Thursday, January 21, 2016

Trees inspired by Rebecca Rebouche and Gustav Klimt

When I discovered the contemporary artist Rebecca Rebouche, I knew I would have to teach a lesson based on her work.  Her "Tree Series" paintings drew me in because of the balance of simplicity and detail and the obvious playfulness she enjoys in the process.
My art students love drawing trees and some even believe that they know How To Draw a Tree, as if there is just one right way to do it.  Here is where I introduce another favorite artist, Gustav Klimt, with his painting "Tree of Life."  In looking at this intricate, swirly, gold-tinted tree, we see that the possibilities are endless. 

Although Rebecca Rebouche and Gustav Klimt lived 100 years apart, when we compare their work we can see some similarities. 

Third and fourth graders looked at Rebouche's "Tree Series" paintings and Klimt's "Tree of Life" painting.  In addition to the symbolic meaning of the trees themselves, both artists included other objects in the branches of their trees to represent things that are important to them. Click here to learn more about the symbols in Klimt's "Tree of Life."

We often start the year by drawing or painting self-portrait.  This year we breezed through this with our Monochromatic Self Portraits.  In planning the self-portrait process, I wanted students to focus on what truly makes them special and unique.  Rather than trying to, once again, help students show this in a traditional head and shoulders self-portrait, I decided to take a more abstract approach.  These tree drawings by grades three and four are a type of self portrait. 

Can you guess the students who created them based on what they chose to include in the branches?

Watch these beautiful videos to see Rebecca Rebouche at work and see how she draws inspiration from the natural world.


  1. Cool idea! I would love to try this out.

  2. Thanks! I can't wait to post the results! I love to look for connections between contemporary artists and famous ones.