I get so excited about the artwork of Gustav Klimt. He is my absolute favorite artist and I just can't get enough of the ornate, decorative elements he incorporates into all of his work and the sparkling golden hues....It's like a teenage crush.
REALLY THOUGH. The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt, jaw dropping, awe-inspiring beauty. For this reason and because of the symbology of The Tree of Life, I felt that this was a very strong lesson for second grade students. They were very engaged with the project. I don't think they fell in love with Gustav Klimt quite like their Klimt-obsessed art teacher with Klimt tattoos on her forearms...
We also talked about different trees in our lives which have been important. Students had stories about the trees they climbed at their grandparents, trees that they lay under and read, etc. It was agreed upon that trees are very special.
We began this project by practicing drawing the tree of life and spirals with paper and pencil.
Next they selected a background color (black, purple, blue, green, or grey) and used gold acrylic paint to make our trees. The tree trunk had to go to the top of the paper and the spiral branches had to go in all directions and off the page in at least one area.
Next students used Sharpies to add details such as those seen in the original Klimt painting. Circles, squares, triangles and other shapes create a whimsical environment.
The next class period we spent using pencils, cardboard, old glue stick tops, etc to do printmaking designs on the tree. This added an extra layer of depth to the image and they had a lot of fun experimenting.
The results are quite stunning. After finishing their work, students wrote, responding to the prompt "What does the tree of life mean to you?" That was definitely the icing on the cake.