Nothing blue about these bluebirds… silhouetted against a winter white you have to imagine their blue feathers and rust colored breast. Imagine the rose pepperberries, the green palm fronds, the brown acacia pods. Imagine they’ll be sun soon and a bright blue sky! Meanwhile there is a poetry in form that is revealed when color is removed from the equation.
Imagine my delight discovering the flock of birds overhead were actually bluebirds! It may be hard to tell silhouetted against the sky like this but I swear that’s what they were and I’ll prove it in upcoming posts (I plan to stalk this pepper berry tree in better light)! In fifteen years of living in California I’ve only had two previous sightings, so this was a real surprise and a wonderful chance to take some reference shots for my paintings (especially helpful if my palette is only black and lavender)!
Cutting out silhouettes gives you time to think. Maybe I thought about it too much. I must say, I did have lot of fun sitting in a rocking chair in front of this back-lit frame handing out candy corn to unsuspecting trick or treaters! I was often asked if I was the Woman in Black but the movie reference was so lost on me. “I’m a Victorian silhouette come to life!” At least I was a little creepy.
Victorians were over the moon about silhouettes! In fact, the term for this technique of cutting portraits from black paper, which was becoming popular by the mid 18th century, was originally coined as a slur against Etienne de Silhouette the comptroller under Louis XV. He had encouraged the melting down of silver and gold to address the deficit from a long running war and his name became synonymous with cheapness.
Since I live in a Victorian home, I thought I’d whip up some of these simple period silhouettes to hang in the windows for Halloween. I had all my vintage floral frames laying about just waiting for their paintings, so with a little tissue paper, bristol board, tape and scissors I was able to transform the front of my house into an illuminated portrait gallery.