Research: Gustav Klimt – pattern focus

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Klimt is one of my favorite artists so I’ve been taking this opportunity to study his work further. This time I took some of the patterns and paintings I’d identified previously (here), and tried working up something similar myself. I noticed that Klimt’s patterns feel some how organic, they resemble fish scales, eyes and wildly growing plants. Personally I think the second one – semi circles on a cream background – looks especially effective and striking, even more so in real life. I also found that I managed to make all of these studies using only a small range of acrylic paints. These were White, Black, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber – I later also added in some Gold as Klimt is well known for his ‘Golden Phase’, although I believe he actually used Gold Leaf, whereas I only had paint!

I started off by gluing down some pictures to give me a bit of inspiration, then painting all around them. Some areas required careful accuracy, but others could be worked quite freely. All the big circles were printed using a milk bottle top, smaller ones were added in using the end of a pencil. I used glued small pieces of paper and gift confetti on in places, or used metallic gel pens to experiment with different ways of making the same pattern. It took sometime to draw the black outlines on with paint and a brush, in the future I think I would like to experiment with a black marker pen to see if it could produce similar results more easily.

This flower pattern is my favorite piece of Klimt-inspired work so far, even though it lacks a significant amount of gold. I made it by painting a mottled and dry-brushed green background. I then used bubble wrap and white paint to print circles on top of the green, when this had dried I used the end of a brush and pencil to stamps smaller circles on, and a milk bottle top to print bigger circles on. Some of these circles I painted back onto – both wet and dry – to try and create flower like effects. The toughest part was knowing when to stop, the first photo shows my piece after I’d finished painting, the second one shows it after I went to work on it with a blue Sharpie pen (I would’ve preferred black but I didn’t have one). I’m very pleased with how this turned out, I would love to painted it onto fabric and turn it into a summer dress!

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