Tree of Life

Posted August 23rd, 2012

Samantha PliskaThis bear doesn’t need to look far to find a tree.  There’s one painted right on his belly!  Created as an adorable tribute to the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt’s wildly famous painting, Tree of Life, it’s no surprise that the artist, Samantha Pliska, became attached.  “I was sad to drop off Gus, (Klimt Bear’s nickname) but I am so excited to see him out and about with all the other amazing bears.” We were excited to see him too! Visit him in front of 116 Cottage Street before he heads off to the Bear Fest Gala Auction and Dinner.

Read more about Pliska’s process and inspiration in the Q & A below:


Samantha Pliska

What town/city do you live in?


Where is your studio? What is your usual artistic focus/genre, when you aren’t working on a bear?

I currently do not have a “formal” studio, just a room where my art supplies happen to be.

My focus in art is very chaotic, I love to try new techniques and I change up mediums as often as I change clothes. At this time I am working on painting images from movies, assemblage with found items, and lowbrow art illustrations.

What was the process you used on the bear?

Spray paint, followed by painting, gilding, gold leafing (removing gold leafing) and adding the tiles and cabochons.

What materials did you use and why did you choose them?

The materials I used were Liquitex soft and heavy body paints, gold gilding paint, Liquitex spray paint, small tiles and cabochons. I did use gold leafing, but the results were less than desired, so I had to remove it. I chose these supplies based on what I thought would be the best for my bear.

What is the theme for your bear and what was the inspiration?

The theme for my bear is Gustav Klimt. I had started with a bear sketch including some 15 artists for the bear, then when I noticed the Klimt section of the bear sketch, I fell in love. It was the last sketch I had entered for the Bear Fest artist search. I am a big fan of Klimt, the one piece that spoke to me most for this project which was the Tree Of Life. From that painting, I took different elements and painted them all over my bear. Other Klimt pieces can also be seen as I used them for referencing Klimt’s shapes and colors.

What have you loved about the project?

I loved every aspect of the project, from entering sketches to pulling off the last piece of paint tape. I was sad to drop off Gus, (Klimt Bear’s nickname) but I am so excited to see him out and about with all the other amazing bears.

In what ways do you hope your bear will move the folks who view it?

I can only hope that someone will become inspired by my bear.

What else would you like to say about your project or the Bear Fest as a whole?

This was an amazing experience and opportunity; I hope this event will continue on as a tradition.

I would love Bear Fest attendees to be enthralled by public art and want to see more of it or even be encouraged to create art themselves.

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