As March roared in with serious news about the coronavirus pandemic and orders to stay home, Green Valley artists Rich Metcalf and Deanna Brooks came up with a imaginative way to keep artists creatively busy indoors.

After considering a few ideas, they decided on the month-long “Picasso Challenge.”

“We chose Picasso’s paintings to reproduce because he had such a variety of styles during his career (cubism, primitivism, expressionism, post-impressionism, modernism, surrealism and his African, Blue and Rose Periods). In his body of work there is almost something that will appeal to everyone,” Metcalf explained.

“Many people added that they really enjoyed being a part of, and having fun, with the Picasso Challenge. I think we helped in a small way by providing a little distraction from what’s happening around us and making folks feel in touch with one another as they were asked to stay home,” he pointed out.

The artistic challenge began April 1 and ran through April 30, with voters choosing seven paintings as their favorites. Visit sw-artists.org then click on Picasso Challenge.

Submissions could be any size and done in any medium, including acrylics, oils, pastels, watercolors, colored pencils, or ink, with no prizes, ribbons, nor entry fees. Anyone could enter, and those submitting a painting got web exposure. Several entries came from beyond Arizona.

In addition to artists who participated by submitting their version of a Picasso painting, Metcalf said visiting the website and seeing all the entries provided another art experience.

“Artists commented that they really enjoyed being part of the Picasso Challenge. I think we helped provide a little distraction from what’s happening around us and making folks feel in touch with one another as they were asked to stay home,” Metcalf remarked. The website received 50 to 70 visits daily from viewers in the U.S., Canada and several countries in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, he noted.

Some submissions

Arlene Szypulski chose Picasso’s colorful “Musical Instruments” done in his cubism style in 1912. It was one of seven entries to receive the most votes.

“I had fun painting this one. It was my choice because my two teenage grandsons play numerous instruments — keyboard, guitar, trumpet, flute and violin. I will pass the painting on to them and I am sure they will enjoy it,” she said.

Jean Hanson chose “Harlequin and His Companion,” done by Picasso in the expressionism style in 1901.

“The two figures in the painting looked forlorn, and it occurred to me that my husband and I felt that way as well … I just thought they needed a mask and some sanitizer to round out the picture. I took artistic license with 'Two Acrobats.’ I hope it’s acceptable to have a little fun due to our current condition.”

Angelique Gillespie selected “Jacqueline with Flowers” painted by Picasso in his cubism style in 1954. Inspired by Hanson’s rendition of “Two Acrobats,” Gillespie named her mixed-media work “Jacqueline with 21st Century Flowers,” replacing Picasso’s flowers with the current coronavirus image. Her entry was also one to receive the most votes.

“In 2000, I taught Picasso-style portraiture to an entire school when I was an artist in residence. ‘Jacqueline with Flowers’ was one of my favorite works to show the process of using our initial portraits to create Picasso’s cubism style,” she pointed out.

Metcalf reworked “Femme avec Un Chapeau Bleu” (Woman with a Blue Hat) painted by Picasso in the post-impressionism period in 1939. He originally created the painting for a CPAC theater production a few years ago.

Using his artistic touch, he said “I dusted it off and applied fresh colors to bring back her smile.”

Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at ellen2414@cox.net