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Do we have to be concerned about this optical illusion?


I've always wanted to ask this question.  Do we have to rest our eyes frequently to keep this phenomenon from happening?  By way of example, if we stare at a red spot on a piece of white paper and look away, the compliment/opposite color appears in our field of vision.  Does this still happen to us when we paint?  Is this phenomenon affecting our color and value choices if we stare too long at our reference photo or still life?  I'm guessing it is still happening but not as noticeably as in the white paper test.  Is "Fresh Eyes" something we need to do more often?  Should we be staring less?  Blinking more?



  • Summer

    I suggest that this form of retinal retention is only a problem with strong forms of transmitted light.
    For example, camera flash, sparklers or arc welding. High contrast situations such as the red dot in a white field need to be stared at for a minute to have any effect. Normal painting experience needs much shorter exposure to very similar values, the eye is not staring, but rapidly flicking to and fro trying to discriminate steps in the same string.

    Reflected light from objects such as shadow boxes, studio models, photographs, or plein air scenes are not retained to any noticeable degree, but can often be perceived for a few seconds.

  • Thanks, Denis.  Amazing what you know and are so willing to share at a moment's notice.  You are our go-to guy and we're lucky to have you.   :)  
  • Summer

    You are embarrassing me. You have 1000 words to stop it  :)


  • I know several artists who believe this is so especially with certain paintings, such as landscapes which tend to show a lot of green.  Slowly, our eyes begin to mute the green by adding red which causes artists to add stronger green, etc.  I also know artists who claim that the blue of the sky "resets" the eyes and cancels this problem . . . thus the practice of taking several minutes off every half hour or so and stepping outside for a breath of air.   Whether this is true, its still a good idea to take regular breaks to rest the eyes.
  • There are a loro of effects and colours are only one variable to take in account. As Denis said the effect of one colour dominating another is when we stare at one object. Also the background colour affects the perception of a colour because we have a vision based on contrast. Shape are very important too..a curved lines is different from a straigh when we judge dimensions. There other thousand of effect.and I suggest the Kandel book about neuroscience on the the eye vision part  because it's one of the best around. Said that if one doesn't want to have misperception u need just to rest your eyes, vision is an adaptative system and after just 30 second in normal light condition is brand new! P.s. an interesting fact is that the more we know about colour the more we can perceive..and this is also a cultural thing. 
  • @Bobitaly ; I believe this is the book you are referring to.  It's available on Amazon, hardcover, for under $20.

  • SummerSummer -
    edited June 2018
    Who knows!  We may end up loving Modern Art after reading this book.  I might even begin to like my profile picture.  Hmm.   :)  
  • Sorry @Summer i didn't see u tagged me, im workind like a crazy man lately:( So that's not the book but definitely the author is him! I was referring to this 
    This is a book for Neuroscientist , and a solid basis to understand the human vision. We use this in University and our prof translated the Italian version so we studied this like crazy. Is one of the best outside, if not THE best in my knowledge.
    Luckily the author is a good divulgator, so he wrote also this book and definitely is a crazy book. The history and evolution of art explained by the human perception. You will learn that klimt studied histology so in the Kiss there are Eggs and spermcell.. Medicine was the basic for a revolution in art. There are also explained a lot of brain architectures..a wonderful book! This is  the cover.
  • Thanks @Bobitaly for the clarification.  I also saw Principles of Nural Science on the Amazon page that I looked at.  Eric R. Kandel is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Summer
  • BobItaly and Summer

    The Kandel discussion I suggested above contains a dead link.

    Here is the new link. All the programs are on interesting aspects of brain science.
    Notable are Kandel’s. intro, the episodes on perception and creativity.


  • The delays in my landscape for the Challenge must be a form of reductionism not yet heard of--haha.
  • Yes, please blink your eyes often.  It helps to keep them lubricated.  I am now better informed thanks to bobitaly and Denis
  • Folks

    Another great Kandel. A Ted Talk about How We understand Art. Good viewing.


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