Art, Science, and Math: Overview

Art requires both natural and learned skill. Whether the art form be paint, dance, ceramics or architectural drawing, it will have intricate complexities within it. Perhaps the most complex aspect of art is gracefully integrating each separate structural identity within a piece into a compositionally satisfying whole.

“Objects have skin, just like people; and under the skin is a skeleton, a structure made up of cubes, cylinders and spheres…. The whole secret lies in reducing everything to a series of cubes, cylinders and spheres.”

-Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne, a French painter of the late 19th century speaks of objects being composed of structures beneath their hypothetical skins. He names these structures a skeleton, just as a human has skin and skeleton. How Cezanne describes objects is very typical of an artistic mind – he sees an object as incredibly simple, yet highly complex. By breaking the structure of an object into simpler parts, one can more easily understand and identify with art.

In this CELL, we will attempt to allow students a view into the world of art through science. What creates a sense of depth in a painting? How can point of view and perspective affect how we see and portray the world around us?

Art, science, and math are in everything we see. We hope that with the use of this LabLearner CELL students will gain an appreciation for the correlation and beauty of all three. 

Free LabLearner Art CELL

At LabLearner we refer to each of our complete curriculum units as “CELLs”. This is because each CELL is a free-standing, self-contained learning experience. Each CELL is divided into component parts that we call “Investigations“. Each Investigation, in turn, is divided into three Lessons. The first Lesson of each Investigation is called a Pre-Lab and introduces students to the underlying concepts and procedures that will take place in the lab. The second Lesson of each Investigation is the actual lab experience itself and is simply called the Lab. The third Lesson of each Investigation is called a Post-Lab. In the Post-Lab, students analyze and discuss results they collected in the Lab.

Lessons are intended to take a class between 30 to 60 minutes and most LabLearner schools do one Investigation (three Lessons) per week. A four-lesson CELL, like the Art CELL we are providing here, would therefore be performed over a period of about four weeks. Hopefully, schools will reopen by that time! The structure of the Art CELL is shown in graphical form below:

Each of the four Art CELL Investigations can be reached through the four links below. You will see that each of the Investigations has three separate resources associated with it. There is a master Lesson Plan, a Student Data Record (SDR), which is essentially a student’s workbook/lab book, and an Instructors Data Record (IDR) for each Investigation. The IDR has answers whereas the SDRs do not. During in-home LabLearner use, the parent or guardian may function as the instructor and have access to the IDR. Alternatively, for students from about fifth grade on, the reading level of the lesson plans and IDR should permit students to work on their own using these resources.

Finally, there are minimal supplies required for this CELL. Most of them can be found around the house or easily and cheaply obtained from locally. The “instructor” should feel free to substitute items as appropriate. The list of required materials will be found near the begining of each Investigation, which can be reached by clicking on the links below. Start with Investigation One and proceed in order. Have FUN!


Investigation One: Discovering Perspective

Investigation One guides students toward observing differences in the width of an object at positions near and far from the eye. Students are challenged to discover how this phenomenon relates to our perception of depth including events that occurs in the eye and in the brain. Their exploration includes how artists utilize this information to create believable three dimensional images on flat, two dimensional surfaces.

Investigation Two: Perspective & Dimensions

In Investigation Two, students will again focus on the appearance of objects near and far from the eye.  Their investigation includes observance of difference in the field of view and visual angles for objects at different locations from the eye.  Students use their discoveries to consider how artists used vanishing points and manipulations of objects dimensions in their artwork to portray a feeling of depth.

Investigation Three: Different Perspectives

Investigation Three encourages students to consider how point of view relates to perspective. Their experiments center around the description of the appearance and location of three objects from differing points of view.  As a result of their observations students discover that the same object may appear differently to each person and that appearance is directly related to his or her point of view. 

Investigation Four: Exploring Symmetry

Investigation Four focuses on symmetry as defined in biological science and in art.  Students are challenged to determine if objects exhibit bilateral or radial symmetry and how these types of symmetry relate to the symmetry portrayed in art.  Students complete their investigation with an opportunity to view various works of art and to create their own.