Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brain Colors Automatically

The perception and processing of color has fascinated neuroscientists for a long time, as our brain influences our perception of it to such a degree that colors could be called an illusion. One mystery was: What happens in the brain when we look at black-and-white photographs? Do our brains fill in the colors?
Neuroscientists Michael Bannert and Andreas Bartels of the Bernstein Center and the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience in Tübingen addressed these questions. In their work, published in the leading scientific journal Current Biology, they showed study participants black-and-white photos of bananas, broccoli, strawberries, and of other objects associated with a typical color (yellow, red and green in the examples above). While doing so, they recorded their subjects’ brain activity using functional imaging. The true purpose of the study was unknown to the subjects, and to distract their attention they were shown slowly rotating objects and told to report the direction in which they were moving.
After recording brain responses to the black and white objects, the scientists presented real colors to their subjects, in the shape of yellow, green, red and blue rings. This allowed them to record the activity of the brain as it responded to different, real colors.
It turned out that the mere sight of black-and-white photos automatically elicited brain activity patterns that specifically encoded colors. These activity patterns corresponded to those that were elicited when the observers viewed real color stimuli. These patterns encoded the typical color of the respective object seen, even though it was presented in black and white. The typical colors of the presented objects could therefore be determined from the brain’s activity, even though they were shown without color.
“It was particularly interesting that the colors of the objects were only encoded in the primary visual cortex,” says Michael Bannert. The primary visual cortex is one of the first places a visual signal arrives in the brain. Scientists had assumed it simply passed on information about the physical properties of things seen, but was not able to recognize objects or to store color knowledge associated with objects. “This result shows that higher-level prior knowledge – in this case of object-colors – is projected onto the earliest stages of visual processing,” according to Andreas Bartels.
This study represents a significant contribution to answering the question of how prior knowledge contributes to perception on a neuronal basis. The projection of prior knowledge onto the earliest processing stages of the visual brain may facilitate the recognition of objects in difficult and noisy environments, such as in fog, and be relevant for colors in changing light conditions over the course of the day, when the weather is overcast, when we are indoors and so on. On the other hand, if prior knowledge or expectations have too much influence on early visual processing stages, this may account for hallucinations and the pathological perception of illusions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Forensic Use of Color

Color-changing polymer maps fingerprints

Detecting perspiration pinpoints people’s pores

SWEAT PRINT  Tiny pores on people’s fingertips ooze sweat droplets (shown red in fluorescence image) that can be detected with a new color-changing polymer. The technique could supplement traditional fingerprinting methods, which rely on impressions left by finger ridges.
Sweaty fingers make tidy prints. Beads of perspiration seeping from a person’s pores can leave detailed maps of the fingertips, and a new technique can detect the sweat.
Human finger pores ooze salty drops of water about the size of pinpricks, says materials scientist Jong-Man Kim of Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.
He and colleagues created color-changing polymers that snap from blue to red when they touch the tiny droplets. Individual polymer units look like teeny tadpoles, with bulbous heads and skinny tails. When packed tightly together, they form stacked sheets that appear blue. But when water swells the polymers’ heads, the crowded sheets twist apart and absorb shorter wavelengths of light, making the sheets look red.
Pressing a finger to a polymer-coated film instantly colored it with red dots, Kim’s team reports April 29 in Nature Communications. Kim thinks the polymers could improve existing fingerprinting technologies, which analyze impressions left by finger ridges’ loops, arches and whorls. Pores speckle these ridges, creating unique dot patterns that match up with traditional fingerprints.
Forensics teams can pick up 10-year-old dots of sweat left on a piece of paper even in the absence of fingerprints, Kim says, but the dot data are often tossed because no one had a simple way to map people’s pores.
IT’S A MATCH Fluorescence image of sweat pores (red) overlaid on a scanned image of a fingerprint reveal similar patterns in pores and finger ridges.

Golden Ratio=Beauty

Phi and the Golden Ratio in Art

“Without mathematics there is no art.”  Luca Pacioli

Art 101 – Laying out a painting on a canvas

As the Golden Section is found in the design and beauty of nature, it can also be used to achieve beauty and balance in the design of art.  This is only a tool though, and not a rule, for composition.
The Golden Section was used extensively by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Note how all the key dimensions of the room and the table in Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” were based on the Golden Ratio, which was known in the Renaissance period as The Divine Proportion.
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci makes extensive use of phi, the golden ratio, known then as the Divine proportion, in its composition
A more detailed view of Da Vinci’s intricate use of the Divine proportion is available by using PhiMatrix golden ratio design and analysis software:
Da Vinci Last Supper showing golden ratio or phi proportions

In Michelangelo’s painting of “The Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel, look at the section of the painting bounded by God and Adam.   The finger of God touches the finger of Adam precisely at the golden ratio point of the width and height of the area that contains them both.  Alternatively, you can use the horizontal borders of the width of the painting and get the same result.  Click on the photo to see a larger version of the image.
Golden ratio composition in Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

Some say that Bottocelli composed “The Birth of Venus” such that her navel is at the golden ratio of her height, as well as the height of the painting itself. Some argue this isn’t the case. Close examination shows that you can take the golden ratio point using several different logical variations, and they all come to her navel, as well as the bottom tip of her right elbow:
  • Red line – From the very top of her hair to the bottom of her lower foot.
  • Green line – From her hairline at the top of her forehead to the bottom of her upper foot.
  • Blue line – Her height, as measured from the middle of the feet to the top of her head at the back of the part in her hair.
Perhaps a coincidence in composition, but then again perhaps not.  See a more extensive analysis yet of golden ratios in The Birth of Venus.
Bottocelli's Birth of Venus and golden ratio of navel

The French impressionist painter Georges Pierre Seurat is said to have “attacked every canvas by the golden section,” as illustrated below left.
Note that successive divisions of each section of the painting by the golden section define the key elements of composition.  This principle is illustrated in the “Golden Ruler™”below:
The "Golden Ruler" - a Golden Ratio Measuring Stick based on Phi (copyright Gary Meisner - EOT 1997)
The horizon falls exactly at the golden section of the height of the painting.  The trees and people are placed at golden sections of smaller sections of the painting.
At right, Edward Burne Jones, who created “The Golden Stairs” at right (Click for enlarged view), also meticulously planned the smallest of details using the golden section.  Golden sections appear in the stairs and the ring of the trumpet carried by the fourth woman from the top.  The lengths of the gowns from the sash below the breast to the bottom hem hits the phi point at their knees.  The width of the interior door at the back of the top of the stairs is a golden section of the width of the top of the opening of the skylight.  How many more can you find?

In “The Sacrament of the Last Supper,” Salvador Dali framed his painting in a golden rectangle.  Following Da Vinci’s lead, Dali positioned the table exactly at the golden section of the height of his painting.  He positioned the two disciples at Christ‘s side at the golden sections of the width of the composition.  In addition, the windows in the background are formed by a large dodecahedron.  Dodecahedrons consist of 12 pentagons, which exhibit phi relationships in their proportions (see Geometry for details).
The Last Sacrament by Salvador Dali uses phi, the golden proportion, in its composition as did Leonardo Da Vinci in The Last Supper
Note:  Insights on the use of the Golden Section by Seurat and Dali were provided by Jill Britton.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Judas Portrayed by Da Vinci

Young Leonardo da Vinci by Melzi (one of LdV's students)

Leonarado da Vinci's birthday is today. He was born in 1452, the same year that Columbus "sailed the ocean blue." The picture below of the artist's famous Last Supper has revealed some of the artist's secrets.

Last Supper in Hi-Res

A 16-billion-pixel image of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper — said to be the world’s highest-resolution photo — went online awhile ago, making the masterpiece available for scrutiny by art lovers everywhere.
White-robed Dominican monks opened the doors of their sacristy to unveil the high resolution image of the painting on a giant screen just steps away from the real thing at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The digitized version, produced using special techniques designed to protect the fragile painting from damaging light exposure, gives anyone with an internet connection a chance to dig deeper into Leonardo’s techniques than ever before.
Leonardo expert Pietro Marani zoomed in on the cuff of traitor Judas to show the gold flake Leonardo applied.
“He went against his own better judgment here,” Marani said. “We know he considered using real gold, a cop-out, that he thought true artists should be able to make paint glitter like gold, but there it is.”
For a close-up on the workings of a genius, Marani recommended viewers search the Last Supper for the church bell tower and shrubs outside the windows, the patterns and wrinkles in the tablecloth, the reflection of an orange wedge in a pewter plate in front of Matthew and the perspective lines in the upper left-hand corner that lead (imperfectly) to Jesus’ eye.
Leonardo used oil and tempera paints on dry plaster, an experimental technique. As a result, the Last Supper is now so faded and cracked it can’t withstand exposure to bright light. To protect the painting, HAL9000 worked with restoration specialists at Rome’s Istituto Centrale per il Restauro to develop a lighting system without the ultraviolet emissions and high thermal impact so hazardous to works of art. Shot with a Nikon D2X digital SLR in just nine hours, the total impact of the digitization process was equal to just a few minutes of the soft lighting that normally illuminates the painting.

What I find fascinating is that Judas' cuff partially conceals the traitor's infamous bag of money. For those who read the story about Judas' betrayal of Christ, his position among the disciples was that of treasurer. 
Image and information shown on Nicole Martinelli's website, zoomata.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blood Moon Eclipse

This should be a color-filled moon; I hope we can all witness it Tuesday, April 15th.

On Tuesday, April 15, there will be a total lunar eclipse that will turn the moon a coppery red, NASA says. It's called a blood moon, and it's one of four total eclipses that will take place in North America within the next year and a half. Pictured here is a blood moon seen over Gaza City in March 2007.On Tuesday, April 15, there will be a total lunar eclipse that will turn the moon a coppery red, NASA says. It's called a blood moon, and it's one of four total eclipses that will take place in North America within the next year and a half. Pictured here is a blood moon seen over Gaza City in March 2007.
Total lunar eclipses
  • There will be a total lunar eclipse Tuesday that will turn the moon copper red
  • Such moons are commonly called blood moons
  • There will be four of them within a year and a half and many in the 21st century
  • There was a period of 300 years when there was not a single one
(CNN) -- Prophecy loves signs from the heavens, and they will deliver Tuesday with a moonlight spectacle.
What will happen could sound sort of like this:
The moon will turn to blood as it aligns with Earth and sun 
Then do so thrice more ere a year and a half is done, 
'Tis not the herald of the apocalypses 
Just the first of four total lunar eclipses.
In other words, get ready for an unusually beautiful moon to grace the night skies next week. There will be a total lunar eclipse Tuesday that will turn the moon a burnt reddish orange, NASA says.
It's called a blood moon, and this one is just the first in a series of four consecutive total eclipses.
Within a year and a half, North America will be able to see a blood moon a total of four times. The moon takes on this color during the eclipse as it passes through the Earth's shadow, which is the color of a desert sunset.
The four blood moons will occur in roughly six-month intervals on the following dates: April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.
With that frequency, one might be misled into thinking that they are commonplace.
There are about two lunar eclipses per year, NASA says. Some of them -- penumbral eclipses -- are so subtle, they are vaguely visible and go greatly unnoticed.
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Other eclipses just cast a partial shadow on the moon but lend it none of that brilliant sunset hue.
Lunar eclipses -- penumbral, partial or umbral -- occur in random order, NASA says. Getting four umbral eclipses in a row is like drawing a rare lunar poker hand of four of a kind.
Just like the poker players, astronomers have a name for that lucky draw. It's called a tetrad, NASA says.
"The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," longtime NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak said in a prepared statement.
In the 21st century, there will be many tetrads, but look back a few centuries, and you'll find the opposite phenomenon, Espenak said.
Before the dawn of the 20th century, there was a 300-year period when there were none, he said. Zero.
That would mean that neither Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, Queen Anne, George Washington, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln nor their contemporaries ever had a chance to see one.
So, we're in luck. To take advantage of it, you'll have to stay up late from Monday night into Tuesday.
People in North and South America will be able to see the entire eclipse, while sky watchers in the western Pacific can catch only the last half. The moon will be setting in most of Europe and Africa during the eclipse, so residents there probably won't see much.
The heavenly curtain rises on Tuesday's lunar review around 2 a.m. ET, when the moon starts to slide into Earth's shadow.
It should turn into a blood moon -- a coppery red -- about an hour later and stay that way for over an hour, NASA says.
Tuesday's blood moon comes right on time for the Jewish festival of Passover, which commemorates the ancient Israelites' exodus from slavery in Egypt. According to the Bible, God cast 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, the final plague being the death of the firstborn. The Israelites painted lamb's blood on their doorways so that this plague would pass over their homes.
CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Onderdonk Painting 1916

DALLAS, TX.- Blue Bonnet Field, Early Morning, San Antonio Texas, a lush canvas of Julian Onderdonk's bluebell wildflowers, brought $515,000 — a record for the artist — at Heritage Auctions' $1.5+ Texas Art Signature Auction in Dallas. The Nov. 16 auction set a house record for the most valuable offering of Texas Art held to date. The work, along with two other Onderdonk masterpieces brought a combined $1.1 million as A Hillside of Blue Bonnets — Early Morning, Near San Antonio Texas reached $317,000 and On the Old Blanco Road, Southwest Texas ended at a strong $281,000. "The auction offered two of the best Onderdonk paintings ever offered on the open market," said Atlee Phillips, Director of Texas Art at Heritage Auctions. "Blue Bonnets at Sunrise had absolutely everything going for it. It was fresh to the market, large, in excellent condition, and the quintessential Onderdonk bluebonnet painting. One of this size and quality had not been available since the Onderdonk exhibition at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the Dallas Museum of Art, highlighting his misty bluebonnet paintings which are heavily influenced by Tonalism.*

 "It is no surprise such a painting would set a new World Record," Phillips said. "Julian Onderdonk is a great American artist, and there was significant interest in these paintings from outside the state, but at the end of the day Texas collectors were simply not willing to let them leave the state."  (I am so happy this artist's works remain in Texas.

( The painting shown above was painted in 1916. If the weather allows, Bluebonnets will be profuse this year. Rain in September is essential for the spectacular display typically in April in Texas.BBL)

*From Wikipedia: Tonalism was an artistic style that emerged in the 1880s when American artists began to paint landscape forms with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. Between 1880 and 1915, dark, neutral hues such as gray, brown or blue, often dominated compositions by artists associated with the style. During the late 1890s, American art critics began to use the term "tonal" to describe these works. Two of the leading associated painters were George Inness and James McNeill Whistler.
Tonalism is sometimes used to describe American landscapes derived from the French Barbizon style,[1] which emphasized mood and shadow. Tonalism was eventually eclipsed by Impressionism and European modernism.

Next week's post will reveal that even bees have favorite colors! BBL

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Power of Pink

Waking Up Our Brains with Color

There is new research which shows that overusing one color of highlighter or pen may turn off our brains. Having a variety in use is the best way to learn important information. Another way COLOR helps us!

"The first question I ask students is what color highlighter do you use?" Gross says. "Yellow? Pink? Orange? The 'trick' is to use all of the colors. I tell them that if they only use one color, they might as well not even bother because their brains will surely 'turn off' as if they were reading black and white.
"Instead, students should use numerous colors to highlight important sections on the page," Gross continues. "I also encourage using multicolored pens, which are useful when taking notes in the margins. Margins are especially good for recording supporting details, while highlighters do an exemplary job of pinpointing main ideas."
Ever read to the end of a page and then ask yourself, "What in the world did I just read?" This is an all-too common problem, which is why Gross says it's essential to constantly wake up your brain by changing the colors to keep your brain engaged.
Another popular study technique is the use of ubiquitous flash cards for vocabulary, spelling, math facts, etc., but Gross says most students are not using them to their fullest potential by making a common mistake: using only white index cards.
"Index cards come in so many great pastels and bright neon colors, so it's important to use all different colors and mix them up," Gross explains. "Turn on the creative (gestalt) side of your brain! You can enhance short- term and long-term memory by consciously activating this side of your brain. Try adding pictures as well as doodles when inspired. Above all, be imaginative."
During her more than two decades of working with students, Gross says she has seen first-hand their test scores improve significantly when utilizing these study techniques. Most importantly, she adds, students say that studying has become a more enjoyable experience.
"These study tips are for students of any age and can greatly aid in retention, memorization as well as remove learning blocks," Gross says. "So, the next time you have to hit the books, don't forget to bring in the color, stock up on multicolored pens and highlighters, and have fun while you pump up those grades."

About Linda Gross
Linda Gross has a Master's Degree in Reading Psychology and is a state-certified reading specialist with over 25 years' experience in education. Having completed extensive post-graduate work in Reading Psychology at Temple University, she continues to take courses to enhance her ability to serve people.

Read more:

I am on my way to buy colorful markers, pens, and index cards, how about you? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pink Hair

If you have blonde or light colored hair, this tutorial can show how to add pink. It might be fun to have pastel-colored hair for spring. And, if you don't want to do it to yourself, perhaps a grandchild would enjoy having a tint after school ends for the year. Think what a cool grandmother you would be to help add fun color to their darling locks. I think it best to first consult the said grand child's parents before going pink or any other color.

How to color your hair pink
Hey guys! This post is for those of your who were asking me how I colored my hair pink.

And to those of you who are asking me WHY I colored my hair pink I can only tell that
1. I love my blonde hair, but I had it for too long and need a change.
2. I love pink hair :) To each its own, you know!
3. Products that I use are hair-friendly and wash out really quickly, so there are no risks and no commitment, just pure fun! To me, my blonde hair is still there and it's not going anywhere lol

So far I tried 2 different products. They are both ammonia-free toners that do not damage your hair. BUT they work only on blonde hair - either natural, colored, or bleached. The lighter your hair is, the more vibrant pink you're going to obtain.

In photos in this post I have my entire hair colored pink, while in my earlier post you can see photos of pink highlights that I had before.

L'Oreal Chroma Care

The first time it was just a strand test with L'Oreal Chroma Care toning conditioners. I applied it onto the bottom layers of my hair to get an ombre effect with pink ends.


#6 is a red-pigmented toner, while #2 is a light purple one. #6 is usually used to revive red color, while #2 eliminated brassy pigments from light blondes. To achieve a beautiful pastel pink, I added just a couple of red drops into the purple toner. I applied the mixture onto my shampooed and towel dried hair and rinsed it after ~30 minutes.


The color I obtained was a super pretty baby pink, a very very light one. If you'd like to get a vibrant pink, I don't think these toners would do the job. Because if you'd add more red, the mixture would turn red rather than pink. The color itself didn't last long at all - it was totally gone after I washed my hair twice. So taking into account the high price of these products, I wasn't really happy about it. But for some of you who'd like to change their hair color only for a couple of days, these toners could be a perfect solution. Though I don't think they'd work on darker blonde hair. Since they produce a really light pastel color, your hair should be a very light or platinum blonde (level 10 or 9).

Effect on hair

These toners are at once conditioners, so they have nothing but a good effect on your hair.

Paul Mitchell Ink Works

The second toner I tried was Ink Works from Paul Mitchell. I found it when I was looking for a professional products for hair lamination. I bought both transparent and pink toners, and they met all my expectations.


So here is how I use it. I grab any hair conditioner and add several drops of Hot Pink into it. On the photo above you can see that the color of the toner isn't exactly pink, but mixed with a white conditioner, it creates a pink mixture. So I keep on adding this toner drop by drop and mixing it with the conditioner until the color of the mixture corresponds to the color I want to have on my hair. So far I was applying it onto my dry hair and leaving it on for ~30 minutes.

I already used this toner to color my own hair 3 times (firstly just highlights, then my entire head) as well as to color a set of my hair extensions (which is really A LOT of hair), and you can tell that the bottle is not even half empty yet!! So this product is really cost-effective and I can really recommend it.

If you're wondering how I've colored my clip-in hair extensions (my own hair is shoulder length, so in all of my long hair tutorials I'm using the extensions for that extra length and volume), I did it just like I've shown in one of my previous tutorials linked below. This time I only used Ink Works instead of Wella products.
It's written on the bottle that the toner is supposed to lasts ~20 washes and I think it's true. The color is washing off really gradually though, it's hard to tell the difference after a single wash. But over time it does fade, and it fades really beautifully. That's another thing that I loved about it. I started with a kind of a vibrant electric pink which gradually washed out though gorgeous pastel shades of baby pink. So if you love pink, you'll totally enjoy the entire experience! I think after 10 washes the color becomes really light, but is still takes another 10 washes till it is gone completely. And of course, you can re-tone you hair any time you feel like.

Effect on hair

Another great thing about Ink Works is that I just loved the condition of my hair after using it. It felt healthier and thicker, much more shiny than when it's blonde.

And how about you?

Leave a comment and let me know if have ever colored your hair crazy colors and what was your experience with them. Which products did you use? Were they good for your hair? How long did they last? Or what color would you like to try in the future :)

Here are a couple of photos of the entire outfit I was wearing the other day.
I love to pair my pink hair with boho chic clothes and this maxi skirt is one of my favorites.

(I don't think Suffragettes of the 1920s would go for this outfit or the pink hair. They campaigned for greater freedom from corsets and restrictive clothes such as hobble skirts which were in style when they began. To draw attention to their cause, they wore three particular colors---purple, white, and green---which stood for loyalty, purity, and hope. In their publication, Votes for Women, a regular feature called "Concerning Dress" focused on fashion. It also published a list of businesses that provided garments and accessories in the suffragette colors. BBL (from 20th Century Fashion by Sue Mee.)