Haunted Paintings: How to Make Scary Artwork
Haunted Paintings: stories for lovers of scary things!
Haunted paintings are one of those things that combines a couple of interests of mine, artwork and scary stories! Not everyone likes reading dark stuff, but for me, scary books, crime novels and dark literature are what really keeps me turning pages (now I have a kindle, swiping pages). I was researching scary paintings just out of curiosity and found a few with pretty dark stories attached. But, from an artistic view, it’s very interesting what kind of emotions a painting or image can create and the way the audience could attach a story to that in such a way. Attaching a story based on emotions gives the painting a notoriety, and possibly not for the better but definitely one that creates added interest and reaches new audiences.
But, from an artistic view, it’s very interesting what kind of emotions a painting or image can create and the way the audience could attach a story to that in such a way. Attaching a story based on emotions gives the painting a notoriety, and possibly not for the better but definitely one that creates added interest and reaches new audiences.
(I’m slightly apprehensive about posting this blog as I don’t want to give my site “bad karma” or a curse! We shall see the results…)
The Hands Resist Him – Bill Stoneham in 1972
I think this painting is excellent, and can really understand why this particular piece would create such a feeling within its audience. With a colourful past, celebrity buyers and even a frenzied eBay bidding war, this painting has definitely caused a stir! There are follow up painting too, Resistance at the Threshold and Threshold of Revelation. Full story here.
But what makes this painting feel so creepy? Surely it’s not just the fact that the young girl is made into a doll-like figure, mixing the human with a touch of inhuman? The drawing, rich black toned inner space of the house they are standing in front of laced with tiny hands possibly relating to children gives a haunting backdrop. The boy with a shadowed face and look of sadness mixed with anger, his limp standing body also gives a doll-like appearance. Overall, the colourway of this piece prompts you to think of abandoned houses, using a mix of muted beiges, browns and black. I really think this painting is quite an emotional masterpiece and deserves more recognition beyond its colourful history.
The Crying Boys – A series by Bruno Amadio
This series of full face, close up portraits of crying children were mass produced for a while and bought up for people’s homes. The paintings are said to bring miss fortune, curses and fires to homes with some firemen apparently refusing to have them in their homes. There’s also a counter-argument saying the company producing these used a flame retardant coating and frame which explains why the paintings were preserved through fires.
Again, these are a beautiful series of portraits, and very emotional to look at as nobody likes seeing children cry! Personally, it evokes some kind of maternal feeling in me of wanting to protect the child and I’m sure this feeling would be shared! I think it’s an incredible skill to be able to paint a face with emotion, so hats off to Bruno Amadio. Full story and image credit.
The Anguished Man
Not difficult to see why this painting may have been thought of as haunted, the extreme orange, red colour of the head and shoulders against the cool blue toned background make this a striking piece. The figure with hollowed eyes, a full open mouth and possibly no nose is entirely startling. With an almost “Mark Rothco like” transfer of energy through colour, the audience gets a sense of pain, suffering and possibly the idea that the person painted has been burned? The paintwork itself is textured, with a deep understanding of tonnes and shadow giving the figure a more lifelike quality. Full story, You Tube Link and Image Credit.
Kazimir Malevich – Black Square 1913
Clearly, there must be a cheeky ghost hiding behind the black square right? Malevich’s painting was the first of it’s kind to be a painting of seemingly “nothing” a new way of creating abstraction at the time and idealised as a retreat from everyday life in a sort of mindful sense. I would love to see this painting in real life, apparently, it gives you a “tingling sensation” or feeling of “energy”. I’ve also head the black paint is slowly chipping off revealing something underneath. Through the cracks in the black paint, you can see there are colour variations as if there is, in fact, an underpainting of something else… Image credit and interesting article.
How to make your own haunted paintings:
Use a muted pallet or sickly colours pallet – nothing to pretty or harmonising.
Try abstracting a human form, lose the eye detail or nose structure so they appear less human.
Play with shadow, a darker area or shadowed face really gives a macabre feel.
Get a friend to write a detailed post on social media saying how your painting has cursed their life! Try channels like Tumblr or 4chan.
Above, a portrait of my partner working, he has this in his office, it was in our dining room for about a year. I’ve never thought of it as haunted but people have made comments that it looks “scary” errrrmmmm, thanks? Have you seen any of these paintings in real life or have any other stories of scary artwork? Let me know in the comments!