GIGANTIC Grid Drawing

Matt Milkowski
with students at Kenwood Academy, Chicago

Students each contribute a small portion to create one giant, photorealistic drawing.

Materials: source image divided into one section for each student, utility knife or scissors, black pen, envelope, pencils, ebony pencils, 3” or larger paper squares, glue, large support for final drawing (foam core, poster board, masonite)

• Teacher finds a black and white source image with a wide range of values and high contrast (Portraits work well).
•  Before class, digitally (superimpose a “no fill” table) or manually draw (measure with ruler) a grid of squares over source image, creating enough squares for every student in one class or several classes.
• Label each square on the back with a corresponding letter for row, number for column (top left square is A1, below B1, to the right, A2,  B2 etc...).
•  Cut the image along the grid lines; put photo squares in a large envelope.
•  Give students tiny photo squares at random (more fun if you keep source photo a mystery!). Have students label the back of larger paper square with corresponding letter/number the same orientation as their small photo square to aid in reassembling.
• Students enlarge the small photo square on the larger square with pencil, focusing only on matching proportion and areas of value. Teacher demonstrates shading techniques, and proper proportion of value “shapes” in a scale shift.
• Half way through the class, students add ebony pencil to the darkest values.
• Reassemble the drawn 3” squares on the support.

Lesson Expansion:
• Secretly photograph a praiseworthy student or faculty member as source photo.
• Use paint, colored pencils, or pastels, and work from a color photograph.
• Create 2 drawn squares from each photo square. Assemble one artwork properly, and one in a mismatched order to create an unusual or abstract image.
• Have a HAPPENING to premiere your GIGANTIC Grid drawing. See: Book It
• Create a giant grid drawing outside using sidewalk squares as a grid! See below.