Category Archives: Colorblind

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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The Gift of Color Vision

There is a rare condition that’s not fatal, but many artists would kill to have it. It is called tetrachomacy. Its main symptom is near-superhuman vision.

Impressionist painter Concetta Antico has tetrachomacy. When she examines a leaf, she sees a “mosaic of color,” not just shades of green.

“Around the edge I’ll see orange or red or purple in the shadow; you might see dark green but I’ll see violet, turquoise, blue,” she says. In her line of work, this ‘disorder’ is a rare gift that produces extraordinary works of art.

Tetrachromats have more receptors in their eyes to absorb color, letting them see hues that are invisible to everyone else. The average person has three cones, or photoreceptor cells in the retina that control color vision and allow people to see up to a million colors. Tetrachromats have four cones, so they can detect nuances and dimensions of color that others can’t.

Researchers believe that one percent of the world population is tetrachromatic. According to Kimberly Jameson, a cognitive scientist at the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at the University of California in Irvine, the differences between the color range perceived by a tetrachromat and someone with normal vision is not as drastic as the difference between someone who is colorblind and someone who is not.

After studying Concetta Antico’s genes, Jameson determined that her fourth cone absorbs color wavelengths that are “reddish-orangey-yellow.” As a cognitive scientist, Jameson is fascinated with how people like tetrachromats can form and communicate concepts, especially since their visual perception of the world is so different.

Research suggests that tetrachromacy may be more widespread than assumed: those who have it don’t always notice because they haven’t trained their brains to pay attention. Antico admits that she was more color-aware than most children; at age seven she was painting and thoroughly fascinated with color. Because of the extensive exposure at an early age, her brain wired itself to notice and take advantage of her tetrachromacy.

She actively supports continued research into mutations that affect color perception. Her reasons are personal: five years ago, her seven-year old daughter was diagnosed as colorblind. Antico believes that the more she helps science professionals understand tetrachromacy, the better they will be able to help her daughter one day.

Kimberly Jameson agrees. “If we understand genetic potential for tetrachromacy and how their perception differs,” she says, “we can understand quite a lot about visual processing of color that we currently don’t understand.”

Antico may actually be helping colorblind individuals via her art. She has been teaching painting for over 20 years, and many of her students have been color-deficient. Jameson has looked at their artwork and found it to be surprisingly color-aware. She believes that Antico’s sensitivity to color differences at a very early age may have given her the understanding and articulation to help these students. It’s a hypothesis that still needs to be proved empirically, but raises the possibility that people’s perception of color can be improved by retraining their brains.

Antico has her own art gallery in San Diego and hopes to one day open an art school for the colorblind, to help them improve their color-awareness.

“What if we tetrachromats can show the way to color for people who are less fortunate than us?” she says. “I want everyone to realize how beautiful the world is.”

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

EnChroma Introduces Colorblind People to Color

The Importance of Color Vision and Art

Blind Artist’s Vision is Clearer than that of Sighted Individuals

Be an Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)

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EnChroma Introduces Colorblind People to Color

EnChromaFor many people, being colorblind is a way of life. There are no magic pills to take or corrective surgeries to explore. Once the diagnosis is reached, it is highly unlikely that a person will ever see beyond his or her dingy view of the world.

Unless he or she has the help of new age corrective lenses by EnChroma®, seeing color is near impossible.

Prescription glasses have been correcting eye problems for years. Now, Digital Color BoostTM technology is making up for what colorblind people lack. The journey to discover these compensatory lenses began about one decade ago. Scientists at Enchroma, the company that owns and distributes the Digital Color Boost sunglasses, were given grant money to find an optical solution to the age-old problem of colorblindness.

Scientist found that “…by filtering wavelengths of light, the color signal sent to the brain could be amplified.” Filtration is provided by the Digital Color Boost coating, which is sometimes put onto lenses 100 layers thick. From there, cuts are strategically made in the spectrum to manipulate incoming wavelengths. This allows some photons to pass through the lenses while others are blocked, which in turn introduces color to the colorblind.

The science and technology goes far beyond the scope of common thought, but EnChroma makes it easy to digest in the “How it Works” section on their website (http://enchroma.com/technology/how-it-works/).

Beyond the technology, the packaging of EnChroma sunglasses and the public’s reception of the product is anything but confusing. People are crazy about this product and how it remedies a problem that, for so long, people accepted as, “the way it is.”

Playwright Kelly Kittell told BoingBoing.net, “The first time I saw brick red I was so overwhelmed I stopped cold. Purple and lavender, where have you been all my life?” Lives are changing thanks to the new technology that is introducing them to a world of color.

Kittell goes onto admit that it is distracting to use the glasses at first. “You won’t be able to stop yourself from peeking under the glasses over and over again to verify your favorite gray sweater is actually a dusty rose. It is.”

His thoughts are confirmed by a young caucasian boy, the demographic who is the most likely to be diagnosed with color blindness. Owen’s mom and dad surprised him with EnChroma sunglasses one day. They recorded his reaction to share with the EnChroma blog. Check out Owen’s reaction as he challenges himself to keep the sunglasses on his face after being shocked by color: http://enchroma.com/call-for-enchroma-videos/.

EnChroma understands exactly what they do for the people whom they serve. Their tag line boasts: Color for the Colorblind. With digital color boost technology, they are doing what has thought of as impossible. They are introducing people with colorblindness to the world of color.

Read more Segmation blog posts about colorful technology:

Color-changing Properties Make Gold Multi-purposeful

Extracting Art from Science

Art Illuminates Science

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