There are so many “rules” artists internalize about how art is supposed to be made or sold. We hold these sometimes subconscious ideas in our hearts. Then we don’t take the steps forward we can to make the art we feel called to create.
I felt this even more resoundingly after leaving the Paul Klee exhibition at The National Gallery here in Ottawa Canada. Paul Klee lit a fire under me. More artists need to be reminded they get to make their own rules.
So please, go break these 5 rules like Paul Klee:
Klee painted on cardboard and newspaper
You don’t need fancy materials to make art worthy of exhibition. You don’t need a crapload of money to make art either. Klee made much of his work on cardboard or newspaper and had his art exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art New York in his lifetime.
Klee worked small
People talk about how galleries only want larger works. I was totally surprised by how small all of his works were at the recent exhibition I attended. They were small, intimate and lovely. And he was a successful artist during his lifetime with multiple exhibitions of his art.
Klee used gouache and watercolor
I constantly heard from professors, galleries, articles about the arts that professional, successful artists use oil paints. Klee enjoyed a successful career during his lifetime and worked in mixed media combining all kinds of paint materials as well as printmaking into his art.
Klee was prolific
In 1939 alone he created 1,253 artworks. He wasn’t precious about his art, he just made a lot of it, as much as he could when he could. Think about it: that’s 4 artworks a day for an entire year. If you want to find your voice, make a lot of work like Klee. Not all work is made for exhibition. I bet most of what is on the walls for this Ottawa exhibition were experimentations that today we savor and relish.
Klee created centered compositions
One of the color studies he created after his awakening to color (which occurred on a trip to Tunisia) is a centered composition. One of the rules of composition often spouted by art educators like myself is to avoid centering your composition – that kind of symmetry and positioning doesn’t give room for the eyes to travel throughout the work.
One of my favorite works at the exhibition had a centered composition. It is called Static-Dynamic Intensification.
Take heart, my artist friend, for the next time you think there are rules to break: you should. Paul Klee did.
“A line is a dot that went for a walk,” – Paul Klee
Ottawa hosted this exhibition Nov 16, 2018 to Mar 17, 2019 at The National Gallery.