Word Problem Wednesday: Math and Art

By Mathnasium | September 2, 2020

The world’s greatest sculptors, painters, and photographers depend on math to create their art. Not only do artists use elements of composition — such as geometry and proportions — to perfect their work, they also use math behind the scenes in the studio! This week’s word problems show a practical application of math in sketching, sculpting, photography and painting — exactly the kind of thing that every budding artist should learn and understand.

Look at the following word problems and choose the one that’s the right skill level for your child. Have them give it a try. And when they feel they’ve found the answer, check their solution against ours on the next page.


Lower Elementary
Question: Oscar sketched twice as many portraits as Polly. Polly sketched twice as many portraits as Kate. Kate sketched 4 portraits. How many portraits did Oscar sketch?

Upper Elementary
Question: Carlo had four 16–pound containers of clay. After he sculpted a 36–pound statue of Sir Ian McKellen, how many containers worth of clay did he have left?

Middle School
Question: Tyler shot 7 rolls of film. On each of the first 3 rolls, 16 photos turned out. Fourteen photos turned out on each of the next 4 rolls. If Tyler shoots 1 more roll of film, how many photos need to turn out for Tyler to have an average of 17 successful photos per roll?

Algebra and Up
Question: Mia has two cans of purple paint and a can of white paint. One of the cans of purple paint is 30% red and 70% blue. The other is 50% red and 50% blue. If Mia wants 8 fluid ounces of a mixture that is 20% red, 30% blue, and 50% white, how many fluid ounces of each kind of paint does she need?