History of Art #17 – Klimt

Gustav Klimt is one of my most favourite artists.  I love the way his figures emerge among swathes of shape and pattern, his use of gold and other metallics and his primary subject matter of female figures, often mythological.  We started our lesson on Klimt by looking at the images in a book I have about the artist and his work.  My boys are little magpies, always drawn to bright and shiny things, so I had assumed that Klimt would really appeal to them but they were not as taken as I thought they would be.  They found all the pattern a bit overwhelming and visually busy.  Horses for courses.

Despite not seeing the allure of Klimt’s use of gold leaf, three of the boys were keen to use metallic paints.  My 12 year old painted a penguin, with bronze bill and feet and a gold eye; my 8 year old used the word ‘gold” as his jumping off point and painted Booster Gold’s robot Skeets, from the DC comics; the 6 year old did take his inspiration directly from Klimt as he painted his version of the Tree of Life – and I think he might be my little protege with all the dots of metallic paint he added to his gold tree.

17 - Klimt - AB

17 - Klimt - E

17 - Klimt -AR

My 9 year old non-conformist, of course, had to do his own thing and resisted the temptation to paint even though he loves all things shiny.  As soon as he saw the Klimt works based on mythological and biblical stories, I knew he would focus on the narrative of the subject matter rather than any element of Klimt’s style.  He liked the works depicting Judith and Holofernes and Salome and John the Baptist so his drawing depicts a woman holding a severed head.  Nice.  He chose to scrumple up the drawing for the effect of the creases.  I am not sure why.

17 - Klimt - O

I decided to challenge myself in my painting: I have drawn full profile figures before but have not painted one, not that I recall anyway.  It does not show up in the photograph very well but the background is pearlescent yellow.  I decided to leave it as it was rather than add pattern just because I worried the face I had painted would get lost in the mix.  I am, however, pondering whether to add patterns after all.  I added simplified versions of typical Klimt patterns in the clothing of the figure and added metallic dots to the hair.  I am quite pleased with how the painting turned out and now I have overcome the challenge of painting a face in full profile.

17 - Klimt - Laura

You can check out my Klimt Bunny on my art blog, Pict Ink.


11 thoughts on “History of Art #17 – Klimt

  1. I’ve been waiting for your Klimt post 🙂 I’m a fan too. I’m a little disappointed your boys didn’t get him though – I had thought they would have a great time with the pattern overlays and metallics. Just shows how wrong we can be huh? Your painting however is quite amazing …………. I love how you adapted Klimt and the profile, with a hint of the Pre-Raphaelite, is wonderful.

    • I did let my painting go a bit Pre-Raphaelite, that’s very true. Yes, so annoying that the boys didn’t connect with Klimt in the way I had anticipated. Since this is a project rather than actual homeschooling, I permit them to take what they want as inspiration from the lesson, use whatever materials they like. This is one lesson that made me wish I had imposed a bit more on them. Maybe they will return to it in their own time.

      • There is one thing I learned for sure after years of teaching and child raising – we have no idea exactly what and how much they really take in and are so often surprised by what later comes back out! I do know that the fact you do all these projects with your boys will have huge impacts into their understanding of the facets of the world, the arts and sciences etc etc. I so enjoy reading what you are doing with them – and their responses too.

      • Thank you very much. I think that observation is true. Many is the time that we have assumed at least one of our kids (mostly the 9 year old) has not engaged at all with whatever we have been doing but days later he blurts out all of this information he had absorbed. That’s my cue to keep flinging information at them and immersing them in experiences.

  2. Love all the gold. I admire your 9yr old for not always conforming with what is to be done. He has a very interesting mind and to draw what he had on mind is awesome. I think you did a terrific profile take. I do love Gustav Klimt and had been studying his works. I wanted to make something inspired by him but don’t know where to start.

    • Thanks. Yes, his willfulness, determination and non-conformism is probably a very positive thing and to be encouraged overall though, as this project demonstrates, it does also prevent him from trying new things.

      Do try a Klimt piece! Maybe you could start by just working on recreating some of the patterns in your art journal so that you don’t have to mould them around a figure. A version of The Tree of Life would also be a good starting point. Then see where you go from there.

Let's chat! Leave a comment and I will reply.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.