Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Inspired by Silhouettes


Is there anything more lovely than a silhouette? They are the original airbrush - taking something beautiful and obscuring all but it’s shape in a single color creates a pure image that can't be ignored. The simplicity of a silhouette is what makes them so intense. The subject becomes concentrated in it’s outline, especially when the background provides a stark contrast.

fly free

Did you know that silhouettes are named after a person? The art of cutting out a person’s profile from black card to create a portrait was popular in the 1700’s, especially for those who could not afford more expensive art forms. In France, Etienne de Silhouette was attempting to restore the country’s finances, causing many people to pinch their pennies, or live in poverty. The phrase a la silhouette came to mean anything cheaply made, and was used to describe these cut-out portraits. The name stuck, and now applies in many ways to shapes, profiles and backlit objects.

Handmade Shadows and Silhouettes

Cameos, Cut-Outs, Sunsets and Silhouettes

Silhouettes were also used in cameos and memento mori, or mourning jewelry, which were popular in the Victorian era. Despite these sad origins, silhouettes continue to be popular in art, photography and even jewelry.

Silhouette Photo Collage

1. Silhouettes, 2. Magical Silhouette, 3. Silhouette, 4. Silhouettes, Thar desert,
5. CIMG2167 Diver Silhouette, 6. Silhouette, 7. Silhouette, 8. Silhouette,
9. Silhouette Portrait, 10. Silhouette, 11. Beach Shadow Silhouette, 12. Silhouette 1

Do you like to use cameos or silhouette shapes in your work?

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  1. This was very interesting -- definitely didn't know silhouette came from a guy's name. Cool info. A funny thing is that Jean Power had some silhouettes on her blog yesterday! Small world.

  2. Thanks for the history lesson, Mortira. I had no idea of the origins of "silhouette," and I'm both a word maven and a francophile. I don't use silhouettes much in my designs, but I love cameos and I love black and white combos.

  3. Well that was interesting I didn't know that. I love silhouettes.


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