Thursday, March 22, 2012

Up Close Chuck Close!

Portraits are hands down my favorite subject to teach in elementary school art. I am not sure why other than they really make me happy. As the end of the school year approaches (and I cannot believe I just typed that) we are getting ready for our school wide art show. Spring Arts is a school wide event where every student has a framed piece of art on display for the entire day in addition to the musical performances. With almost 1,000 students the task can be daunting. One of my personal goals this year as an art teacher was for every student to have at least two pieces of art to choose from for the art show.

"Two pieces of art in one year - that's easy," you say! Yes - that is easy in theory. Many art teachers in my district make art that is the same size all year so that there are several choices for the art show. I just cannot make myself do that. I like to make BIG art and art that is different sizes. I like to make seasonal art that would not be appropriate for the spring art show. I also display art work throughout the building all year long and that equals the need for a lot of art as well. Since I want the Spring Arts show to be special I don't want to use something that has been "seen" before.

That said, (yes, I realize I have gone off on a tangent) I love to do portraits as one of our choices for the art show. I have my son's kindergarten portrait that he did still hanging in my living room and it makes me happy every time I see it. This year we are studying Chuck Close with my 1st grade students for Spring Arts.

I could spend all day just looking at the noses! If we had more time I originally planned on having them go back over their monochromatic paintings with oil pastels to make the circles and shaped that Chuck Close is so famous for. I love them anyway!

Here are some links to the resources I used:

Teacher Resource Packet

Brief Chuck Close YouTube

Chuck Close & Big Bird


  1. These are wonderful! What directions did you given them for their backgrounds? They add a great depth to these pieces. I am way overdue for a portrait lesson. You have really inspired me!

  2. Thanks Mary! After we looked at Chuck Close's paitnigs we talked about how he divided his canvas' up in a grid pattern. Then students used that as an inspiration while they painted tints and shades of one color. I didn't have them draw the grids but let them free form them as they painted. I really just wanted to reinforce our color mixing standard since we are getting so close to the end of the year. It works!


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