I’d recommend fully immersing yourself in a subject before commenting on it artistically.
Much that is published in the media as scientific “fact” is only applicable in certain contexts, or in some cases may even be flawed. Aim to speak to a variety of people in the know before coming up with your own opinion.
In opening up fresh opportunities for observation, scientific imaging can be inspirational to the artist. Microscopy, radiography (X-ray images), cineradiography (moving X-ray images), thermal imaging and slow-motion video analysis give us new insights into our world.
Some medical and scientific images are curiously ambiguous, being both beautiful in an abstract sense, and carrying specific meaning to those trained to understand them. Scientists are trained to focus on just one problem at a time, but this skill is also useful to artists.
Some finished pictures do focus on just one aspect of their subject and this can, at times, make the work more interesting and compelling. Scientists refer clearly to the discoveries of others when presenting their work. Every respected scientific paper contains a list of such references. In attempting to create original artwork, don’t be ashamed to study the work of other artists. If you choose to use measuring techniques in drawing and painting, then they must be used carefully and correctly. Perhaps those who like to use measuring techniques are particularly adept at flitting between logical and intuitive way of thinking during their work.
Fundamental to both art and science is the on-going desire to ask questions and solve problems.
If you’re interested in something, then watch out for it wherever you go and in all conditions. Consider an investigative approach in which you try out different ways of looking at the subject and different options for image-making.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Reference to a misunderstood scientific concept risks embarrassment, so do read around the subject and, if possible, get to know some experts in the field. For example, groups of cells seen through a microscope form striking patterns accentuated by first staining the sample on the microscope slide. Different methods work for different artists, so just pick out anything that strikes you as useful.
Nevertheless, there are times in most artists’ lives when a lack of control of the medium hinders creativity. If this seems like a frustrating business then go about it in systematic way and take the opportunity to record results.
Do you ever find yourself completely overwhelmed and unsure of where to start, perhaps when drawing or painting an unfamiliar subject?
If, on the other hand, you wish to perfect several aspects of your subject in a finished picture, then you will need to solve multiple problems. For example,  the colour of fur in sun and shadow is one “problem” while the way in which to make the animal look as if it is leaping is another. The creation of this complex image required great problem-solving skills: animal behaviours and movement, the effect of light and shade on each coat colour and the shapes within and between moving horses all needed to be understood. Do learn from and build upon what others have already discovered: Look with curiosity at the work of great artists – how have they problem-solved?
Take the example of looking at a figure in a life drawing setting. Part of the model may look as if it is really bearing a lot of weight- what gives it that appearance? Cross-sectional images of the body achieved by MRI or CT scanning often contain compelling shapes and can be curiously symmetrical. Established protocols for paint-mixing, etc., are no longer taught in many art schools, perhaps in order to leave students more potential for creative expression.


For example, keep a notepad by your easel and make a note of paint mix colours that work for you. So, for example, you might be testing the suitability of different types of paper for use with inks. In this example, a few specific types of ink mark would be made on each type of paper. Before tackling your finished picture, investigate each problem individually by making preliminary studies, colour trials and perhaps also by observing the work of other artists.
In the headlong rush to be creative, holding the pencil skew, having your arm bent, and rushing the measurement can all introduce mistakes. If you choose a measuring technique then have your chosen method clear in your mind, be consistent with it, and be prepared to question and repeat your own measurements. However, it can be tempting to take the easy path of   producing images that say the same thing over and again.
Record what doesn’t work too. Learn from the example of the great creative chef Ferran Adria, who is said to have rigorously recorded culinary creations that were successful but, just as importantly, recorded all unsuccessful food combinations. Of course, brand of ink, style of brush-stroke or pen-mark and quantity of water added to the ink would all affect the finished result, so these must not vary. She is known to have visited slaughterhouses to study anatomy, and to have observed horse fairs in action (she attended dressed as a man) where she made preparatory drawings. Label each variety of paper, and either store the results in a plastic wallet file for future reference, or make a clear written note of the outcome.
For example, drawing horses from life can feel overwhelming to those who have never tried it before. Equestrian drawing involves all kinds of challenges including unfamiliar proportions, foreshortening, tones, colours, movement and textures.
A positive approach is to make a series of drawings, each focused on a single area of concern, e.g.



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