Chuck Close is an extremely important contemporary photo-realist painter. His large format portraits are so intensely rendered that it can be difficult to tell the difference between his paintings and the original photograph.
Because of the scale and detail it can take up to two years for him to complete a portrait.
Rather than working from life- as we have done so far in class- Chuck Close works from photographs. He uses a graphing method to redraw a small photograph into an accurate, larger image.
Throughout his career his often reused the same photographs with different sized grids and different materials. With the grid he could still achieve accuracy even when using materials that are difficult to control.
Notice that in this portrait the grid and value are the most important elements.
When using this technique, often the smaller you make your grid the more accurately you can reproduce value and detail.
In 1988 Chuck Close suffered a rare spinal artery collapse which left him suddenly paralyzed from the waist down. To continue painting he had to strap a brush to his hand and hire an assistant to draw his grids for him.
Interestingly, he created a new way of working with gridded photographs that is just as interesting as his early work. Notice the grid in this piece runs diagonally.
Gridding can be a very simple way to enlarge your own drawings. First you carefully measure and mark the image you are working from. Be sure that the squares of your grid are an easy number to work with, like one inch.
The next step is to mark your paper or canvas with the same number of squares. To enlarge the drawing you will make those squares bigger than the ones you drew on your photo. You can make an image as large as you want by making your squares twice as big as those on the photo or even ten or twenty times as big!
Remember how we used your view-finders to judge proportions? The grid works the same way. SImply work from square to square.