Module 2, Chapter 9: Letters and Pattern (Klimt)


I used the small, small, square sketchbook for this chapter. I’ve always rather liked the ornate patterns and lavish use of gold in Klimt’s paintings, but I didn’t know much about him. I was going to do a potted biography, but there is a lot of information available, and I didn’t want to spend ages and ages on research, like I did with Jasper Johns, so I’m trying to stick to the task in hand.

Klimt 1 (2)

Klimt 2 (2)

Klimt 3 (2)

Klimt 4 (2)

Klimt 5 (2)

Klimt 6 (2)

Klimt 7 (2)

Klimt 8 (2)

Below is Klimt’s ‘Portait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1’ (1907), n the front cover of another charity shop buy about Klimt. This is A4 size, and shows details of the motifs really clearly – I found it very useful.

Klimt 9

Below: My notes on Klimt’s motifs.

Klimt 10 (2)

A drawing in the style of Klimt. I wasn’t happy with the bottom right-hand corner, so I stuck paper over and redid it, but I’m still not happy with it. However, I love the rest of it, and really enjoyed this exercise. It reminded me of the Zentangles in Chapter 2.

Klimt 11 (2)

Below: Experiments before painting – because I’m not very good at painting, and I was disappointed with my painted zentangle, and disheartened with my Jasper Johns.

Scan xtra 2 (2)

More experiments…

klmt xtra 1 (2)

And, finally, a painting! It’s not perfect (and the bit with the pinky red background halfway down on the right is not right), but I am so pleased with this – absolutely delighted. It’s way better than any of my other painting efforts, and I feel a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. It’s recognisably based on Klimt, and there’s lots of colour and gold although, sadly, the gold looks kind of brown here. I loved doing this, and enjoyed working with the Koh-i-noor water-based dyes and the gold paint (gold water colour, with a bronze felt tip for the darker details).  The experiments with paints etc were a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Klimt 12 (2)

2.9.2: Below is my illuminated letter ‘C’ decorated in the style of Klimt. I was going to try painting my pencil drawing, but I did it on the back of the other painting, and some of that design shows though in places, and I got worried that if I paint this it may spoil the other painting. so I’m going over the lines with a 0.05 black marker, then I’m going to photocopy it onto a page torn from the sketchbook (because it’s better quality than printer paper, then I’ll try painting it.

Klimt 13 (2)

Below: The painting. Again, I used Koh-i-noor water-based dyes, metallic felt-tips and gold water colour, but I’m not sure that my colours or patterns worked quite as well as the first Klimt-style painting. Somehow the design seemed to lose its flow and freshness when it was photocopied, and I ended up with lots of lines – there was the original pencil drawing, overlaid with black marker and then a photocopy. Another time, I’d do another drawing. But despite my criticism I’m pleased with the result.

painted c (2)

2.9. Extra Activity: Use a design from 2.4 which shows symmetry or a repeat pattern and give it the Klimt treatment, using cut out motifs, metallic paints and foils. I opted use a symmetrical pattern from Module 2, Chapter 4, where a letter S formed a knot pattern. The original (pictured below) didn’t go quite as planned, so I re-drew it.

Activity 6

I painted it with watercolours, then used paper and foils to decorate it. Here it is partly completed:

Klimt Symmetry (2)

And here it is more or less finished. I enjoyed myself immensely, but I think I rather lost sight of what I was doing – it’s more kaleidoscope than Klimt! The aim was to have a design that was symmetrical in all directions: top to bottom, left to right, and diagonally. But I didn’t line up my letters properly, and the paper is slightly higher than wide, which affected the design a little. I enjoyed working on this, but I couldn’t make my mind up what should go where – I ended up with dozens of little cut-out shapes, which I kept moving around, changing, abandoning, replacing. The black dots and wiggly lines are actually gold foil, though you wouldn’t know it from this picture. The blue is metallic, with a foiling design, and there is a lot of gold, on the cut out papers, but it is not showing up well.My printer/scanner is rubbish. I feel as if I could have been a bit more creative here – this hasn’t turned as planned, so I hope it is OK.

Klimt symmetry 3 (2)

Personal Evaluation

I stuck to the activities and didn’t let myself get sidetracked on this chapter, so I think I was fairly focused, and reasonably well organised. I schemed in time to experiment with painting, because it is an area I am not confident about, and I think this paid off when it came to doing the two paintings, because I had a clear idea of what materials I wanted to use, and how they would handle.

The symmetrical design using cut out shapes and foils was an interesting experience, but a bit more haphazard, I think I could have been more adventurous on that and made better use of the materials I had.

Overall I enjoyed working on this chapter, and was pleased with the results, and feel as if I’ve made some kind of progress with painting!

Health and Safety

  • Water: Water for pints and dyes in old jam jar is fairly stable, but is kept away from electrical plugs, sockets, wires. equipment in case of spillage, and emptied when work complete.
  • Scissors: For cut-out shapes, put away after use.



About chrisharding53

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

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