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Amazing Book: Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing

Amazing Book: Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing

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From the biology of seeing,

to colour theory,

to colour analyzed palettes that are correct,

to  draping decisions on human beings,

to the success of an appearance on a given natural colouring type,

is a sacred chain that can’t be broken.

To simply look at a face and decide we know the colours in it requires great caution.

Would someone with much experience never get surprises? The opposite, from what I’ve seen.


Vision and Art book


This book is unbelievable. My heart rate accelerated when I began looking inside.

I bought it because I’m working on the Training Course for colour analysts. I needed more understanding of the mechanics and physiology of sight to explain how our visual system is comparison based.

The laws that govern colour analysis must be founded on the physics of light and the biology of sight. Deciding to change them up a little isn’t engineered to succeed. We’ve learned to survive in the world based on those laws so it’s how colour speaks to us. And more importantly, whether in Nature, the 12 Tone palettes, or a person who looks complete, everything about colours is about the relationships between the colours. Therein lie the mystery, the theory, the history, and the truth.

Simultaneous contrast, or the effect of one colour on its neighbours is the basis of personal colour analysis. That’s how the colours that harmonize with those already present in you are found so you can buy and wear more of them – it begins at the cellular level, the level of the single photoreceptor in the retina. And like many of Nature’s patterns and geometries, this then repeats on increasingly larger scales because it is so effective, sustainable, and conservative of resources, all the things Nature cares about.

If you’re someone who collects data from light, like a personal colour analyst, you have to work within the bricks and mortar of the structure Nature built. To see what an artist saw, you have to look at the painting under exactly the same lighting conditions because every little thing around it affects colour. We only get to imagine that we know it for a moment.

The last chapter is explains how the brain can get cross-wired – why some people are born so musically gifted, the basis of synesthesia, and whether we feel colour.

Well, of course we feel colour. That’s why it can bring us to tears. Colour analysts see people feeling colour every day. A woman whose right colour, whose own colour, descends around her like a mantle, and her expression softens, she feels calm, she smiles and doesn’t know why. Well the analyst knows why. If love is divinity, and it is, this is a moment of sharing and openness we can only reach with those we love. It is a moment in the analysis that we hold very dear.

Expect zero fashion advice.



4 Thoughts on Amazing Book: Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing

  • "; ?> Stephanie Rees

    Christine, I look forward to reading this book which I has just reserved from the Sydney library. Strange timing, as I have just finished reading Michel Eugene Chevreul’s book ‘Harmony and Contrast of Colours’ written in 1861 ( available free for download at google books )He was the person who first penned the ‘law of stimultaneous contrast’ and was a french weaver trying to understand why dyed colours looked different when placed next to black. As well as setting out in great detail each colour and how they react to other colours, he has a section in the book on the most pleasing and displeasing bonnet colours for a range of skin colourings – perhaps one of the first documented colour analysts. There is also a free 2010 lecture in pdf form on the internet for download by George Roque called “Chevreul’s Colour Theory and its Consequences for Artists” where he talks about how Chevreul’s book had a great influence on the impressionists painters.
    You may already be aware that there are a lot of free (due to their copyright expiring) downloadable fascinating old colour books (including Munsell’s original works) available at the and google books websites. Stephanie

  • "; ?> Willow

    Christine, you said “you should see me do a color analysis”. YES PLEASE!! Would love to see a video of you doing a color analysis from start to finish.

  • "; ?> Christine Scaman

    Stephanie – I’ve read pieces of Itten’s work on Google Books (my next purchase is his Elements of Color) but didn’t know about Chevreul. That lecture by Roque is absolutely extraordinary, find it here

    less biology/physiology than Livingstone’s book, same brilliant perspective on art appreciation.

    Willow – I appreciate your interest : ) but, you see, it takes me 2-3 hours. And you might feel disappointed in how little the camera picks up – which is almost reverse publicity for colour analysts because when it’s done IRL, our eyes can see a whole lot so we don’t want people thinking we can’t. It may also be challenging to find the person who will sit there on film with various illusions in place that truly detract from their appearance, and then give permission to put that on the Internet. Quite possibly too, much as I am so happy if I can teach this subject I love, much of my writing is just me working to figure it out myself. But my business is based on the analysis and I might not give that away so freely…

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