Most people don’t often associate mathematics with creativity and art, but in its history, maths was always associated more closely with art and the divine rather than science.

The Ancient Greeks firmly believed that beauty in all things was best achieved using the mathematical proportions and shapes from geometry. Much of their core work in mathematics explores the properties and behaviour of geometry. Their discoveries were most often inspired by the night sky. So while now we might associate geometry with drab black and white pictures and theorems found in a text book, it’s beginnings stem from the universe and our natural human inclination towards wonder.

If you have a child who is more inspired by art than a mathematics textbook, then perhaps the best way to engage their interest in maths is through geometry, and in particular the artful creations they can make.

Charlene and I spent a wonderful few weeks with our 13 year old students in 2012 creating beautiful and intricate geometric art. Charlene’s two classes really created quite a masterpiece, decorating every inch the of the classroom with colourful and mathematically accurate constructions. The students loved the opportunity to bridge the gap between mathematics and art and enjoyed the hands-on experience of using a ruler, compass and protractor to create some amazing shapes and designs.

An amazing advocate for the art and creativity of mathematics is Vi Hart. Her wonderful youtube video on the power of understanding mathematics through constructing and exploring ancient principles is a must see!

If you’re looking for resources on geometric art that are both engaging and accessible, here are a few we love:

Compass Drawings

This is a wonderful book for creating beautiful geometric art and it is specifically aimed at children. The constructions are many and varied and can really be enjoyed by anyone aged 8+. This book is the perfect place to start.

Compass Drawings

Compass Drawings

Geometric Art

We think this one will make an ideal gift for a child, even someone younger, who loves to draw and would enjoy engaging in a different style of art project. It comes with various ready-to-use drawing implements to create the designs, so there’s no need for a compass or protractor.

Geometric Art 2

Geometric Art

Constructions Workbook

While this book appears at first to be a little too “classroomy”, it is in fact a great book to teach children how geometry works. Remember sitting and learning all those dry theorems and rules about angles, parallel lines and more in class? This is a book of discovery where through their own drawings, children will investigate these rules themselves. A much better means of engaging students who like to learn through experimentation and the use of their hands.


Constructions: Creating Geometric Figures (Studies in Geometry)

Ruler and Compass

This book will help your child draw all the basic shapes and give a good background to the how and why of geometry. While it is not as arty as some of the others, it is a much better book for teaching an understanding and appreciation of geometry. This might be one to try to extend your child (as some of the constructions are quite challenging) or one to further your child’s knowledge if they begin to show quite an interest in geometric constructions.

Ruler and Compass

Ruler and Compass: Practical Geometric Constructions (Wooden Books)

So here are a few that we suggest to get you started. We’d love to hear of any resources that you might use or know of for geometric art. Please leave us a comment and let us know 🙂

Photo credit: freshwater2006 / Foter / CC BY-NC