Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Are Purple and Violet the Same Color?

Violet is just another word for purple, right? Not quite. The colors may look the same, but in terms of physics, they're totally different. Our eyes have three types of color-sensitive cells, or cones, each specialized to one color: red, green, and blue. These colors lie in order on the visible light spectrum. Despite their specialization, the cones generally combine their forces and activate in the presence of more than one color. Green and orange, for example, both activate the red and green cones, but in different ratios. Violet activates the blue cones in abundance and the red cones a little less. Of course, not all colors are in the light spectrum as we know it: brown, for instance, is not a spectral color, but a combination of many different colors on the spectrum. When you see brown, you're seeing a mixture of light wavelengths that activate different cones in varying ratios to produce a color your brain finally interprets as brown. This is how we see purple: it's a combination of the spectral colors blue and red. Rather than activating blue and red cones in a given ratio, purple combines the cone ratio for blue with the cone ratio for red to come up with an entirely new color.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Organize Pantry with Color-Coded System

 Heloise, the queen of hints, recommends using a color-coded system to organize our pantries in this New Year. This is a new concept for me.

 First, get rid of items which have expired, check all the way in the back of shelves where we are prone to push seldom or never used items. She writes:

"Put GREEN veggies such as beans, peas, spinach and pickles together.
 Then gather RED canned items, like tomatoes, sauces, salsas, ketchup and kidney beans.
Shades of YELLOW could include pineapple, pears, applesauce and corn products.
WHITE items would include mayonnaise jars, sauerkraut and potatoes."

I like beets, so I could combine them with other PURPLE items like plums, raspberry pie filling, kalama olives, etc.

This color grouping might encourage children to find ingredients for dishes the parents or grandparents prepare. For spicy beans, for example, it would be fun to combine all the RED items plus ground meat and a chopped onion of one's choice for a zippy chili for the cold days and evenings.

Youngsters might enjoy organizing canned goods by color also if they help clean and sort out the pantry if you make it a game. Good luck on color-coding your pantry!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Using Color Changes for Safety

The amazing use of color change, inherent in chameleons, is now warning of dangerous chemical leaks in industries. Brilliant scientists developed a life-saving system for workers.

The amazing chameleon  has the marvelous ability to see the color patterns of their environment and can closely match these designs by changing the color patterns in their skins.
Recent advances in pigment technology have produced “smart pigments” that change color in response to specific changes in local environmental conditions. These emerging products are finding valuable applications at aerospace, power, and manufacturing, and oil/gas facilities.

A specialty tape containing proprietary color-changing pigments can be wrapped around pipe fittings, flanges, valves, and storage/transportation vessels and will immediately change to black at locations where hydrogen gas is detected. Under a grant from NASA, researchers at the University of Central Florida developed a color-changing (chemochromatic) tape starting with a powder patented by Japanese researchers that changed color in the presence of hydrogen. The critical improvements by the Florida researchers involved adjusting the chemistry so that the color change was immediate and visible to the naked eye (NASA Technology, Spin-Off, 2016). This research project received numerous awards including “NASA Commercial Invention of the Year” in 2016. The technology is licensed to HySense Technology which sells a product, Intellipigment tape, for detecting hydrogen gas leaks.
The advantage of this chemochromatic tape is obvious and can save time and lives. Previously, workers would use electrochemical and combustible gas sensors to identify the presence of possible leaks in areas where many hydrogen transfer lines were present, but locating the specific leak of the colorless, odorless gas was time-consuming. However, with the lines wrapped, the location of the leak would be immediately located by the worker since the tape at the site of the leak would change from a tan color to a black color.
A paint for use in coatings and packaging changes color when exposed to high temperatures – thus, delivering a visual warning to workers handling material or equipment with the potential to malfunction, explode, or cause burns when overheated. The coatings turn different shades of color from red to blue in response to a range of temperatures, beginning at 95 degree F. (New Jersey Institute of Technology, Press Release, 2014). Further, this material can indicate how long a substance has been exposure to high temperature high enough to comprise its functionality.
Article written by: Eric Isselée  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deer Fur Changes Color

Q. Why does the fur coat of a deer change colors depending on the time of year—a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall?
A: The deer's coat is designed to provide both a means for thermoregulation and camouflage. Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress. In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons. The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow.
A deer's winter coat is comprised of two layers. The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about 2 inches longer than the undercoat. The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow. Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.
-- Michelle Carstensen
Carstensen is wildlife health program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

This deer made with patterns would look wonderful with many colors.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fauvism, A Colorful History

Madame Matisse portraits by Henri Matisse

Color is my passion, you know that if you have been reading these Colorfilled posts. Art history is another passion. I so admire the information generated for by Shelley Esaak because she researches so well. Another passion of mine is Fauvism. You will discover more about this movement in her article, below. I am proud to say that I have been accused of being a Fauvist artist also!

Fauvism - Art History 101 Basics

ca. 1898-ca. 1908  

© 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; Used with permission
André Derain (French, 1880-1954). Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1906. Oil on canvas. 31 5/8 x 39 1/2 in. (80.3 x 100.3 cm). John Hay Whitney Collection. 1982.76.3. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
© Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington; © 2006 ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris

Related Articles
"Fauves! Wild beasts!"
Not exactly a flattering way to greet the first Modernists, but this was the critical reaction to a small group of painters exhibiting in the 1905 Salon d'Automme in Paris. Their eye-popping color choices had never before been seen, and to see them all hanging together in the same room was a shock to the system. The artists hadn'tintended to shock anyone, they were simply experimenting, trying to capture a new way of seeing that involved pure, vivid colors. Some of the painters approached their attempts cerebrally while others consciously choose not to think at all, but the results were similar: blocks and dashes of colors not seen in nature, juxtaposed with other unnatural colors in a frenzy of emotion. This had to have been done by madmen, wild beasts, fauves!

How Long Was the Movement?

First, bear in mind that Fauvism wasn't technically a movement. It had no written guidelines or manifesto, no membership roster, and no exclusive group exhibitions. "Fauvism" is simply a word ofperiodization we use in place of: "An assortment of painters who were loosely acquainted with one another, and experimented with color in roughly the same way at roughly the same time."
That said, Fauvism was exceptionally brief. Starting with Henri Matisse (1869-1954), who worked independently, a few artists began to explore using planes of undiluted color around the turn of the century. Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), André Derain (1880-1954), Albert Marquet (1875-1947) and Henri Manguin (1875-1949) all exhibited in the Salon d'Automme in 1903 and 1904. No one really paid attention, though, until the Salon of 1905, when all of their works were hung together in the same room.
It would be accurate to say that the Fauves' heyday began in 1905, then. They picked up a few temporary devotees including Georges Braque (1882-1963), Othon Friesz (1879-1949) and Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), and were on the public's radar for two more years through 1907. However, the Fauves had already begun to drift in other directions at that point, and they were stone cold done by 1908.

What Are the Key Characteristics of Fauvism?

    • Color!
      Nothing took precedence over color for the Fauves. Raw, pure color was not secondary to the composition, it defined the composition. For example, if the artist painted a red sky, the rest of the landscape had to follow suit. To maximize the effect of a red sky, he might choose lime green buildings, yellow water, orange sand, and royal blue boats. He might choose other, equally vivid colors. The one thing you can count on is that none of the Fauves ever went with realistically-colored scenery.
  • Simplified Forms
    Perhaps this goes without saying but, because the Fauves eschewed normal painting techniques to delineate shapes, simple forms were a necessity.
  • Ordinary Subject Matter
    You may have noticed that the Fauves tended to paint landscapes or scenes of everyday life within landscapes. There is an easy explanation for this: landscapes are not fussy, they beg for large areas of color.
  • Expressiveness
    Did you know that Fauvism is a type of Expressionism? Well, it is -- an early type, perhaps even the first type. Expressionism, that pouring forth of the artist's emotions through heightened color and popping forms, is another word for "passion" at its most basic meaning. The Fauves were nothing if not passionate, were they?

Influences of Fauvism

Post Impressionism was their primary influence, as the Fauves either knew personally or intimately knew the work of the Post-Impressionists. They incorporated the constructive color planes of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), the Symbolism and Cloisonnism of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and the pure, bright colors with which Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) will forever remain associated.
Additionally, Henri Matisse credited both Georges Seurat (1859-1891) and Paul Signac (1863-1935) for helping him discover his inner Wild Beast. Matisse painted with Signac -- a practitioner of Seurat's Pointillism -- at Saint-Tropez in the summer of 1904. Not only did the light of the French Riviera rock Matisse on his heels, he was bowled over by Signac's technique in that light. Matisse worked feverishly to capture the color possibilities whirling in his head, making study after study and, ultimately, completing Luxe, Calme et Volupte in 1905. The painting was exhibited the following spring at the Salon des Independents, and we hail it now as the first true example of Fauvism.

Movements Fauvism Influenced

Fauvism had a large impact on other expressionistic movements, including its contemporary Die Brücke and the later Blaue Reiter. More importantly, the bold colorization of the Fauves was a formative influence on countless individual artists going forward: think of Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, George Baselitz, or any of the Abstract Expressionists to name just a few.

Artists Associated with Fauvism

  • Ben Benn
  • Georges Braque
  • Charles Camoin
  • André Derain
  • Kees van Dongen
  • Raoul Dufy
  • Roger de la Fresnaye
  • Othon Friesz
  • Henri Manguin
  • Albert Marquet
  • Henri Matisse
  • Jean Puy
  • Georges Rouault
  • Louis Valtat
  • Maurice de Vlaminck
  • Marguerite Thompson Zorach


Clement, Russell T. Les Fauves: A Sourcebook.
     Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.
Elderfield, John. The "Wild Beasts": Fauvism and Its Affinities.
     New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1976.
Flam, Jack. Matisse on Art, revised ed.
     Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Leymarie, Jean. Fauves and Fauvism.
     New York: Skira, 1987.
Whitfield, Sarah. Fauvism.
     New York: Thames & Hudson, 1996.
If you like colorful art, check out some of
 the works by artists listed above. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Anxiety in Color

The Scream by Edvard Munch, perhaps his most recognized painting

“A work of art can only come from the interior of man.
 Art is the form of the image formed 
 upon the nerves, heart, brain and eye of man.” (Edvard Munch)

Edvard Munch was born in Oslo, Norway in 1863 and, with the notable exception of the two decades from 1889 to 1909 spent traveling, studying, working and exhibiting in France and Germany, he lived there until his death in 1944. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was five and his beloved sister also died of TB when he was fifteen.  

He was active as a painter from the 1880s until shortly before his death, though the greater part of his oeuvre, and certainly the better known part, was produced before the early 1920s.  Although his art was bohemian, he appeared like a proper business man in most of his photographs.
Photo of Edvard Munch

 During his lifetime of work, he made one of the most significant and enduring contributions to the development of Modernism in the twentieth century. In his themes and subject matter, in the manner in which he gave voice to these, and in his handling of paint and the graphic media (especially woodcut and lithography), Munch was profoundly original and radical. He is one of the handful of artists who have shaped our understanding of human experience and transformed the ways in which it might be visually expressed. 

Melancholy by Edvard Munch

Munch's nomadic and self-imposed exile's life in Europe, from his mid-twenties to mid-forties - especially in the cosmopolitan, creatively fertile centers of Paris and Berlin - was undoubtedly vital to the shape of his art. It established the necessary detachment from the 'untroubled communal myths' of his homeland and the troubled passage of his young manhood. On the one hand he was freed from the constraints of his past, and the real and perceived limitations of provincial life. On the other hand he was closely associated with the largely Nordic avant-garde writers and artists of his day who shared and promoted his belief in the necessity of using private, subjective experience to create 'universal' statements and imagery. This was where Munch's originality and personal convictions flourished. His was the beginning of an age which celebrated the life of the individual rather than of community or society.

 Death of Edvard's mother when he was 5 years old

Perhaps more than any other artist, Munch has given pictorial shape to the inner life and psyche of modern man, and is thus a precursor in the development of modern psychology. His images of existential dread, anxiety, loneliness and the complex emotions of human sexuality have become icons of our era. Munch developed the great themes of Angst, Love and Death during the 1890s - a project he called The frieze of life - and repeatedly returned to them until the end of his life. 
Isolation by Edvard Munch

Munch's' quest for a distilled, elementary form and images that could speak for all of human experience is best understood within the framework of late nineteenth-century art. For, while we rightly celebrate Munch as a Modernist, radical and singular in his contribution to the modern world, it is important to recognize how deeply imbedded and formed he was by the echoes and modes of the fin de siecle - nowhere more so than in his representation of women and sexuality. 
Vampire by Edvard Munch

As a young art student he associated with the rebellious, 'Bohemian' artists and writers of Oslo and was quick to respond to the intellectual and aesthetic revolutions brewing around him. Many artists had been persuaded to return to Norway from France by a growing nationalistic spirit and wish to rebuild the Norse identity, fueled in part by the continuing political Swedish domination of their ancient land. They brought with them an impetus to change. The literary and artistic communities, joined forces with the radical politicians of the time who were working to achieve women's liberation, an eight-hour working day, and universal suffrage. 
One of strongest influences on Munch's development was the older artist and critic, Christian Krogh, whose adoption of the Realism of old masters such as Leonardo da VinciTitianDiegoVelazquezCaravaggio, and El Greco, formed a distinctive alternative to the romantic naturalism which dominated Norwegian art for much of the century. (I must admit this information surprised me. However, training in how to paint like the Masters gives an artist wonderful skills for any type of personal art---BBL)

Berlin was crucial to Munch's evolution. It was here in the early 1890s that his art found its first widespread reception and recognition. Munch received numerous commissions for both portraiture and mural decorations which enabled him to earn his living as an artist. In Berlin in the early 1890s, amongst his peers, the cosmopolitan and largely Nordic circle of writers, critics and philosophers, Munch found also the intellectual stimulus and philosophical attitudes that validated the underpinnings of his art, whose beginnings were formulated in the fervent intellectual and sexual radicalism of the Oslo-Boheme.

Combined with the recently encountered intensity and anguish of erotic love, this rich brew of emotional, intellectual and physical experience formed the substance which nurtured Munch's art and which would endure for the emotional intensity in his works.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Does Wine Color Affect Its Taste?

David Munksgard, a winemaker at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma, California, says he uses a bit of red wine in some of his sparkling blends to hint at what the bubbly might taste like — before patrons ever take a sip.
“It sets the stage,” Munksgard says. “If [the wine] was in a dark glass and you couldn't see, your brain wouldn't be working on that. You would just simply go on what it smells like and then what it tastes like. But you can't help it as a human being to start thinking about what that wine is going to smell and then taste like.”
Charles Spence agrees that color and other sensory phenomena can prime our brains for flavor, setting expectations about the taste that anchor our experiences when we’re actually eating and drinking. Spence leads the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford and has studied the effects of “mood lighting” on our perception of a wine’s taste. He says that our tendency to color-categorize flavors may have evolved to help us judge our food for both ripeness and toxicity.
“What kind of world would we be in if we had to put everything to our lips to ... know whether it is nutritious or poisonous or not?” Spence asks. “So our brains learned to make predictions and say, ‘OK, I've learned that when I see a ripe red fruit color, it's probably going to be sweet. When I see something that's green, probably it’s unripe, maybe sour or less nutritious.’ If I can make those predictions, then I’m in a better place to know what trees to climb for the nutritious fruits and what else to eat.”
To test the influence of color on a wine's taste, Spence and his team ran an experiment in 2014 in which they gave over 3,000 Londoners red wine in black tasting glasses, obscuring the beverage's color. They then asked people to sip the same drink under white, red and green lights and rate how they thought it tasted each time.
“What we were able to show with these 3,000 regular drinkers — not wine experts or such — is that we get about a 15 to 20 percent change in people's perception of the fruitiness or freshness of the wine, how much they liked it, simply as a function of the background illumination in the room in which they were tasting,” Spence says.
For example, Spence says that even when we can’t see into our wine glasses, a red-lit room can nonetheless prepare our brains to expect sweetness.
“When we had winemakers who came to the Color Lab, this event, they were the real experts,” Spence says. “You’d think they would not be affected by the background color — [that] they can just identify what is in the glass, and the taste and bouquet. Yet, they were coming away saying, ‘Wow, we need to know about this.’”
Spence says that other sensory information can also help us make snap judgments about a wine's character well before we sip. Did you pop a cork, or crack a screw cap? What sound did the liquid make when you poured it into the glass? Sound, Spence says, is the “forgotten flavor sense.”
“From the sound of pouring ... you can tell something about the temperature,” Spence says. “You can tell something about perhaps the glass size. You can tell something about the kind of drink that’s been poured, and maybe even the viscosity. What information is there? We never really think about it, because normally we can see the wine, and yet our brain picks up on these cues and they too can subtly change our expectations.”
What about when you (or a waiter) set the wine bottle on the table, perhaps with a satisfying thud? Spence says that too is a game of the senses, to a point.
“When we've tested or evaluated the six or seven hundred bottles in the Oxford wine store ... what you find is that for every extra pound you pay, you get eight extra grams of glass,” Spence says. “There are some producers out there who are making bottles that are maybe a two and a quarter kilograms of glass when the wine is emptied, compared to others where it's less than a kilo [when] full of wine.”
Ultimately, though, you can’t put lipstick on a pig — or pass cheap wine off as finer stuff in a heavy, stoppered bottle.
“It may be that midprice wines can be shifted all over the place, but what do you call it? ‘Two Buck Chuck?’ You might have a bigger challenge,” Spence says. “Just by putting it in a heavier bottle, you might convince some, but I think not all.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI's Science Friday.