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Inspire and create… Paul Klee

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By Brenda Whittle—Educational writer and former deputy headteacher.

Paul Klee was a master with colour and is the perfect artist for teaching children about paint mixing

Paul Klee was born in Switzerland in 1879 into a musical family. As well as being an artist, he was a musician, writer, poet and a teacher at the Bauhaus, a revolutionary school of art and design in Germany. Klee is famous for his use of colour. He experimented with different painting techniques and painting on different materials, and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modernism. Examples of Klee’s work can be seen by typing his name into Google Images. In this activity, children use Paul Klee’s work as inspiration for their own art as they mix colours and experiment with painting.

Paul Klee style artwork

Getting inspired

  • Take the children for a walk in a local area where there are plants, trees and flowers. Alternatively, in the classroom make a collection of potted plants and colourful, cut flowers.
  • Explain to the children that you want them to focus on the colours they see in the plants and flowers. Ask questions to prompt thinking about colour and to develop language, such as Is there just one shade of green? Can you describe colours more precisely, for example orangey red, pale yellow, bluey green or bright pink? Does a particular colour look the same in the sun as in the shade?
  • Take close-up photographs of plants and flowers in a range of colours. Then, back in the classroom, look at the photographs on screen and talk about the colours and the children’s preferences.
  • Tell the children that a famous artist called Paul Klee was very interested in colour. Show them examples of his abstract work, such as Castle and Sun, Fire in the Evening, Highway and Byways or Polyphony. Encourage the children to talk about the colours and shapes Klee used in these paintings.
  • Explain that as well as enjoying colours, Paul Klee liked to experiment in painting on different surfaces. Inform the children that you want them to also experiment in mixing colours and painting on different surfaces.
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