The Grid: An Artistic Frontier

Using the grid system to scale up the photographs, this is the first stages of creating a portrait of my wife.
Using the grid system to scale up the photographs, this is the first stages of creating a portrait of my wife.
Here she comes. The rendering has commenced with soft vine charcoal and a series of fine measurements. The result thus far is a crude yet finalized composition of lines, but you can definitely see the likeness coming in. She actually sat for about 20 minutes and posed for me while I shot a video and took still photographs. I couldn’t ask her to sit for hours while I tried to figure out the right color combinations or redraw the sketch for a 10th time. Instead, I ran the video back and took still frames of the positions I liked the most and decided on that for the layout. Since I couldn’t sketch her from life, I had to sketch her from the collections of photographs and still frames. That’s when the first challenge of the project hit me: how to upscale the photographs to the 24”x36” canvas?

The canvas: an artistic frontier. I kept dreaming of a painting I thought I’d never get to see….and then, one day, I got in, er, into drawing a grid that is. Yes the grid system helps a lot when you need to scale a subject up or down by a considerable factor. So this portrait is making use of the grid system. Here is how it works: I start by overlaying a grid of 1”X 1” squares over a photograph of the main subject. The photograph has been scaled to the print size of the painting (in this case it’s 24”x36”). Then I print out the document to fit on a single piece of paper. Next, I measure out the edges of the canvas by 1 inch intervals, mark them, and then draw the grid lines connecting these marks. Now with the grid overlay on the photograph and the grid drawn on the canvas, I can simply follow the contour lines on the paper and transfer that to the canvas. For example, I look at the paper and see that the chin starts at 17” on the X-axis and runs to 24” of the y-axis. So I draw my line to match it on the canvas. Though tedious, this process produces an accurate and properly scaled result with care and patience being required at all times. That is what you are seeing here. This took about 4 hours to prepare the grid and transfer the images. Now my mind is numb with square imagery. I need some curves back in my life.

Up next is finding my color groups. I’ll have more on that in the next update.

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