Purple Sky Art

How to Paint Like Klimt

I am fascinated by the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Ever since 1971, when a boyfriend gave me a poster of “The Kiss”, I have loved his work. Over the years I have often stared at the details of his paintings, trying to figure out his techniques.  I especially wanted to know how he painted skin, which in his paintings often has a bluish hue.  I conducted some research to find out whether or not Klimt had left any descriptions of his techniques. All I could find, however, was this particular quote:

” Whoever wants to know something about me – as an artist which alone is significant – they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want. ”

I decided that what I would do is take Klimt’s challenge and attentively look at his pictures. The best way to do this would be to try my hand at reproducing the bluish skin technique.

Here is Klimt’s painting:


I decided that my Eve would be dressed. She would wear clothes designed by me, painted intuitively in Klimt style. I chose Klimt’s Eve as a model because she shows a lot of the skin that I wanted to replicate.

This is my preliminary drawing, next to a copy of Klimt’s “Adam and Eve”:


I was fairly sure that the artist used a turquoise underpainting, so this is how I began:


So far, so good! Klimt’s Eve was very, very white over the blue, so I decided to use pure titanium white, straight from the tube. This is how it looked:


With the titanium white over the turquoise, I could see that I was definitely on the right track. However, Klimt also had some pink on Eve’s skin. Otherwise, she would have looked rather dead. With a very light touch of pink and her features brought forward, this is what happened:


She was coming along. I just kept working at it, although I did not work very much more on the skin. I I could see that I didn’t need to apply much more. Klimt’s skin has a transparent quality that would be ruined by too much paint. So I just finished the background as well as the clothing and face:


The canvas had nice wide sides, so I decidedto extend the painting around the edges:


And that’s it! If you have any questions about this technique, just email me. Good luck, as always, with all of your artmaking and artloving. And thanks to Gustav Klimt for spreading such treasures in the world!

This entry was published on April 3, 2013 at 2:50 am. It’s filed under Art History, Art Process and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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