Where’s the numeracy in the visual arts?


Some one asked me this recently. Here’s my response after a bit more thinking (and internet browsing):

Using and understanding:

  • Measurement. This could involve measuring up a canvas, creating a border, or reading a plan.
  • Location, distance, and directions. This could involve instructions on either a small or large scale, or use of grids or vectors for placing objects.
  • Shape, size, scale, proportion, sequence and orientation in 2-D and 3-D. This covers just about all aspects of drawing, painting, and could encompass sculpture and computer-aided design as well.
  • Number relationships, patterns, and spatial awareness. Both maths and art are built around patterns and relationships between objects.


  • Pattern awareness. Creating patterns involves counting, measuring, and sequencing in different ways.
  • Critical numeracy skills. Learners could engage in the deconstruction of
    media texts, or discuss how they make decisions about everyday issues relating to content which involve mathematical concepts.

I’d love someone who knows more about it to expand on this for me…


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

4 thoughts

  1. Be interesting to see what you get. I find the notion of mathematical beauty really interesting – I.e the golden ratio, Fibonacci etc. Particularly how faces, we as a culture tend to view as beautiful, have distinct proportions, and how people will point to a perfect rectangle (golden ratio) by sight out of a selection of random ratios.

    Not that visual artist need this stuff but there are algorithms that can create beauty. But yuck, that’s a bit like a computer algorithm writing a beautiful poem or a classic song. No soul!

    I imagine they simply have a great eye for space, colour and aesthetics. But highly likely they are contractors and as such need all the skills of an entrepreneur.

    Anyway – clearly I have trolled this post. Back to the writing!

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