Math Connections in Art

Grade Level: 
Student Level: 
Middle School

Students are introduced to the work of American painter and printmaker Chuck Close and learn to apply math concepts and skills used by the artist to transfer photographic images to another working surface. Using photos of themselves, students will measure, grid, and reproduce their portrait as a painting or pencil rendering that may be finished later at home or in the classroom. Concepts such as ratio, percent, and area are reinforced. This is a four-part series consisting of an overview of the life and art of Chuck Close, two hands-on in-classroom sessions in which the museum presenter guides students through gridding their photographs and producing self-portraits, and a final discussion of the students' artwork and comprehension of math concepts.

Program Format: 
  • Session 1-Introduce works by Chuck Close an American artist who uses math to dramatically scale his images. Using math principles guide students through the gridding process they will use to enlarge their images for the self portrait they will create over the course of the 4 sessions. 
  • Session 2-Grid photographs students have brought and explain that finished drawing needs to be 50% larger than original photo. 
  • Session 3-Guide students as they use their gridded photos from Session 2 to begin transferring the design to the larger drawing paper. 
  • Session 4-Students finish their self-portraits. Review math concepts employed in enlarging their images. Discuss Chuck Close's work and the way in which he and other artists break color into small shapes for expressive purposes.
  • Students will understand how Chuck Close, and other artists, use math in creating their art.
  • Students will learn that using grid system can help accurately enlarge an image in a work of art.
  • Students will learn how to determine the size of the enlarged image, based on proportion.