Good morning, and welcome to Project 4 of 31 Days of Halloween! I have set myself the challenge of coming up with a new art/craft/writing project for each day of the month of October, all of them celebrating the spooky vibe that permeates my favorite month. I’m also celebrating my favorite black cat, Soda Pop, who is the disgruntled main character in my new children’s book “I HATE HALLOWEEN”, which can be purchased here.
A couple days ago, I was walking the dog with my children, and we noticed a large, black cat lurking in a neighbor’s flower beds. Upon seeing our dog, the cat froze, and, from a distance it looked as if it was a cat-shaped piece of negative space. He was so black, he contrasted with everything perfectly, and gave me the feeling that someone had taken a cookie cutter and removed a portion of the real world in the exact size and shape of a black kitty. So, this got me thinking about silhouettes. I then drew some up on plain paper.
I drew some simple Halloween themes shapes which are pictured here. You may feel free to right-click and download, using them as you like. To use them as I do in Project 4, you need to print them on heavy cardstock so they can stand up to a bit of “stress”. Cut them out, and cut out the eyes, noses and mouths of the pumpkins as well. I used an X-acto knife for this, but if you’re good with scissors, go for it. Then I thought about what medium I wanted to use.
For me, the best medium is always the one I have on hand. And I love chalk pastels. Yes, they are a bit messy, but I think they are easier to clean up than paint, and they really show up well on colored paper. They can also be very inexpensive. So, there it is—chalk pastels, colored construction paper, and the cut-out silhouettes are all you need.
Now, I need you to get into the Zen of creating here. You have the cut-outs, so you don’t really need to do much drawing. BUT, you do need to lay down the pastels all around the edges of each shape, and inside the eye holes of the pumpkins and ghosts.
Put a shape down on a piece of colored paper (I chose black, because it seemed the spookiest) and, starting from inside the shape, radiate outwards over the edge and onto the construction paper, holding the shape down firmly as you work (you could use a bit of masking tape beneath the shape to help hold it, but be careful–construction paper may tear under such treatment). I started very carefully, and then got more freeform and crazy with my movements as I went, picking a variety of colors as my surround for the silhouette.
Really work those edges well, layering colors right up the the edge of the shape. Remember, as you are doing this, you aren’t actually drawing the shape of a black cat or a jack-o-lantern, but rather, you are drawing what is AROUND the shape.
Negative space in art is very important. When you have trouble drawing a complex subject, try drawing the space around it, instead of the subject itself. Hopefully, this little silhouette exercise will give you some experience with that.
Work the edges with different scribbling marks and lines and colors until you feel you have the look you want.
Carefully pick up the shape off the paper, and check out your work.
Do you like the piece you just created? Why or why not? Are you not pleased with the color scheme? Did you lay down enough pastel? Make a judgement, and if you don’t like it, pitch it and start again. You will not BELIEVE how many ideas and, consequently, how much paper is thrown away by professional artists. Experiement.
Try different techniques with the pastel. Try it on different papers. Do it on tagboard, on cut up cardboard boxes. You could even use paint and stencil brushes, or spray paint to create your silhouettes. Grab some sidewalk chalk and make silhouettes all over your driveway. Have fun. Make a lot of them. After you are finished, spray each one liberally with cheap hairspray to fix the pastel to the paper (it won’t make it, like, PERMANENT, but it will help it from getting smeared). You could even (gulp!) try some of your OWN drawings with pastels and colored paper!
And hey, you could do some writing about the project in front of you. Does it inspire any ideas/feelings when you look at it? For me, my best ideas for writing come from images I see or I create. Try to encapsulate you art in words, in the form of a story or a poem.
Yes, the children in your life will require some hands-on help with this one, if they are young. But my older kids loved it as well, and they helped each other. Spend some time with the kiddos, and help them make Halloween silhouettes! And take pictures and post them on Bug Summer’s Facebook page here! We can always use more “likes”!