Simultaneous Contrast

I was painting these sections, in my portrait of Fang, the other day.


I started to really pay attention to how my perception of the browns changed from palette to canvas. Even though I had just mixed the brown, I was really noticing how when placed next to each other, the tones were pronounced. On the plate isolated it was not evident, but in comparison I was able to easily perceive the presence of more orange, green, yellow..etc. I wondered if it was just a mental thing, like a need to classify a color on viewing, or if it was an actual eye thing. I did a couple Google searches and came up with an answer.

Simultaneous Contrast is the term for the experience.
It’s actually an eye thing. Simplified: different wavelengths of light, when next to each other, cause the cones in your eye to become fatigued. This sways your perception of the color. It gets a little confusing when you start reading about light color vs. the color you see, because light color combines totally differently. Interesting?


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Filed under Art, Painting

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