Gustav Klimt’s decadent ornamental paintings, with their jewel-like textures of pattern, shape and rich colour, are a wonderful source of inspiration for children’s art projects. I devised this project for children aged between three and six, adapting it slightly for the younger set who are aged between three and four.
Klimt’s famous Tree of Life motif is the unifying element of his mosaic frieze for the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, perhaps his most important commission, which was completed between 1905 and 1911.
The Palais Stoclet is still in private hands and not open to the public – in fact good photographs are not even readily available. The one above is the best I could find.
However, the artist’s full-size, working drawings for the frieze can be seen in the MAK Museum in Vienna and are beautiful in their own right.
Klimt’s Tree of Life was the inspiration for my earlier project – Gustav’s Golden Spiral Tree (February 2012). On this occasion, I decided to focus on another tree from the Stoclet mosaic – a stylised rose bush with white flowers (see right).
The rose bush appears at the far end of the frieze (just visible in the photograph), in front of the Tree of Life’s spiralling branches that wind their way across the whole composition.
The children created their own interpretations of Klimt’s work over two forty five minute sessions. I started the first class by talking to the children about the simple lines and shapes making up Klimt’s painting – the green triangles representing leaves, white circular flowers and the golden spirals behind.
The older set used thin brushes to paint large and small spirals until they had covered every inch of their paper.
Spirals are a bit tricky for three year olds, so the younger children used cylindrical containers of different sizes to stamp concentric circles instead.
Next I gave the children black paint and brushes to paint a curvy trunk and long, horizontal branches just like Klimt’s, before setting the paintings aside to dry.
The following week, the children selected green triangles, pre-cut from a selection of pretty decorative papers. They glued them along the underside of each branch, leaving spaces for flowers which they created from tiny praline cases and little discs of colourful tissue paper.
Please click to enlarge an image or scroll through a gallery of the children’s work…