Silhouette Reflections

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the past year and our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. This tutorial will show you how to combine written journaling and reflections with cut paper silhouettes to create a meaningful and cohesive art journal spread.

JOY MALCOLM

Joy lives with her husband and two children in New Hampshire. Her past experiences as an art educator, librarian, and in bookbinding and conservation have converged into a great love for art journaling and a strong belief in its power as a form of healing and expression.

Hi there Get Messians! I’m so happy to be sharing a tutorial with you for the Get Messy Season of Reflection. The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the past year and our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I combine written journaling and reflections with cut paper silhouettes to create a meaningful and cohesive art journal spread.

Supplies

  • pencil
  • eraser
  • white gel pen
  • scissors or craft knife
  • glue stick or other adhesive
  • white chalk
  • tracing paper
  • black card stock or paper
  • paintbrushes
  • paint
  • side profile photo

Process

The definition of a silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is typically featureless. You can see that these silhouettes have more details, like eyelashes and clothing. For this project I’m going to be writing my reflections on the silhouette.

I decided to create my background first so it would have time to dry while I’m cutting the silhouette and writing my reflections. I wanted to create an abstract, intuitive painting style background so I chose a few of my favorite colors of paint and a pencil and just started putting it on the paper. I find that while I’m painting the background it’s a good time to reflect and think about what I want to write later on. You could also do the writing first either on the background or on a separate piece of paper or journal. If you do the writing in the background you could then cover up the writing with the paint or leave it as the background. Later when I’m pasting down the silhouettes I can add more details to the background.

Now I’m going to trace and cut my silhouette. My journal is 5 x 8, so 8×10 laid flat. I printed my picture on 4×6 paper on a Canon Selphy printer and the size of the silhouette was just right. I’m using black paper for my silhouette, but painted paper or decorative paper would also work well or map or music paper depending on if you are writing directly on the silhouette or not.

To trace my silhouette I put my tracing paper over my photo and with my pencil draw on the outline of my head, hair, and face. You can include less or more details. Some silhouettes have eyelashes or details of clothing but I decided to keep mine pretty simple. You may not get the line exactly the way you want it the first time, but you can always take the tracing paper away to check it and then erase and adjust it a bit if needed.

Next, I’m going to transfer the tracing to the black paper. To do this I turn the tracing paper over and go over the line with white chalk. I flip it back and put chalk side down on the black paper and trace over the line one more time making sure I press firmly with my pencil. This transfers the white chalk line onto the black paper. I then cut out the silhouette. I then use this cut out silhouette and place it on the black paper and trace around it to make a second silhouette, so that I can have two silhouettes that will be facing away from each other in the final spread.

You can see that I’ve already written my thoughts on the past year on the left facing silhouette, and now I’m writing my thoughts about the upcoming year on the right facing silhouette.

After I finish writing I’m going to glue the silhouettes onto the background. But before I do that, I figure out where I want to place them and add a few more little details to the background.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and I can’t wait to see what you do! Please share your work in the Get Messy galleries and on Instagram with the hashtag #gmseasonofreflection. I would love to see your work, so please tag me @joymalcolmart.

Action Steps

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Take or find a side profile picture of yourself

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Write some reflections about the past year and thoughts on the upcoming year

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Try making a silhouette in a different way, by painting or drawing it directly on your journal page or only doing the outline