Our 6th and 7th grade classes worked on an amazing project in Mr. Congdon’s Art Class. Mr. Congdon showed students examples of large-scale grid painting by artists such as Chuck Close as the inspiration for this project. The initial challenge in this project was making sure each student took the time to accurately create identical grid patterns on their blank pages and photos. However, the student’s final product was incredible!
Students were given a ruler, an 8”X8” black piece of paper, and a portion of a black and white photograph of the same size. Each photograph was a small segment of a larger image. The class went through multiple steps in order to reach the final product. They began by creating a 1″x1″ grid pattern on the blank paper, then drawing that same pattern over the photograph. The next step was to use the corresponding grid pattern to accurately reproduce the outlines and major details from the photograph onto the blank page using pencil. Lastly, the students were given fine-tipped sharpie markers and, after demonstrations and practice exercises, used those markers to create the values (range of darks and lights) and details seen in the photographs. They were able to do this using their choice of one or more shading techniques which were practiced beforehand.
Grid patterns are widely used by artists and are very effective at breaking an image into small, easily reproducible sections but even with a grid it can be easy to draw something in the wrong place, and in order for the final image to come together, each student’s piece needs to at least have the outlines and major details in the correct position. Perhaps the most challenging portion for the students was being asked to create the shading and details using permanent ink. The inability to fix mistakes or create lighter and darker marks can be very challenging. But the class practiced different techniques such as hatching, cross hatching, stippling, and scumbling and soon the students were ready to copy their photos. Once they were finished, all that remained was to piece together the final product.
Online students were walked through the same process as in-person students. To keep the online students involved in the final product they sent pictures of their drawings to apply to the final product. These images were resized and edited to match the other drawings.
At first, the majority of the students were fairly absorbed in their own process of carefully reproducing details from their photos. Had Mr. Congdon not shared the full-size photo with the students before they began, many of them may not have even known what their small piece was supposed to be. However, it wasn’t long before several students started to recognize other drawings that would be adjacent to their own in the final. They began to hold their pieces up to compare details and make sure everything matched. They were excited to get it right and have a class project they could proud of.