Edward Munch screams expressionism.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893. Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard.

Expressionism is a style of art in which the artist tries to express certain feelings about something. In expressionism, the artist is more concerned about having their painting express a feeling than in making the painting look exactly like what they are painting. Expressionist art often uses bold lines and colors to convey feelings and emotions.

Max said:

“I’m an expressionist, Mom! I just discovered! That explains everything!”

The Scream, also sometimes known as “The Cry”, is considered by many to be the first expressionist painting. Munch regarded it as a “soul painting” because it expressed what laid in someone’s soul. He actually painted four different versions, but the most famous is this one with the rich, red, vibrant sky.

Max said:

“I think the red one is popular because it was like his real description and because it is so shocking.”

In a page in his diary from 1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image:

“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

Max wanted to use cardboard for his experiment in expressionism, since Munch used cardboard for The Scream. He also pointed out that we should use pastels if we really want to explore Munch’s process.

So we assembled our supplies- pieces of cardboard, paintbrushes, pastels, cup of water, watercolors- and then list talked about the hardest feelings to express. Max said “a person who hears nature’s happy cry”, while Micah said “being sad”. Milla just sat around looking wise. I said “tormenting confusion”.

What colors would best represent these feelings? We chose the pastels we would need in the colors we found to be expressive. Then we each set out to draw a portrait of this emotion using pastels. Our goal- “to reflect feeling, not reality”.

“The road ventures far off into the distance because nature can be followed forever,” promised Max.

Person Who Hears Nature’s Happy Cry by Max Coryell, 2012

(Pastel and mud paint on cardboard)

Detail from Person Who Hears Nature’s Happy Cry

Then we used watercolors to wash over the pastel drawing. Actually, Max elected to use homemade mud paint because he felt it really reflected the love for nature (more on the mud paint later). Make sure to choose a watercolor that compliments the pastel colors- for dark pastels, use a light watercolor and for light pastels, use a dark watercolor.

Interior Monologue by Alina Coryell, 2012

(Pastel and watercolor on cardboard)

Detail from Interior Monologue.

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