During one of our art classes, my daughter noticed a young artist sitting at the back of the room making a profile portrait of a school owner’s daughter from a phone pic. With practiced movements, she drew freehand steady beautiful lines and curves directly with acrylic paint on canvas. The lines were black and the background was light and it looked more like a silhouette on one of the ancient medallions than a portrait. My daughter decided that she wanted to try this activity at home.
I knew that a five-year-old can’t draw a silhouette free-hand. How do I set her up for success? I wanted to encourage her artistic pursuit.
I decided that the first step should be creating her silhouette on a piece of paper (like we did in our Science of Shadow unit). However, we run in unexpected difficulties. Making flashlight silhouettes with kids was a very enjoyable activity when we did it just for fun. Kids laughed. I laughed. It was fun all around. But it turned out that when you try to do it with a serious intent of getting accurate lines, it’s a total disaster. Five seconds was the longest my daughter could stay still without shifting in some way and bursting out in a fit of laughter.
On to plan B! We taped a piece of paper to the wall, my daughter sat in front of it and I snapped a pic. I printed it, cut it out, and we used it as a silhouette.
I apologize if it sounds complicated because it’s not! Most of this project was done entirely by my 5-year old.
Try it with your kids and your guests will be seriously impressed by your artwork!
Acrylic Silhouette even small children can do
What you need
Silhouette (either make one with paper, pencil, and flashlight OR print a photograph)
- We started by painting the canvas with the background color. My daughter picked red.
As I mentioned above, I tried to trace my daughter’s silhouette with a pencil while she was sitting in front of the wall. But she kept moving her head. So, I snapped a photo of her with my phone.
I printed the pic.
It took me about 15 minutes to cut it out. The eyelashes and ponytail took the most effort. But it doesn’t have to be as detailed. I just really love her curly ponytail and long eyelashes.
I covered the dining room table with white paper and asked my daughter to paint the cut-out silhouette.
She picked black color.
At this point, you have a choice. You can either place the painted side down on the canvas to make an imprint. This is great if an adult is doing the job because you need to be pretty accurate in how you place it (and lift it with a very steady hand). You only get one shot at this!
Or (and this is what we did) just smear a bit of paint in the middle of the canvas to act like glue and set down the painted silhouette over it (the painted side will be up).
You can add a bit of more of the background color under the nose or ponytail to make it lay flat.
Let it dry.
I am absolutely in love with this project. The silhouette really captures my daughter’s perky and happy personality. My daughter enjoyed this activity and can’t wait to do another one. I wish I could keep it on my desk forever, but my daughter is only letting me have it till Fall and then she is moving it to her room.
It’s the first day of fall tomorrow! She tricked me 🙂
Have you done silhouette projects with your kids?