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face dove picasso meaning

What is The Meaning Of The Face Dove Line Drawing By Picasso?

Are you intrigued by the face dove drawing of Picasso and its meaning?

This article will enlighten you on what it is and it’s meaning.

But first, let’s clear up some basic things.

Art for the Non-Artist

art1 /ɑːt/ The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” 

To completely understand a specific artwork, you need to understand the background of the artist who created it. 

However, art is highly subjective to the viewer and can mean something that is exceedingly different from what the artist intended.

Many art beginners like me will take a look at the painting or piece of artwork.

In the first instance, we’ll only see some blobs or scribbles, and you may think to yourself, “I could do something like that.”

Sometimes, you might ask yourself, “What is so special about this piece of art? “

As a newbie, you do not understand the real feeling, the artist is trying to portray.

Subjective Meaning

In the words of Margaret Hungerford, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Therefore, the blob may just look like a quick paint job to you.

But, depending on how you determine the meaning of the elements in a piece of art, you will then see the true beauty behind the canvas.

Unless you have a degree in art or are an artist yourself, it is difficult to understand the meaning behind any piece of art.

This art could be a painting, a drawing, or even a song. 

I love looking at art and looking for a great statement piece to hang up in my house.

But it is tough to find a statement piece.

Moreover, how will I know if the art that I like means what I think it does?

You don’t need to study or have a degree to obtain a basic understanding of art.

All you need is to understand some essential elements and “read” the emotion and feeling you gain from your initial experience when seeing a piece of art for the first time.

Analyzing the Face Dove Line Drawing

Let’s look at one of the most famous artists of all time, Pablo Picasso. 

Picasso was a prolific artist and was notorious for painting and drawing an array of inscrutable subjects and fortuitous portraits.

With the use of many colors and shapes, he was well known mainly for his work on painting humans and faces.

His drawings of women’s faces and distorted faces are quite familiar.

Looking at these distorted paintings, you wonder, “what did he think when he painted these”?

“He must have been mad or going through something”?

There is more to these paintings than just some funny-looking faces.

There is a real meaning behind them

But to understand this, you need to look deep into the painting itself. 

Not just at the odd faces, but at the actual elements, he used when painting these.

face dove picasso meaning

Picasso’s Art

Picasso is famous for his beautiful and unique paintings.

He was also the master of symbolic yet straightforward sketches.

Picasso not only created many paintings of women’s faces but also had a love of incorporating animals in his work.

Picasso was very fond of drawing doves and pigeons in particular, as he made multiple sketches using these animals in his works. 

We will talk about the meaning of why Picasso drew a lot of birds later on in the article. 

But he had a real fondness for drawing animals.

Another one of his most famous works is the drawing of his pet Dachshund named Lump. 

This drawing brought new attention to this breed of dog to the public.

This is a story for another time.

Let’s have a look at one of his most iconic drawings, the Face Dove line drawing.

The Face Dove line drawing shows a dove hugging a woman’s face.

It seems quite straightforward, but there is more meaning to this simple drawing.

To understand it, we will be looking deep into this drawing by going through the essential elements of visual art.

Here are some simple steps to help understand the meaning of the Face Dove sketch.


When you first see a piece of art, study it comprehensively and analyze the techniques the artist has used to create it.

Lines are an essential part of communication around the world. If you are in a foreign country and do not speak the language, lines, and symbols help you to find your way.

When you first see a painting, look at the lines used in the artwork to determine any meanings within the shapes or symbols drawn.

Studying the lines in an artwork is a form of communication with the artist on what they are wanting you to feel when looking at this piece.

Lines on an artwork provide significant visual meaning.  

There are different types of lines to look for. 

Are there contour lines? 

Dividing lines or gesture lines? 

Are the lines thick or thin? 

Horizontal or vertical? 

Are there any patterns? 

All these have some meaning as to why the artist has used these in their work.

Now, look at the Face Dove sketch.

The lines are thin, providing a meaning of fragility or elegance.

The dove’s body is contoured around the woman’s face, creating a boundary between the face and the dove.

The curved lines provide some elegance to the drawing and give a sense of peacefulness.

This sketch uses simple lines to capture the essence and emotion of the subjects in this artwork.

It provides transparency of what the artist wants to transcribe to the viewer. 

Line drawing is an essential element of art.

However, lines can be drawn in many ways that can be visually captivating.


The next part of taking note of is the colors used.

Colors symbolize the emotions the artist wants you to feel when looking at their work.

Research shows that colors influence the way we feel, act, and behave.

Cool colors such as blues and greens give a sense of peace, calm, truth, and tranquility.

You instantly feel calm and relaxed when you are surrounded by these colors. 

For example, the blue colors of the ocean or a field of bright green grass, makes you feel happy and relaxed.

Warm colors such as yellow, red, and orange give people the feeling of desire, adrenaline, and energy.

When these warm colors are insight, it provides the viewer with a sense of excitement. 

It is proven in many fast-food chains that use warm colors in their brand to appeal to their customers as they feel the desire to eat in these restaurants.

In this instance, we are looking at the Face Dove drawing, which is a simple black ink sketch on a white colored background. 

Line drawings are usually drawn in black and white, but some can incorporate a bit of color or shading.

So you may say there is no feeling or emotion in this drawing as there are no colors.

But there is a reason why Picasso has not added any color and made this drawing quite simple.

The Colors Black and White

The Face Dove sketch is drawn on a blank white background.

White is a symbol of purity, cleanliness, safety, and innocence. 

The white background sets the tone of this drawing as it is the dominant color.

The background symbolizes peace and positivity. 

This color relates entirely to the subjects drawn, such as the dove, which symbolizes peace.

Black is mostly associated with grief, death, or negativity.

But there is much more to the color black than the harmful elements.

Black is a dominant color that can also represent sophistication and elegance.

With dark black lines drawn on the pure white background, it gives this drawing a sense of purity and composure, which again relates to the objects in this drawing.

Sometimes using too many colors gives mixed emotions or can be overwhelming to the viewer.

Picasso has drawn the Face Dove in pure black and white to provide a direct meaning with no ulterior feelings.

Understanding the meanings of colors is very interesting.

Click here for more information on understanding colors and how they are used to represent particular feelings and emotions.


The shape is another element of art.

Each of their viewpoints determines the angles and curves.

This is a technique called perspective drawing. 

Shapes in drawings can be used to control the viewer’s feelings.

For example, squares and rectangles can portray strength and stability, whereas circles can portray continuous movement.

Triangles can lead your eye to look toward an upward motion.

Looking at the Face Dove sketch, the subjects are drawn with curved shapes that provide continuous eye movement when you look at the drawing.

When you first look at the drawing, your eye starts from the center of the woman’s face, and as you look at the image, your eye moves around the picture following the shape of the dove.

The artist has created the drawing like this on purpose so that you are not just focused on one central point of the image, but you are moving your view around the whole picture.

He does not want one object to be the main focal point, as both are just as important as each other. 

This means that the dove and the woman are connected, and they are meant to be looked at as a joint subject.

Going back to the essence of the contoured lines mentioned earlier.

Curved lines provide a sense of peacefulness and elegance, which is reflected in the Face Dove Sketch.

The curve of the dove wrapping around the curve of the woman’s face brings serenity to the artwork.


The element of space is determined by the artist on where the lines are placed. 

Space is either formed as a negative or positive space.

Positive space is the area occupied by an object, while negative space is the area around or within the purpose. 

Space also creates the illusion of the depth of the image.

Shapes that are drawn overlapping make the objects look like they are at different distances. 

An object that is drawn larger and overlaps the other looks as though it is closer or in front of the image that is drawn smaller.

In the Face Dove line drawing, the dove is drawn to look like it is in front of the woman’s face by being drawn as the more massive object and overlapping the woman’s face.

This is giving the context that the dove is the dominant subject in this drawing, and the meaning of the artwork is based on the purpose and motions of the dove.

As the dove embraces the woman’s face and in the drawing’s front focus, the artist wants to inform the viewer that the dove is the essence of the overall meaning of the story.


Texture is another element of art to look for when viewing a piece of art for the first time. 

The texture is a significant influence in 3D artwork but can also be incorporated in 2D to provide the artist’s emotion.

Texture in 2D drawings or paintings is determined by the brush strokes used, and the different types of strokes used can provide various emotions to the viewer.

Sharp and rigid brush strokes can give the sense of an intense or anxious feeling, whereas smooth and soft brush strokes provide a sense of a calm and tranquil feel.

Texture can also be determined in drawings by giving the illusion that you can feel and see the object’s realism.

This is called implied texture. 

The texture is drawn by using light or dark, narrow or broad, and hard or soft marks. 

Textures can also be determined by the type of lines that are drawn.

Bold lines can be brought to show confidence and dignify the object at hand, whereas shading can indicate a feeling of sorrow and sadness. 

More information on textures in drawings can be found here.

The Face Dove sketch is drawn with distinct bold and contour lines, Picasso has drawn the dove in the softness of outline.

This gives the illusion of how it may feel if it were touched.

The woman’s face has sharp features, providing confidence in her emotion.

However, the outline of the face is drawn with soft contour lines that are providing the feeling of serenity.

The soft contour lines on the dove also provide a realism of the feeling of the dove’s fluffy and delicate coat.


When you look at a piece of art, you have an instant feeling drawing you to the artwork.

It can make you feel at ease, anxious, energetic, relaxed, etc.

Looking at a painting, drawing, or photograph with brightness makes you feel calm and gives you a feeling of happiness. 

However, if the image was dark or obscure, it can provide a feeling of anxiety or fear.

Emotions can also be determined by the elements used in the artwork, such as the line, color, and texture that we have discussed.

These elements are used in specific ways to give you the feeling the artist wants you to portray.

When I first look at the Face Dove sketch, it is challenging to feel any other emotion than serenity, calmness, and peace. 

I have come to this feeling because of the soft contour lines and shapes the artist has used.

As well as the pure colors in the drawing, white for purity and black for sophistication. 

Emotion plays an important part in art.

When you see the artwork for the first time, your brain is stimulated by the elements to give you a specific feeling.

Your emotional response to the artwork is connected with the impression the artist is trying to express.


All essential elements of the artwork are the subjects. 

Who or what are they?

What are they doing?

How do they look? 

The subjects or objects provide the story of the artwork.

Their actions and aesthetics are the basis of meaning.

The first noticeable image on the Face Dove sketch is the woman’s face.

Face drawings are very personal.

When you look at a picture of a face, analyze all the different features in-depth, in particular, the eyes.

‘The eyes are the window to the soul’ and carry the most emotion. 

In the Face Dove line drawing, the artist has drawn sharp lines on the facial features, giving confidence to the object. 

The woman’s eyes look calm and composed, almost looking down, and the woman’s face provides a sense that she is happy and relaxed.

The next distinct subject in the drawing is the dove. 

The Dove

In Christianity, the dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and often in other sectors symbolizes peace. 

Doves can also symbolize motherhood due to the sacrifice they have for their offspring.

This is an interesting fact as the dove in this drawing is embracing the woman’s face.

Some people may perceive it as a child’s face, and the dove is taking care of and providing protection.

There are many interesting facts about the symbolism of the dove that can be found here.

In this drawing, the dove embraces the woman’s face, and embracing it is the expression of love, like, or sympathy. 

This provides excellent context as it shows the overall emotion of the dove and the woman who are coming together and providing safety to each other. 

This reverts to the dove symbolizing motherhood.

The drawing almost feels like the dove is protecting the woman treating her like she’s her offspring, and having a sense of care and responsibility for the woman.

Picasso was known for his love of birds, particularly pigeons and doves.

Doves in Picasso’s Life

Picasso’s father had an interest in painting doves and taught Picasso to draw a bird’s feet when he first learned how to paint. 

The dove is an integral symbol in Picasso’s life, which may have formed due to his experiences in painting birds throughout his childhood.

The story of the connection between Pablo Picasso and the dove is remarkable and can be read further here.

Many elements in visual art are formed to create a meaningful story for the artist, but the meaning is subjective due to the viewer’s analysis.

It is not difficult to understand what a specific artwork may mean to you. 

By working through the above elements of the Face Dove line drawing, we have come to the evaluation of what this artwork means.

  • Thin and Curved lines
  • Bold black ink on a white background
  • Overlapping and contoured shapes
  • Soft line textures with sharp features

All of these symbolize calmness, serenity, and happiness.

With the main subject in this drawing being the dove, the elements, and the items in the artwork all match one meaning of this drawing.


The Evolution of Picasso’s Art Techniques

Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and his art techniques evolved significantly over the course of his long career.

In the early years of his career, Picasso primarily worked in a traditional academic style, painting portraits and still lifes in a realistic manner.

However, as he became more interested in modern art movements, he began to experiment with different techniques and styles.

One of the most significant developments in Picasso’s art technique was his involvement with the cubist movement.

Cubism was an art movement that sought to break down objects into their basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, and triangles.

Picasso was a pioneer of this movement.

His cubist paintings are characterized by their fragmented, geometric forms and use of abstract shapes and lines.

In the 1920s, Picasso began to incorporate Surrealist elements into his work.

He used dreamlike imagery and unconventional compositions to convey a sense of the unconscious mind.

He also experimented with different media, including sculpture, printmaking, and collage, and continued to evolve his style throughout his career.

Overall, Picasso’s art technique was constantly evolving and changing, reflecting his interest in a variety of art movements and his desire to push the boundaries of traditional artistic conventions.

Final Thoughts

Understanding art is not as difficult as it seems if you go through the following elements: lines, color, shape, texture, emotion, and subjects.

Do not feel overwhelmed when you first see a piece of art and feel you have no idea what it means to the artist or to the viewer.

Analyze the elements, and you will be able to piece together and understand each section of the artwork.

Then, you can make a conclusion on what the artwork means to you. 

So, what does Picasso’s Face Dove Line Drawing mean to you?

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