2 February 2014

The eye-catchy colours and lines of Paul Klee (2)

As promised here is another piece inspired by that clever colourist whose Tate Modern, London, retrospective ‘Making Visible’ I visited last year (it runs till 9th March 2014).

I love Paul Klee’s explorative understanding of colour and on seeing Greeting and Separation in the Evening (above) I just thought “wouldn’t these translate into a lovely chest of drawers?” 

Greetings from Berlin
These quite tiny watercolour studies (both done in 1922 and for his students) explore how complementary colours work together (Klee was a great teacher at the Bauhaus).

I was really struck by Greeting (above) in which Klee paints shutter-like bands of gradated colour across a page while differently coloured arrows flow up and down to meet (and greet?). As an exercise in using complementary colours, what I found interesting was the way in which he starts with orange at the bottom and ends with gluey-grey at the top. In between there is no colour, just white. 

I tried the same approach in my studio using Barcelona Orange and Greek Blue from the Chalk Paint® range. I mixed the two complementary colours together, creating a similar effect to Klee's painting but with a dark greyish colour in the centre drawer. I was fortunate to find a chest which has no gaps in the drawers, which really helped create the effect of stripes of colour.

Get it on your Chest
1. I started on the bottom drawer with Chalk Paint® in Greek Blue, and then I mixed some Barcelona Orange until I thought “that’s a nice colour” and painted it on.
2. On the next shelf up I added a little bit more Barcelona Orange, mixed it in again until I thought “yes, that’s another nice colour’.
3. I continued upwards, drawer by drawer, each time adding a bit more Barcelona Orange to make quite gradual colour gradations (on drawers 1-4).
4. I then made a big jump to drawers 5 and 6 as I wanted to end up with pure Barcelona Orange.

I really like the overall effect, even if the gradations are a bit “jumpy” at the top. Actually that might be its charm because it is not so studied or predictably “colour coded”. (Otherwise, I would have needed a massively tall piece of furniture!). And all I needed was just two pots of paint!

The modernist furniture piece was a great canvas to work on too: I painted a graphite line around it and the little brass handles are a lovely touch – a bit like a 1950’s military coat (think Sgt. Pepper's). The overall effect is very pleasing and you see the magic of complementary colours at work!

Hope you think so too.

Yours, Annie


  1. Oh Annie it is just so delightful. Thank You. It makes me want to try new colors and mixes.

    1. That was one of the points of the piece, to show that there are lots of ways to paint furniture. I'm pleased you like it. I think it's a bit shocking for some!

  2. Wonderful Annie and I LOVE the new header!!!

  3. What a showpiece - looks like the piece of art that it is :
    LOVE your header photo Annie !

  4. What a fun, happy piece, Annie! Thanks for the lesson today! :)

    xoox laurie

    1. Thanks Laurie. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I loved painting it.

  5. Annie. I'm so intrigued by your thought process as you explore new ways to work with color and how you study great teachers like Klee. History is a great teacher for artists. Thanks for your thoughts and willingness to share them with us.

  6. It is beautiful but you make it look so easy when that has not been the case for myself!

    1. Thanks so much. I have been doing it for a long time Lynn! No difficult techniques though, so keep at it!

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