Art-Making Activity: Scale It Up Grid Drawing


sculpture, bronze, large snail with rider

Hank Willis Thomas (American, 1976),
History of the Conquest, 2017, Bronze, 85 X 118 X 48 inches, Gift of Sydney and Walda Besthoff, Installation funded by Bridan and Jacki Schneider 2018.30


Hank Willis Thomas works in a variety of media to create works that inspire us to think about history, culture, and identity. He created this large-scale bronze sculpture which can be found in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden after seeing a small nautilus shell with a figure astride it made in 1630. By re-imagining that inspirational work in massive size, Thomas confronts us with the details of the snail and his rider.

For this art exploration, you will turn a small object into a big one using some math and measurement skills, paper, and colored pencils. 



  • Small objects such as sea shells or toys
  • White drawing paper size 12 x 18 inches
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Colored pencils



  1.  Start with 2 large pieces of 12 x 18 inch drawing paper.
  2. Fold one piece in half and then cut along the fold line. Then fold that half in half and cut again. You will use the full sheet and the smallest piece (4 x 6 in.)

3.  Select an object to draw on the small piece of paper. Sit at a table and take a minute to look at your object. Take your time to draw from observation with a pencil.


4.  When you are happy with the drawing, draw a grid lightly in pencil over this small drawing. Use your ruler to make marks 1 inch apart along all sides of the paper. Connect the marks to create a one-inch grid.


5. Now it is time to enlarge your drawing! This time, create a grid on the large paper before you begin to draw. As this paper is 3 times larger than the small piece, you will want to make 3 inch squares. Use the same process to make marks along the sides of the paper and connect the marks to make a 3 inch grid.

6. Use the grid from your first drawing to guide you as you create a larger drawing on the big piece of paper. Refer to the object to capture all the details!


7. Use colored pencils to finish your drawing.