5 Life Lessons from Pablo Picasso

We encountered a new problem last week. Clue: it’s probably the mother of all first-world problems.

Having arrived in our new home in France, my boyfriend and I both leapt eagerly into our respective passion-projects. Me: writing. Him: cycling. After weeks of packing our lives into boxes (literally and figuratively), we had been starved of the things we love dedicating our time to. Ten days later, we realised we had barely spent any time away from our work and our increasing bickering suggested that, maybe, we needed a day off.

I was not kidding when I said it was a first-world problem. But it needed addressing nonetheless; just because you love your work, doesn’t mean it isn’t work. And we had a whole new city to explore.

First on our hit list was the Picasso Museum. The artist spent a big part of his life in Provence and the castle in Old Town is now home to a veritable Pablo shrine. It displays pieces from other modern and cubist artists, a huge collection of photos of Picasso, and, of course, his own distinctive work.

Obviously, his art is amazing and there’s a lot to learn from studying it. But my main takeaways were about him as a person and his approach to life. I think they’re pretty good lessons to live by.

1. Dress like a total badass

Pablo wore whatever the hell he wanted. Whether it was this crazy bomber jacket or a vest with slick belted slacks, he looked like a grandpa you did not want to cross. And this attitude permeated everything he did – throughout his work and his life, Pablo was the master of his own style. Maybe it was because of lesson 2…

2. Give zero fucks

The photographer, granted the honour of bringing his camera into Pablo’s home and studio, was Edward Quinn. He was quiet and gentle enough not to disturb Picasso, who had told many photographers where to stick their lens in his time. Pablo did things his way. This included bedding and marrying women a lot younger than himself and smoking cigarettes while he brooded over his rivalry with Matisse (I made that last part up, but they did have a rivalry). Point is, he didn’t suffer fools and their irrelevant opinions.

3. Work your ass off

In his lifetime, Picasso produced an estimated 50,000 pieces of art. I’m not just talking about paintings, but sculptures, tapestries and ceramics too. He created every day. It was like breathing to him. The man was a masterpiece factory! And there I was moaning about 10 days’ consecutive work. What a baby.

4. Always experiment

Pablo had mastered classical drawing by the time he had his first zits so he then went on to challenge and re-write all the rules. His experimenting led to him co-founding cubism and inventing constructed sculpture. Not sure what either of those are? That’s ok: he also co-invented collage and we all did that in school. If Pablo hadn’t been such a mother-f’ing rebel we might never have had the pre-photoshop joy of prit-sticking celebrities’ heads onto each other’s bodies. Not tried that either? Your childhood was empty.

5. Goats are awesome

Fun fact: Pablo’s work features hundreds of goats and fawns – mythical half-goat, half-man people. I like to think the goat was his spirit animal; stubborn, horny, a little bit cray, but ultimately adorable.

I’ll leave you with a final kick up the backside from our boy Pablo:

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Well, shit. Back to work then…

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