Copy Famous Paintings – Edvard Munch


Image from accessed November, 2017

What is it?

Painting, “Madonna“, 1894 by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch

How was this painting done?

Softly undulating lines create a kind of cyclical form reminiscent of an aura around the figure. The painting was done in layers of oil paint.  The layers of paint show through to the final colours.  It seems Munch’s colours start with a background of gold and orange.  The artist appears to blend this with a raw umber or payne’s gray to create the darker tones in subsequent layers.

Why Should We Care?

Due to a childhood of illness and death in his family, Munch had a preoccupation with themes of anxiety, emotional suffering, and human vulnerability.  In his art he tried to explain life and its meaning not only to himself, but to others.   Edvard Munch tried to help others clarify their lives.  He was the first European artist to do this.

Where can I find other paintings like this?

Edvard Munch was influenced by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.  You can see this in Van Gogh’s “Girl in White” and Gauguin’s The Siesta

Meditate, relax and enjoy

There can be no mistakes in making this painting.  Everything ends up as it should be.  Take the luxury of “time out” to recreate this fabulous painting in acrylics yourself, here’s how:

You will need

  • a small canvas, 30cm x 40cm is a good size
  • tubes of primary acrylic colours, blue, red and yellow plus white
  • a dark watercolour crayon
  • soft nylon paint brushes, (small, medium and a little larger)
  • water in an old container
  • a rag or disposable cloth
  • an hour or two

Tips on the Process

  • prime the canvas first, otherwise, just a wash and dry with a towel
  • print the photo you want to work from, measure and cut into quarters to make your drawing in a grid
  • turn the original photo upside down to make the drawing
  • use a dark coloured water colour crayon for your drawing
  • correct drawing right-side up from the original
  • erase crayon easily with a damp cloth
  • it is okay for the watercolour crayon mark to bleed into the painting
  • everything is easily painted over with acrylics
  • paint in the background first
  • The painting will not look great at the initial blocking in stage, stay with it for a pleasant surprise
  • try not to use paint directly from the tube; experiment with how to mix colours
  • create a perfect skin tone by blending warm yellow, warm red, a dot of cool blue and lots of white, experiment first
  • layering colours on top of others using the scumbling technique creates magic
  • acrylics dry darker than the mixed colour

The Drawing Process

Turn your photo upside down and draw the space around the drawing first.  This is just a framework to place the figure on the page and you can easily correct right-side up with the dampened cloth as I have done below.

Otherwise, you may use my drawing below.  I suggest you ask your copy shop to print the PDF below onto a canvas and proceed to make your own unique painting.  Otherwise, you can print the copy on to good quality paper, paint the picture and frame it.  It’s your painting after all!








Paint in Acrylic – Easy Abstract Roses


Here is a very quick exercise in painting abstract roses. You will need around 30 minutes plus drying time for this.

To make the artwork you will need:

  • Acrylic paints in white, red, blue and yellow.  If your budget is limited, you can use any red, blue or yellow you have on hand however, a cool red gives a lovely colour for roses.
  • Flat plastic spatula or palette knife, available at art shops (usually in a multi-pack.)
  • Large brush
  • A canvas in whatever size you like
  • plastic jar for water
  • rags to mop up spills

Here’s how:

  • Paint the primed canvas with a background mixture of white with a small dot of  yellow. This gives a lovely glow to the finished work. Allow to dry.
  • Make up a mixture of red with very small dots of  blue and yellow added.
  • If all this mixing sounds confusing, you can do your own thing with making colours.
  • Paint the canvas with this mixture as an undercoat and allow to dry for at least 1 hour.
  • When completely dry, mix up some white with a very small amount of yellow (this should look almost white) and apply over the red canvas.
  • While still wet, scrape swirls into the canvas using the side of the spatula and turning it to get some different qualities of line. Allow some of the swirls to fall off the edge of the canvas. This will allow the red undercoat to show.
  • Do not fuss or draw back into the swirls. Make your first mark the only one.
  • Allow to dry.

Below is a work done my Naomi Middelmann using the same process.

Go forth, forget about the outcome, enjoy the process and you will make a fine artwork!

Naomi Middelmann