I've been trying a number of silhouette-based lesson ideas lately. I think they are effective in demonstrating how much can be communicated quickly with a simple blocked-in outline. Although a silhouette may be simplistic and stylised, even at a glance there is no mistaking a person, tree, car etc. These silhouettes were created by a year 5 class in about an hour.
As with all my posts so far, I have included the art of every student, whatever the result — to give the best impression of how successful a lesson is. Every class will have at least one, if not a number of students who will create something special no matter what we say or do as teachers. So only showing the most adept students' work is probably not a true indication of how well a lesson works in a classroom setting.
To begin my first attempt at this lesson we briefly discussed and viewed some common silhouettes. Next I demonstrated the task of sketching a large silhouette and dividing it in two. One half was painted black, leaving a white background and then the other half of the silhouette is left white with a painted black background. The children planned their work on some scrap paper before penciling their outline onto the art paper and then moved to the painting table.
I did bend my rules and allow some minor details rather than completely solid silhouettes, hence there are some facial features, windows etc. This was fine for most, but did confuse some with how to make each side opposite. I didn't insist on symmetrical silhouettes although obviously this is an option. Overall I'm really happy with the results and look forward to revisiting this idea. The students enjoyed both the process and results which for me is a pretty good indicator of a lesson's value.