Chuck Close

'Big Self Portrait', 1967-68 (acrylic on canvas)

Chuck Close is best known for his photo-realistic giant portraits. As the name suggest, the intent of a photorealistic painter is to make the painting exactly like a photograph and Chuck Close was one the greatest of all time at doing do. To create his uncanny duplicates of photographs, Close put a grid pattern on the photograph and on the canvas and proceeded to duplicated it cell by cell. His tools for this included an airbrush, rags, razor blade, and a home made electric eraser which he fashioned by mounting an eraser onto a power drill. His first painting with this method was created in 1968 titled Big Self Portrait; a black and white enlargement of his face onto a 9 by 7 foot canvas. It took three months to create.

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Image result for chuck close airbrushChuck Close at work in the 70s

Prehistoric Airbrushing

These “airbrushed” hand stencils have been found throughout the major Paleolithic cave painting sites of Indonesia and Europe, as well as throughout Aboriginal Australia. The ancient paintings were accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielding a finely grained distribution of pigment, similar to that of an airbrush.

Cave painting from about 30,000 years ago.
prehostoric mouth atomizer
This illustrates how the ancient people used bird bones as mouth atomizers.
The Hieroglyphic Sanskrit Hand Stencils of Tewet Cave, Indonesia

Learn more about it here.