When an artist paints a picture, every stroke of the brush has a purpose. And when we look at that painting, we can tell that it
is designed. Merriam–Webster’s dictionary defines
art as “the conscious use of skill and creative
imagination especially in the production of aesthetic
objects”. A paint factory explosion wouldn’t produce
the Mona Lisa (shown here).
Some people say that the artwork that we see
in nature is the result of mindless processes. Yet we
know that living things have an artistic design that
shows they are created, not evolved.
An artist will invest a lot of money to buy the right
paints. The production of quality paint itself is a
complicated and carefully designed process of
mixing pigments and other chemicals. Poor quality
paint will never give the depth of colour needed to
create a true masterpiece. But the most amazing
colours are found right in nature.
Some butterflies have a brilliant iridescent
blue on their wings that you can’t copy with paint,
because the colour doesn’t come from a pigment.
There is a microscopic structure on the scales that
cover the butterfly’s wings that interferes with
light to produce the clear, bright blue appearance.
A similar structure on the black scales of some
butterflies means that more of the light is absorbed,
making the black look darker.
Colour by itself can be
beautiful, but colours
arranged in a
are even prettier.
One of the most
in nature is the
peacock tail. Its
striking design has
several important parts.
First, there are the ‘eye spots’—spaced out evenly
across the tail. The peacock can spread out his tail
like a fan to display this spectacular masterpiece.
He can also make it vibrate. As with the butterfly
example above, the colours are produced by tiny
structures in the feathers.
Some animals can change colour to blend in with
different backgrounds, which helps them hide
from predators or capture a meal. The chameleon
has a pattern which provides camouflage, and it
can change the colours in this pattern in response
to heat, light, and even mood! Its skin has a see-
through outer layer, then layers of red and
yellow pigments in specialized
cells. Beneath that