Pablo Picasso left us a vast number of his sketchbooks, forming a sort of visual diary of his thought. At different times in his career, Picasso would go back to the sketchbooks to draw as a way of clarifying his ideas, and often, you can see quite radical developments happening picture by picture as he looks at the problem he was trying to solve first this way and then that way.
Famous examples are the sketchbooks of 1928. He was becoming more interested in sculpture and at the same time trying to find a new visual language for his painting, which he felt had come to a halt. There is a striking dialogue happening at this time between the two mediums, where his painting had become very sculptural and his sculpture was showing different ways of thinking about visual space, lessons which he carried through into the next phase of his painting.
These drawings are still lifes (from his imagination) but also human bodies. At the time, he was on holiday at Cannes, spending lots of time on the beach.
“In France the foreshore is also a place to look and be looked at… a place of institutionalised voyeurism where staring is sanctioned, encouraged and enjoyed. Picasso’s art was shaped out of intense looking and he enjoyed the strutting and preening which he saw before him. The bathers provided only part of Picasso’s subject matter. Nature supplied an alternative, for on occasion Picasso phrased the human anatomy in the language of objects seen and found on the foreshore: broken shells, smooth stones and weathered driftwood.”
[Holloway, M (1984) Picasso and women: painting as if to possess. In Picasso – National Gallery of Victoria 28.7.84 – 23.9.84. Art Gallery of New South Wales 10.10.84 – 2.12.84. Edited by P. McCaughey & J. Ryan. Canberra: ICCA. p. 227]
Notice the beautiful use of simple lines to describe three dimension forms; an extraordinary example of hatching and cross-hatching as a drawing strategy.