Kids Get Arty: Exploring Klimt

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Welcome to the first of “Kids Get Arty” series. This were Red Ted and I start exploring The Great Artists together. It is a way for me to “rediscover” art and for Red Ted to see and explore art. I have put together some Arty Resources for you, from other art projects to art picture books to tips, to help you on your journey.

MORE Art Project for kids here!

I decided that we would explore Klimt as our “first Great Artist” project with Red Ted (4). I thought that all the gold and beautiful colours, as well as shapes and patterns would appeal to Red Ted.

famous artists for kids

The Book

Klimt and His Cat

I have two books to support our session (affiliate links added for convenience).

Klimt and His Cat, by Berenice Capatti (US/ UK) and Gustav Klimt, a Painted Fairy Tale (US/ UK).  I am not sure I would recommend that you bought either – gettng them from the library would be better. But we enjoyed reading them, looking at the pictures and combined they were really good for this project. Klimt and His Cat – is more a picture book telling us the story of Klimts life and a little bit about what he was like (generous, loving life and art), whilst The Painted Fairy Tale, was great for its reproductions of key works. It is a book for an older child doing an art project on Klimt.


The Art Project

We focussed on Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1, as well as The Kiss – they are both richly golden and full of intricat patterns – which I thought would appeal to Red Ted. The next time however, I will let him choose the painting to focus on. It took Klimt 3 years to complete this painting – a fact that really fascinated Red Ted and helped us in our “3 session” approach. What we also “enjoyed” reading about, is that Klimt played with Adele’s initianals and hid “B”s and “A”s in the painting. A great way for us to explore the painting – especially as Red Ted is now really interested in the alphabet (see all our Handprint Art!!)

The Project

Our approach can be summed up with:

  • We used a view finder
  • Asking lots of questions
  • We decided on making this a PRINT PROJECT (potato prints & corks)
  • Creating three layers – revisiting the project 3 times over several weeks
The View Finder
art for kids

To help Red Ted, I cut out a crude “view finder” – a square of card, with another square cut out. What I found, aged 4 (or any age), is that he is overwhelmed by a “whole picture” – “where do you start?” – “Mummy, I can’t paint this” etc.. A view finder, helps you focus on details of the painting. So we were able to look at the painting as a whole, but also bit by bit.

The Questions

1) Shapes can you see?

2) What colours are there? Are there any more? Which is your favourite colour?

3) Show me where you can see it?

Red Ted particularly liked the shapes – the ovals, triangles and circles, as well as the rectangles. He was less bothered by the squares.

The Print Project

famous artists

Klimt Art Project – Materials

  • DIY Viewfinder,
  • gold, silver, black, burnt sienna acrylics,
  • Layer 1: potatoes – cut into triangles, rectangles, squares and circles.
  • Layer 2: cork printing
  • Layer 3 – sharpie pens

Klimt Art Project – What we did

Layer 1

1) I cut the potato shapes – after asking Red Ted what shapes he would like.

Klimt Art Project - klimt for kids

2) Get printing. The downside of potatoes, is that they are a little slippery and if you don’t get the surface totally flat, they don’t always give you a nice even print. I don’t mind this, but Red Ted did. So you may want to experiment – be it with potatoes, or foam, wood block pieces anything you can find around the home, that could make a good stamp!

3) After completing one layer, we put it aside to dry.

Whilst painting, Red Ted asked me:

  • Why does Klimt like painting?
  • Why does like gold so much?
  • How did Klimt learn to paint?
  • How old is Klimt?
  • Why does Klimt like cats?
  • Why did it take him 3 years to paint this?
  • How do you get that shiney bit [in the background]?

Needless to say, I didn’t have half the answers… sometimes I asked him back “Why do you think…?”, I came up with guesses (“Maybe he liked gold, because it is so shiny” “Maybe he had cats as a child?”) and sometimes I said a simple “I don’t know, but doesn’t that make Klimt even more interesting?”. We then revisited the story book. Whilst Red Ted used up all the colour in whatever way he felt like.

He said of the painting Portraite of Emilie Floge “Mummy that is like you, you have curly hair too”. I asked “is it a pretty painting?” Red Ted “Yes”… (phew).

Layer 2

Klimt Art Project - famous artists

childrens famous artists

It was well over a week later before we sat down to work on our second layer – mainly due to time and other projects on the go – but also find, revisiting information over time, is a better way to reinforce it and hopefully some of this information will be stored on Red Ted’s head somewhere for future use! I am sure are both learning about printing techniques!


When we came to do our second layer – we had an interesting discussion about “texture” – and how all our stamping created textures on our painting. Red Ted also asked why Klimt liked gold so much. I didn’t have the answer, so asked Red Ted, whether he liked gold – to which I got “gold is my favourite colour”. We also had the opportunity to talk about layering a picture. “Why does Klimt do that, Mummy?” my answer “Because it gives him the chance to add more detail and make the painting look more interesting”.

We used the same basic shapes – circle, square, triangle – but made them a little smaller. I love how exploring Klimt gave us the chance to look at shapes again.

This time we also used a cork for circles – we found that potatoes can be so slippery.. but stuck with them on the squares and triangles. I think Red Ted enjoying printing with the cork the most this time round. But overall we found it easier!

Layer 3

Finally, when it was dry, we revisited the paintings and with a black pen added details, such as small dots, swirls and triangles.

Klimt Art Project - famous artists

What do you think? I think he did a great job and definitely knows a little more about Klimt (as do I!)

Klimt Art Project - art for kids famous artists

What Famous Artists do you love most – and have inspired you to create Art with Kids?

See more fantastic art project for kids here: