Art is Food: Lessons on Organic Painting

Taking a pause from practising good table manners, YCIS Shanghai students in IB and IGCSE Art classes were encouraged to play with their food for once. Years 11 and 12 students worked on a combined Art & Chemistry project, making their own paint using egg yolks as a binder.

Taking a pause from practising good table manners, YCIS Shanghai students in IB and IGCSE Art classes were encouraged to play with their food for once. Years 11 and 12 students worked on a combined Art & Chemistry project, making their own paint using egg yolks as a binder. “I was inspired by an art show in Madrid, and thought it would be a fun exercise for the students,” says Art teacher Joseph Sein.

The process, known as Tempera, has been in practice since the ice age when nomadic peoples painted animals and cultural scenes on cave walls underground. Sein collaborated with Chemistry teacher Neil Hudson, resulting in a seamless lesson that started with a discussion on the properties behind the mineral mixtures, and moved towards an Art lesson on how to grind the ingredients into fine powder for painting. Students learned to use “Renaissance Recipes” based on common elements which include herbs, flowers, vegetables, earth and clay. Students add these elements to their own selected pigments to create warm, earthy coloured paints that turned out wonderful works of art.

The class is part of YCIS Shanghai’s vision to encourage creativity needed in today’s global society. “We are trying to take learning outside of the classroom, so that students don’t only think about science when they are in a lab, or only art when they are in front of an easel,” says Mr. Hudson.

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