Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Poetry: Silhouette Portrait Wall

I had a little nut-tree, 
Nothing would it bear. 
I searched in all its branches, 
But not a nut was there. 

'Oh, little tree,' I begged, 
'Give me just a few.' 
The little tree looked down at me 
And whispered, 'Nuts to you.' 

~ Roald Dahl

I have noticed a strange phenomenon in my children.  As soon as they enter third grade, they are completely incapable of taking a natural-looking school picture.  

In their second grade portraits they grin like the little gappy-toothed angels that I know and love.  But then something horrible happens over summer break.  It is almost as if some sort of latent squirrel DNA manifests itself in their bloodstream as soon as they sit down for that 3rd grade photo, because all of a sudden they feel the need to pull their lips back across their teeth so tightly that their cheeks puddle into poochy mounds as if they are hording nuts for the winter.  

30 dollars later, I have a permanent record of what my children might have looked like had they been sired by Chip or Dale.

So I'm skipping the photo order this week.

Instead, I decided to capture my children as they truly are with no expectation of natural smiles or combed hair or matching clothes.  And I have to say, it was the best photo session we've ever had.  I channeled my inner Jane Austen (not hard to do) and turned all of their photos into silhouettes.

Here's what I did.

I started by taking pictures of my children's profiles.  When I uploaded the photos to my computer, I changed the photos to black and white for better contrast.  I then sized the photos for my picture frames and printed them off on plain-old white printer paper and cut out the profiles with scissors.

Then I flipped the cutouts over and coated them with some black acrylic paint.

When the black paint was dry, I mounted the silhouettes with a glue stick to some 5x7 sheets of white paper and popped them in the frames.

I decided to hang my children's portraits vertically to pack a visual punch.

It has been delightful to see the kids analyze their features and determine who looks like who.   And the best part---not one squirrel-ish similarity in the bunch.
I'd easily trade thirty minutes of work for lovely keepsakes of my children rather than hand over hundreds of dollars to the school photographer and his rubber chicken.

Besides, that school photographer seems to do better with animals anyway.  
Especially the nut-loving variety.

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  1. It's been a while since I had a third grader, but I agree! You silhouettes are very cute, and timeless!

  2. I stopped ordering the photos a bit later but regretted not doing it before... What should be celebrated and perpetuated is sacrificed in name of the perfect portrait.
    I can't begin to say how much I love this post. For allowing me to vent something you can't among the "other" mothers in school ;) and because I'm designing a frame wall where I want to put several things including family pictures, special drawings and I’ve been fretting over which of their portraits to use – there are so many – and this seems a lovely, and unique, idea.
    You make it sound easy enough for me. But then you always do and I appreciate these pockets of positive creativity ahahahaah

    Thank you. Wonderful Work!!!

  3. I love this it makes such an impact on the wall. I have been looking at silhouettes for some time now and love the way yours turned out. Beautiful.... Found you at Feathered Nest Friday....

  4. Wonderful! They are perfect where you have them too!

  5. Think I need to do this! Thanks for the tutorial!


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