Introduction to Grid-Method Portraiture

This portrait is made up of 280 two-inch squares that were drawn by art students who had no idea who or what they were drawing!

After practicing drawing random shapes and values, students were given a coded 1/2" square of a cut-up photograph along with a 2" square and asked to enlarge and reproduce what they saw on each square. As students finished the pieces, I wrote the code (in the correct orientation) on the back of the 2" square.

When all squares were finished, art students met at lunch to assemble the large "mystery portrait" puzzle.

I first did this group project in 2001 and while there are always some distortions and a few discrepancies, multiple students are able to create a remarkable likeness, one square at a time. (Please visit each "Mystery Portrait" listed below to see additional pictures of the process!)

With this introduction--along with a study of the techniques and methods of contemporary artist, Chuck Close--students are ready to begin their own gridded self-portraits.

Amazing Student Progress in Portraiture

Instructions for Gridded Self-Portraits

Fall 2002 Mystery Portrait
Fall 2004 Mystery Portrait
Fall 2006 Mystery Portrait
Fall 2008 Mystery Portrait


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