Painter Uses Climate Change Data to Produce Watercolours

Filed Under: Arctic, Art
Watercolour Painting by Jill Pelto

These watercolour paintings by Jill Pelto are created using graphs of data on the environmental effects of climate change. If you look closely you can see that the graphs are used to construct the composition of the landscapes in the paintings, providing an icy ridge, or burning tree line in each of the images.

Of the image above, entitled ‘Climate Change Data‘, Pelto says that she has used multiple quantities: “the annual decrease in global glacier mass balance, global sea level rise, and global temperature increase. I wanted to convey in an image how all of this data must be compared and linked together to figure out the fluctuations in Earth’s natural history“.

Pelto’s watercolours are based on different data sets relating to issues such as glacial melt, animal populations and forest fires. Each series of paintings examines how climate change has affected these environmental issues.

Watercolour pInating by Jill pelto
Watercolour painting entitled “Decrease in Glacier Mass Balance”.

Personally these paintings don’t do anything for me – I find them a little bit twee and naive. However, they do provide quite a unique approach to data visualisation by embedding the data in a pictorial image which leans much more towards art – rather than design which might be more commonly associated with infographic visualisations.

In considering ways in which I might approach my Arctic residency I have been looking into open data that is available relating to the Arctic and climate change. I hadn’t really considered producing anything quite so literal as these paintings. That said, I am a long way off producing anything at all at the moment and these paintings provide an fairly unique approach to the use of data in art that I hadn’t considered before.

Wate colour painting by Jill Pelto
Watercolour painting entitled “Increasing Forest Fire Activity”.

Climate Change Painting by Jill pelto
Watercolour painting entitled “Habitat Degradation: Arctic Melt””.

You can view more of Jill Pelto’s work on her website:

Story via PBS