Stuck on Klee

I made a bit of progress with the leaf study originally suggested by Paul Klee in an assignment to his Bauhaus students. The exercise was to develop a fictitious leaf based on rules he outlined in his text.

I started another one on my drawing board, with the idea of applying different rules. For example: 1) instead of equal divisions along the central leaf vein, I halved the distance between each of the nodes; 2) I set the length of each bilateral branch equal in length to the previous division of the central vein; 3) My next rule was to divide each branch into twigs, each to be half the length of the branch, but I got distracted.

Instead of proceeding to the divisions of the branches, I used each dividing point along the central vein as the center of a circle, the radii of which were the branches departing from main line (see figure below).

Pencil Drawing - Leaf Study 3, beginning stage

Another Leaf Study – Beginning Stage
approx. 12″x9″ Standard Weight Drawing Paper

I continued along each branch, added the twigs and thickened the lines appropriately (wider at the base, becoming thinner at the extremities).

pencil Drawing - Leaf Study 3, later stage

Leaf Study 3, later stage
approx. 12″x9″ Standard Weight Drawing Paper

Back to the drawing board

I enjoy using my T-square and mechanical pencils. It reminds me of my high school drafting class. I could spend all day fooling around with geometric possibilities of angles, circles and straight lines.  Paul Klee was famous for saying that drawing was akin to ‘taking a line for a walk’.  But in the leaf studies I drew, I felt that my line was on a leash and I was just taking it out to the nearest fire hydrant and back.


When I get sidetracked, I like to revisit my original goals.

A bit of history of my blog

I began my blog in January 2013 with the idea of relating my experience as a sibling of a severely handicapped autistic and nonverbal brother, in part, to reach other siblings. For the first 11 months of the blog I recapped all my efforts to reach him: my photography, my writing, talks with my parents, and so on.  In November 2013, the day before Mike‘s birthday, my mother, younger brother and I went to visit him in his geriatric group home. He showed no recognition at all. At that point, I shifted my focus from trying to understand him, to trying understand and express my own feelings.

Ever since then, I have been trying to find ways to express my feelings in my paintings and drawings.  My blog entries since November 2013 are a record of my efforts.

Need to get unstuck

Even though rigorous treatment of geometric relationships on the drawing board is a lot of fun, it does not further my agenda. I am happy to have done the exercises, but I need to free up my line – to unleash the hound, so to speak.

I have no doubt that Paul Klee’s artistry holds many more clues about how I can express my feelings visually, so I will move on from the first 23 pages of his notebook, even though I have not totally absorbed the lesson. I’m sure that when I come back to this text later, all will be clarified.

Today’s study

The kiwi is about to go bad, so today was my last chance to capture its image before it turned to complete mush and started attracting flies.

Watercolor Study - Kiwi in Decay

Kiwi in Decay
9″x12″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

There are a couple of things about this study I should mention. The image is larger than life. This was not much of a factor after a few minutes, but I noticed that when I started to draw, I automatically created the contours as if the image  was to be life size.

I painted in the creases and wrinkles with dark pigment and, after it was completely dry, applied a wash to the area. This had the effect of integrating the disparate tones of the fruit’s surface. Perhaps the surface is too smooth, and not wrinkly enough.  I did not want to overwork this study, but keeping some amount of dis-integration might be a good thing.



5 thoughts on “Stuck on Klee

  1. Invention is infinitely interesting. There are many veinous designs in different varieties of leaf (look and see). I am not giving away everything from my special ‘leafness’ post. However, there is a lot to be said for observation and study. As you have experienced with Arthur, for instance.

    Practice, practice, practice. Then, by all means, unleash the hound. Not sure on this end, but we are thinking in the Healing Garden that perhaps, after practice practice practice, the unleashing is called making a painting. Will let you know for sure later.

    We are thinking, too, that you are thinking the shift in focus from communication with Michael to communication with yourself is a ‘fait d’accompli’. An already done thing. No. The shift in focus happens before the choosing of the path. The choosing of the path is not the traveling of the path. The journey is not the beginning or the end (like a line).

    We think we have seen a line. As we think we understand the meaning of a ‘far’ distance. Or change of tack. When we can communicate within ourselves, the whole word communicates with us. Possibly, even plants.

    • Looking forward to seeing your leaf painting.

      My shift in focus is one of emphasis. My effort to learn how to express my feelings visually is indeed ongoing, unlike my yearning for contact with my brother. I am happy that he is well taken care of. I’ll always love my brother but I have exhausted all the avenues to make satisfactory contact.


      • Jack. So sorry you have missed my leaf paintings. They are ongoing. As someone with some experience with vegetables, inside and out, I am thinking maybe your Brother has not given up communicating with you. Not to worry. This can all be worked out in further leaf studies. Please do not get hypnotized by another line. It’s only a construct from point to point. Remember, disagreement of opinion is how we distinguish one point from another. THGg

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