Perceiving Subtle Qualities


(Paraphrased from Art: Images and Ideas by Laura H. Chapman)

When you use your eyes to see as artists do, you look for qualities of line, color, shape, texture and other visual elements.  You will notice small differences in these elements.

Scientists say that the normal human eye can see thousands of color.  Experiments have shown that your perception of one color comes from comparing it with others around it.  Your mind makes these comparisons.

Unless your mind is ready to look for subtle (small, fine) differences in colors, you donít notice them.  All you see is a kind of ďaverageĒ color, which you might interpret as red or blue, when youíre really seeing a reddish orange or bluish green.

This connection between your mind and eye is important in art.  How you see your world is dependent on how alert you are.  It also depends on what your goal, task or purpose is.

Like other skills, your perceptual skills for art can be improved through practice.  They can also be used in so many ways that each personís insight into art is unique.  Even if you donít plan on pursuing art, the perceptual skills you develop can make your life richer.


Check for understanding:

How good is your perception?  Look around the room.  Choose one color and try to find as many different shades of the same hue.  How would you describe them and how many can you find?