That’s a quote from Paul Klee. Though it’s his description of drawing, it’s actually a perfect account of how he painted.

Highways and Byways

Klee was a Swiss-born painter born in 1879 and died in 1940. He was innovative and experimental, leaving behind a diverse body of work. His style was influenced by Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism, but it always remained highly individual.

He was also fascinated by color and wrote about it extensively. The Paul Klee Notebooks is a collection of his essays on modern art, as well as his lectures at the Bauhaus school where he taught.

Bauhaus, by the way, was a German art school famous for its approach to design, not to mention its faculty – Joseph Albers and Kadinsky among them.

Klee’s work was an inspiration to a number of modern artists, including students of the New York School, which was not so much a school, but a group of influential artists in the 50’s and 60’s.

Klee himself took inspiration from music. He saw analogies between music and visual art, and often played violin as a warm-up to painting.  He was also inspired by children’s drawings because of their unaffected quality and freedom.

Senecio – 1922

A portrait of an old man in the Cubism style, Senecio is a joyful assemblage of simple shapes and deep, warm colors.

It has a childlike quality with its one brow raised and the other in the shape of a triangle. The portrait is also (appropriately) called Head of a Man Going Senile.

Insula Dulcamara – 1938


This is one of Klee’s largest paintings, 34 3/5 × 69 3/10 in. It’s filled with delicate colors in contrast with bold dark symbols and shapes.

Klee used newsprint stretched on jute which he painted with oils and colored paste.

Cat and Bird – 1928

Klee liked to use line, shape, and color for their own sake rather than to portray something visible. In doing so, he was able to create images that had more to do with thought than what was perceived.

This painting is a great example of that.

The bird appears to be flying inside the cat’s mind because, of course, it is on the cat’s mind. Great touch – the cat’s nose has a little heart shape. This implies the cat’s desire!

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