Klee's Line

Wed, Apr 11, 2018

Paul Klee called drawing, ‘Taking a line for a walk’ and ever since I first saw his drawings I’ve been really taken with the quality of his line.

Paul Klee, 'They're Biting'

Paul Klee, 'They're Biting'

I just assumed he’d drawn in ink on – possibly– damp paper, which I thought would explain the bleeding of the line and it’s smudginess. I tried to mimic it again and again, with scratchy-nibbed dip-pens, different weights and finishes of paper; and I never got there. I have never been able to reproduce the line.

Why didn’t I do more research? I’ve just discovered what his process was for these sorts of drawings.

He would cover one side of a linen cloth with black oil paint; leave it a day to mostly dry; turn it paint-side down on card; place his preparatory drawing over the clean side of the linen; and, using a stylus, trace over his drawing. The black oil would push through onto the card, with some of the texture of the linen and a fair amount of smudginess from his hands as he bore down on the paper. He’d then apply watercolour washes or maybe ink washes. The card would take the colour and the oiled line would resist it.

Guess what I’m trying at the weekend.


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