I’ve been trying too hard. During the past few weeks I’ve been trying to puzzle through the creative works and teachings of Paul Klee and Hans Hofmann. I was hoping (and to some degree, expecting) to apply their principles to my own artistic expression.

Klee‘s basic premise, from my readings of his Notebooks, is that the inherent creativity of an artist is equivalent to the violin bow drawn across a thin plank of wood covered with sawdust. The energy of the bow causes vibrations in the wood and the sawdust to redistribute itself in a characteristic pattern. In other words, the creative energy of the artist is somehow released into the medium in which he or she is working and is ‘made visible’. The idea of ‘making visible’ comes from Klee’s famous quote: “Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible.” This is my ambition: to make some of my inner life visible to the outside world.

Hofmann‘s idea is that an artist’s inner emotional life is one of the ingredients in the process of transforming the two-dimensional plane of a canvas into a three-dimensional rendering of space. Through the use of contrasting qualities of pictorial elements (i.e., form or color), the artist pushes and pulls the medium to attain what Hofmann describes as a ‘plastic’ result. I understand this to mean that the contrasts (push pull) set up an ambiguity so that the viewer sees a dynamic tension in the artwork.

Sadly, there is no step-by-step process of uncorking Hofmann’s concept of an inner life and adding it to the creative process. Also, there is no process to Klee’s successful ‘drawing of the bow’ across the plank of creativity. Sometimes I feel that instead of using rosin on my bow to grab the edge of the plank, I use turkey fat; the bow slips over the edge without vibrating it at all.

Today’s experiment:

I relaxed today and relapsed to a conventional pictorial portrayal of the space that presented itself to me.

Watercolor Sketch - Conventional Scene, Pen and Ink

Back Yard -Watercolor, Pen & Ink
4″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


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