Category Archives: Color Vision

The World’s First Tetrachromat Artist

The unique nature of an artist can be considered art itself. What sets great artists apart may not be their talents but their circumstances. While we know much of our destinies are determined by the decisions we make, remnants of happenstance hover over many of the artists we know and love.

No one understands this better than Concetta Antico, who, in 2012, received news that would change her life and send her already successful art career into high gear.

The Making of an Artist

To Concetta, art and life have always been one in the same. Her love of art began at the age of seven, when she found herself fascinated by color. This was around the time she started painting. Even at a young age her peers recognized the Australian native’s creative talent.
America's Finest City Lights, San Diego 10x10Now in San Diego, the place she considers home, Concetta’s days begin at the sight of color. The moment she opens her eyes she feels inspired by the color variations outside her windows and inside her home. Even the different fibers found in her wood floors can captivate this color connoisseur. These everyday sightings are what encourage Concetta to paint extraordinary works of art.

As an oil painter, Concetta paints each piece of art in one sitting and may accomplish 12 or more paintings per month. (With an exhibit on the horizon she has been known to paint up to 30 pieces in that time.) As it may seem, there is no time for creative blocks in Concetta’s world, although, she rarely feels confined by the age-old artist’s plague. Each day Concetta’s appreciation for art is renewed as she takes in the millions of shades, tones and hues that color her world.

Beyond her own art, Concetta also owns and operates an oil painting school called The Salon of Art (http://www.thesalonofart.com/). In her 25 years of teaching, she has instructed over 15,000 people on how to paint.

At a glance, it seems Concetta Antico has lived multiple lives, all dedicated to the pursuit of art. But these are merely chapters of a single story; the story of an artist. And the current chapter, the one where she and her art become known throughout the world, is only just beginning.

Behind the Artist’s Eyes

Concetta describes some of her recent fame as a result of being at the right place at the right time. And to some degree, this is true. In fact, had Concetta’s life not unfolded the way it has, the world may still not fully understand tetrachromacy, a condition where a person possesses four types of cone cells (independent channels for conveying colors) in the eye. It is typical to possess three cone cells but not four. Ultimately, a person with tetrachromacy, or a tetrachromat, may see 99 million more colors than the average person.

Rainbow Gully, Mission Hills, SD 12×16 Hi resConcetta Antico is the world’s first tetrachromat artist, a combination that some researchers have dubbed “The Perfect Storm.” One reason why few people know about tetrachromacy is because not many people know they are seeing more colors than other people. Concetta, on the other hand, has been immersed in color her entire life. Therefore, she is a highly functioning tetrachromat who fully embraced her condition before she knew it was there. This is why Concetta is able to help researchers better understand 2-3 percent of the world’s population that have four color cones. Tetrachromacy involves a unique connection between one’s eyes and brain. Sometimes, people who are unaware they are tetrachromat’s have not allowed their brains to recognize the large amount of colors their eyes take in. Because Concetta has been using color her entire life, her brain is quick to recognize assortments of color that others (even fellow tectrachromats) cannot process.

However, if it weren’t for being at the right place at the right time Concetta may not have learned she has tetrachromacy. Nor would the world have the first artist who can shed light on what it is like to see life through rich color.

Recognizing Tetrachromacy

Two separate occasions led Concetta to the team of researchers who would genotype her as a tetrachromat. The first was a trip to an optometrist with her daughter, and the second came in the form of an email from one of her students.

Peacock Tango! 40x60 Hi ResIn 2009, Concetta’s then 8-year-old daughter came home from school with an uncommon concern. She couldn’t see the board when her teacher wrote on it in orange. It seemed like a case of colorblindness, which is odd because it is very rare for girls to be colorblind. However, a trip to the eye doctor proved that Concetta, a lifelong lover of color, had a daughter with colorblindness.

Concetta didn’t think too much of the rarity in her line of DNA until a student of hers, Wendy Martin, sent her an email about a genetic factor that may influence how some individuals see color. Wendy was a research scientist herself and had noted an “alchemy” in Concetta’s work. When Wendy told the artist/teacher that she couldn’t put her finger on what made the art unique, Concetta joked that it must be her fourth receptor. Shortly after this conversation, Wendy sent Concetta an email with an article that connected the dots of her unique talent. The article stated that a person with four receptors could, in fact, have a colorblind daughter.

On this day in November, 2012, Concetta emailed the authors of the article, thus taking the first step in recognizing what the world knows her for today. Concetta Antico is a tetrachromat.

Same Art, New Fame

What has changed since receiving this news? Concetta still wakes up inspired by colors outside her windows and inside her home; she still owns and teaches at The Salon of Art; she completes each painting in one sitting. But on top of these decades-long practices, Concetta now has a press career. With the eloquence of a tenure educator, the accent of an Australian empress, and the poise of an internationally renowned artist, Concetta grants interviews about her artwork and how tetrachromacy influences her craft.

There is no doubt that Concetta’s talent and work ethic are worthy of fame, but much of this new wave of success has come from her accepting and embracing a DNA condition that is propelling her career to new heights.

Idyll Hours ~ Daisy Days 24×36 Hi ResSo in an exclusive interview with Concetta Antico, the world’s first tetrachromat artist, Segmation has one burning question: What is your favorite color?

Her response might come as a surprise. “White,” she says.

An artist who is known to live in a world of color is most drawn to the color white. Some might argue that white is not a color, but those people are not tetrachromats. “Everything speaks to me,” explains Concetta. “It’s hard to detach from color. It is a huge component of everything I do.” She also expresses that colors like red and yellow are too strong. To her, white is peaceful. And let us not forget, to a tetrachromat, even white is a mosaic of color.

Images made available by Concetta Antico.

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Vision Problems Guide Artists

By looking at his paintings, you probably never guessed that Edgar Degard could not see well. However, the French realist painter was believed to have a congenital retinal problem. Similarly, Mary Cassatt and Claude Monet both had cataracts, which explain why the artists had trouble differentiating color later in life. And sketch artist Charles Méryon never toyed with color because he was well aware of his color-blindness.

Several artists have suffered from eye problems that pose obstacles to their chosen career paths. However, many artists leveraged their disabilities, using them as tools to guide their distinct style and career.

For instance, Peter Milton was diagnosed with color-blindness in 1962. This occurred after he spent years painting, teaching art, and studying under the master of color, Josef Albers. Upon receiving his diagnosis, Milton abandoned color; instead, he committed himself to the creation of black and white masterpieces. The absence of color did not void other creative elements of his artwork, though. Milton produced intricate works of art that are best described as “visual puzzles in which past and present seem to merge.”

Milton found a way to work around his eye problems while other artists did not. It has been reported that one in 10 men has color-blindness. A professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, Michael Marmor, recognizes the challenge artists face when diagnosed with vision troubles. He tells NPR that “most artists who found out they were colorblind just switched to printmaking or sculpture.”

Some artists worked through their eye problems to create the art they loved and were known for. Claude Monet was quoted as saying, “At first I tried to be stubborn. How many times … have I stayed for hours under the harshest sun sitting on my campstool, in the shade of my parasol, forcing myself to resume my interrupted task and recapture the freshness that had disappeared from my palette! Wasted efforts.”

Throughout history, several artists approached vision troubles differently. Some worked through them, others looked past them, and many worked around their eye problems. Milton, who is a shining example of how to work around color-blindness, attributes his artistic style to his disability. “… It helps to have a disability,” he told NPR, “because when you can do anything, which of all the things you can do are you gonna choose? So something has to help you make the choice.”

Some of the world’s most well-known artwork has been produced by artists with vision problems. The pieces may seem to use askew color options or be void of color entirely, but to us, these color choices make the artwork appear distinct. And who knows, perhaps an artist accepted his or her disability and set out to create art in this authentic way.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

EnChroma Introduces Colorblind People to Color

The Gift of Color Vision

The Importance of Color Vision and Art

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Can You Be Taught to Read in Color?

There are some individuals who read in color — these people have grapheme-color synesthesia. With grapheme-color synesthesia, each letter appears as a certain color. This can seem like a foreign concept to the majority of us that read in black white, but for those with this condition, it is common and pleasurable. It is estimated that about 1 percent of individuals have grapheme-color synesthesia and 4 percent have synesthesia (to some degree). Most people with these conditions enjoy seeing color in “odd” places.

It is not uncommon to hear someone comment that he or she would love to have synesthesia. This is because the condition is not harmful to people and it can make life more interesting, to say the least. Artists, especially, may benefit from this condition. It has long been believed that individuals are simply born with synesthesia. But today, researchers are beginning to question that assumption.

Can a person be taught to see letters in color? That’s the question the University of Amsterdam researchers asked when they conducted a study on people who did not have grapheme-color synesthesia. The study’s participants were given books that contained colored text letters (the letters were sporadically colored). What was the result of the study? After reading the books with colored letters, individuals without grapheme-color synesthesia “associated those letters with the correlating hues.” This is amazing news that indicates synesthesia may have a slight capacity to be taught.

The study at the University of Amsterdam had beneficial effects upon its participants. One participant began enjoying the color orange post study. Two individuals reported they read faster after reading the books with colored letters.

Is it true that synesthesia is simply genetic? That is a tough question for researchers to answer. On one hand, it’s not uncommon for members of the same biological family to have synesthesia. But on the other, it’s a fact that one is not born with language skills; he or she learns them. While it has not been proven that synesthesia can be taught, researchers are definitely doing further study into the possibility of learned synesthesia and its benefits upon individuals. Many people would take advantage of the opportunity to learn synesthesia and read in vibrant color.

Source: http://nbcnews.to/U9Jyfe

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How Well Do You Know Your Colors?

Have you ever wondered how we go about distinguishing color? Have you ever considered why we call a color by a certain name? The world we live in is saturated with color. All throughout the day our eyes work to distinguish the various hues of color we come in contact with.

The human eye can distinguish over one- million colors. Most of us are familiar with basic color classes,

  • Achromatic Color terms: Black, gray, and white
  • Primary Color terms: Red, blue and yellow
  • Secondary Color terms: Brown, orange, green, and purple

However, these eleven color terms only make up a small percentage of the colors we humans are able to see and identify.  Is there any system we can use to name and organize the million plus colors that don’t automatically fall into the basic color classes?

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the British Color Council attempted to create a structure for naming colors.  What they came up with is viewed by some as slightly confusing.  For example, the British Color Council chose to use terms such as squirrel and bee eater blue to name colors.  What colors come to mind when you read these terms?  Do you think that others would agree with you or do you believe they might interpret the terms differently?

Currently, there exists a more scientific structure of naming colors.  A set of 267 colors exists that are named, or described, using familiar color language.  For example, this scientific method combines words such as, light, grayish and red to create a name for a color that we all might be able to identify easily in our minds.  Yet, a set of 267 color names is still only a small percentage of the colors our eyes can see distinctively.  Is it possible to create a more extensive set of color names that can be collectively agreed upon?

Think about the word you might use instead of light yellowish brown.  Did you come up with words like tan or khaki?

Now consider how you would scientifically define some commonly used color names.  Start with the color name puce.  Does purplish brown work?  What about the color name ocher?  Did you come up with a phrase such as, dark yellow or dark golden yellow?

The process of naming over one million colors seems to be more complicated that it appears.  Visit http://www.colormatters.com and take part in their Global Colors Survey to test you own color naming ability.

Images made available by Marian Kraus Photography Inc.

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The Importance of Color Vision and Art

“Art without color would lose much of its purpose.”

~ Andrew Loomi

Did you know some humans have the ability to see 7,000,000 colors?

Even though contrasting shades of similar colors are not always evident, artist use millions of colors to create intriguing works of art.

Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of people are colorblind. This post explores how color vision affects our ability to appreciate and experience art.

While black and white photographs can be captivating and intricate sketch work is magnificent, it must be said that color adds brilliance to a piece. It draws out emotion and stitches together a scene. Also, color allows an artist to add depth to their work and evokes emotions in those who view it.

Color Vision

Color vision is the way an eye or machine (like a camera) interprets the wavelengths or frequencies of light on an object. Therefore, all colors exists because of light.

That means without light, these timeless works of art would be colorless:

Color Vision and Art

To explore how color affects the art connoisseur (and all normal-functioning eyes for that matter), WebExhibits set up virtual display depicting the relationship between human perception of color and colors used in art. It is called, “Color Vision and Art.” The exhibit guides you through the inner workings of color. This website (http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/) is full of interactive elements as well as interesting facts about color.

Colorblindness

Can you imagine a world without color? Colorblindness is the condition that makes it hard to differentiate and distinguish colors. This condition is often passed on genetically and present at birth. Unfortunately, the cause of colorblindness, absence of a color-sensitive pigment in the cone cells of the retina, is common. According to WebExhibits, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are colorblind. There are 3 different types of colorblindness that affect one’s vision. The Color Matters website (http://www.colormatters.com/color-and-vision/what-is-color-blindness) illustrates what people see in each circumstance.

Appreciating Art without Color

Just because an individual cannot see color does not mean he or she can’t appreciate art. In fact, there are many artists who suffer from colorblindness. On http://www.colourblindawareness.org/, it mentions that there is speculation over whether or not famous artists Constable and Picasso were colorblind. Although, many people with colorblindness avoid studying or pursuing careers in visual arts.

Aside from that, people of different color vision capacities still enjoy creating art. While the fullness color brings to a painting, photo, or any other masterpiece cannot be experienced, individuals still enjoy the act of creating and viewing art.

This brings up the question, how important is color vision to art? Do you agree with Andrew Loomi? Or does art have purpose rooted beneath surface color?

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