Art Alternative: The Charcoal Silhouette
Today though, we are going to go through the silhouettes step by step. With silhouettes all the rage and chalkboards even hotter, I wanted to jump on the trend, but with my own little spin. I decided to experiment with charcoal on canvas, creating the same textured black as a well-used chalkboard.
- 16 x 20 Canvas
- Charcoal Pencils
- Bright Light (like this Architect's Light I used)
- Aerosol Hairspray (anything works, but I love the smell of this Aussie Spray while I am working :)
- Blending Stumps or Tortillions (optional)
- Ruler or Straight Edge
Directions:First things first - you need a profile! I recruited my kids when they were happy and well fed and bribed them with an episode of 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates'. Even though they were happy and well-bribed, I still had to work very quickly. Make sure you have your supplies ready to go before starting because irritable children make this project a disaster.
The basic setup is to place yourself in front of the canvas, with your child sitting sideways behind the canvas and a bright light shining directly towards the child and canvas. My older son held the canvas beside his face for the drawing, but with younger children, you will want to enlist a helper.
Once the profile drawing is right, start filling in the face with a charcoal stick. Use strokes in the same directions for the whole face, working in 3-4 inch sections at a time. Blend the charcoal with blending stumps or tortillions if needed.
For the second silhouette, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted a split B/W canvas with the facial profile peeking out from behind the wall. For this this portrait, I followed the same technique above, but then added a straight line to the top and bottom of the profile. I used a cabinet door as the straight line marker, but any ruler or straight edge will work.
Fill in the entire profile section, including the corners of the canvas, with charcoal. Hairspray will help to set the charcoal and blend it further. I took the canvas outdoors (the charcoal will FLY and make a mess of your house indoors!) and gently sprayed only in the black charcoal sections. Do not spray heavily along the edge of the profile as it will bleed. Notice the dark spots where the spray concentrated and notice I did not spray heavily along the edges of the profile. This all evens out as the spray dries, but you still have the uneven look of chalkboard/charcoal as opposed to a flat black paint.