Shrieking Orange Skies

By Sue Berliner

Students will use oil pastels and tempera paint to explore the expression of emotion through art using Edvard Munch's famous painting “The Scream” as inspiration.

“The Scream” is an autobiographical work of art by Edvard Munch describing an emotionally lonely moment when the artist heard a piercing sound he described as an
“infinite scream passing through nature”.



Many people mistakenly think that the figure is screaming, however, one interpretation is that the figure is reacting to a scream and covering his/her ears for protection. This work has been described as “the soul cry of our age”.

Munch wrote a poerm to explain the painting:

“I was walking along the road 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.”

Edvard Munch (1863-1944, Norway) began his artist career at age 17, but his father initially hoped he’d be an engineer. He had a sad childhood. His mother died when he was only five years old, but his father (who was very strict) took care of him. His sister also passed away.


Munch developed a unique style, artistically expressing his extreme emotions by eliminating unnecessary details. He used line, shape, value, and color freely in symbolic ways.  Munch often created works about the same subject three or more times, starting with a painting, then making prints as he refined his images and messages. His powerful works explore emotions of grief, loneliness, fear, love, jealousy and death. Munch was very symbolic and emotionally expressive in his work.


The Scream was first exhibited at Munch’s solo exhibition in Berlin in 1893. 

Munch titled it in German “Der Schrei der Natur"

The painting also exists in a later version, which is in the possession of the Munch Museum. In addition Munch worked with the motif in drawings, pastels and prints.


The pastel version of “The Scream” sold in May 2012 for $120 million US dollars. Forty-five prints were made from the lithograph version before the printer ground the stone down to print another work.

Places to Go

Grunwald Center Collection at the Hammer Museum at UCLA has Munch's The Lovers woodcut from 1895

LACMA's woodcuts not currently on public view

“There should be no more paintings…of people reading and women knitting. In the future they should be of people who breathe, who feel emotions, who suffer and love.”

Edvard Munch