Paint, Color, and the Brain:
September 13 - October 9, 2015
Opening Reception: Sunday, Sept. 13, 2 - 4 p.m.
Ron Michaud exhibits paintings and prints related to his long-standing interest in the study of color, vision and perception. His oil paintings and pigment prints demonstrate how limited but selective hues can be applied, grouped and repeated throughout an image in order to produce a convincing representation of the familiar three-dimensional world. The result is imagery that raises questions about how we see and how we process visual information
For years I have been fascinated with the role that color often plays in the making of images. Even its expressed absence in some work often directly evokes its presence. In recent years, I have been interested in how human vision perceives a world of color. The physics of light is only a partial explanation. The range of human color perception involves a sophisticated interpretation between the eye and the brain; the former capturing and coding light information and the latter decoding the information to produce a reasonable visual conclusion of the world around us. What I find remarkable is that the light recording capacity of the eye, while it may be tremendously sophisticated is, in some ways, rather simple and limited to specific receptors for light and dark value and three major colors; red, green and blue. The brain, on the other hand, receives the information from the eye and interprets a range of subtlety and nuance that is often nothing short of astounding, particularly when it interprets colors that do not actually exist to the eye. This has led me to wonder about how much light/color information is actually necessary for the brain to conclude a reasonable representation of the visible world. The paintings and prints that I’ve been making stand as an example that far fewer colors are required to make a convincing representation than one might at first believe. Many of the works are limited to 12 to 16 individual hues, while others may have 24 or 32. Despite this seeming limitation, the eye/brain collaboration records more color variations than might be at first apparent and yet, the conclusion is a convincing representation of the familiar three-dimensional world. In some ways, the brain goes along for the ride and fills in any gaps. In short, the brain does this by re-interpreting individual hues as they are clustered alongside different neighbors throughout an image.
There are two major color principles at work in these paintings and prints; the first is that of color spreading or spatial color mixture and the second is that of simultaneous contrast. Essentially, these two principles hold that the placement and grouping of the same colors in different surroundings throughout a painting or image can produce different visual conclusions for the colors themselves as well as their neighboring hues. In a painting or print that utilizes a strictly limited palette of unmixed hues, these two principles can be very useful if not absolutely essential characteristics.