out the areas of his intended image that were to be absent of color (and therefore appear the color of the paper when printed).  The relief areas that remain would be inked, usually with a brayer. Paper would be put on the inked linoleum block and pressure applied, after which the inked image is transferred to the paper.  If there were to be multiple colors, Picasso would create a separate linoleum block, each corresponding to a different color, each printed in succession.  This is how he worked since his first linocuts were created in 1958.


The total output of Picasso’s artistic career has been given different estimates: “50,000 works of art, including 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics; 18,095 engravings; 6,112 lithographs; and approximately 12,000 drawings, as well as numerous linocuts, tapestries, and rugs, not to mention his letters, poetry and plays” (cf. Selfridge 1994, 102) … or … “1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 7,089 drawings; 30,000 prints (engravings, lithographs, etc); 3,222 ceramics; 150 sketchbooks … With the addition of his personal wealth, his legacy was estimated on his death at an unbelieavable 1,252,673,200 francs. ” (cf. Robinson 1999, 10; cf. also Habarta 2000, 77) … or “some 50,000 works that included 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, 18,095 engravings, 6,112 lithographs, 3,181 linocuts, 7,089 drawings plus 4,669 drawings and sketches in 149 notebooks, 11 tapestries and 8 rugs” and his pieces can fetch over $100 million at auction.

I wish I could paint like Picasso.


Happy Birthday from Barcelona roof !!!!!!

Pablo Picasso. Roofs of Barcelona, 1903. Oil on canvas.

Since Picasso’s arrival in Barcelona in 1895 the urban landscape had been a source of inspiration. Views of cities had appeared before in small coloured sketches, but after his first trip to Paris the perspective offered by wide avenues and gabled roofs, so different to the flat roofs of the Mediterranean, captured his imagination and he rendered them in more ambitious works such as Blue Roofs, the view of Boulevard de clichy and riera de sant Joan. Barcelona rooftops, a panoramic vista of the city, was painted on a horizontal support that measured 71 x 111 centimeters. The range of colours employed in the making of Barcelona rooftops comprises greys, pale and dark blues, reds and different shades of earthy colours, all of which were commercial colours Picasso mixed on his palette with Prussian blue, in a greater proportion. Picasso worked comprehensively on this picture, establishing the basic lines of the buildings, conceived as great rectilinear volumes silhouetted in blue. He probably used these large areas of flat colour to cover up the previous picture, although due to the pigment being applied in thin layers, the marks of earlier brushstrokes did not disappear completely and the underlying layers of paint surfaced here and there as sparkles of orange that enhance the blue. Finally, he achieved the desired perspective by applying a thin layer of earthy grey paint that acted as an opaque screen or glaze, visually relegating certain elements to the background in order to grant the buildings a sense of remoteness.

and …………………………my  finished painting inspired by the his painting.



Happy Birthday Pablo Picasso, you never be forgotten.


About conservationwithella

Hello, I'm Ella, Art on Paper Conservator & Preservation Manager at Glasgow University Archives and Special Collections. This blog is a walk through my daily life, work, arts & crafts history, my discovery that everything in my life is enough to be a continuous source of reflection. I started blogging to entertain myself but I hope you enjoy it too. I'm sure you agree, that Life without art is nothing. :)

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