Art That Screams. Edvard Munch.

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The Big Fat Hairy Scream. Courtesy of a Garfield’s Art Gallery and Collectibles.

The Scream painting by Edvard Munch can, perhaps, be compared to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as far as  the popularity is taken into account. It has been featured in cartoons; numerous reproductions have been made with famous characters and who does not remember the Home Alone boy screaming his heart out in the moments of extreme anguish. When I told the kids that we are painting a monster they were so exited they started clapping.

Why are kids so fascinated by scary things? I’ve heard a theory that imagining something frightful they are trying on a grown up life which seems  boundless and terrifying to them. Another reason could be that they simply love powerful can-do-everything creatures because they realize how feeble they still are. It could be that evolutionary kids were raised to be afraid of unknown things in order to survive and this risky game playing simply keeps their senses sharp. Children love watching scary movies and find excitement in chancy circumstances and games, as do some grown ups,  although at some point we’ve become more scared of trivial things, like flooded basements or bills from car mechanics.

Edvard Munch did not have to paint anything else because with this one artwork he put himself on the art map forever. He considered his idea so great, he painted four copies of it. Thieves found it so valuable, they stole it from the museum. Twice!

However, the episode that gave him the vision was pretty spine-chilling: he was walking with his friends, chatting, having a good time and suddenly the sky turned red, the world became so loud and Munch had to cover his ears. He stood terrified while his friends kept going. With his feeling so overwhelming he ran home and transferred it on canvas. The picture screams horror and you can actually imagine the hair-raising chill that the artist have experienced.

The Scream  by Edvard Munch

Have you seen Oscar winners come on stage and give speeches thanking their parents, children, producers and so on for helping them to get where they are? If Munch had ever received an award for his achievements in art he could have thanked his father for scaring his pants off with macabre ghosts stories and dreadful attitude. Edvard’s mother died when he was little and if he misbehaved, his father told him that the dead mother suffered because of his conduct. Poor child, he had a gloomy childhood filled with insanity that further found its reflection in his works. He said that he was often frightened… Who knows, maybe his paintings helped him out with overcoming fear and low spirits. It is impossible to know now.

Anyway, we devoted this class to the project of depicting a scary monster. To make the work a bit challenging I suggested to use the resembling colors and similar setting as in the famous art piece.

Beware of the horrifying images below.

Nicholas, 9
Ali, 5
Max, 11
Nicholas, 5
Anna, 5
Maria, 10
Victoria, 4


For this art project we used 9×12 canvas paper and acrylic paints. The second choice was to use pastels seeing that Munch created one of the copies in this very medium, so I say use whatever you have at the moment, it will all work.

I did not want to cause fear by listening to the sinister music but to keep up with the theme  we enjoyed The Adams Family Musical which is an absolute delight for those who’ve loved the movies.

This project is suitable for any given day but with Halloween approaching I find it even more reasonable. Last week we did the Monster Tea Lights and it was super amusing. This week we take an unusual spin on pumpkin decor and prepare the clay forms for the Day of the Dead holiday. Write me in the comments what do you usually do with the kids for Halloween.

Have fun!



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