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Mega Measured Masterpiece

Engage your students in deep understanding of ratio & proportion without them even knowing! Use the children’s book “Chuck Close Face Book” as a project basis for your students to enlarge any photo! Explore the basics of Geometry by following a grid pattern and focusing on each square’s basic shape/colors; and end up with a really fabulous piece!

  • Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Show the amazing illustrations by Chuck Close in “Chuck Close Face Book” and paraphrase (or have students take turns if time allows) the biographical information in the book about the life and art of Chuck Close. Be sure to point out that Close was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, had a debilitating neuromuscular condition, has a condition known as ‘face blindness’ and became paralyzed from his chest down when a spinal artery collapsed (which he refers to as “the event”).
    2. Point out that Chuck Close often works in many different mediums, depending on how he feels. The underlying theme of his art is based on the fact that one can make a huge complicated project into a doable task by focusing on only one small part at a time – a very important life lesson for us all!
    3. Have fun with interchanging parts of different portraits noting how his techniques vary but are the same basic procedure. Suggest that students choose which effects they like the most. Point out that most artists continue with the same style or process; Close does the opposite with the same type/style of subject but varies the style. His basic process is the same.
    4. Have the students agree on a subject theme, such as animal faces; they will need either a color photo from a magazine or a photocopy. Depending on the level of your students, you may want to enlarge the photo so that the number of squares is less.
    5. Choose a method of measurement and have students measure off an even grid directly on the magazine photo/photocopy. On another piece of white paper, create another grid with the same number of squares proportionally, but making each square larger. Provide them with strips of plain white paper, each 2” thick and long enough to cover their photo, from the Crayola® Marker & Watercolor Pad; they will use these strips to block out other squares that they have completed so that they can focus on only the one they are currently coloring.
    6. Have the students mark off the same number of squares that correlate to their photo grid. Have students first use Crayola Washable Watercolors to fill in each block on their white paper. These colors should be very random, however they need to paint alternate squares on each row (like a checkerboard) without leaving any puddles. Then by the time they complete that, the first row should be dry and they can paint the remaining squares; this process will prevent the paints from bleeding and reinforce the grid on their paper.
    7. When watercolor is completely dry, students will begin with the next layer of each block. Using the blocking strips, demonstrate how to block off other squares and speak aloud the process of dissecting the one square of the grid to focus on only one square at a time. Voice the process of the different values (lights & darks) in the square and recall how Chuck Close may have interpreted these values. Each student can choose to use a few colors per block, whether they be one realistic and one contrast, or 2 or 3 random colors. By focusing their attention on just one square at a time and only the values & shapes that they see (steer them away from thinking of what their subject is) they will be amazed at how the whole project ends up. Demonstrate how to color lightly and very hard with the colored pencils – many values of each colored pencil are possible and will add to the effect of this project.
    8. Many math concepts should be brought to the attention of the students as they work on this. Proportion and enlargement of a simple photo can be very impressive and this is a great example. As children complete their enlargements, display not only their ‘Mega Measured Masterpiece’ but also the original photo so that viewers can see the creative effects that each student made.
  • Standards

    LA: Draw information print source (and accompanying illustrations) to solve a problem efficiently.

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MA: Represent and interpret data.

    MA: Graph points on the coordinate plane to solve real world mathematical problems.

    MA: Classify 2D figures into categories based on their properties.

    SCI: Make observations & measurements to identify materials based on their properties.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students will reflect on, share insights about, and refine works of art and design.

    VA: Students demonstrate an understanding that creative thinking and artmaking skills transfer to many aspects of life.

  • Adaptations

    Have each student choose his favorite color and then create a monochromatic version, using only that color, tints & shades of it.

    Relate the color mixing that your brain does when viewing a large area to the science of sunlight and how the photons are absorbed by a color & the rest bounce off and trigger the retina in the eye thereby registering a unified object & color in the brain.

    Challenge students to create an artwork like this, but in reverse where the original is very large and the art product is very small.

    Create a large brainstorm list of how lessons learned from this great book & art project could apply in real life.

    Challenge students to create another artwork based on this, but working from real life. This project focuses on artistically translating 2D to 2D; try 3D to 2D, or 3D to 3D, etc.

    Research more on artwork and the life of Chuck Close. Have students write letters to him!

    Create a mural on a wall of your classroom or school using this method, giving credit to Close.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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