Janet Filomeno, As the Sea Rises—Blue Crystals Revisited no. 8 , 2018, ink, mica, acrylic paint on canvas, 72 x 72 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Janet Filomeno.
Connecting art and science can be a lot of fun! Artists and scientists share many of the same skills and approaches to their work. Whether it is creating an artwork (like a painting, drawing or sculpture) or doing scientific research – they both use the techniques of observation and experimentation.
What is observation? For scientists, observation is at the core of the scientific method or process. This involves obtaining knowledge and information through the use of your senses, often with the help of scientific tools and instruments. To make an observation you must look closely and notice details. Any data recorded during an experiment can be called an observation.
How is this similar to an artist’s process? Artists use the skills of observation as a core part of creating a work of art. They must look carefully at the subject of their inspiration, whether it is an arrangement of objects, a person, a landscape, an animal, or anything else, and examine its details very closely. This is a skill that takes lots of practice!
The process of observation is also very important in looking at a work of art on display in a museum or gallery. Did you know that visitors only spend about 6-10 seconds looking at a work of art, on average? Viewing a work of art should be a slow process. The more you look, the more you learn and discover! Sometimes using your senses can help your observations too. Try it! Use this activity sheet when you look at works of art.
Experimentation is another thing done by both scientists and artists. Scientists conduct experiments and collect data in order to test their theories. Artists experiment with their materials, their techniques, and different ideas when they are creating their work. Artists like Janet Filomeno (shown above) experiment by pouring and throwing paint on their canvas, and seeing how the paint flows and interacts with each other. Filomeno doesn’t draw an idea on her canvas before she starts – she uses her paints in a very spontaneous and physical way.
How can you experiment with art and science? Here are two activities you can do in your kitchen! If you participated in Foodie Friday at the Michener on May 15, 2020, these experiments were shown in the program, Creative Kids Kitchen Laboratory. Thank you to Professor Melissa Langston of Delaware Valley University for the inspiration!
Balloon Portrait Project
- 1 empty water bottle, label removed
- 1 balloon
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup measuring cup
- Using markers, create a drawing on your balloon. Let your imagination run wild!
- Pour the vinegar into the empty water bottle.
- Using the funnel, fill the balloon with baking soda.
- Carefully wrap the mouth of the balloon onto the lip of the water bottle, letting the balloon fall slightly on its side.
- Pull the body of the balloon upright so that the baking soda fills the bottle. Watch for the surprise! What has happened to your balloon and the drawing on it?
Bubble Art Project
- 2 tablespoons of paint per color, tempera paint recommended but any paint should work
- 3 tablespoons bubble solution per color
- bubble wands
- cups or muffin pan to hold paints
Note: Place your paper somewhere that can get dirty. You may want to cover your table with newspaper to protect its surface.
- Mix the bubble solution with paint and place into separate cups, or sections of a muffin pan.
- Dip the bubble wand into the bubble solution.
- Blow the solution onto the paper, experimenting with different colors to create your own composition.
If you try either of these projects, share your comments with us below! You can also email us pictures of your artworks at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might share some of them on our site. Below are some recent submissions!
Image Credit: Student work by artists: Avery, 6, Harper, 4, and Nora, 2.
Feeling inspired for more connections in science and art? Check out the resources below!
- Activity Sheet: Using Your Senses with Abstract Art
- Activity Sheet: Experimental Art Activities at Home
- Previous Post: How Artwork Can Inspire a Calculation, Scientific Investigation or Technological Discovery
- Curriculum Guide For Teachers: Rising Tides: Contemporary Art and the Ecology of Water
- Previous Post: Connecting Science and Art with Dancing Steelroots by Steve Tobin
- Curriculum Guide for Teachers: STEAM Connections in the Classroom
- Learn more about artist Janet Filomeno on the Museum’s Bucks County Artists’ Database