Meet Devin Kleiner
I am an architect and artist living in Seattle with my wife and two young children. My passion for watercolor painting, initiated in college while studying and traveling in Europe and Southeast Asia, was recently rekindled when I was hit by a car while biking home from work. After several surgeries, I transferred from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, where I became dependent on painting to tolerate my pain. I typically stand when I paint, so it was an adjustment to sit reclined in a wheelchair with my dominant right hand in a cast. I tried painting with my left hand or wedging the brush between the index and middle fingers of my right hand to avoid using my thumb, which had been dislocated in the collision. Surprisingly these constraints released me to paint more freely and become less attached to outcomes. I began spending less time touching the brush to paper and more time watching the water and pigments engage.
My painting is inspired by raku pottery-making, which begins with a deliberate application of glazes followed by a complete surrender to the firing process, resulting in mysterious designs. I practice setting a watercolor wash in motion and then allowing the pigments, water, and paper to continue the painting. It is therapeutic for me to observe the washes of color evolve as they dry, often creating surprising movement and dramatic effects. Occasionally while the paint dries, inspiration for the next wash reveals itself to me, establishing a rhythm as the painting unfolds.
Painting through my pain became both a coping mechanism and an opportunity for spurring creativity. While engrossed in a watercolor wash, I recognize the pain but don't experience it as suffering. I'm focused, refreshed, and at peace with the sensation.
This recovery has marked a turning point in my relationship to my artwork. Painting shifted from a hobby I enjoyed doing in my free time to a necessity for getting through sometimes excruciating pain. My essential needs are now eating, sleeping, deep breathing, and painting.