Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Silhouette Art

A silhouette art is the image of a person, an object or scene consisting of the outline and featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black. Traditionally, a silhouette is a form of artwork dating back to 18th century-Wikipedia

silhouette portrait of Jane Austen

silhouette portrait of Beethoven

Prior to photography silhoutte profiles cut from black card were the cheapest way of recording a person's appearance. 

In Asia sillhouette art exist in a form of performing arts. Wayang Kulit is a silhouette shadow puppet show. Wayang which literally means movie or show and kulit means skin. The characters in the show moving emerged as shadows behind a cloth, and it is made of skin/ leather on wood panels. The Wayang Kulit is centuries old. It has existed in Indonesia and spread throughout South East Asia.

Growing up in Malaysia, I was aware of the existence of wayang kulit as it is popular and play a prominent role in the country's traditon, arts and culture. My friend Judy gave me a Thai version of Wayang Kulit about 10 years ago. I was surprised it plays a prominent role in Thailand's tradition too. Judy told me it has a special meaning when given as gifts especially to a couple getting married.

Today I see many silhouette art popping almost everywhere. So I decided to make myself one.

In Holland many generations Dutch grew up reading famous children books called Jip en Janneke written my the famous Anna MG Schmidt.
Her books were filled with silhouette artwork illustrated by the famous illustrator Fiep ( Sophia Maria) Westerdorp ( 1916-2004).

Todate artist Kara Walker kicked up the silhouette art up a notch with her room size tableaux of black silhouette art.

Click here to see how to create silhoutte art. I saw editors of a Dutch magazine called Flow did this as below. I thought it was brilliant!

Traditonally one needs only scissors and paper to create silhoutte art. But I decided to take a shortcut by cutting, paste and fill layer with Photoshop ( I need to do the laundry -no time and my kids refused to sit for me). I figure it would be nice to decorate a wall like a family portrait.

      my daughter

my son


     the dad in the house

Or create such art deco on your living room wall.

I can imagine this silhouette art on any kind of objects like plates, cups, bags, pots etc. I am thinking of making something on styrofoam cups like Boey. It turned out so good on a styrofoam cup.