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‘Chemistry of Color’ workshop brings science to painter’s palette

The pigments artists add to their palettes offer a unique view into the world of science.

Boise State chemistry assistant professor Lisa Warner, chemistry professor Don Warner and assistant professor of art Dan Scott collaborated to offer a public workshop to explore the history and chemical composition of common colors, such as Zinc Yellow and Prussian Blue.

Following a presentation on the unexpected and fascinating world of science and pigmentation, 60 participants from campus and the community snapped on rubber gloves and goggles to make their own paints. They did so with a renewed appreciation for the colors and chemistry that make up their masterpieces.

Priscilla Grover, Boise State Visual Services management assistant, attended the event and said the fun and interactive workshop gave her a new respect for the intersection of art and science, as well as for the resourcefulness for early artists who had to create their own pigments.

“They didn’t have an entire spectrum to work with; they had to make do with what they had. It makes you appreciate how the craft started out,” said Grover. “In order to have more resources as an artist, you need to be knowledgeable with the science behind creating the mediums. Art really is a mix between left brain and right brain.”

Group of 60 participants watch presentation

The inspiring community event was hosted in the new Center for Visual Arts, and was guided by faculty with support from more than a dozen volunteers.