Painted silhouettes and Mr Charles

I am feeling very pleased with myself having just sent the manuscript for my book to the publishers this morning, full of painted silhouettes.  I can sit back and relax for the first time in many weeks.

The e-mail I sent in January offering ‘free silhouettes’ was well received and I owe a huge thanks to all those who sent photographs of themselves and friends for inclusion.  Predictably I received rather more than needed, so just under half have ended up as silhouettes in the book, some as cut and some as painted silhouettes.  It will be published on 1st January next year.

In the meantime I am looking for opportunities to exhibit all the painted silhouettes as a group, they are all made in a such a variety of styles I feel it would make a fascinating show.  If you know anybody who could help with this please do let me know.

The book has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the history of the art which I seem to have made my own.  I’ve uncovered a host of interesting facts.  Did you know, for instance, that in the eighteenth century most silhouettes were painted rather than cut?

I was interested to learn about Mr Charles, RA, the two painted silhouettes above are his.  He worked from a shop in Strand, London in the 1790’s and claimed to be able to paint a silhouette “in 3 minutes, by the watch”.  By all accounts he was something of a showman. He was fond of painting his silhouettes in full public view in the window of his shop.  Naturally I took his claim as a challenge and had to have a go…

One of many painted silhouettes in the book

An indian-ink caricature, after Louise Fenne, one of many painted silhouettes in the book

Painted silhouettes

Here is a painted caricature in silhouette.  This was painted with indian ink and water, in a little under 5 minutes, after a portrait by Louise Fenne whose work I admire.  It’s seems I still have my work cut out to catch up with Mr Charles…  I have no idea if there is a market for such work in the twenty-first century but I had a lot of fun painting it, enjoying the interplay between the dark ink and the splashy nature of the medium.

The book has been a lot of work, the last time I worked so hard was while studying for ‘A’ levels!  I’ve been neglecting correspondence rather, so if you are one of those who’ve had a hard time trying to get hold of me, many apologies. Normal service should now be resumed.


Looking to the immediate future The Roving Artist has a stand at RSVP again next week, probably for the last time as I intend to explore new avenues for publicity this year.  I will be there on Tuesday and Michael Herbert on Wednesday. It would be great to see you if you are planning to visit the show, an invite is attached. Feel free to come and request any kind of silhouette as a sample, whether painted or cut!  And of course, if you are involved in any kind of event which might benefit from a silhouettist do get in touch.


Painted Silhouette


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2 comments on “Painted silhouettes and Mr Charles

  1. Nicki says:

    Your Indian ink caricature is so beautiful. These would make stunning first anniversary (paper) gifts.

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