Chuck Close Portraits

Chuck Close Portraits from Starts At Eight
This month for art our focus is American painter, photographer, and print maker Chuck Close.

I found children’s art inspired by his work and thought it would make a great project for us to do.

This first one is where we are going to begin our project.

This second portrait is done in a similar style, and happens to be more along the lines of Chloe’s finished project. She definitely preferred having the faces appear to be more realistic in their skin tone colors.  Each of our children completed a Chuck Close Portrait of themselves.

Chuck Close Portraits:

We began by taking a head shot of each one of the kids. I actually only did Chloe and Jayden, but then Ava wanted to join in so I just found a photo of her I had already taken for her to work with.

After taking their photos, I printed black and white 8x10s of each one. We then had to hand draw a grid on our 9×12 drawing paper (because you can’t print on 9×12 paper from our printer). Then we taped 3 things together: the grid paper on the bottom, with carbon copy paper next, and then their photo that they wanted to transfer on the top.

After tracing just the large scale outlines of their shoulders, hair, and major facial features (like eyes, bottom part of their nose, and mouth), we then removed the portraits and carbon paper to reveal the outline. We traced our outline with black permanent marker instead of color pencil to ensure that it would not smudge or run when we started working with our colored pencils. You can see the progress in the photo below. Ava and Jayden are tracing their outlines, while Chloe has moved on to choosing colors, and coloring her grid.

You have to divide the photo by background, hair, face/neck, shoulders/body. You can choose to pick by warm/cold, complimentary, or perhaps just a random choice like my 3 children did. The only distinction with ours is that Chloe chose her facial colors to be more true to life colors than Jayden or Ava did. We also chose to have the eye color be more realistic instead of including it in the grid colors. I was truly surprised at how much patience Ava had to work on this project. Making sure you color each part of the grid, and person the correct color can be very tedious. What I did to make it easier for her was to lightly color a little of each square with the colors she had chosen so she would know what color to use for each square. We worked one color at a time.

We also added in the kids names in bubble letters to the side of the grid. This gave each one an even more personal feel. Chloe chose to include the year on the top of hers as well. The final outcome was very interesting self portraits, done in the likeness of Chuck Close portraits.

Resources we used to study Chuck Close:

Watch Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress which is a one hour video about him.

Read Chuck Close: Up Close which include both his work, and his story.

Other related Chuck Close inspired portraits:

Chuck Close Lesson Plan