Chuck Close: Up Close

Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan
Grade 4-6


This 48-page picture book tells the story of Chuck Close’s life as an artist and his struggles, from overcoming learning disabilities as a child to fighting paralysis as an adult. Close’s monumental portraits, interpreted from photographs to reveal the fragments and wholeness of personality, are featured in collections around the world.

Discussion questions from SOMN

  • Chuck Close has a learning disability. What is a learning disability? What is the difference between being a visual learner and an audio learner? What are some other ways we learn?
  • What type of obstacles did Chuck Close face in his life? How have those obstacles shaped his life and his artwork?
  • How has Chuck Close been resilient in his life, and how could you apply his example to your own life?

Classroom activities from SOMN

  • Using this guide, have students create their own works of art in the style of Close.
  • Watch this interview with Chuck Close and writer Christopher Finch.
    • How does Chuck describe the ways his disabilities have impacted his art?
    • According to Close, there were more opportunities to participate in the arts when he was in school. Do you think the arts are important?
  • Watch this artist profile about Chuck Close.
    • Close only paints people he knows. Why does he do this and what do you think of that choice?
    • Close says, “If you wait around waiting to be inspired you may never make anything.” What do you think of this statement? How might this point of view be influenced by Close’s experiences in life?
  • Watch this note to self from Chuck Close.
    • Imagine yourself in 30 or 40 years. What would you tell yourself today? Write a note to yourself like Close did.
    • Who are your helpers and mentors? Who makes you feel special? What does Close say about the importance of those people in our lives?
    • Close lost his father at a very young age. How did this impact him?