November 26, 2014

How to draw and paint like Paul Klee.

As I said the other day, I found the notebook I wrote as I studied an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Paul Klee. (It was "Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation" at the Hayward Gallery in March 2002, intelligently reviewed here in The Guardian.)

Here's the first page of notes — Lessons 1 and 2 — extracting how-to instructions from a painting and a drawing:

How to paint like Paul Klee, Lesson 1

Text, with links to the artworks from which I extracted the instructions:
• draw ink lines almost with a straight edge horizontally all over bristol board. Vertically: some straight lines perpendicular & some angled. Not evenly spaced. Indications of steepled buildings & a few skeletal trees. Oil paint w/o blue. Some zebra columns. Landscape With Yellow Steeple

• draw a funny man in the center of the page in ink, then draw horizontal straight but not evenly spaced lines all across bending at the contours of the man — Rider Unhorsed & Bewitched
From the above-linked Guardian article:
In his last years Klee was afflicted by scleroderma, a horrifying disease that slowly mummifies its victims. All his lithe mobility impeded, he relied more and more on pure abstraction to articulate his visions. The brush becomes broader, the colours more dazzling. The language is liberated into a grand and commanding song. 
Scleroderma is the disease that killed my maternal grandmother.

ADDED: I've given you the links to the images I used to make my instructions, but the point of the instructions is to give you an idea of something to do to produce your own artwork, which isn't supposed to copy the original. Check out the original, but then forget the original and just follow the instructions. I chose to write the instructions in this very concrete and mechanical way so you — so I — could make a completely different artwork. And I consider the instructions themselves to be an independent artwork.

14 comments:

rhhardin said...

Picasso The Musicians.

Todd Grimson said...

I have a poster of a Paul Klee painting on the inside of my bedroom door.

Todd Grimson said...

I'm not going to do any more art. I've shot my wad.

Smilin' Jack said...

How to sing like Bob Dylan:

• Step on a cat's tail.

• Do it again.

• Fortissimo this time.

jr565 said...

I'll take lessons from Bob Ross instead. I'll probably get better results anyway. People will know what I'm trying to paint, for one.

jr565 said...

HOw to paint like Paul Klee.
Look at Tetris. Paint tetris, sloppily but vary the colors.

jr565 said...

HOw by the way is telling you what to draw telling you how to draw?That's like a painting assignment.
Still life with oils,using fruit. That was your first lesson.

jr565 said...

In truth, I don't mind Klee's work. It makes good use of color and is interesting to look at. It's no Rembrandt that's for user but if you like abstract art you could find worse.

But he may not be the guy to go to to teach you how to draw unless you don't care that your drawing looks nothing like what you say your drawing is.

Ann Althouse said...

Wow. You people don't like Paul Klee!

Be said...

I bought two large canvases from a fellow at my local agency (Yes, I worked in Mental Health; in Art Therapy, too. Bring it on.).

Remember walking in and out of the building, seeing these canvases, and asking myself, what do they remind me of?

Bought both, really cheap, and decided to ask the program manager about the fellow. Turns out that he had never heard of Paul Klee. Sent him a cheap book of Klee's works. Also some pictures from my home museum. Had a few
interesting conversations until he stopped taking his medicine.

Anonymous said...

I am a strong admirer of Klee and his work. The idea of boiling down observation into instruction is wonderful, and I appreciate the 'peek' inside Althouse's notebook. I like how there are the first observations, then the 'second' series -- how"some zebra columns" is added (smaller text, with arrow) and "Oil paint w/o blue."

One of the things I like about Klee is his dexterity with paint and with pen: his paintings generally have a measured, strong approach with brush, while his penwork often has a tremulous yet graceful feel to it.

Probably a cliche, but "The Twittering Machine" has always been one of my favorite works: it initially operates on a simple level, but the more you inspect the more that is revealed. I once did an exercise where I took approximately-one-inch swatches of a copy of the work then blew them up greatly in size and grouped them in triptychs: divorced of the drawing and its composition the truncated lines still fascinated me. It also changed how I hold a pen or pencil for drawing: not as clenched as in handwriting, and weighing the pen more to the middle, allowing for greater variation in line weight and shape.

Anyway, I loved this post, and hope to see more from Althouse's sketchbooks.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, beta

I will do the rest of the pages... even though not many people seem to care.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

e: "I will do the rest of the pages... even though not many people seem to care."

I love the posts that reflect back on your art background. Makes the blog that much more unique.
-b3k