Silhouette Collage

Teaching Art

Did you know that ‘silhouette’ in French means, ‘shadow’? Or that ‘collage’ is a French word which means ‘to stick’? Well, I didn’t until my French students taught me in my introductory lesson for this unit on movement and the human figure.

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The unit began by looking at the artwork of Edgar Degas. From there, students practiced drawing different postures, positions and proportions using picture from books, mannequins and even poising for each other. The following week, students learned about silhouettes before etching a silhouette into cardboard. Students carefully went around the edge of the figure with an etching tool leaving an indented line where they had apply pressure. Students then traced the almost invisible line in black marker.


After a brief introduction on collage, students ripped tissue paper and applied it to their cardboard and outlines using watered down PVV and a sponge brush.


Once the collages were dry the following week, students retraced the black outline of the figure and then used black poster paint to paint the inside of the figure creating a silhouette.


The result was very visually successful. Ideally these skills would then be used to create something less formulaic but overall the objectives of the unit were met and the students felt really proud of what they created.

This unit was intended to teach students that there are many resources to help draw the figure. From drawing from observations and references like Degas to employing tools to make it slightly easier, my hope is that representing the figure is their art feel less intimidating.

Venus McArsty even stopped by to share her song about Edgar Degas! The song was played while students worked on their silhouette collages.

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