The Silhouettes in Life

The contrast of a silhouette onto a colourful background makes a dramatic impact.


There are many different backgrounds a silhouette could be used.  It doesn’t have to be black, any colour that contrasts will have a bold effect.


The scenes shown here are happy, fun and joyful.


Animals make a great silhouette.


You will need:

White paper

Black paper or thin card


Paint brush





Paint a background for your silhouette and a sheet of white paper.  On the examples shown, the colours have graded from yellow to orange to red, using colour to add depth.  Let your painting dry.

Doing the background first gives it time to dry while students can work on the silhouette.

To make your silhouette draw your picture with a lead pencil onto the black paper/card.  The pencil mark should clearly be seen, depending on the type of paper.  If not, draw your picture on white paper, cut it out, and paste it onto the black paper/card.

Cut out your silhouette.

Glue your silhouettes onto your background painting.


Teaching points:

Use this activity to incorporate learning about the colour wheel, primary and secondary colours.

Different styles of painting could be focussed on, such as watercolours, the techniques used and the history of watercolours.

Depending on the end product you are wanting to achieve, different types of papers will give a variety of effects and finishes.

Newspaper or a different medium could be used as a background.  Try a collage or different types of papers and textures.

Incorporate learning about the seasons – how would the background look in autumn, winter, spring and summer?

Children could do a silhouette of their pet or a topic that is the focus of study at the time.

This could also be an effective literacy activity with students doing letters or numbers.  Each student doing a number or letter would make a wonderful classroom display.


For grief and loss:

This activity could be used to explain to children about ‘dark’ times in our lives when there has been a bereavement or a loss of any sort.

The sun may be shining and other people may be laughing, but for the child, they have a feeling of sadness and heaviness.  It’s called grief.  Sometimes we need help to navigate these times of sorrow, the silhouettes of life.

Normalising the child’s feelings at this time can bring them reassurance, knowing that others also go through dark times when sad things happen.

Talking about contrasts between the colours and backgrounds, may inspire a conversation about the contrasts for the child before and after a traumatic event.  How is life different?  What has changed? How are they feeling about it?  How would they like things to be?

This could also initiate a discussion about emotions – ask the child what could be a dark or winter feeling?  These could include fear, sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness.  What winter emotion are they feeling?

Our cognitions play an important part in how we feel, so asking the child what they are thinking, would be a good opportunity to check for any faulty or catastrophic thinking.

Coping strategies for children who are experiencing a dark time or a silhouette in life can help them to get through this time.

These could include: playing with their pets, riding bikes, spending time with their friends, listening to music, writing a story, doing craft, doing some cooking with Mum, or working on a project in the shed with Dad, or vice versa.

There will always be emotional winter seasons in our lives, but the best part is, no season lasts forever.

Helping children to navigate difficulty times will build their resiliency and self-confidence.


Links to the Australian Curriculum

Foundation Year, Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing

ACPPS005  Identify and describe emotional responses people may experience in different situations

  • identifying and describing the emotions of people who are happy, sad, excited, tired, angry, scared or confused


Visual Arts, Foundation to Year 2

(ACAVAM107) Use and experiment with different materials, technique, technologies and processes to make artworks


Visual Arts, Years 3 and 4

(ACAVAM111) Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks


Health and Physical Education, Years 7 and 8, Being healthy, safe and active 

ACPPS071 Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older

  • Investigating the changing nature of peer and family relationships and proposing strategies to manage these changes
  • Evaluating and practising coping, communication and problem-solving skills to manage changes and emotions associated with puberty and getting older


Blue Skies Craft – Using Craft to Restore

Follow blueskiescraft on Instagram


Blue Skies Tomorrow – There is Always Hope

For more information on grief and loss visit

Follow Blue Skies Tomorrow on Facebook





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