I’ve been re-reading Diane Ackerman’s book A Natural History of the Senses, and this morning in the bathroom I got to the part where she discusses color, and mentions that many of the artists we think of as great, Degas, Monet, Chegall, Van Gogh, may have painted in their disctinctive fashions because they had various issues with their vision. I nodded as I read this because to me it makes perfect sense. After all, I explained to my doctor, post-LASIK, that seeing halos and starburts around streetlights doesn’t bother me, because I’ve ALWAYS seen such things, either because my myopic eyes blurred things, or because light was refracting off the edges of glasses or contacts.
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Ackerman mentioned that when you’re nearsighted red is usually the best-defined color. It’s always been a favorite of mine, but after some analysis I can confirm that the red I remember is more vivid than the red I see now, as if sharpening definition in all things has muted the vibrancy of the fiery colors.
She also says that not everyone perceives color the same way, which I’ve always known, but never really had the urge to poll people about. I know that to my grandmother everything from pastel orchid to vibrant plum was “lavender” and that my husband is color blind, but there’s a part of me that wishes to be able to see through their eyes, just for a moment, so that the next time I tell Fuzzy “get my green shirt,” instead of becoming fussy when he brings one that is definitely teal, I’ll be able to describe the color in a way he can understand.
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Reading about color and light and the process of vision always makes me think of Sunday in the Park with George.
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After several days of sun-drenched “California Weather” the Metroplex has been experiencing cool damp greystuff. Yesterday the cloud cover was thick and silver-grey, and while I wasn’t aware of any actual rain, the mist seemed active and alive at times. I wore red to counteract the lack of sun.
Today thick grey clouds cover much of the sky, but brief holes of blue are appearing now and then, though they are very quickly swallowed up by more flowing greystuff. I am wearing soft lavender, and feeling very much like I want to blend with the clouds and not stand out from them. It’s a serene sort of feeling, borne aloft by the balmy breeze. Perfect for a Sunday.