How an Artist is Like a Tree: Paul Klee on Creativity

By Paul Klee – Swiss-born German artist (1879-1940)

The artist has studied this world of variety and has, we may suppose, unobtrusively found his way in it. His sense of direction has brought order into the passing stream of image and experience. This sense of direction in nature and life, this branching and spreading array, I shall compare with the root of the tree.

From the root the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye.

Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree.

Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he guides the vision on into his work.

As, in full view of the world, the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in time and space, so with his work.

Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root.

Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce divergences.

But it is just the artist who at times is denied those departures from nature which his art demands. He has even been charged with incompetence and deliberate distortion.

And yet, standing at his appointed place, the trunk of the tree,

he does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from the depths.

He neither serves nor rules — he transmits.

His position is humble.

And the beauty at the crown is not his own.

He is merely a channel.

About Nancy Wait

Nancy Wait is an artist and a memoir writer, "The Nancy Who Drew, the Memoir That Solved a Mystery," and a former actress (stage, film and TV) in the UK under the name Nancie Wait. She hosted blog talk radio shows "Art and Ascension" and "Inspirational Storytellers." Her current project is a second memoir, "The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home," due out in 2023.
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2 Responses to How an Artist is Like a Tree: Paul Klee on Creativity

  1. Bravo Nancy. Your creativity knows no bounds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy Wait says:

      Thanks Julia!😍 Those drawings are from a few years ago, but I thought rereading this wonderful piece by Paul Klee might inspire me.
      I had it in quotes when I was drafting it – and now the formatting has gone! I hope you can still tell it’s by Klee.


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