Until I chose ‘Discovering Mathematics’ as my elective this year I was totally unaware just how much mathematics affects us in our everyday life’s during absolutely everything we do. One of the recent things that I have learnt is that maths is used just as much in a maths class as it is in an art class. Yes that’s right, an art class.
I was a little sceptical at first as to what Anna was going to speak about for an hour but I can truly say that this was probably one of the most interesting inputs I had attended for a while. Before I go onto speak about the more interesting points I learnt, I realised that almost every little thing in art can be easily linked to maths and when you actually think about it, it is so easy to see why. From things such as the shapes they are drawing, the time they have to complete their art piece, asking the children to collect a certain amount of resources e.g. brushes, paints etc. This is art relating to maths in its most basic form however, this links nicely with Liping Ma’s ‘basic ideas principle’. As without being able to form these simple tasks then the pupil would then not be able to go on to complete their masterpiece – because everything the child creates is fab!
Going back to the more interesting points from the art meets maths input, I am now aware that a lot of artists use specific sequences in order to plan and actually create their art. We looked at the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Spiral and the Golden Ratio. To begin with each concept absolutely blew my mind however the further the lesson went on the more I began to grasp the idea.
Starting with the Fibonacci sequence, I learnt that this is a series of numbers. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… It is a very simple sequence that when broken down is just adding the first number to the second to give you the third and then the second to the third to give you the fourth and so on… This sequence was named after mathematician Fibonacci or formally known, Leonard of Pisa. He found this pattern by noticing a recurring simple numerical series found commonly in nature. As well as being found in nature, this exact sequence has also been used by artists when creating their images. For example, Piet Mondrian has been known to have used it within his art work.
As the Fibonacci sequence is found in natural objects and can be seen when drawing the ‘golden spiral’. We drew this spiral on the Fibonacci sequence following prewritten instructions and pictograms. The outcome was ultimately this spiral. This spiral appears over and over in many natural occurrences and this picture shows just a small percentage.
Moving away from Fibonacci, we then looked at mathematician Luca Pacioli who published an article in 1509 on the ‘Golden Ratio’. The Golden Ratio is when we take any two successive Fibonacci Numbers, and divide the larger number by the smaller. The answer will always be this special number approximately around 1.618. This ratio, symbolised by Phi (Φ) appears within mathematics, art, architecture and other areas. It was also used to design the Notre Dame in Paris. The ratio features also in the United Nations building and the pyramids in Egypt (Boaler, 2016.)
Renaissance artists also used this ratio to inspire their beautiful and balanced artwork. The Last Supper painted by Leonardo Da Vinci is also associated with the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence. This painting has clear examples through the design and architectural features to be said that the golden ratio was used. Some also believe that Da Vinci even positioned the disciples around the table in proportion to Jesus using the ratio.
It excites me to now go into a primary classroom and explain, in a more child friendly way, everything I have learnt. I feel that showing the connections between different subjects, particularly ones that seem more appealing than others will have a great impact on the way some children think about mathematics overall. Well… That’s the wish I guess.
Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching mathematics: Teacher’s understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. 2nd edn. New York: Taylor & Francis
Fibonacci Sequence (2016) Available at: https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/fibonacci-sequence.html [Accessed on 28 November 2016]
Design in art: Repetition, pattern and rhythm (2006) Available at: https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/design-in-art-repetition-pattern-and-rhythm [Accessed on 28 November 2016]