After coloring books: What’s Next?


Two hot trends present new opportunities for art stores


by Tina Manzer


Time to Order Science Kits

The artwork of scientist Hunter Cole, Ph.D, a biology professor at Loyola University, was recently highlighted by the Chicago Tribune. She makes art using bioluminescent bacteria, and even developed a course called “Biology through Art” where she helps students craft artistic endeavors in a biology lab.

Bioluminescent bacteria produces its own light. Hunter dips a paintbrush in a liquid culture and then paints it onto a Petri dish. “I then photograph the drawings as the bacteria grow and die, calling attention to our own mortality,” she told the Tribune. “I also photograph people and objects using the light to create works with symbolic meaning.”

Her time-lapse video, which features the bacteria growing and dying, is accompanied by a musical score based on the protein sequences in the bacteria. “I want the viewers to see beauty, meaning and most of all, the power of combining art and science.”        

The newspaper article is just one example of the kind of buzz generated today by the science/art intersect. “Linkages between art and science are proliferating, and fast,” writes Johanna Kieniewicz, on her blog At the Interface: where art and science meet. “There’s something in the air.”

With an undergraduate degree in fine art and her PhD in earth and planetary science, Kieniewicz’s blog features stories on the expanding interaction between science and (mostly visual) art and culture. “From artists working in labs, to scientists working in art museums, this blog explores how science can inspire great art and vice versa.”

She’s not the only one talking about it. Clot Magazine, founded in 2014, is an online platform dedicated to art and science explorations. Its goal is to collect, display, broadcast and promote the crossover of art, science and technology. It features stories on “developing and transgressive art movements,” and studies their creators and their lines of work to spot trends “and publish compelling conversations with talented and inspiring innovators.”

For example, the magazine covers the annual Biofabricate summit, a meeting of global design, biology, and technology leaders in New York City. “From the exhibitions of synthetic leather and upcycled ocean plastic shoes to panels on symbiosis and biostrategy, the lessons and conversations shared expand the working frontier of biofabrication,” says Clot’s article.

“Science and scientific ideas have long inspired art and artists, from Leonardo DaVinci and Picasso, to Turner and Kandinsky,” writes Kieniewicz. “In harnessing the scientific zeitgeist of their times to the making of their art, they showed how scientific ideas can inspire great art.

“Science offers a range of new media and methods for artistic exploration,” she continues. “Whoever said that the tools of an artist were limited to the paintbrush, pencil, or chisel? Good artists, particularly those who are conceptually rigorous, will choose the medium that is most suitable for the questions that they are interested in exploring.”


Do you stock rocks?

Everyone loves surprises and that’s the idea behind the painted rock phenomenon. The popular practice of decorating flat rocks with colorful images, patterns and sayings – and then placing them at random places for strangers to happen upon – has created a whole new market of artists.

“Hi I’m a 68-year-old stone paint fanatic,” reads a fan of the painted rock-art images on “I love it so much because of the million different things you can paint on them, and for every age group. My grandkids have started already and they are only 8, 9 and 10 years old.”

Rock decorators also love sharing, both the art they create and tips on creating it. Most, if not all, are members of “rock groups” on Facebook where they can post the rocks they’ve hidden – or found – and exchange rock-art ideas. There are many groups, big and small; a grassroots movement in communities around the world. For example, there is the 918 Rock group near Tulsa (that’s the area code), and 901 Rocks in Memphis. The Whidbey Island Rock group boasts nearly 27,000 members and new ones join up every day.

In the northernmost city in New Zealand, there is Whangārei Rocks.

People of all ages enjoy the painting, hiding, and hunting. Kids, especially, love to make, collect and trade them.

Samantha Sarles, the artist behind Color Made Happy, says the images of her rock doodles are among the most popular on her Instagram page. “The first question I’m asked is ‘Where do you get such smooth rocks?’”

Not everyone lives near a beach like Sam does, so she directs fans to the garden centers at Home Depot and Lowes, plus Michaels, Walmart, The Dollar Store and Amazon. For decorating rocks, she recommends these tools.

• Acrylic paint for the base color.

• The Uni-Ball Signo Gel Pen in white for clean, white designs

• The Moonlight Series Gelly Roll Pens from Sakura for bright, detailed designs. “Be sure they are the ‘bold’ point. The tip is actually quite small.”

• Extra-fine Uni Posca paint pens to create a smooth, paint-like effect. “The paint markers by Artistro are another great option.”

• For children, OOLY’s Neon Liquid Chalk Pens

• To seal, Rust-oleum’s Triple Thick Glaze Gloss, or Design Master Clear Finish Matte

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *