Fingerprint Portraits


Fanny/Fingerpainting, a portrait of Close’s mother-in-law, represents one of the largest and most masterly executions of a technique the artist developed in the mid-l980s. That technique involved the direct application of pigment to a surface with the artist’s fingertips.

By adjusting the amount of pigment and the pressure of his finger on the canvas, Close could achieve a wide range of tonal effects. Typically, he worked from a black and white photograph which he would divide into many smaller units by means of a grid. He then transposed the grid onto a much larger canvas and meticulously reproduced each section of it.

                                Chuck Close Fingerprint Practice

  1. Experiment with the ink pad until you can gradate dark to light values. Use different pressures.
  2. Draw a 6” value chart. (Don’t draw divider lines between values.) Gradate across your value chart
  3. Experiment with ink prints until you can create large to small line. Print with different fingers and try to get detail.
  4. Draw a 5”x 5” square and create an eye from your portrait.
  5. Label your work with your name and the title.

Once success has been achieved with the above steps, grid your black and white portrait and prepare a 22″ X 28″ paper for your thumbprint.


TPbrian  Diana-thumb Kathryn TH miguel TH olga TH