Gustav Klimt Goldfinch STEM to STEAM

Goldfinches and Gustav Klimt 
Third Grade

Art Focus: Mixed Media, Crayon Resist, Texture, Pattern 
Art History: Gustav Klimt
Science Focus: Birds and beak adaptation, habitats, parts of a plant, native plants,

Time: Two 45 minute classes

Materials: 9” X 12” watercolor paper or card stock, pencils, crayons, watercolor, brushes, water-based gold paint, cups for water.  Images of sunflowers, thistle, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, mullein, and other flowers that produce seeds for goldfinches, especially “golden” ones.   Images of goldfinches.  Images of Gustav Klimt’s “Tree of Life”.  Additional images of various bird beaks (see below).

Preparation/Distribution: Individual 9” X 12” paper, pencils, and brushes. Shared paint and water.

Introduction and Instructions:
Examine Klimt’s “Tree of Life”.  Is the tree realistic or stylized?  What colors did he use?  What shapes?  How do these create an overall effect?  Klimt often used several mediums in one artwork, including gouache, oil paint, crayon, pastel, pen, and gold leaf.  Since he was independently wealthy, using gold leaf in his artwork wasn’t a problem.  What happens when we use watercolor over crayon?  (Wax and water don’t mix, so the crayon “resists” the watercolor.  Even white crayon will appear if color is painted over it.)

Demonstrate how to draw finch: Circle head, triangle beak, oval or tear-drop body.  Note black “cap” on male goldfinch and black and white stripes on wings.  Closed wings make a “V” or heart shape.  Birds have three front toes and one back toe.  Draw with pencil, then add crayon, making sure crayon is thick enough (will look shiny).

Demonstrate flower shapes: Circle or oval centers for sunflowers, semi-circle for black-eyed Susan, triangles for their petals, “clouds” for goldenrod, candelabra “spikes" for mullein, and teardrops with spikes for thistles.  Add stems and leaves, noting different types of leaves and that plants grow in clusters in wildflower fields.  Again, start with pencil, then add crayon.    More clusters of flowers can be suggested with watercolors.

Lesson Focus: Birds have adapted beaks for certain foods.  Note similarity between finches, cardinals, and blue jays, all seed-eaters, and differences to hawks (tear up prey), pelicans (scoop up fish), and woodpeckers (peck wood to grab insects from tree sap).

Test different “beaks” using pliers for seed-eaters, tweezers for insect-eaters, salad tongs for fish eaters, and chopsticks for water plant eaters.  (See lesson at  Test Galapagos finch beaks to see if larger beaks can gather more seeds:  Make a pine cone bird feeder and observe birds that visit it:

National Art Standards:
Students can
1c. use different materials, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
2b. describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses
2c. use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas
3a. explore and understand prospective content for works of art
3b. select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning

Students who demonstrate understanding can:
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment. 
Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.

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