Drawing From Light

Introduction: Drawing From Light

About: Early Learning at Science City Science City at home content is sponsored by MRIGlobal. Internationally awarded for “Great Visitor Experience” by ASTC and regionally voted “Favorite Family Friendly Attraction” …

This project is inspired by the work of artist Janet Saad-Cook, who has been making sun drawings since 1981 and has been celebrated for her contributions to both art and science. To see some of Saad-Cook’s work, visit her website at www.janetsaadcook.com. To make her artwork, Saad-Cook uses sun drawing instruments that she creates herself using reflective materials. The artist positions the sun drawing instruments in sunlight to reflect light onto surrounding objects.

Before you make your light drawing, it is important to know a little bit about light!

What is light and where does it come from? Light is a special type of energy that can travel great distances, bounce off of some objects, and travel through others. Something that light bounces off of is called reflective. Some examples of things that are reflective are mirrors, disco balls, and water! Something that light can travel through is called transparent. Windows, glasses and water bottles are examples of things that are transparent.

Where does light come from? One place that gives off lots of light energy is the Sun. At night time, when the Sun is on the other side of Earth, light can come from manmade things like flashlights, lamps, and candles.


Light source
binder clips
Large sheet of paper

Don't have some of those things? Try these:

No CD? Use another disc like a DVD or other reflective materials like small mirrors or foil. Be creative!
Trouble finding a light source? Try using a window, flashlight, the flashlight on a phone or a lamp
No binder clips? Use paper clips or other materials to engineer a way to hold your CD at the angle you like
No paper? Use a newspaper, cardboard box, bed sheet or white wall (just don’t color on your sheets and walls unless a grownup says it is okay!)
No crayons? Use watercolor paint, pens, or markers

Step 1: Find a Good Spot

Since you will be drawing using light, you will need to find a spot in your house that either gets lots of sunlight through a window or gets very little light so that your flashlight will shine very bright.

Bring your CD with you to a few areas in your house and compare the brightness of the reflected light in different places. To do this, just point the reflective side of your CD toward the light!

In my house, very little light was coming through the windows today so I had to bring a flashlight into my bathroom and turn all of the lights off to get a really great light drawing.

Step 2: Build a Light Drawing Device

It’s time to think like an engineer and experiment with different ways to build a light drawing device! To make ours, we clipped binder clips to the CD to help it stand up and pointed a phone flashlight at the CD so that the light reflected onto the wall.

What colors do you see? What happens when you move your CD around and point it in different directions? What happens if you move the flashlight?

Step 3: Record Your Light Drawing

Can you find a way to save your beautiful light drawing so that you can enjoy it later?

Try tracing the shapes and patterns you’ve made with crayons, pencils, markers or paint!

What happens when you trace over the colorful light with a matching color?

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