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Blending Science and Art: My Journey from Academia to Creativity

Like most people, I'm a unique blend of diverse life experiences. Born in rural Minnesota in an education-focused family, I pursued a long academic journey that eventually led me to earn a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry. After completing my post-doctoral research, I became a college professor, immersing myself in teaching and research.

The Turning Point

However, after several years in academia, I found myself losing the joy and freedom to experiment and explore new things, as administrative and management tasks took over. The burden of financial responsibilities for student researchers and aging infrastructure became heavier and heavier each year as university funds always seemed to be directed to campus aesthetics and the expanding list of vice presidents, associate vice presidents, chiefs, and associate provosts/deans etc.

The Pandemic's Silver Lining

When the pandemic hit, and everything shifted to virtual teaching, it became a welcome break and period of self-exploration for me. As I was already adept at providing digital content to students, the transition to online teaching was smooth, giving me the space to rediscover my passion for art.

Discovering My Artistic Side

During this time, I became increasingly obsessed with learning art techniques and exploring unexpressed feelings and thoughts that were completely opposite of my professor persona. Initially, I was drawn to the abstractness of fluid art, where I learned that the paint density played an important role in controlling the composition. Then, I used art journaling to play with mixed media techniques and explore my voice. Eventually, I enrolled in an online art program offered by the Milan Art Institute, which provided an accelerated version of art school. Over the course of two years, I completed a professional art portfolio that I'm incredibly proud of.

Merging Two Worlds

As I faced the question of merging my two passions or making a drastic shift to a full-time art career, I realized that I wanted to bring more creativity into academia and academic research. To my surprise, when I mentioned my interests in the science of color and art materials to colleagues and students, they were intrigued by what I was learning. I was even invited to collaborate in teaching a new course focused on color. So, I started to understand that both artists and scientists were interested in the science of materials and many scientists were craving artistic expressions and creativity themselves.

So, I applied for a university sabbatical to explore the science of pigments used by artists and creators. If granted, I'll be heading to Italy to work with another chemist in Milan, documenting the scientific details of a wide variety of historical and modern pigments.

I'm thrilled about this ideal opportunity to merge my love for science and art, and I can't wait to share my journey with you through this blog. Follow along as I embark on this exciting adventure, exploring the intersection of art and chemistry in the vibrant city of Milan.

Update May 2024

Since I first wrote this blog post, my journey has taken some unexpected turns. While my initial plan to work with a chemist in Milan on a sabbatical project didn't come to fruition, it opened up new opportunities for me to focus on my own study of pigments. Over the past year, I've been deeply immersed in researching the history, chemistry, and artistic applications of pigments, and I'm excited to share that this work will serve as the foundation for a book I plan to write.

As I continue to delve deeper into this subject, I'm more committed than ever to my goal of bridging the gap between art and science. I believe that by sharing my findings through my upcoming book and ongoing blog posts, I can inspire others to explore the incredible world of color and its many applications.

Stay tuned for more updates on my research and writing process, as well as insights into the captivating world of pigments. I'll be sharing more of my journey through this blog and my Facebook group, "Color Science for Artists."

Join me as I continue to unravel the mysteries of color and its role in our lives.

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