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Just one long line

Look around you! Do you see more colors or lines? Color shouts to us from the sky, the grass, the flowers, but the divisions between colors, the contours or edges of things, and independent lines can be just as exciting! Let's look for lines: Remember the bare limbs of trees without their leaves in winter? the long telephone wires where the birds love to sit? the lines that divide the colors on a big beach ball?

And what can YOU DO with a line like a kite string, a jumprope, a strand of yarn? You can make lovely loops - or wild tangles!

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With one long line of ink, the Swiss artist Paul Klee drew this lively, rather tangled, but reasonable dancer!

Can you find the point where Klee put down the tip of his pen in the middle of what would become the dancer?

Klee zipped his line up to an angle above what would become the dancer's eye, zigged it down and around three times, and circled it around as the head. He swooped it down for the side, out and across for a leg and knee, down and around for a tiny foot.

Klee arched and leaped and glided and ran, lifted and dropped his line as if it were the path of a dancer.

And, as in a wire sculpture, the twists of line represent a dancer, abstracted from his usual appearance.

In this code or sign language (our handwriting is another kind of code!), Klee doesn't tell us a lot about the dancer - but we get the message!

Klee surprises us! Tracing a simple silhouette (or outline), he suddenly crosses the line and thins the leg to a single point - but we see the energy in the tilted crouch of the dancer.

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Klee's title teases us, too: translated from German, ``Dances fright.'' Do you think the dancer is acting out a feeling?

And Klee plays tricks with color. Redipping his pen into darker brown ink for the foot in midair (after a start with red), he weights the upper edge of that airborne leg, the waving arms and concerned little face.

As a ready-to-spin pinwheel, the dancer might tip a little farther and crash! But Klee made sure he doesn't!

Klee wrote to his grown son Felix in February 1932, the year after he drew our dancer, that he had been framing some work: ``The pictures smiled a bit in the wisps of sunshine.''

Do you think this gentle, imaginative artist, who played the violin, heard lines of music as he composed his dancer?

You'll find lines everywhere! Isn't it great that we don't have to stand in lines to enjoy them?

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