Art Lesson Plan: Chuck Close Grid Drawing

Four Grid Value Lessons

Submitted by: Larry Prescott, Madison Middle School, (Archive) Rexburg, Idaho
The Value Grid Lesson inspired by: Arts and Activities - Paul Zabos
Unit: Chuck Close - Value Study (Color Lesson below)

Also see Self Portrait Using Chuck Close Style and Drawing with a Grid (Elementary adaptation)

Objectives: Students will

1. Show an understanding and awareness of the work of Chuck Close. Understand how an artist gets ideas.

2. Use ruler skills in creating a grid - develop skills in enlarging a composition using a grid. Study proportion.

3. Recognize values and create values using line, pattern and simulated textures. Develop Contrast through values.



Assorted 6" x 8" (15 x 20.3 cm) photographs showing high contrast (Alternate: use high contrast digital photographs of the students - posterized)
12" x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) white Drawing Paper., Drawing Pencils., Rulers., Kneaded Rubber Erasers., Ultra-Fine Point Markers., and Sharpie Fine Point Markers..


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Arts and Activities, project "Close to Mosaics" by Paul Zabos, September 2002
Chuck Close Online (See more Internet resources below)

Book: Chuck Close Up Close. - A biography written for children)
Book: Chuck Close.- This is expensive, so you might want to buy this book used. It is the most comprehensive book, however.
DVD: Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress. (Also available in [VHS]).

Special thanks to: Arts and Activities - Paul Zabos - from Lester B. Pearson, High School in Calgary, Alberta Canada.



1. Show video Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress (show segments if time does not allow the entire video). Discuss video and biography of Chuck Close with students. Why could he be considered a "personal hero"? Read bits and pieces of Chuck Close Up Close..

2. Show PowerPoint or slides of Chuck Close's portraits - discuss his choice of subject matter and techniques - use of grid - How is scale/size important? (lots of images available online). Include the work of Robert Silvers to teach the idea of color value.

3. Demonstrate steps to draw 1" (2.5 cm) grid on 12" x 18" (30 x 46 cm) paper - demonstrate drawing &face" (1 cm) grid on photograph. Label grids if desired at top and side (see example)

4. Demonstrate a variety of ways to get values using lines, patterns and simulated textures.

5. Review how to enlarge using a grid. - Observe each square one at a time assessing the different value scale. (Note: students may want to practice different values on scrap paper)


Teacher Preparation:

Obtain a variety of photographs showing high contrast of values. Photographs should be approximately 6 inches by 8 inches. Assign students to bring in their own photographs during previous assignment so they will have them in plenty of time.


Note: If students' self portraits are to be used - digital photographs - it is suggested to take those during the previous project. Students can manipulate them themselves using posterize filter or cut paper filter depending on software used to obtain a high contrast image.


1. Select photograph of high contrast - cut down to 6" x 8" (15 x 20 cm). Measure a grid using ruler marking at one half inch intervals on top/bottom and sides of photograph. Draw line on photograph with ruler. (Alternative method: Have ½" grids made on photocopier using transparencies - tape transparency over photograph). Each ½ inch square will be transferred to each 1 inch square on the students’ work.


2. Mark a ½ inch border at top of 12" x 18" (30 x 46 cm) white drawing paper (This ½ inch (1 cm) border was used to organize coordinates - see progress for color study). Measure grid at 1 inch intervals at top, bottom and sides of paper. Draw grid using ruler - being careful to insure lines are straight and exactly one inch apart.

3. Students were encouraged to concentrate on the value of a square in the photograph and replicate the value in the corresponding square on their drawing. Those who were most successful were able to "see" the value and not get lost in line or object. In this way, it now became an exercise in seeing and perception. Students are encouraged to make each grid a small "work of art". Use Fine tip markers and Ultra fine tip markers. Some kids drew directly with marker --others drew in pencil, and then went over their marks with marker. (Students may want to experiment on scrap paper)


4. Create a variety of textures using line - develop some strong areas of contrast - some patterns will have solid areas of black. Some areas will have a very faint texture/line quality.

5. Be sure to study your work from a distance from time to time as you work. Critique when finished - How does your work compare to the work of Chuck Close?


1. Did students show an awareness and understanding of the work of chuck Close? What qualities in Chuck Close did they admire? Did they develop an understanding in scale and proportion by studying the work of chuck close?

2. Did students successfully use the ruler to make a grid and enlarge a photograph to scale?

3. Did students perceive value and reproduce that using line, texture and pattern? Did they develop contrast for interest?


Submitted by: Larry Prescott, Madison Middle School, Rexburg, Idaho
Unit: Chuck Close Drawing (Proportion/Scale/Portraits)
Lesson Plan: Grid Drawing - Value Study in Color
Grade Level: Middle School (adaptable to high school)

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Objectives: (same as above)

Students will translate value into color in the creation of a portrait (or image) in the style of Chuck Close.

Students will enlarge an image using a grid (math correlation)



Same as above (Also see Internet Resources below)



Assorted photographs (5x7)
(the same photographs used for exercise above can be used - cropped to size) 10"x14" Drawing Paper., Rulers., Ultra-Fine Point Markers., Kneaded Rubber Erasers., Colored Pencils.. (or Sharpie Fine Point Markers. - Crayola Overwriters Markers and Color Changers (Both are discontinued. Crayola says Color Switchers replace them.) might present some interesting challenges)



1. Demonstrate/Review grid process - marking photograph and drawing paper both with ½" (1.3 cm) grid (alternate method - use ¼" transparency grid over photograph). Demonstrate dividing each square on photograph with a cross to translate onto drawing paper - making four squares within each ½" block - transferring to four ½" blocks on drawing paper. See in progress drawing for marking drawing paper.


2. Demonstrate transferring value to drawing paper using color. Demonstrate making a value scale using color. See in progress drawing.



1. Select photograph for enlarging (the same photograph from previous exercise may be used - now cropped to 5" x 7" (13 x 18 cm) - or blocked out with a paper window with opening 5" x 7")

2. Mark 10 x 14 inches (25.5 x 35.5 cm) drawing paper with ½" (1.3 cm) intervals at top, bottom and sides. Draw straight lines with ruler to make grid of ½" squares. The beginning image is now 5 x 7 inches (13 x 18 cm)- make grid of ½ inch intervals on original photograph.

3. As students study the value in each ½ square on the photo or copy, they draw a small cross in that square. Essentially they create 4 small squares in each ½ inch square.

4. Make a value scale using colored pencils (or markers if that is your choice of medium). Keep scale and use it throughout the project for reference. The value of each small square is then transferred to the ½ inch grid on their working paper. In other words, square 1-A on the photo became 4 squares in 1-A on their work. See "progress" example.

5. Continue until each ½ grid (divided into four smaller squares) on photograph has been transferred to drawing paper - square by square. Be sure to step back and examine work from time to time. Develop strong value contrast. Color/values should determine the forms - not outline.



1. Did students show an awareness/understanding of the work of Chuck Close?

2. Did students use math skills to grid and enlarge a photograph? Were they able to show correct proportion?

3. Did students successfully transfer value to color in enlarging a photograph? Did they develop contrast through color?


Internet Resources for Chuck Close

Quote: "I think the only thing that's interesting is that I got back to work, and is the work any good? I completely reject the notion that I'm any kind of a hero. I've just been very lucky." ~ Chuck Close

Chuck Close – Lesson Plan - ArtsConnectEd

Chuck Close: Process and Collaboration Man and His life - Resources - more

Chuck Close – biography By Jon Marmor
The 1997 UW Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Was a Pioneer in Photo realism and Survived a Spinal Blood Clot to Paint Again.

Chuck Close Online - Artcyclopedia
Quote: "There is a tradition of emphasizing those key areas of the face which control likeness, while the skin, neck, hair and background are not considered of primary importance in the reading of a portrait. I wanted to make those areas almost as interesting and important as the more symbolic areas of the face." ~ Chuck Close

Chuck Close - Pace Prints (Great woodcuts and screen prints)

Museum of Modern Art - Chuck Close Exhibit
Quote: "Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes this work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I'm computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I'm not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device."

Chuck Close Received Award:

Teaching Packet Available from The Smithsonian


Submitted by: Ken Schwab
Leigh High School
Lesson: Self Portrait Using Chuck Close Style


Tempera Paint.
Individual sample 2oz. (5.9 cubic meter) cups & lids
Illustration Board.
Palettes. (Plastic)
Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers.
Graphite Sticks.


Concept: I do this project in A.P. studio art as one of the breadth section pieces. They are to use a digital camera to photograph themselves using a strong light/dark side for the shadows and shades of their face. Usually many shots are taken before one is selected. By looking a examples of Chuck Close’s work and with their own color scheme, create a painting using his style.



1. Make a copy of the photo taken by the student.

2. Have the students make a sketch on newsprint, in pencil of the portrait as close to the proportions of the photo as possible.

3. On the photo draw a diagonal, or cross grid, using ¼ inch squares. On the newsprint draw square that are in proportion to the small ones like ¼ to ½ " (.6 x 1.3 cm) so that the squares line up and are the same on both the photo and the newsprint

4. Transfer the sketch to illustration board with graphite so that it is light and easy to erase.

5. Mix 10 colors in a colors scheme that range in values from almost white to almost black. Mix these in 2 oz. cups and use lids to keep them wet.


- Click images for larger views

6. Each square will have a circle or two and a dot, on a flat color background. By looking at the photo determine the values needed in that square and by using the 10 colors mixed, start laying in background colors for the squares.

7. Next, place circles and a dot that correspond to the shape and value needed in each square. They will start to look like the picture after about 15 to 20 squares or so.

8. Paint some squares together and use a long oval to create certain areas of the face. Look at Chuck Close examples to see how he has done this around the nose, eyes and lips.

9. Paint each square until finished and then go back a touch up areas that don’t stand out, or need to be tweaked in order for you to see the portrait.

This can be somewhat time consuming but keep them at it with lots of praise and they will like the end result.



Submitted by: Aaron Hopkins, Eastern Elementary, Hagerstown, MD
Unit: Drawing/Painting/Math Integration
Lesson Plan: Drawing with a Grid - Chuck Close
Media: Watercolors and/or Pastels
Grade Level: Fifth grade shown (adaptable to grade four)

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Photographs (digital or traditional), Rulers., Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers., large white Drawing Paper., Pastels., Colored Pencils.. or Watercolor Paint. (Spiderman appears to be watercolor, portrait of boy in pastels).


Objectives: (same as above)

Integrate math - work on scale/proportion - develop drawing/observation skills - painting skills.



Introduce life an work of Chuck Close (resources listed above)

The students pick an image to make a painting from.  Aaron tells them to choose something big and make it a portrait.  Some look in magazines, some use the digital camera to do themselves or a friend.  Some bring in a picture of themselves or a family member to scan and print. They make a ½ inch grid using rulers and pencils on the photo (good connection to math).  Then on a 24 x 36 paper, they make a one inch grid.  Students go from square to square copying what we see (size, shape, line and space - focusing on elements - and proportion - principles of design)



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