Gustav Klimt Inspired Trees in Grade Five

Gustav Klimt is a wonderful artist to introduce to your students. The shapes, shiny metallic colors, patterns and swirls Klimt  used are very appealing to me and his art is sure to connect with your students too.

Bahrain is where I call home right now and it is also home to an apparently 400 years old tree named  the Tree of Life. What makes this tree so special is that it not only lives in the middle of the desert,  it also still remains a mystery where the tree gets it’s water source. Since all of my students have visited the tree at some point, it was the perfect subject matter to draw and paint a la Klimt mode!

After talking about Klimt and looking at his famous artwork, we concentrated on his painting of the Tree of Life, which I absolutely adore by the way! The kids loved the swirls and patterns and since I had some metallic acrylic paint available, we were in business!

Everyone got 12×18 paper and designed their own interpretation and vision of the tree of life. My only requirement was that the tree should fill up most of the paper space, the tree trunk could be any shape but relatively thick and there could be no visible leaves,  just branches. This encouraged the students to be creative with the way they drew the branches and how they spread them out on the paper.

The trees were outlined with black markers.

Next, the students divided sections in the tree trunk and filled each section with different lines and patterns with a dark pencil. These were not outlined with a black marker. Thick branches were also  filled with pencil lines and patterns.

Finally, geometric and organic shapes were designed under the tree, between the branches and open spaces around the tree. These were painted with the metallic paints and it certainly was a nice contrast with the black and white lines of their artwork.

I loved how these turned out and now my students love Gustav Klimt almost as much as I do! What do you think?


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5 thoughts on “Gustav Klimt Inspired Trees in Grade Five

  1. Beautiful! I introduced Klimt to my students a few years ago and as a group they painted a large 7″ Tree of Life. I was really glad to see the results for your class.
    I just started receiving your blog and enjoy it very much!!


  2. I love klimt and do a lesson about him also:) with 4th graders. Trees are my favorite symbol in art, and I teach them how to draw the trunk and then place a “v” or a “u” shape in the middle of the top of the trunk, so that it doesn’t look like a rectangle with tiny twigs coming out.
    I use a persons’ body as an analogy:
    Torso and legs = BIG trunk
    Arms = medium branches
    Fingers = tiny twigs
    here’s a link if anyone wants to look at it:

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