Saturday, June 29, 2013

Copying the Master: a Tree of Life

    There is a long tradition of painting from the Old Masters. You have seen artists standing in front of a painting in a museum doing a creditable job on a different scale from the original. I am happiest when I am working from a painting I find meaningful; because I see the painting in so much more detail and insights come to me. This time, I am neither so serious nor so careful. I needed a fabric that didn't exist for a quilt challenge, so I had to paint one...paint my own novelty panel.

     Painting on fabric is a blast. I have foam core that I have covered with clear Contact paper. I tape the sketch down and over it I use masking tape to secure the edges of a piece of muslin. I can see the sketch through the muslin and can trace any image with my Sharpie Rub a Dub Laundry Marker. I got out my Lumiere metallic gold and bronze paints (numbers 561 and 565) and started painting with Princeton brushes within the lines. I don't believe Gustav Klimt was so heavy handed in defining things in his Stoclet Frieze where one views, left to right, Hope, the Tree of Life, and Fulfillment. I painted and painted so happily, often redefining lines with the marker. I had to get out a few other colors for the plants at the bottom of the tree, and the cells, mosaics and other symbols of life and death within the top of the tree.

     After quilting along the lines to a piece of batting, I auditioned the squares and the dashes for the binding and backing. Black and white are always good to absorb color. In this case they remind of the architecture, furniture and clothes in fin-de-siecle Vienna, Austria,  Klimt's time. Klimt's portrait of Emilie Floge uses the dashes effectively. I cut batting and the dashes fabric to 12" x 12".  I cut the checkerboard into a long strip to sew around the edges, finishing by hand on a car trip.

      Science and art were in strong communication in the late 19th Century. Klimt painted the cells he viewed under microscopes and learned about at lectures. He painted in nature and from the nude. Sexual references abound as do flowers and jewels. He merged the decorative arts with painting and was a revolutionary with his spell binding works. Hundertwasser admitted that when he was artistically blocked, he would go to Klimt's works to enlarge parts to his canvas to "take off." Be sure to Google both artists and Images, and perhaps hit the libraries and museums. I love Neue Gallery in NYC and the Minuteman Network of Libraries.


  1. This is truly beautiful! One of your prettiest quilts. Such good techniques and tips, too, in this post!

  2. Third try. Linda, I loved both Klimt's and your Tree of Life. I love your cute little cells as they are the building blocks of life, or something close to that. Thanks for sharing your many talents with us.
    Love it!

  3. Linda, this is a great idea and beautiful to see. Hip, Hip, Hooray for you and for Klimt. ss

  4. I can tell that you are really having fun and the finished product looks amazing! What an idea, creating your own novelty fabric!

  5. Hi Linda;
    That was not only fun, it was a fascinating education in art and
    history and craftmanship all in one easy-seeming package. It
    also interests me that Klimt (sp) was never one of my first string
    favorites either, but reading and watching your masterpiece of
    quilting develop he is indeed complex and fascinating. I am seeing
    this in a new light. DE

  6. You amassed great amounts of art and history
    and thinking for Klimt, and pulled together the key parts in a beautifully
    integrated 2 paragraphs. It is hard work. You made it look easy. DE

  7. The painting on muslin that you posted about a few days ago is beautiful. I love reading what you are up to on the blog. You have such an interesting take on art and quilting.

  8. Of course, Joe was totally right. Can I send my granddaughter to you! It is fun to see your work.

  9. What fun dear talented and creative neighbor :)
    Love the piece

  10. Love Klimt and it translates so beautifully! I am inspired by him for my fabric collages too! Lovely job. Adrienne

  11. You've encouraged me to have another look at Klimt. This is a wonderful blog post - how-to-do and how-to-see together in synergy. Excellent! - Ellen K.

  12. I am thinking that you should compile all of these into a book and submit for publishing. I glance through hobby booklets, and none come close to the quality of yours. Check it out, OK? (Been meaning to mention how adorable your photo is, too!) Thanks for sharing. Love U, RA