This technique has been used by artists for centuries to enlarge work. It is easy to achieve good proportion by copied what you see in each box or section.
Aims: To learn how to use the grid technique
To select and enlarge an image that interests the student
To paint in the resulting drawing, learning painting techniques and color mixing
Photo to be enlarged
18 x 24” drawing/painting paper
pencil, eraser, ruler
Vinyl sleeve, 8 ½” x 11”
Tempera paints (red/magenta, blue/cyan, yellow, black, white)*
Styrofoam Egg Carton to store paints
Brushes of several sizes
Water can (coffee cans are good)
Mixing trays (Styrofoam plates work well)
Small sponges or damp paper towels “insurance policies”
*Acrylics also work for this project but are more expensive.
Students need to decide what the ratio of the photo-to-drawing will be. Measure the image you want to enlarge and figure out how to best enlarge it to an 18 x 24” size. Often 1” squares on the image will then become 3” squares on the final piece.
Measure your grid onto the vinyl sleeve using sharpie marker, using TWO measurements which are then connected. If you only use one, your work will be crooked.
Slide the image in the sleeve. Next, lightly draw the larger grid on your paper. (Lightly because you will erase this eventually.) Again use two (or three) measurements before you connect!
Now you will transfer your image by observing each square carefully and drawing what you see only in that square into the corresponding larger square. Be sure to ask yourself things like “Where exactly does that curve start? Halfway in the square, one third of the way,” etc. Try to concentrate on the lines and shapes, not what you are drawing!
When finished, erase the grid lines and paint your picture.
Set up your paints by putting small amounts of paint into each section of the egg carton. One the lid place dampened sponges or paper towels for checking on brush cleanliness. Fill coffee can with water almost to top. (A low amount is not as heavy and honestly tends to spill over more! Counterintuitive, but true.) Have brushes and mixing trays available.
Begin you painting by thinking about the background first. Painters often go from back to front. As a general rule, use the largest possible brush. Think in terms of layers in that you can let an area dry and then go over it with details later.
Teach your students to wash their brushes every time they change a color. Have them keep their eyeballs on what they are doing and swishing the brushes at the bottom of the can. Test on the insurance policies. If still dirty, wash some more. When the water cans look like lentil soup, change the water. I usually have two children share paints and a water can.
Shadows are traditionally made by adding the complimentary color to “dull” the color. Think NY Mets (blue & orange), Christmas (red & green) and what’s left (violet & yellow). You could also add a little black or other dark color.
Add white to lighten. Brown is made with all three primary colors (red, yellow, blue); pink is white plus red and gray is black plus white. Colors in the distance tend to be lighter and hazy and colors close up are more vibrant.
Your brushes can be used “dry” (with very little paint on them); on an angle to produce a thin line and many ways in between. Experiment with what a brush can do. That would be a painting lesson in itself worth giving your students.
Don’t rely on outlining when painting, if possible. Use the idea of edge to differentiate areas and shapes. Add textures to create interest.
As always, have students share their work.