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Silhouette artist a cut above

ALGONQUIN – Prompted about silhouette art, the average person might envision one person tracing the shadow of another.

But the more pure version of the art is created with a pair of scissors and special silhouette paper, simply by gazing at a subject while snipping. It’s a rare form, and one Cindi Rose has become an expert on in her 40 years performing the craft.

Rose, who is considered one of the best silhouette artists in the world, was at Learning Express Toys of Algonquin Thursday as a part of a week-long string of appearances in the area.

“Real silhouette art is empowering, whereas tracing is the opposite,” Rose said. “We’re using the light of the person, not the dark of a person.”

Rose takes about a minute to complete each silhouette, maintaining that each isn’t as effortless as it seems. Holding the silhouette paper up so the subject’s view is behind it, Rose’s fingers move fast, seemingly snipping at random until she rounds off the back of the head and the profile comes into view.

The trick, she said, is keeping everything in proportion. As a portrait artist might hold up her thumb to assess the size of a section of the painting, Rose uses her scissors as a gauge of the proportions of facial features, taking quick pauses for assessment while cutting.

And if the subject is a young child – as was predominately the case Thursday – Rose does it all while talking to the kids, keeping them occupied and looking forward long enough to get a view of their profile while cutting.

Rose, who estimates there are no more than a couple dozen silhouette artists in the world, believes her work is among the best. She prides herself on creating a “modern yet classic” feel.

“This kind of detail, you would not get from another artist,” Rose said.

Melissa Schock of Lake in the Hills was at Learning Express Thursday with her three boys – Ethen, 8, Colin, 6, and Logan, 5 months.

“(We wanted) to capture their little faces, because of course we want to keep them young,” Melissa said. “And it’s my husband’s birthday, and this is what he wanted.”

“Mine looks exactly like me,” Ethen added as Rose finished pasting the silhouettes onto card stock to be framed.

Leane Wire, of Crystal Lake, took her two girls to have their silhouettes done in part because she knew how much the silhouette of her mother – who came along – has meant to their family.

“One of those things passed down through the generations that I think is missing now with technology,” Wire said.

During her stay in the area, Rose also made appearances at the Countryside, Glen Ellyn and Geneva Learning Express stores.

Learning Express focuses on educational toys for children, with a selection ranging from wiffle ball bats to electronic games to books.

“We try to stick with the high quality and we try to be as competitive as possible in price,” said John Flanagan, owner of the Algonquin and Geneva locations.

Opened in August, 2008, Algonquin’s Learning Express has faced set backs with a down economy and the opening of Toys “R” Us in 2009.

The store periodically holds special events like crafts day, and jumped on the opportunity to host Rose.

“It’s interesting to watch because the way she cuts, and how quickly she does it and how accurately – it’s pretty amazing,” Flanagan said.

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