Transformative Art of Edvard Munch The Scream

Digital transformative art in pixels of a masterpiece, Edvard Munch's The Scream
Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream painted 100 years ago inspired my attempt at transformative art with pixels and vectors

Why I Painted a Copycat version of The Scream

Normally, I would term my digital recreation of Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream a copycat, but today to recreate the art or photographs of others in a surprising or an unexpected way is termed “transformative art.” Transformative art has a fair use copyright standing in many cases.

My transformative art of Edvard Munch’s The Scream came about after watching an Adobe Live downstream featuring a Photoshop Contest with free digital brushes, designed by Kyle T. Webster.  Kyle designed the brushes after seven Munch brushes curated at the Munch Museum/Oslo.

I downloaded the Munch digital brushes from Adobe for Photoshop, and had dreams of creating a piece of digital art in the Munch style for the Adobe contest. I made my sketch, and started to paint with my Wacom pen.

However, my computer is a dinosaur, with a slow processor. Every stroke I took with the Munch brushes was like watching a swath of color slowly populating across my screen. As grand as it was to play with the Adobe Munch brushes, it was far too tedious for me, so I abandoned my sketch.

The Scream by Munch has proved itself a timeless classic due to its original expression of a universal theme, panic. Munch painted from life. He was walking with two friends on a bridge, and suddenly he heard nature screaming at him and deafening his thoughts. It was a singular experience that found its way onto his canvas.

Munch painted four different versions of The Scream. One hangs in  Oslo at the Munch Museum.

Adobe’s contest was to find a “Munch 5th” painting to hang in the Oslo Munch Museum alongside one of the original four paintings.

My Digital How-To

This was my first attempt to recreate on my computer an oil painting that had brush strokes, blending, and layers of rich paint and diverse values. I wasn’t able to achieve the richness and depth of a painting, but rather created a transformative version with digital splashes of paint.

I began my digital art with a Munch palette of colors that I had sampled from his painting, but those colors morphed as I worked.

Background painting work on Munch The Scream digital art for transformative art
Background work on Munch The Scream digital art

First, I blocked in a background of the Munch painting. Next, I built up shapes of color to recreate Edvard’s brush strokes.

Munch used thick passes of oil paint, tipping the brush on one side with one color and the other side with another color. His paint was so generously applied as he blended his strokes, that I couldn’t see any signs of the canvas texture peaking through in his painting.

I hope to create more transformative versions of The Scream as Munch did; probably on my iPad while I watch this season’s Wicked Tuna, The Outer Banks.

What is Transformative Art?

The copyright status of Transformative Art is an offshoot of Fair Use when the creator of the secondary or derivative work adapts the original work in a surprising or unexpected way. (Elephant)

I highly recommend reading the great article on copyrights in the Spring Issue of Elephant that beautifully illustrates and details with court cases copyright standings in today’s multi-media art culture, drawing a dividing line between fair use and copyright infringement – something you don’t even want to think about.

Seven copyright standings explored in Elephant include:

  • Copyright
  • Copyleft
  • Copyright creep
  • Fair Use
  • Orphan works
  • Public domain
  • Transformative Use

Source: Elephant, The Art Culture Magazine, Issue 30, Spring 2017

Cover of Spring 2017 issue of Elephant Art Culture Magazine
Spring 2017 issue of Elephant, The Art Culture Magazine




Published by

Patricia Wiskur

My love for art comes from years in the studio of Wiskur Productions, with my husband, Darrell Wiskur, a designer and photographer. Also, I was an editor and photographer in the real world for 17 years ... all the while, thankful for an artful life and cherished memories. Photos are ©2019 Darrell D. Wiskur