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.