Cinda Murray Northwestern High School

Reflecting back on a project that was proposed for a Donors’ Choose Grant

From Petal to Palette: Painting With Extracted Flower Pigments

posted Sep 28, 2017, 11:59 AM by Cinda Murray   [ updated Sep 28, 2017, 11:59 AM ]

Each year we host a Weekend With the Arts event where students display their original works of art. Unfortunately, many academic track students who take Chemistry do not get a chance to experience the benefits of art education. This project provides a unique experience that includes art in a natural setting. While outside, students observe, photograph, and collect flower petals along our school’s phenology trail. Later in the classroom, chemistry students use an investigative approach to extract plant pigments using solvents commonly found in our school chemistry classroom. After evaluating the best solvent for each collected flower, the chemistry students will develop a procedure that can be shared with art students.

By implementing the collaborative project, Chemistry and Art students will be working side by side to create paintings of observed flowers from pigments they extracted from flower petals.

Together the students will create a colorful palette of paints made from collected flowers. The paints will be labeled based on the wavelength determined by a spectrophotometer. Spectronic curvettes, spot plates, and collection jars are needed to test and store the pigments.

Art students benefit from the chemistry students’ designed methods and a student-led hands on science learning activity. In return, art students will instruct chemistry students on painting techniques. Portable easels, brushes, canvases, and palettes are needed to allow the combined groups of students to paint outdoors along the school’s phenology nature trail. Close collaboration between the science and art teacher will ensure that all students involved benefit and that students become aware of the connections between art and science. The student-produced paintings will be displayed at the school district’s annual art show and throughout the community.

The rest of the story on Donors’ Choose website at