Make a Shadow Painting

Here is Fiona from Brompton Library, showing us how to make a shadow painting using things from around the house.  Over to Fiona…

Over the last few weeks, I have found that being creative and taking some time to get completely absorbed in an activity with no goals, has really helped me to relax.  This exercise is a great way to do that and because there is no right or wrong way to do and it can be done with any household items such as coffee, food colouring, biros, pencils, so there is no need to buy expensive resources, and if you make a picture you don’t like, you haven’t wasted anything.  The main aim is just to explore and enjoy the process.

You will need:

  • A light source ie. sunlight, a torch, a lamp, a phone torch
  • Household objects – plants, kitchen utensils, ornaments, furniture. Anything that creates a shadow pattern.
  • A pencil, some paper, one or two paintbrushes
  • Some instant coffee/food colouring/pencils/biros/paints – anything to fill in your shadow drawing
  • A paint pallet or some saucers
  • Two jars of water – one to clean your brush and one to wet the brush and the paper.

These instructions are based on using instant coffee to colour the drawing, but you can use whatever you like.

  1.  Shine the light source on the object to create an interesting shadow.  I used the sunlight shining through the back of a chair for mine. I moved the paper around the cover the page with the curvy line of the chair and the little shapes.
  2. Draw around the shadow with the pencil.  Don’t worry about making it perfect, mistakes are fine!
  3. When you are happy with your pattern, put some coffee granules on one saucer and crush them a bit with your finger or the back of a spoon.
  4. Put some more granules on another saucer and add some water.  Mix until you are happy with the thickness – runny but not too thin so that it has a strong colour but you can paint easily. 
  5. Start painting!  I used a few methods to add some variety.  You can paint onto the dry paper or try painting a shape with water first and then adding drops of the coffee liquid.  This creates lovely patterns.  You can even wet the paper with a brush and then add some ground coffee granules – just try it and see what happens.  Dropping coffee onto the wet paint makes lovely strong patches of colour.
  6. When the painting is dry, you can add a line around the shapes with a pen if you like and rub out the pencil.

Here is another one that I did using a plant to make the shadow patterns and blue and yellow food colouring to fill the spaces.

And for this one, I did the shadow drawing then painted the whole paper with writing ink and used bleach to take off the ink where I wanted the paper to be white. Finally I used a red marker pen to highlight some parts.

So you see, you can use whatever materials you like, you could even use paints and it’s  a great way to explore and relax.

Fiona, Brompton Library

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