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Historical Monument Sunset Silhouettes – A Lesson on Contrast


Art, Social Studies  



By – Paula Hrbacek
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 5


Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are good occasions to remember the men who have protected our freedom.

Some of their moments of victory have been captured in works of art like the ones on display at the Naval Aviation Museum. This genre of art is known as “historical art.”

Historical art captures famous people and important events in history so that it can be remembered.

Historical art is usually very accurate and realistic. It tries to capture the emotions and personalities of the people and events.

One work of historical art at our nation’s capitol is the statue of the battle of Iwo Jima.

It shows six men planting the American flag on the beach of Iwo Jima in Japan during World War II. Iwo Jima was a fierce battle that cost 7,000 lives, and was one of the worst battles in the history of the Marine Corps.

Fifth grade students can make their own works of historical art.


  • Rag content paper or watercolor paper
  • Water color paints
  • Brush
  • Water cup
  • Black construction paper
  • Chalk
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A picture of the Iwo Jima statue, or another historical monument


  • Contrast
    Contrast is a principle of design. It is a big difference between one thing and another. Contrast is like night and day – opposites. It can be a big difference in texture, color, value or size.
  • Silhouette
    A familiar type of art that uses contrast is a silhouette. Before cameras were invented, people would trace around their shadow and cut out a shape that looked like the side of their head. This picture will be a silhouette of the Iwo Jima statue.
  • Sunset
    Have you ever gone to the beach at sunset? The sky is a rosy glow, and the palm trees and clouds are dark shapes. Sunset is a time of day that creates a silhouette.


  1. Using the wet on wet technique , apply clear water to the top two thirds of the white paper in the landscape position. Brush blue watercolor along the top inch or two. Brush light red under the blue, allowing the colors to blend into each other to make violet. Brush orange under the red, and allow the colors to mix as well. The result should look similar to the sky at sunset. Set the page aside to dry.
  2. Apply chalk to the back of the picture of a statue. Place the picture, chalk side down, on top of the black construction paper. Use a pencil to trace the outside edge of the statue. This is called a contour line drawing . The pressure should transfer the chalk to the black paper.
  3. Cut out a silhouette of the statue on the chalked line. Try not to erase the chalk as you work. When it is cut out, brush off any extra chalk on the edges. Glue the shape to the bottom of the painted paper.


  • The student painted neatly, according to the instructions.
  • The student transferred chalk as instructed.
  • The student cut out the shape neatly.
  • The student glued the shape to the paper in a pleasing arrangement.

Examples of the finished project:

  • Examples of the project and a picture of the Iwo Jima Memorial that was used to create it can be seen at Paula Hrbacek’s online children’s art column in the Examiner, a free online newspaper, at .
    This is LPP’s interpretation of this project. See Ms. Hrbacek’s site for an actual example of student work. Search “military memorial silhouette sunset” images for more ideas
  • Click on the subscribe button at the bottom of Ms. Hrbacek’s column and new articles and projects will be emailed to you automatically at no charge.
  • You can also follow “PHrbacek” on Twitter and find the links that way.

E-Mail Paula Hrbacek 

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