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Silhouetted Scenes Lesson


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Silhouetted Scenes Lesson

  1. 1. Title Silhouetted Scenes Author Nancy Walkup Director, North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts Grade level 9th-12th Grade Time duration 3-4 45 minute classes Overview Students will use a simple approach to create paper marbling with dramatic results. The marbled paper can be used for a variety of projects, including silhouetted scenes like the one above. Objectives • The student will be able to demonstrate recognition of the illusion of movement in marbled papers. • The student will be able to effectively create marbled papers and use them as the background of a silhouette collage (or other type of collage. Materials • white drawing paper, 12” x 18” • shallow pans slightly larger than the size of the chosen paper • water • Prang Ambrite or Freart bright-colored chalk or other brands of chalk (large diameter chalk works best, but regular chalk will do, just not as well) • variety of colored construction papers • pencils • scissors • white glue • drying rack or paper towels Resources and Preparation During this process I learned some tips that are helpful for planning and
  2. 2. preparation: • I first tried a number of paper marbling methods, including some commercial kits, but had the most success with the simplest ingredients – just colored chalk and water. The brand of chalk that works the best is Prang’s FREART chalk, the large size. • Because of space limitations, students could not all marble their papers at the same time, so they began working on their drawings for the silhouettes they would add to their finished marbled backgrounds when they were dry. While they started their drawings, they took turns at the sink to marble the paper. Background Information Paper marbling is a means to create remarkable decorative surface designs. To marble paper, some kind of pigment, usually oil or acrylic paint, is floated upon the surface of a liquid such as water or liquid starch. In the method historically used in Europe, water and carrageenan are combined to make a thickened liquid or size upon which oil paints are floated and moved with tools to make flowing patterns. A number of scholars believe that marbling originated in China over 2000 years ago and spread to Japan early as the 12th century, where it is still known as sumingashi. Marbled paper probably reached Europe along the silk route from the Far East to Turkey, where the process became secretive as marbled papers were cleverly used as forgery-proof backgrounds for official documents. Returning crusaders brought the knowledge of the techniques of marbling to Western Europe where it became popular, especially for book endpapers. Today Venice is the European city most identified with paper marbling. There are a number of contemporary artists who use paper cutting that are great to share with students. One is Beatrice Coron, who has a great TED video at Others include Kara Walker (, Carmen Lomas Garza (, and Kathy Trenchard ( Vocabulary • marbled paper/ sumingashi • silhouette • surface tensionProcedures for Marbling Paper Pour water in a shallow pan to a depth of ½-1 inch. Select three bright colors of chalk. Hold one piece of the chalk over the pan of water and scrape it with a sharp straight edge such as a blade of an open pair of scissors so that the chalk dust falls over the water. Keep scraping and distribute the chalk dust all over the water. Some of the chalk dust will sink 2
  3. 3. to the bottom of the pan but most will float on the top of the water. Repeat the same procedures with the other two colors. Using a wide tooth comb or pencil, gently swirl the water to form curvilinear patterns in the chalk or blow on it gently from the side. (Science connection: the chalk dust floats on the water due to the fact that the surface tension of the water is stronger than the weight of the chalk.) Hold a piece of paper that will fit in the pan in a “U” shape over the water. Let the center of the paper touch the water first, and then release it so that the whole piece is flat on top of the water. Quickly remove the paper with fingers or tongs as soon as it fully contacts the water. (It should not soak up the water; it should just collect the chalk dust on the surface of the water.) Let the paper drip over the water a minute and then lay it on a drying rack or paper towels to dry. Press flat when dry (Cover a stack of the marbled papers with heavy books overnight). To finish, students add their silhouettes to the dried marbled paper.Summary and Closure Display all finished work and ask students to discuss the effects of movement in the marbled paper and the effectiveness of the cutout silhouette. Assessment To what extent: • is a sense of movement depicted in the marbled paper? • is the silhouette effectively detailed and recognizable? Extensions Other approaches to paper marbling include the use of specific colors of both chalk and background colors, cutting shapes for collage out of the marbled paper (similar to author Eric Carle’s approach), painting on the marbled paper, or using it as the covers of a book. The results of this simple process, using materials commonly found in the art room, are spectacular, however they are incorporated into works of art. Correlated Standards Art I (Proposed TEKS) (1)(B) identify and understand the Elements of Art including line, shape, (color, texture, form, space, value as the fundamentals of art in personal artworks. Other Elements of Art may be evident as media evolve (such as text and time); (2)(A) utilize visual solutions to create original artworks by problem-solving through direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination; (3)(B) describe general characteristics in artworks from a variety of cultures; (4)(A) interpret, evaluate, and justify artistic decisions in artworks by the student, peers, and other artists. 3
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