Tag: life learning

Math in Art

*I am a lazy blogger. Mind you I have been blogging off and on since 1999. Why yes, I had a blog on the original “Blogger”. I remember vividly making one, being so excited (I had a new baby and was one of the early “mom bloggers”), and then Blogger reset everything after a crash and I lost my blog. We all had to start over. Sigh. Anyway, point is nowadays I seldom have time to blog, what with working full time, having 3 teenagers, running the Christian Unschooling facebook group (nearly 2000 members now), and well, life. So you mostly get posts that are reposts of things I have written elsewhere, because, posts.

The following is in response to a new to unschooling mom asking how to make sure her passionate about art daughter was learning math. Obviously my post here is proof read, formatted properly, etc unlike the original post which I wrote on the fly. ūüėÄ

Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010
Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010

With art, math is more of a natural thing that happens and less of a “this is math” thing. If I try thinking of math while I draw/paint my brain actually stops doing the type of art I want to do and I get too analytical to do the more organic work I prefer. (I play a lot of logic/puzzle video games which use the math part of the brain when doing programming and very architectural drawings and tend to spend more time watching vibrant/visually stunning animes and movies and listening to music when painting- helps my brain get into the right mode to work). That said you do use math naturally as an artist and it develops as you develop. So this is more for the mom and whoever else is worried about the child learning math than for her.

Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013
Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013

You use a lot of math think to do perspective, scaling things for drawings- whether up or down, composition, layout, proportions, as well as anytime you work on a realistic drawing it is all in your head visual math. The only art I can think of that does not use math as a default would be doing complete abstract (and many abstract pieces are full of math). Anytime you are taking something real world and putting it on paper (including fantasy and manga style, but I am saying, anything you could build and see rather than abstract concepts) you are using an organic math in your head to decide where things go and how they fit and where the lines should go. Mostly it is because when God created the world He filled it with patterns and lines and you can’t draw without replicating those at least in part, and the more you do it and the better you get the more math you are actually using, whether you recognize it or not.

Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013
Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013

Nowadays I can actually see myself doing it, and my art is much better because of it, though when I was young, math made me panic and I had to “ignore” the fact that I was using it and rather intuit it to get it figured right. I still intuit it, but I also intuit most math in other things- if I think about numbers my brain switches them around (there is a name for it- it is called “dyscalculia”- makes doing bills extra interesting), but if I let myself not think about them and intuit the answer it is almost always right.

Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009
Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009

There is a big difference between conceptual math and arithmetic- arithmetic is 1+1 and people naturally get that stuff because we use clocks and money, bake and play games, and everything else in the real world that uses arithmetic every day. Art, on the other hand, uses a lot of conceptual math- the scientist/mathematician stuff that most people don’t think of as “math”, it is just another form of that. Seeing patterns and using them to know where to put lines and color and shape is much more conceptual than it is arithmetic . That said artists do also use basic arithmetic for figuring proportions and things in more complicated drawings and layout- think M.C. Escher type stuff.

St. Mary's Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010
St. Mary’s Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010

More on the difference between conceptual math and arithmetic here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/math-think/

Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012
Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012

Also, is you want to see where I am actually posting my art nowadays on a semi-regular basis you can visit my tumblr here: Pocket Lint of the Soul

An Experiment

I have begun an experiment.

Issac reading to me outside.
Issac reading to me outside.

Yesterday something occurred that reminded me a lot of my childhood, and me as a child. ¬†It brought out all the self-blame and helplessness in a situation that was really beyond my control. ¬†The thing is I realized that I had been using the same tones and attitudes with my children that has been aimed at me both yesterday and when I was young. ¬†(Being the oldest SUCKS because you hear “you should have known better” and why didn’t you” and “why didn’t you think that THIS could happen” ALL THE TIME and I realized yesterday that that was happening in our home.) ¬†Now I come from a shouty family–my grandmother got ANGRY and shouted, my mom got pretty mad and shouted, and I only shout when I have hit a certain point, but it gets hit a lot more often than I would like and I want to change that. ¬†Which is where the experiment comes in.

This week, starting last night, I am only going to ask (gently and giving them the option whether to do it or not) once regarding anything that needs done. Shamus put the kids in charge of the dishes last fall when the dishwasher broke and it has been fights EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. and sometimes the dishes still aren’t done the next day which means there is a fight in the morning. No more. I am sick and tired of nagging, cajoling, and having to ask him to tell them to do them because they quit listening to my voice. Basically doing a reboot, partly because I really need to change my own attitude about work if I want them to change theirs, partly because I know I am being my mother way too often and it is hurting my oldest’s heart (the other two follow her example and she is the most deliberate with the not doing what she is told to do.) So I will not tell them to do anything this week– just ask gently and then move along. (Also not telling them about the change.)

So, here is what has happened so far:

Rachel made a knight costume, which quickly changed into a full Minecraft armor plus a creeper costume.

Last night:

  • Asked the kids to do the dishes, no one did (they fought over who should go first) so I went and just did them without a word.
  • Asked, while doing dishes I asked if someone could please check the laundry. They started to fight and I said, “No, I was just asking if someone could, not saying you guys had to.” Essie immediately went and checked but forgot to transfer the laundry.¬†Rach started to berate her and I said it was fine, I was glad to know what needed done down there.
  • A few minutes later asked if someone would go and transfer it, Rach immediately did the job without a word (she seldom works without much nagging.
  • Asked Issac if he wanted to sit and read a book with me and he immediately said yes (sometimes balks) so we read together while the girls played their games.
  • Sat with Rach a bit, asked what she had to do today (she babysits and has things she has to do in order to go). She listed things off and decided (at 10:30pm) that she wanted to get out the school books and practice some things that she would have to help the kids she babysits with on their homework–she did several pages of division, some spelling, practicing her writing while she did (she has beautiful handwriting naturally but gets things backwards due to her severe dyslexia).
  • Essie decided to join her and voluntarily did several pages in a math activity books she found. They had me stay by and check their work (haven’t done this in several years I think.) Both girls were shocked at how much they knew and how many pages they could just skip because they knew how to do everything there.
Our dandelion field.



  • Rach got up, did some more spelling, prepared her food for babysitting, and did¬†everything¬†else she needed to do before she sat down to watch her movie (all without me nagging her).
  • Issac and Esther got up, got dressed, and then helped me gather their dirty laundry.
  • Discovered that Esther PANICS when she has to choose her clothes (which explains why she prefers to spend her day in her pjs.) ¬†So, I put out a weeks worth of outfits with one dress outfit–which made her absolutely thrilled.
  • Any time I have asked someone to do¬†something¬†or help me it has been done¬†immediately¬†and the only fight we have had was between Essie and Issac about who’s turn it was on the computer which was quickly dealt with.

Also noticed–the kids didn’t fight, well, not after the initial my turn, your turn stuff. And because I wasn’t angry already when there were small disputes about balloons I was able to gently remind them that the balloons were private property and each owner had the right to choose how to handle it. So, so far it has been fairly peaceful and Shamus was even surprised at how mcuh work they are actually doing compared to how much when we had to fight it out of them.


December 2009: An Overview of life and learning

Because things have been crazy busy and I have yet to find a simple way to import my flickr images into WordPress. ūüôā Also my camera has dust on the lens and so has been tricky to use…which is why I am not taking so many photos. Sad.

The end of November was both my brother’s 18th birthday and Esther’s 10th birthday and since I didn’t get the photos up earlier they are in my December folder. (Aren’t I so organized?)

We made a whole bunch of chocolates and cookies (in between kid colds) and sent some geeky candy and chocolates off to The Escapist (who actually pay my hubby to write about what he loves– aren’t they awesome?) I made a whole lot more candy sushi, some more and some less realistic but due to camera issues this is the only that I got a photo of (the less realistic sushi was for people like my dad who couldn’t get past the whole “this looks like it should be raw fish and seaweed so I can’t enjoy it” thing.)
candy sushi

Also made Super Mario Brother’s stars
And Pac Man cookies

Had a whole slew of work to do– both painting and computer and then got to take photos of my mother-in-laws new furniture for her (and her angel on her tree so she could share it with her facebook friends).

And then we got lots of snow (well, for December)…

which made my skiing brother VERY happy.

Not to mention the kids

The rest of the time has been spent doing things I didn’t get photos of like:

  • Logging many hours on the Wii Fit Plus.¬† It was an early Christmas present because before the snow we got lots and lots of rain, cold, wet, muddy rain and there is nothing like Christmas excited stir crazy kids who can’t get outside to drive a mother mad.¬† Issac alone logged 3 hours a day skateboarding and juggling while Rach enjoyed the Super Mario Brother’s like obstacle course, and Esther enjoyed trying out all the new stuff.
  • Alf, Scooby Doo, and Fraggle Rock.¬† The kids were looking for a new old tv show to watch and discovered these , which have triggered many pop culture and real versus fiction discussions.
  • Baking, crafting, and candy making, not to mention much¬† present planning, purchasing, wrapping and kidding (mostly the kids using money they have been saving– we didn’t buy that much this year.)
  • Rach made and sent out Christmas cards (myself not so much– this year I am just trying to stay on target).
  • We have been spending a lot of evenings playing board games, especially Trivial Pursuit Young Players edition (from the 80’s).
  • The kids have been spending a lot of days “playing school”.¬† Apparently this entails less work books and work sheets and more copying straight from the dictionary.
  • Esther and Rachel have been using the dictionary to look up ancient writing and copy it, writing out various things in early alphabets.
  • Due to a hiccup in our finances (hubby is on part time at one of his jobs so we are relying more on¬† his kind of¬† quarterly paycheck from his other job)we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make our money go further.¬† The kids have been very active in this helping plan shopping trips and figuring out ways to save.
  • Issac is reading anything and everything though not really picking up books yet, instead preferring to spend much of his spare time in his room doing what looks like tossing all his small toys around the room but which apparently is him playing out huge battle scenes and building giant Construx robots which he occasionally runs down and tells us all about.
  • The kids have also been spending a lot of time using Garry’s Mod (the program Shamus uses in his comic making at times) to create various scenes and mini games for each other.
  • We are continuing our chronological trek through the Bible.¬† Due to taking a month off when my bmother passed away we are in the end of the Gospels now.¬† It is very interesting to read about the resurection at Christmas and I think has done more for our attitude thios Christmas than anything ever before– especially as we were reading the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount when Christmas lists were being made and now as Christmas day approaches we are reading of Christ’s death and suffering.¬† VERY interesting and has led to many discussions and thinking processes which do not naturally occur when just reading about the newborn baby.¬† (For instance the 8 year old finally realizes that Jesus didn’t stay a baby like people always seem to imply at Christmas).
  • Climategate (another good article here), the Copenhaegen conference, and the giant East coast snowstorm and several other things have led to more than a few discussions of truth and why Chistians shouldn’t get too caught up in the world and what the world media says is going on and how to have discernment and peace when everyone is panicking.
  • Finally and most recently the girls have discovered the Dungeons and Dragons 4.0 handbook and decided they wanted to play.¬† They have thus been studying it, designing and rolling up characters, and learning how to figure out armor class, hit points, bonuses, etc.¬† For those who have no clue about these things–¬† think probability, formulas, and real life mathematical application combined with play acting, logic, and character development based along set lines of behavior (the girls chose character alignments based on their natural character–Rach by nature is Lawful Neutral and Esther is Neutral Good) but when they play they will have to make sure their characters adhere to those characteristics and make decisions based on that.¬† There also will be quite a lot of math and pencil paper work to do but they are both excited and willing to take it on. ūüôā