Make Your Own Pointillism Self-Portrait Activity

3.1 based on 25 ratings
Updated on Oct 8, 2012

Chuck Close is a famed American artist who creates larger than life portraits of people he knows. His artwork is made by creating a grid over a photograph then carefully re-creating the picture square-by-square onto a canvas. Close uses a style of art called pointillism, creating the final image using lots and lots of small dots that, from a distance, blend into one complete picture. Teaching your child how to use pointillism is a great way to encourage creativity and teach him about a new kind of art. Using cotton swabs and some black and white paint, he can easily make a special self-portrait of his own.

What You Need:

  • Picture of your child, photocopied in black and white, measuring 4" by 6"
  • Ruler
  • Black marker
  • Pencil
  • White paper, cut to 8" by 12"
  • White and black tempera paint
  • Cotton swabs

What You Do:

  1. Before you get started, go online with your child and check out examples of Chuck Close’s portraits, such as Kiki, to see how he created a complete image from small dots of color.
  2. Have your child use a ruler to create a grid over the photocopied picture by measuring and making a dot every two inches around the edge.
  3. Next, have him use the ruler and the marker to draw straight lines connecting the dots vertically and horizontally.
  4. Now, he needs to create a grid over the white paper, this time going around the edge and making a dot at every four inches.
  5. This time, have him use a pencil to lightly draw in the grid.
  6. Invite your child to begin re-creating his picture square-by-square using a cotton swab and black and white tempera paint. He can dip the end of a cotton swab into either white or black paint and then make dots on his paper to match his photocopied picture.
  7. To add some depth to his picture, encourage him to create different shades of grey by mixing small amounts of black and white and use that for making dots, too!

Display the finished artwork in a location where friends and family can take a close-up look at the artwork and appreciate how it is made up of lots and lots of little dots, and then step back to see that from far away the dots blend together to make a complete picture!  

Sarah Lipoff has a K-12 Art Education degree and enjoys working with kids of all ages.

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