Klimt’s Portrait of Ria Munk III and Unbridled Doodling

Gustav Klimt Portrait of Ria Munk III
Gustav Klimt Portrait of Ria Munk III

Gustav Klimt Portrait of Ria Munk III – This paint really struck me, and then I found out that it’s not even finished.

This is what I believe in, and what I teach my students: prepare thoroughly, do multiple sketches, KNOW your subject and then when you approach the canvas – completely let go.

What I like about Gustav Klimt’s unfinished “Portrait of Ria Munk III”,  is his unbridled doodling and dazzling, mismatched colors. And especially, his contrast between painting and scratching a pencil around – all wrapped up in a warm, sultry, “come to me” kind of smile. What also interests me is this quote from www.klimt.com:

“While he would prepare thoroughly for each composition with a series of drawings, this canvas also offers a glimpse into Klimt’s working methods, revealing that at this stage of his career he was impulsive and spontaneous, drawing directly onto the canvas.”

Impulsive, spontaneous work on the canvas without thought, aka “intuitive painting”. Klimt was doing it way back then, but what I like is his combination of intuitive painting WITH premeditation. BINGO! What happens if we plan and study, then let go of our view of the entire painting, and exist only in the movement of our brush/pencil/whatever, in the space where it touches the canvas?

What if the next color we reach for is just an impulse?

What if the next flower we draw has no concern with its relationship with other flowers? And each thereafter falls on canvas with it’s own personality? In the end, they will form the most beautiful, unplanned bouquet. However, one that stems from a lifetime of falling in love with flowers. They are all up there, in our head. Those flowers, just waiting to tumble out brilliantly into our art.

This is my current quest, my current interest. To take the doodling we do in our art journals or bar napkins, and bring this looseness, this fresh uncaring sketch onto the canvas.

My poppy illustrations on the lovely ceramic works of Wishing Star Pottery

My second round of poppy illustrations on the lovely ceramic works of Wishing Star Pottery

I’ve recently been creating poppy illustrations for my potter friend Deidre Krois of Wishing Star Pottery. I found that the first round of poppies I drew were lovely and refined. They looked wonderful on her hand-crafted ceramic tumblers. However the second round of sketches I did were without concern of perfection, and were just the pen lolling along the paper, losing itself in the moment- not a care in the world.

This second round of drawings had a very different personality. It’s amazing to see the different personalities of lines. There is a lot to be said in a line, and I supposed those who do handwriting analysis have already figured this out. These drawings conveyed whimsy, relaxation, fun, carefree-ness. All those great spontaneous gestures that get conveyed to the viewer when you are not blocking your art with refinements.

Here, in his Portrait of a young woman who shot herself in the chest over a lost love (and that is a whole ‘nother story), Klimt poured immense and powerful beauty into lolligagging his brush through brilliant colors, and leaving Ria Munk to Rest In Peace in this serene bouquet of eternal flowers.


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