Tag Archives: pigments

The Animal Kingdom Uses Color to Survive

Humans have it easy compared to other species in the animal kingdom. We reign at the top of the food chain and do not fear becoming another animal’s lunch. However, survival is a real concern for other mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish.

Nevertheless, today the animal kingdom is alive and well because different species have developed non-aggressive defense techniques. For instance, throughout the process of evolution, several animals have changed colors to better blend into their surroundings. Beyond protection, animals also use color to attract mates, and, in effect, prolong the existence of their species.

When we think of color-changing animals, chameleons quickly come to mind, but do you know that flamingos, robins, and snakes are said to have developed their colors somewhat deliberately, too?

For instance, baby flamingos are gray while adults are pink because the flamingo diet includes foods filled with carotenoids, which contain natural color pigments. Some of these foods include shrimp, crabs and algae.

Humans can realize this color changing sensation to some degree. Have you heard of a person’s skin or eyes turning orange after eating a lot of carrots? “Carotenoids,” advises an NPR article “are abundant in plants, where they play a role in photosynthesis. Different carotenoids make carrots orange and beets red….”

Diets rich with carotenoids shine a new light on the familiar phrase you are what you eat. However, the same article points out that “Animals… have a lot of… color limitations.” An Ornithologist from Yale, Rick Prum, points out that birds with mostly brown and gray coloring can develop yellow and red tints if they eat certain foods but they will not have the same luck if they want to turn blue or green.  In fact, Prum says, “Blue is fascinating because the vast majority of animals are incapable of making it with pigments.” Nevertheless, several species appear blue.

Since pigment-rich diets rarely produce this color, how can animals like beetles and butterflies appear blue?

The answer is simple: several blue animals employ optical illusions. A biologist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Dan Babbitt, uses morpho butterflies to explain this phenomenon.

The butterflies have a 6-inch wingspan — one side a dull brown and the other a vibrant, reflective blue. The butterflies have tiny transparent structures on the surface of their wings that bounce light in just the right way to make them appear a vibrant blue that’s so bright it almost hurts your eyes. But if you grind up the wings, the dust — robbed of its reflective prism structures — would just look gray or brown.

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Many animals have centuries of diet and optical illusions to thank for their survival. By eating high carotenoid diets or employing strategies of design, animals have developed colors that allow them to protect themselves from attackers, as well as attract mates.

Even though humans have it easy, sitting at the top of the food chain, it doesn’t mean we know it all. In fact, we learn a lot from observing animals who know how to survive and thrive and adjust to their surroundings.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

Coral Reefs: Rainforests of the Sea

Communicating with Color in the Animal Kingdom

An Art Project For Human Kind

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Ideas for Creating Halloween Spirit


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Every October, as fallen leaves carpet the ground with brilliant shades of brown, yellow, red and orange, a variety of strange and spooky images start to appear creating Halloween Spirit. Ghosts and ghouls hang from trees, carved pumpkins and gnarled broomsticks appear on doorsteps, spiders weave webs across windows and gravestones turn up on front lawns.

Halloween art sets the stage for the scariest holiday of the year. Well before October 31 rolls around, you’ll want to get busy creating the seasonal decorations that will set the tone for the entire month.

The most common images in Halloween art include:

  • ghosts and haunted houses
  • witches, broomsticks and cauldrons
  • pumpkins and jack o’lanterns
  • spiders and cobwebs
  • monsters
  • werewolves
  • vampires and bats
  • skulls and skeletons
  • gravestones

Both adults and children alike enjoy creating Halloween arts and crafts that bring these strange and macabre images to life. Here are some hands-on ideas for Halloween arts and crafts:

  • Color in Halloween images with markers, crayons, paint, or even digitally using your computer
  • Cut outlines of spiders, bats, and witches’ hats out of black paper
  • Cut out body parts from magazines and paste them on thick paper to make your own monsters
  • Create your own gravestone using black marker on grey paper
  • Draw a pair of eyes and a wide, smiling mouth full of teeth on a pumpkin, and carve it out to create a jack o’lantern
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To get in the holiday spirit, hang your 2-D Halloween arts and crafts in your front windows or on your front door. Place your 3-D Halloween art projects on your doorstep or front lawn.
The most exciting form of “Halloween art” is your costume!

Whether you are a 7 years old or 77 years old, on October 31 you can transform yourself into someone (or something) else. This is where your imagination has free reign – you can change your appearance however you want by wearing a costume, a wig, and/or make-up. Whether you are the one trick-or-treating or the one answering the door with a bowl of candy, Halloween is a holiday full of surprises, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Art:

Art Therapy Treats more than the Heart

How to turn your Passion into Profit

Art Beneath Your Feet

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Cactus Colors

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A cactus is a plant with a distinct appearance which has adapted well to dry and hot environments. Their stems have evolved to be photosynthetic (creating energy from sunlight) and succulent (retaining water). Their leaves have evolved into protective spines. There are many sizes and shapes of cacti which are frequently uses as ornamental plants throughout the world. Colorful flowers are grown from distinctive features called areoles. Our set of Cactus patterns are based on natural photographs and include many of the common varieties including Barrel Cactus, Queen Victoria Agave, Holiday Cactus, Prickly Pear, and Saguaro.

This set contains 27 paintable patterns.

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Introduction to Color Expert Johannes Itten

“Color is life; for a world without color appears to us as dead.” – Johannes Itten

When you take an art course on color theory, you can thank Johannes Itten for laying much of the foundation for what you’re being taught. Johannes Itten was a Swiss artist and teacher who taught at the Bauhaus in Germany. He published several books on art theory, the most popular being The Art of Color.

Sir Isaac Newton is credited with creating the first color wheel, which included 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan and blue. Around 250 years later, Johannes Itten expanded Newton’s color wheel to include 12 colors instead of 6. These 12 colors included red, yellow and blue as the primary colors; orange, green and purple as the secondary colors, and 6 intermediary colors created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. This is the same color wheel often used in school’s today to teach students about color theory.

Itten also examined color saturation, contrast and hue, devising theories for creating different color combinations that are still useful to artists and designers today. He looked at the expressiveness of color, and also the way colors affect one another. He also explored the emotional properties of colors which he considered to be fairly subjective, proposing that we each have different individual reactions to colors.

For more information about Johannes Itten and his color theories, look for his books online or in your local library.

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The Healing Power of Color (www.segmation.com)

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As an artist, you are probably aware of the effects that different colors can have on your state of mind and emotional well-being. In fact, in a past article we discussed the psychology of color and provided an overview of how each color can impact your mood.

In this article, we’ll take a look at color therapy, also known as chromotherapy, and how you can apply the basic principles of chromotherapy in your art.

Color therapy involves using, or meditating upon, specific colors to help you find balance and harmony, both inner and outer. There are many forms of color therapy, such as:

  • surrounding yourself with a color that represents characteristics that you feel are lacking in your life, to achieve balance
  • immersing yourself in a color that represents characteristics, or states of being, that you aspire to
  • using colors to “cleanse” your physical body and achieve physiological harmony (such as practiced in Chinese therapy)

While color therapy was once regarded as a New Age fad, today the effects of colors on a person’s mind, body and spirit are well-documented. Even commercial paint manufacturers recognize the connection; some offer a specific range of paint colors that are designed to promote healing and wellness.

To utilize the healing power of color in your art, you can create paintings or drawings based on specific colors to bring about a certain adjustment in your (or someone else’s) mental, emotional, or physical state of being. You can use a combination of colors to evoke a certain state of mind. Experiment with different patterns and compositions and take note of how the paintings affect you.

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3 Ways that Artists Can Benefit from Blogging

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Before the invention of photography, artists had to work from real life. How did that affect artists’ working habits?

The necessity of working from life meant that in order to paint a portrait, the sitter had to pose for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months before the artist was finished. To paint a still life, the artist would have to make sure the set-up stayed the same day after day, and could only paint when the lighting conditions were the same as the previous day. For landscape painting, artists would have to finish as much as possible on-site and often complete the final painting in their studio, often surrounded by smaller studies that contained notes on which hues and values to place where.

The invention of photography – especially digital photography – has changed the way artists work. Thanks to the convenience of affordable digital cameras, artists can easily take a variety of high-quality pictures of whatever they want to paint, and then instead of working from real li

The main goal of art marketing is to get your art out there. The more people that know about you and your work, the better. Blogging is an excellent – and free – way to put you and your art in front of a wider audience. In this article we’ll take a look at how artists like you can benefit from keeping a blog.

What is a blog?

“Blog” is short for weblog – a word that was first coined in 1997 when the general public was still getting its feet wet with the Internet. At first, blogs were merely online diaries – personal accounts of people’s daily lives. As the Internet has matured, blogs have turned into so much more. Blogs are now powerful marketing tools that are used by corporations and individuals alike to promote their businesses.

How can blogging be used as an effective art marketing tool?

  1. Blogs provide exposure. The search engines love frequent-updated blogs. Each update you post gives you another chance to be found on the Internet – by a gallery owner, a potential collector, or anyone who might be of benefit to you and your business in some form.
  2. Blogs provide insight. When you blog about your art, you can write about everything from your inspirations to your struggles and everything in between. Blogs give gallery owners and potential collectors insight into your working process, which shows them that you are a serious artist.
  3. Blogs facilitate connections. People who buy artwork online are more willing to purchase art from someone with whom they feel a connection. Blogging allows you to connect with your fans and collectors on a personal level – showing them that you are a real, live, trustworthy human being, as opposed to an impersonal collection of pixels on the screen.

These are just some of the many ways that artists can benefit from blogging.

One final note: remember that a blog is better as a supplement to your website, and not a substitute. While some artist blogs double as an online gallery and a blog, it is generally better to keep the two separate, so that it is easier for your site visitors to navigate from your new content in your blog to your static content on your website (such as your gallery).

Ready to set up your art blog? You can start a blog for free through WordPress or Blogger. Have fun!

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Why You Should Make Art When You Travel (www.segmation.com)

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When you’re traveling, one of the best ways to capture the energy of a place is to draw or paint it. While most tourists are glued to the viewfinders of their cameras, rushing from one attraction to the next, you’ll be calmly painting or sketching the scene before you, noticing all the wonderful details that normal tourists miss… from the delicate curvature of an architectural detail to the way the evening sunlight casts long shadows on the children playing in the town square.

Making art while traveling allows you to experience your new surroundings on a deeper level than most tourists ever will. By carefully viewing a scene, structure, object, person or people with the intense gaze of an artist and interpreting your vision on paper or canvas, you can freely observe the subtle nuances and hidden undercurrents that comprise the fabric of daily life in any given location.

Why do we travel? We embark on vacations to places we’ve never been before because we want get away from it all, to escape the routine of our daily lives and the familiarity of the place where we live. We yearn to explore something new, to embrace the unknown, and to learn something along the way. Art-making while traveling fosters an open mindset, encourages curiosity, and creates an easygoing attitude – 3 essential ingredients for making the most out of any travel holiday.

Plus, making art while seated in a café, sitting in a park, or standing in a town square is a great way to meet locals, thus deepening your travel experience. Curious bystanders will often look over your shoulder and make comments, but even if you don’t understand the language, you can still make a meaningful connection through the common language of visual art.

And the end result? Aside from a memorable experience, you’ll also wind up with a beautiful travel journal filled with your original images and insights – a truly unique reminder of your special trip.

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All About Yellow Pigments www.segmation.com

Yellow is one of the three primary colors, which means it is often used in painting – from capturing the warm rays of a golden sun, to a field full of sunflowers, to the flickering flames of fire. Here is an overview of some of the most common yellow pigments you’ll use when painting:

Yellow Ochre (sometimes called Mars Yellow) is a non-toxic natural clay pigment. In fact, it is one of the oldest pigments in the world, used by our prehistoric ancestors. Yellow Ochre has a tan, sandy appearance.

Naples Yellow was once made from toxic synthetic pigments that were used abundantly by the Old Masters, but today’s version is made from modern, non-toxic substances. Naples Yellow usually has a light, pale appearance.

Cadmium Yellow is another historically toxic pigment (Cadmium Sulfide) that was used by artists in the late 19th century. It now contains a non-toxic replacement (usually Azo pigments), but is still called Cadmium Yellow. Cadmium Yellow has a very bright yellow appearance.

Azo Yellow (also called Hansa Yellow) is a dye-based synthetic pigment invented in the early 20th century. Azo Yellow is usually bright but it is also pale and translucent compared to Cadmium Yellow.

Each of these yellow pigments adds something different to your palette. If you are painting a still life, landscape or portrait that requires the use of yellow, consider the different properties of these yellows to decide which one (or more) would work best for what you need.

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Was the Model for the Mona Lisa a Male?

Who was the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?

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Unfortunately, one of the mysteries of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is who was the model was a Male or Female? What age was the model? Where was the model from? Was it his wife? Did da Vinci know the model? We may never know who the model is and of course some may say why does this matter anyway right?

One thing we know for certain is that this portrait has led to many discussions. One discussion is about the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile. I am sure you have thought about that part yourself. I often have wondered who was this model in such a wonderful piece of art? When I look at the different masterpieces myself that other Historical artists have painted, I often ask myself this same question being who was their model or models? Also, how do these famous artists select their models? Is it their wife, themselves, mistresses, children, lovers, worker, apprentice, grandparent, high school sweetheart, coworker, neighbors, people randomly picked off the street? When the artists select a model or models, what is the artist looking for in the models? What method are the looking in their selection for a model? Are they looking at some unique feature? Unique features such as their smiles, such that the smile is mysterious, sexy, sad or interesting?

When I go the the art museum, I like to look at the famous paintings from all different angles. Do you find yourself doing that as well? When I recently went to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, one of the first things I did was to walk into a room and look at the paintings from a distance. This is sometimes a hard thing to do, especially when the room is large. When the room is large, how do you really know which masterpiece to look at first. I usually look around to see which one intrigues me the most. When I find the one that interests me the most, I then look at them straight on. I often like to talk to the docents to find out what they like about the certain pieces displayed at their art museum. The docent is the true expert as they should know which pieces are the most interesting and any unusual facts about the paintings. I wonder what was the artist thinking before they started to paint on their canvas. Is there a hidden agenda on their canvas that we may never know such as the hidden identity of who their model is?

Most scholars think that da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be his wife but have you ever thought it could really be one of his apprentices? Perhaps da Vinci had a companion that was even a male and this was the person who da Vinci drew in this well known painting? Was the model Salai who had been a model for Leonardo in several of his other paintings? So the question really is then who was the model and was it a male?

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Art for Peace

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Art can be a powerful vehicle for social change, offering the opportunity for reflection upon pressing issues and social injustices. Through image-making, those who feel powerless are given a voice. One of the most critical, ongoing topics of global concern is the quest for world peace.

In September, scores of artists gathered in Moscow, Russia to paint benches for the The Bench of Peace International Art Project, shown above. Placed side by side, the benches stretched 400 meters along Lavrushinsky Lane and were later auctioned off for charity. Events such as this demonstrate that art is not just about making a pretty picture – art also makes a statement, one that may linger in viewers’ memories long after they’ve stopped looking at the art.

Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th centuries most celebrated artists, created many drawings and lithographs of doves, the international symbol of peace. While his first dove artwork in 1949 was created in a realistic style, his subsequent peace doves took on a more elegant, minimalistic style. On the opposite end of the spectrum, his painting Guernica depicts the horrors of war, and is hailed as one of history’s most powerful anti-war paintings.

Organizations such as the Global Art Project aim to promote peace through art. Through various visual art projects, they seek to educate the public about diversity and tolerance. Art for peace can take the form of community-based projects that focus participants’ minds on the causes of conflicts and solutions for spreading inner harmony and outer peace.

From conceptual street art to traditional fine art, the variety of art created for peace demonstrates the power of images to transform the world, one person at a time.

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