Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Klimt-Inspired Self Portrait

Can you think of a more romantic piece of art than Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss? I can’t. While romance isn’t at the heart of this lesson, exposing my son to Klimt’s work is. The artist’s rich paintings celebrate the sheen of metallics, elaborate patterns, emotion, and beauty.

I love it when authors make artists’ work approachable for children. Bernice Capatti has done that with her clever book Klimt and His Cat.

The book is written from the perspective of Katze, an observant cat that does a wonderful job of explaining why her owner’s art doesn’t look like everyone else’s. At the end of the book, several of Klimt’s paintings are featured. We looked at The Kiss and shared our observations.

“It looks like the two people are wrapped in a blanket, right?” I asked my son. He agreed. It was time for him to create his own Klimt-inspired self portrait.

Since Klimt’s faces have a realism lacking in the rest of his portraiture, I printed a photo of my son and cut out around his head. Then he glued aluminum foil to a piece of construction paper. On the back I drew a shape that (hopefully) resembles his body wrapped in a blanket.

My son cut this out and glued it on a yellow piece of construction paper. Next, he glued the cut-out photo head atop his ‘blanketed’ body.

To truly make this look like a Klimt masterpiece, I cut up lots of small rectangular confetti out of scrapbooking papers I had on hand. Handling these tiny scraps of paper was great fine-motor practice! We added dots of white school glue to the body form and laid the patterned papers over the top.

Then my son drew a foreground to his mixed-media portrait and added some background detail with markers.

My son loves his portrait! (I do too.)


  1. Love this! I think it's going to be a definite art project at our monthly "formal" art class at our house.

  2. I LOVE this, I could tell STRAIGHT away that this is Klimt. Brilliant!

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  3. I love this project. My sister has a copy of the painting hanging her home.

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  4. Great idea. I have to look for this book.

  5. What a neat project! Now I want to read the book! I'm always looking for things like this to do with my son. Thanks for the idea. I'd love for you to share here if you have a chance:

  6. When I saw the thumbnail I said " Oh my god I LOVE that" I almost never comment because I am usually reading while nursing but I couldn't NOT comment. LOVE this , BRAVO!!

  7. What a great idea and great exposure to art! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! I hope you will share with us again this week!