Looking at the arts through scientific inquiry, students learned that natural materials, such as mud, rocks and plants, are the basis for 2D arts painting and drawing.
Our Science Seminar began with students sharing what they knew about the scientific method. Then, they developed hypothesis to the question, “How is paint made?”
Next, we looked at and discussed traditional cultural and contemporary examples of mud painting. Students went outside to dig up dirt (to make mud paint) and to find a variety of natural objects (to make paint brushes). Then, students made paint, using mud as the pigment and vehicle. Some paints were made with a binder (glue) and some not. In using these controls and variables, students could compare the effects and determine the more effective paint, the one with the binder. When making their own paint, students had the option to add a drop of tempera paint to add color variation.
Next we compared paintbrushes to determine what makes a paint brush most effective. What does it need? Why are there different types? Students used object found outside to explore and design what they believed would make an effective paint brush. These brushes, which were beautiful and functional, were used to create their mud paintings.
Our second experiment involved analyzing materials and techniques in order to discover the basics of manufactured paint. Students learned the history of pastels and used two different explore the painterly methods associated with pastel. Using a mortar and pestle to grind it to powder (like a pigment powder with the binder already added) students mixed colors and added water to create their own paints. They also dunked pastel sticks in water to compare the methods in which water, the vehicle could be added. They were asked to imagine possibilities for both methods being the more desirable way to paint.
This four day seminar was packed with experimentation, exploration and discovery. Students made correlations between artistic exploration and scientific inquiry in order to learn about the world around them and use that knowledge to invent personal paths of creation.
Standards we touched upon were:
Visual Arts MLR A Disciplinary Literacy – Visual Arts: Students show literacy in the art discipline by understanding and demonstrating concepts, skills, terminology, and processes.
Visual Arts MLR C Creative Problem-Solving: Students approach artistic problem solving using multiple solutions and the creative process.
Science MLR B The Skills and Traits of Scientific Inquiry and Technological Design: Students plan, conduct, analyze data from and communicate results of in-depth scientific investigations; and they use a systematic process, tools, equipment, and a variety of materials to create a technological design and produce a solution or product to meet a specified need.