Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt inspired nail art designI asked my mother for ideas for my nail “artventure” (I need to have a theme before I unleash the polish) and she didn’t hesitate with an answer.  Gustav Klimt – her favourite artist – was the inspiration behind this design.  Here’s how I achieved the look:

Colours required:
Base coat (this probably goes without saying now)
‘Klimty’ colours, in this case Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine in Black Grape, Blackberry, Lychee, Mustard, Mango, Paprika, Cotton, Need for Speed and Caspian.  Also Maybelline Color Show in Electric Yellow, and Nails Inc. in Optic Wave.

Materials:
Sellotape
Paper
Small scissors/craft knife
Tweezers

Skill level:
★★★★★

A collection of nail varnish colours inspired by the paintings of Gustav Kllimt

My ‘Klimty’ collection

Here are some of my (and my Mum’s) favourite Klimt paintings which inspired the design:

Whenever I think of Klimt I immediately jump to warm, gold colours and plenty of swirls.  I wanted to go for a more contrasted ring finger,  so the Death and Life painting (one of my favourites) was perfect for the basis for this, using deep dark blues and purples instead.  Luckily I’ve got a mahoosive stash of nail varnish already so finding 4-5 shades of the same colour is always achievable.

Before you start, stick some strips of sellotape on a piece of paper.  If you’re really fancy you can use a sheet of acetate instead.  If you’re a hobo you can use an empty chocolate bar wrapper.  Paint swatches of your chosen colours onto the tape/acetate/wrapper and let them dry completely:

Nail polish swatches on paper

Back to the nails.  I applied a base colour; Black Grape for the ring fingers, and a mixture of Lychee, Mustard, and Electric Yellow for the rest.

Nail polish base colours in Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Lychee, Mustard and Blackberry

Have those swatches dried yet? Good.  I used this method for my 80s nails and I loved the finished result.  Using a pair of scissors or tweezers carefully peel the dried rectangle of nail polish off the sellotape.  Most of the time it comes off in one piece, but don’t worry if it doesn’t – we’re going to cut it into little pieces anyway.

Carefully peeling nail polish swatches from sellotape on paper

For my thumb I based the design on the man’s robe in The Kiss, so I wanted a blocky effect with black, white, and orange colours.  Rather than try to paint perfectly-edged rectangles straight onto my nail all I had to do was slice small squares out of the swatches, and lay them on.  9 times out of 10 these will stick to your nail.

If they’re not sticking try licking your nail a bit first.  Your nail varnish base colour must have completely dried first too- if you try sticking cut out shapes to wet nail varnish they’ll melt instantly, turning into gunk and messing up your manicure.  I found out the hard way…

Cutting small pieces from the nail polish swatch and applying them directly to nails

Once you’re happy with the layout you can slick a layer of your favourite top coat over to seal it all in.  (I’m a big fan of the Plumpy Top Coat by Barry M.  Inexpensive, and really thick, so it gives a nice ‘faux shellac’ finish).

Layering cut pieces of nail varnish to create a patter based on the paintings of Gustav Klimt

The rest of the nails followed the same approach, with a few free-hand swirls and spirals on others to mix it up.

This is definitely one manicure that mother wholeheartedly approves of…

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