The artist Gustav Klimt is a recent find for me and I thought it would be fun to introduce his work to our 4th graders, as well as the Art Nouveau movement in the early 1900’s.
I love the organic lines in Art Nouveau, or “young” or “new” art, and the overall organic feeling and bright colors in Klimt’s art. Living in the SF Bay Area, we talked about how prevalent the Art Nouveau look is in the architecture of the City, as the architecture was re-born after the 1906 earthquake. Art Nouveau wasn’t just seen in paintings, it spanned across architecture, furniture, glass, and clothing design.
Our art project was based on Gustav Klimt’s painting, Baby in Quilt
We talked about how many of the subjects in Klimt’s work seemed to be wrapped in a quilt-like environment and he used a very bright color palette. This project also became a talking point for multi-media projects, as we were using a couple of different mediums to finish our project – colored sharpies and watercolors.
Students began their painting by choosing a living creature they cared enough to wrap in a quilt and drawing their head 3/4 of the way up the paper. They then drew organic lines around the head to represent quilt pieces. Everything was outlined in black Sharpie.
We talked a little about symbols and I asked them to try to put some symbols decorating their quilt square that would have some meaning to the subject (ie. dog bone for their dog, carrot for the bunny, etc. We then colored the symbols in the quilt in colored sharpies.
After all the Sharpie-ing has been completed, we finished the quilt in watercolor. I liked the idea of watercolor because watercolor does not usually sit on the paper uniformly depending on the amount of pigment and water you use and it makes the quilt look like it is layered. Students were also able to get a tye- dye look by missing colors. If students didn’t want their colors mixing, I suggested they move from one corner to another, so it gave the watercolor a chance to dry before painting an area “next door”. We used the extra bright Crayola watercolors instead of the more traditional colored Prang that I usually use.
Students had a great time with this project and we had some really creative quilts for just about every imaginable “loved one” … even an alien was represented!
brilliant purples using just red and blue
One of the issues when creating any piece of art, but particularly with watercolor painting, is how to salvage a painting or make something out of a problem when you make a “mistake” – especially with elementary students You have spent all kinds of time and energy making your masterpiece and you can’t throw it away! This is especially true in an art class where you have a minimal amount of time to complete your project and limited funds for supplies.
It can be hard to loosen up a little and “let go” of what you perceive as a huge eyesore in your work or to look at it a little differently and discover something new and interesting. This is what artists often refer to as “Happy Accidents”. Students not only had great fun, but also learned to ” hide” a little something inside that fun (or accident) “Where’s Waldo” style.
This project also reinforces the principles of color and mixing primary colors in different strengths to make other colors. It also reinforces the “mud” factor… too much paint only makes “mud”. I like doing this project in 4th grade because they are just old enough to be respectful and careful of the supplies we use that are very tempting in other grades. They aren’t quite “cool” enought to go crazy yet, either. (-:
We used watercolor paper squares, straws and primary colors of liquid watercolor (I like Blick Art for brilliant colors) I put in a little squirt/dropper bottle. I also give each student a good length of paper towel.
After blowing to our heart’s content … we got some wonderful results and the students are soooo excited about all the items they “find/create” in the art. The color blending is awesome too! They are beautiful mounted on black paper and put on the wall.