Chuck Close Project

I was on Danny Gregory’s site and noticed he tweeted about Patti & Jack visiting Chuck Close and I thought I’d share my Chuck Close project with you.

This is my favorite picture of my sons when they were little.  I thought it would be a nice project to do as a keepsake for each of them.  It is not easy to do but it is very fun.  What I have finished here took me almost 30 hours to do.  You should give it a try.  Maybe start with a picture of your favorite stuffed animal or cup or something like that.  Here’s how I got started:

1.  Preparing the image.

I imaged the photo into my scanner and printed it out as an 8×10 on plain paper with the color exaggerated, in great detail, so I could get a good contrast between lights and darks as well as pick up on what colors to use.  In MS Word, I set up a grid with 1/4″ squares.  I put my printed photo page in the printer again and printed my Word grid right on top of the photo.  Then I penciled numbers along one side of the page and letters along the other side.

2.  Make sketches.

It’s always good to do a few sketches before you paint.  I find it’s like a pre-painting.  It forces you to look at the scene and dissect it into parts.  You’re made to figure out the lights, the darks, and the shapes, not only painting them in your mind but physically seeing what you need to do on the canvas.  It’s like you’re being “primed” in a way to get ready for this painting.

3.  Preparing the canvas.

I base coated my canvas with a colored gesso that I tinted with a little green acrylic paint.  When it dried, I marked out and lined a grid on the canvas with an HB pencil.  My squares are 1/2″.  I then marked the sides to correspond with my printed photo.

4.  Choosing the palette.

I usually use Jo Sonja acrylic paints for the special projects I work on.  They have some really unique colors, effects and finishes.  My palette for this painting is:  Warm White, Naples Yellow Hue, Yellow Light, Gold Oxide, Purple Madder, Ultramarine, and Jade.  I first picked out the colors I really liked.  To make sure they’d be combinations I like when blended, I do “mixture triangles.”  (See Johannes Itten’s book, The Art of Color.)  I did three different triangles and I really liked all the combinations and they matched all the colors, lights and darks, I think I see in the intensity of my printed photo.

5.  Paint.

Paint square by square and, only square by square.  If you look at your printed photo, each square will look different from the one next to it, above and below.  If you match the tone, value and hue when you paint, you’ll do well.

It seems like a lot of work (which it is) but it’s a lot of fun, too.  Just relax.  Enjoy and be surprised in the end!



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