Color Curiosities

river_bank
River’s Edge, 11 x 16″ plein air
© 2009 Marianne Post
Fall River, Oregon

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated with the properties of color and how they play with our psyche. Perhaps that is what feeds my colorist approach to painting with soft pastels.

According to Mark Fineman, author of  The Nature of Visual illusion, the human eye can discriminate among over 7 million colors. No wonder then, that everyone sees color differently. There is certainly room for discussion. Some of us seem to be able to discern subtle color difference more easily than others. But I have also personally witnessed that seeing color nuances is a learnable skill.

I remember once I was doing a painting demo and after I was done a woman came up to me and whispered in my ear, ” You know, I see those colors, too.” It reminded me of the riveting line in the 1999 psychological thriller film, Sixth Sense, written and directed by M. Shyamaian. Young, and lonely Cole Sear played by Haley Osment, turns to child psychologist (Bruce Willis), who is equally troubled, and whispers “I see dead people.”

But, there really is nothing mystical about seeing color. Some may have a given talent right out of the gate. Their rods and cones, their color processors, may be “fancier” or more powerful than others. But one can learn to flex ones muscles so to speak to hone their color seeing skills. We all might not have the makings of olympian caliber athletes when it comes to seeing color, but we can still enjoy the journey.

How do you see color? Have some fun and test your color vision.

Once you’ve completed the test you may be interested in more color facts. While there is a lot of “science” discussed on this site there are also interesting facts about how color influences our making and perception of art.

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One Response to “Color Curiosities”

  1. Loriann Signori Says:

    Interesting ideas about seeing color Marianne. I clicked to the test and was overwhelmed with the rows of colors. It might be easier to take (for me) if I could just touch those luscious little color chips while moving them around (and only see a few at a time.)
    Another painting with your sensitive touch…mmmmmmmm, nice.

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