Klimt Birdhouses

Klimt Birdhouses - student project

                                                      - - - Step 1: Inspiration - - -

Update 1: Days 1 & 2

  • I decided to use Klimt as inspiration since I already admired his work and have a few prints of it around my house.
  • I also decided to paint on wood since it was more readily available.
  • I went out and gathered some supplies. 
  • To prep the wood and make a good base I went ahead and covered it in two layers of white gesso. 

I chose two bird houses and this box so that I could potentially do each piece inspired by a different work or each piece inspired by a different section of one work (like how the male and female portions of the kiss were separate items in the lesson). The box is a bit trickier with the hinges and things so it's more of an experiment but I feel like the birdhouses will certainly turn out well. I will add a small photo of the gesso covered pieces later when the lighting is decent.  

  • I am still searching for the right inspiration. I think my choice will ultimately rely on my color palette since I only have a few cheap acrylic paints ( I usually work with watercolors! ) and the new metallics I've bought. I am going to experiment with them a bit in my sketchbook and see what my range is. 
  • I'm not entirely sure if I should sand the gesso covered pieces. It has an interesting texture right now that I think will be a good challenge and add to any natural flowing shapes but it may be more of a problem if I decide to attempt any straight lines. Any advice or suggestions? 
  • I have never painted on wood/gesso covered wood before so I'm a bit out of my element here but I am excited to experiment and see how it goes. Maybe I should only sand one of the two birdhouses and then see which texture I prefer as the project progresses?

Update 2: Days 2 - 5

  • Narrowed down inspiration to: Water Serpents II mainly, but also elements of The Kiss and Emilie Flöge
  • tried out different color schemes, patterns, and methods of painting flowers in sketchbook
  • solidifying ideas/moods but not 100% decided yet
  • added more layers of gesso and decided to sand only one bird house (for the more geometric pattern).

I decided to use Water Serpents II as my main inspiration for this because it's the easiest for me to reference considering I have a large print of it in my work space but also because it's in my top favorites of his work. It is mainly what inspired my sketches this time around though I hope to sketch more patterns based on Emilie Flöge in my next sketching session. 

Water Serpents II on the left and a portion of my sketching on the right. In the middle is the metallic paint reflecting light.

My plan so far is to do one bird house in colors based on the color scheme of Water Serpents II and The Kiss, greens and purples but mainly warmer colors like yellows, cream and reds, and a lot more flowing and fluid lines. I am going to use a metallic green for the majority of the base but I may sprinkle it with patches of other colors. Sadly I don't have a yellow or orange paint but I do have a coral and very pastel orange color that I will be substituting for those. I also liked the look of bronze paint over the cooler colors though I think I will use some gold in the warm areas. Unfortunately I took photos of my sketches at night so the artificial lighting isn't doing the colors justice and was a bit tricky to take photos in. The green on the bottom left corner of my sketch is close to the base color I plan to use. It's lighter in person and a metallic. The more reflective spots on it in the middle portion are the undiluted green which I think adds nice texture over top the more muted green.

Top Left: Emilie Flöge, Top Right: the grey background. I really like the blue and cream flowers together. Bottom: different types of flowers.

The second one will likely be more inspired by Emilie Flöge. I sadly have no black paint but I do have a dark grey I enjoyed using which I plan to use as the main base color though I'm not really set on this. It is also what I've been using to mute some of my colors a bit which I think makes them more cohesive. This concept is a lot less set than the other one and I plan on sketching more with this palette to try and finalize my ideas. This one will be a lot cooler, mainly blue, purple, and dark green shades with small warm accents of yellow, coral, and pink. I haven't quite figured out where the metallics fit into this palette. The design will be a bit more geometric rather than the flowing organic lines of the other piece. 

Left: pen sketch, playing with patterns. Right: comparison of the two potential base colors. Dark Grey and Green.

I usually sketch in pen or pencil so practicing with paints right away was fun and new but also challenging. I'm happy with what I have so far but there are definitely things I want to try next time I sketch. I need to solidify that cooler color palette, try and come up with more flower types, work on brush/paint control, and may try out some different shapes and sizes of brush in general. I am also going to focus on what patterns I'm going to apply to which parts of the bird houses since they have multiple surfaces. Since I'm used to using water colors it has been difficult to adjust to the thickness of the paint and the consequences of that but I'm loving the challenge.

                                                      - - - Step 2: Perspiration- - -

Update 3: Days 6 - 9

  • Both birdhouses got 3 layers of gesso. The dark one was sanded in anticipation of a more geometric design and the green one was not.
  • Base colors were painted using a large brush and edges defined by masking tape.
  • I decided which design elements I really wanted on each.
  • The dark house got a base pattern as well.

The paint on the right shows the difference between the light green paint straight out the bottle and the darker green that I mixed. I feel like this green was more natural than the bright bottle color.

The two pictures on the right show the pattern added to the sides of the dark house. It is blue and silver streaks added while the second coat of grey was still wet so that they would smear into each other.

Days 10 - 12

  • Added detail to green house. About 80% finished.

I'm still not totally happy with the green house, the roof in particular, but I am going to finish it tomorrow. I'm not sure if I will have time to complete the dark house by the deadline but we'll see! This painting on the green house took a bit over 5 hours and I definitely need a break. I think sleep will also help me figure out what elements are missing so I can be happy with my finished piece tomorrow.