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Building a Klimt

Building a Klimt
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Students will study the art of Gustav Klimt. They will then create a work of art in the style of Klimt, following this step-by-step lesson.

By Jennifer Schero [Jennifer is an artist.]


  • Review of shapes and patterns.
  • Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
  • Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
  • Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their [a student’s own] work and the work of others

What You Need:

  • 9×12 white construction paper
  • pre-painted gold, black and white construction paper
  • brown, black, purple, pink, and green markers
  • Klimt biography found below

What You Do:

I like to take the first day to introduce the patterns of Gustav Klimt‘s work and the artist himself.

Note from KinderArt: SOME of Gustav Klimt’s works may not be suitable for young children. Be sure to research any images in books etc. before introducing them to children. We have chosen very suitable images for children and listed them in the Further Resources section below.

If time allows, students may begin the cutting and pasting of black and white squares and rectangles (working on gluing them in a straight line and occasionally inside of one another)

The second day is devoted to building the Klimt patterns.

NOTE: explain that this is a game of listening. Call out directions slowly at first and then tell students that you are getting faster as directions are repeated. Feel free to change the following directions for a different variation. No matter what the directions, each child’s work will turn out differently.

  1. Start with the pink and purple flowers with green stems at the bottom.
  2. On top of them are the brown spiral lines.
  3. Then add the circles (big ones in brown, small ones in purple and pink) and then the lines of triangles.
  4. By now you will have questions as to wear to put things — if you like, you can draw an example on the board.
  5. Connect the triangles with brown lines.
  6. Have the children outline in black their favorite triangles, place a colored in circle in the center of their best drawn circles and black dots in their favorite small circles.
  7. Then explain how we can fill in blank areas with tiny purple stars
  8. Next, lines of three tiny black circles, then more spirals, and finally a few open rectangles and squares inside the rows of construction paper. The trick is to take it slowly and build, trying to fill in the gold paper.
  9. I’ve found that the first graders like to compare their final products with an actual work, to see how they could build up to such a complicated work and how it was all made up of simple shapes.

About Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter (born in 1862, died in 1918) and the founder of the school of painting known as the Vienna Sezession. Klimt’s early work was rather realistic in nature. Much of the paintings he did prior to 1898 were large murals commissioned by theaters. Later in his life, Klimt began to paint in a much more innovative and imaginative way until eventually his creations were very decorative and quite symbolic – meaning that many of the images in his work had hidden meaning. His most well-known work is “The Kiss”.

Additional Resources

The following images are very suitable for young children:

  • The Kiss
  • Accomplishment
  • L’Albero Della Vita
  • The Tree of Life

Student Work from Oldsmar Elementary School (grade 1):

Building a Klimt Student Examples

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