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Integrating Science into Art Therapy: STEM series Part 3

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

Art and creativity play significant roles within the world of science, even though these disciplines might appear distinct at first glance. The fusion of these two seemingly distinct worlds not only enriches our understanding of both domains but also offers a unique path for transformative art therapy. This blog post delves into the fascinating ways in which art and science overlap, and how these concepts can be integrated into art therapy for a truly enriching and relaxing experience.

Science and Art Therapy Similarities

Engaging in art processes unexpectedly nurtures the development of scientific skills. While art and science might appear distinct, they share cognitive and creative aspects that harmonize. Both artists and scientists rely on keen observation and perception. Artists draw upon their ability to notice intricate details, colors, and shapes, which resonates with the precision required in scientific endeavors. Scientific studies on aesthetics provide insights into why certain colors evoke particular emotions, leading artists to use this knowledge to craft emotionally resonant creations.


Incorporating scientific principles into art therapy deepens mindfulness. Participants learn to observe the subtle interactions between colors, shapes, and textures. This skill parallels the scientific practice of keenly observing natural phenomena, fostering a profound connection to their surroundings.

Both art and science embrace experimentation and adaptability. Art therapy participants learn to experiment with various techniques and mediums, mirroring the adaptive experimentation in scientific research. The integration of science broadens this skill, teaching participants to explore new perspectives and techniques. In addition, experimentation in art and hypothesis testing in science both value learning from failures. Art often involves experimenting with various materials and techniques to achieve desired outcomes, paralleling the experimental nature of scientific research.

Improve Visual-Spatial Skills for Science

Art also cultivates visual-spatial skills important in disciplines like physics and chemistry. Recognizing patterns in art mirrors data analysis in science. Both artists and scientists embrace curiosity and exploration. Ultimately, art nurtures cognitive skills integral to scientific inquiry, enhancing problem-solving, experimentation, and holistic skill development. Chemistry and Art Therapy

Interestingly, art therapy takes on a new dimension when harmoniously merged with scientific principles, particularly those rooted in chemistry. The infusion of chemistry concepts into art therapy directives offers a captivating platform for individuals to delve into self-expression, introspection, and personal growth.

Here are three chemistry-based art techniques suitable for both kids and adults in an art therapy session that seamlessly integrates science:

  1. Salt Crystal Watercolor Painting:

In this technique, participants create vibrant watercolor paintings using a mixture of watercolors and salt. The salt creates a reaction with the watercolor pigment, forming beautiful crystalline patterns on the paper. The interaction between the salt and watercolor pigments mimics the principles of solubility and crystal formation. The salt absorbs moisture from the watercolors, leading to the formation of intricate patterns as the water evaporates. This technique offers a visual representation of the concept of change and transformation, providing a metaphor for personal growth and adaptation. It encourages participants to embrace imperfections and find beauty in unexpected outcomes.

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda Art Eruption:

Participants use baking soda as a canvas and paint with a mixture of watercolor paint and vinegar. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda, creating colorful and fizzy eruptions on the surface. The chemical reaction between the acidic vinegar (acetic acid) and the basic baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) releases carbon dioxide gas, resulting in the fizzy eruptions and the dispersion of paint. This technique provides a hands-on experience of cause and effect, paralleling the idea that small actions can lead to significant changes. It encourages participants to embrace experimentation, learn from outcomes, and find joy in the unexpected.

3. Oxidation Metal Art:

Begin by gathering small pieces of aluminum foil, which will serve as your canvas. Using cotton swabs dipped in vinegar, let your imagination flow as you craft designs or patterns on the foil's surface. The vinegar acts as a gentle catalyst, igniting the oxidation process. Once your designs are in place, find a spot where you can let the pieces sit undisturbed for a few hours, allowing the air to work its magic. As oxygen interacts with the aluminum, and the vinegar encourages the reaction, an enchanting transformation takes place. The surface of the aluminum foil undergoes a shift in color as aluminum oxide forms, resulting in a unique visual display.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when a substance reacts with oxygen. In this technique, the vinegar acts as an acid that accelerates the oxidation process on the aluminum foil, resulting in a change of color on the surface of the foil. The transformation of colors through oxidation can symbolize the healing and growth that can occur through the process of self-discovery. Participants can reflect on the idea that change, like oxidation, can bring about new colors and beauty in their lives.

These chemistry-based art techniques offer a stimulating and engaging way to incorporate scientific principles into art therapy sessions for both kids and adults. By combining scientific processes with creative expression, participants can explore themes of transformation, interaction, and growth, leading to a holistic and enriching therapeutic experience.

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Art Therapy and Science


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