Friday, July 17, 2009

Learning Something New - Silhouettes

When it comes to drawing faces, I can do a decent job. Portraits I have done in pencil, pen, and watercolor actually show recognizable people. But up until now I have never really tried silhouette snipping.

When I got an Amazon gift card this week, I knew exactly what I wanted to buy.

The book, Silhouettes: Rediscovering the Lost Art, by Kathryn Flocken, arrived yesterday afternoon and I got started on practicing right away.



Some of the original stuff is pretty embarrassing, but I tried to critique the mistakes. Hopefully, upon reflecting on the problems, I will learn from them.

I taped them in an old sketch pad so that when I get to be an expert, I can laugh delightedly at my early attempts.



Honestly, I was surprised at how different it is to cut a profile than it is to draw one. Supposedly, the traditional way to cut silhouettes is to not sketch beforehand. You just snip as you study the face. If you make a mistake, you are stuck with it. Of course, it is only supposed to take you 90 seconds to snip a silhouette, so "stuck with it" is only a temporary condition if you ball it up and try again. Some of the positions your hands get into while cutting these are quite contorted. Since you actually want to see what you are cutting in the same direction as you are snipping, you have to learn backhand snipping techniques.

After trying the samples in the book, which included lots of neat little details on the profile, I tried some profiles from the internet. Whew! That was like starting from scratch.

After not finding lots of profiles that showed the angle I wanted, I started using my own. Three of the images below are of me. They all have similarities to my profile, but still have some problems with the proportions.


I did look at "all y'all's" blogs for profiles, but you seem to prefer frontal shots. I did snip a couple of the ones I found, but I'm not ready to say which ones they are and of whom. But, if you include a close-up profile in your blog now and then, it would provide some nice practice for me. = )

11 comments:

Kathryn Flocken said...

These are all good first tries! Keep at it!

Snippety Gibbet said...

Thanks, Kathy! This book is a great help. jan

Julie said...

You are going a great job...right from the get-go!!! Very cool!

perilloparodies said...

Hey, there!!! I end up doing the same thing with the profile thing. I just go profile crazy on a sheet of paper and circle the nicer ones i would like to do more often. Not easy. one of my hardest challenges is the human body. NOT my fortè. At all. I do them because they pertain to life as I see it. There is no way i can papercut without a few bodies thrown into the mix. family life is strewn with so many, it just seeps into my work. :-) I think I have gotten better. I am not great, but did a recent cut for my second son's birthday, and the one profile turned out MUCH better than I could have imagined. :-) "yay" to improvement! Well, done, keep up the good work. There is so much to learn in the world of papercutting. I am so enjoying my own personal journey of expression. sigh...

Elenka said...

Wow. I really like your last one, with the flowing hair and all. I would be sooooo tempted to draw it out first. Who the heck would know? And it would come out perfect! I think I would be perfect at cutting out frontal views, yes, that's it. Natch!

Chan Bliss said...

Here ya go, two in one. http://twitpic.com/aubgy

Flash said...

You are so methodical and disciplined in your approach to new techniques. Bravo. They look pretty darn good.

If you are interested, I found a page on Blogger where she makes modern silhouettes that you might enjoy viewing: http://colormekatie.blogspot.com/2009/06/silhouette-portraits.html

SCB said...

How lovely! And how clever you are! To my eyes it doesn't look as if there's much room for improvement as they're great already...

soulbrush said...

these are incredible. i am adding you to my list of favourites on my sidebar so i can visit daily. your stuff just 'blows my mind'.

Stephanie M said...

oh, your post makes me think that i will try that one of these days. I've make only one silhouette, it was my "fiancé". bravo for all your ideas...friendly...

jackie said...

Your experimentations are pretty darn impressive! I always thought you cast a light on the person and trace their silhoutte and then cut it out. Apparently that must be the amateur way of doing it. I can't even imagine looking at the person or photo and snipping as I go. You are amazing Jan! I love the ones with all the hair details!
I've been looking more at Rob Ryan's work and realized that his people are more impressions than true to life renderings.