Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cube and Checkerboard Illusions

The dark square marked “A” is painted with the identical mixture as the light square marked “B”. (Link to video on Facebook.)

The square marked “A” is painted with the identical color mixture as the square marked “B”. Both are a neutral gray. (Link to video.)

The lesson from both of these diagrams is that our visual system uses context cues to override the raw information that our eyes receive. It's good to keep this rule in mind when estimating the value and the color of objects.

David Briggs, an expert on color theory, did this lecture on color constancy and painting. (Link to YouTube)
From my book "Color and Light: A Guide for The Realist Painter."


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Timothy Bollenbaugh said...


In the "Illusion of Life" re "Color" Theodore Hee says a person seems to take on a color as he gets to know them, and also color effects an emotional response. Some might think of auras and synesthesia as well.
Question: Since color can stimulate an emotional response, could't an emotional response toward an individual stimulate a response in the visual system's color processing, producing the perception of color? And/or, couldn't an emotional response to a particular color and mood draw more attentions to that color? E.g. a slight olive tint in a flesh tone seem emphasized?

scottT said...

That's why guys like Hawthorne and that school say we don't paint things, we paint the color of the light on things. That has to be seen anew every day. IMO, that is the challenge and beauty of color.

Steve said...

It is mind-blowing how relativity rules, how context determines our perceptions. Obviously, that has implications beyond making strong paintings.

This must have been such an exacting and challenging image to paint. The print version of this was compelling, this gif makes the point even more forcefully. Thank you.

David Briggs said...

Hi James, you might be interested to see a presentation I gave at a conference last year on this class of illusions, how I think they work, and what they mean for painters. Hope you enjoy it!

James Gurney said...

David, thanks for that link. I've embedded your video into the post, because it adds so much clarity to the issues raised.

David Briggs said...

You're more than welcome James and thanks very much for adding my video. It's always great to get a mention on Gurney Journey!