Friday, January 23, 2015

the after image phenomenon

TMS Newsletter Excerpt, Friday January 23rd, 2015

I hope everyone is having a great mid-January. Might be a good time to mention spring J - if you are in the Ottawa area, I have just posted info about my spring classes on my website. Registration is now open. I will give some details after I answer this week’s question. I can’t wait to meet you!

This week I have a really interesting question to answer. Loni from Seattle writes:

“Hi Teresa. I hope this isn’t a dumb question. I took an art class several years ago. It was mainly a drawing class but we did get into some color theory at the end of the course. I was looking through my notes from that class and I came across something the teacher called the “phenomenon of after image”. I can’t make sense of my notes and I am wondering what this phenomenon is and how do I use it in my art or maybe I should I avoid it (not sure if after image is a bad thing). Thanks for any information you have time to share.”

This is a very cool question Loni (certainly not a dumb one J). I haven’t heard of after image in years.

Readers, if I asked you to define ‘after image’, what would your answer be?

If you need a refresher or if you haven’t actually ever heard of ‘after image’ then listen up cause here is the dish...

The phenomenon of ‘after image’ is said to be a demonstration of our brain’s ‘need’ for the complement of a particular colour. This comes from studies of the brain (for example what the left part of the brain controls and the right part of the brain etc.)

I won’t get into science speak about this but here is an example that will let you experience the phenomenon first hand (read the instructions through first).

How to Experience an After Image

·        Take a piece of paper and draw a circle of about an inch or so in diameter. Colour/paint the circle a rich, intense red colour. Next make a tiny back dot in the center of the red circle.

·        Take a second piece of paper. Place a similar black dot in the center of the page.

·        Hold the two sheets side by side. Gaze at the red coloured circle for about a minute.

·        Next, quickly shift your gaze to the dot on the second blank sheet. (This is why you need to read the instructions through first. Stopping to read this after gazing at the circle will ruin the effect.)

·        As you gaze at the black dot on the second blank sheet of paper, you will “see” the complement to red (which is green) emerge on the blank paper - the same shape, the same size as the original red circle.

Try this with any colour. Your brain will produce the exact complement of any hue. This is termed the negative after image.

Apparently if you experiment with two colours, both complementary colours will appear. (I haven’t tried this)

As an odd twist, for some people, the original colour will appear as an after image, but in the negative spaces of the original shapes, which are the uncoloured areas. This is called a positive after image.

So our brains are tricky things, making us see things that aren’t on the page!
 Wonder what else in our lives gets skewed? J

This is a great little project to get up to with kids or grandkids. They love magic and illusion.

Why would our brains, need the complement? I have no idea. I am sure there is some sort of theory on the internet if you are curious enough to look.

Loni also asked how this applied to her art.

I honestly don’t think it does!

Understanding complementary colours and how you can use this knowledge in colour mixing or in creating interesting darker values (say in shadows) is fun to learn and is of value but I don’t concern myself with the after image phenomenon.

If any of you do create art being mindful of this after image phenomenon please write and tell us why. Then tell us how you compensate for this effect.

Personally, I think it is neat to know about how our brains process colour images but I don’t use this particular bit of info in my everyday art making.

Art Newbies:

Maybe you are new to all of this art stuff and you don’t have a clue what a complementary colour is. I am guessing you have heard of something called a colour wheel or a colour circle. Colours are arranged around a wheel based on their relationships with other colours. If you become familiar with how colours are arranged around a colour wheel, then a complementary colour will be easy to determine. It is the colour that is directly opposite any given colour.

Referring back to our example above, the colour across from red on the colour wheel is green. Therefore the complementary colour of red is green. Easy peesy. If you would like to learn more, have a look at the art how-to books in your local library or look up info on the colour wheel on-line.

I hasten to add that you don’t need to know this to get started drawing or colouring!  If you are a newbie, stay within your comfort zone and don’t overload yourself with stuff you think you should know. Keep it fun and simple. There will be a time for all of this stuff when you are ready.

Thanks for the interesting question Loni!

Spring 2015 In-Studio Classes, Coloured Pencil Basics and Beyond the Basics

Coloured Pencil Basics:          May16th and 23rd, 2015

Is 2015 your year? Is it time to seek out vast possibilities and to discover magic? Have you always wanted to really dive in and explore the world of coloured pencils?

Maybe you are thinking it would take a miracle for you to be the artist you dream of being. If so, then you are in the right place because here at TMS, delicious alchemy happens. You bring your doubts, your fears and your insecurities and I wave my magic wand and poof, at the end of our time together, you are transformed into a confident, pencil savvy diva. I have seen it happen over and over and over again. Let me assure you, you are not the exception! J (okay the bit about the magic wand is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea)

If you are ready to ditch your fears and sharpen some pencils, I am offering Coloured Pencil Basics, a course consisting of two full days on Saturday May 16th and 23rd, 2015. 

This course is jam packed with fun projects and tons of how-tos plus an incredible Bonus Package. You will go from a total newbie to someone that can create this:

Plum Project, step by step, CP Basics, copyright Teresa Mallen

You will also create your own version of this leaf. The veins are super simple to do but you have to experience it to believe me... (line drawings are included, plus full instructions and you also get a drawing of the veins to ‘impress’)

Impressed line technique, leaf project, CP Basics, copyright Teresa Mallen

We work on lots of other stuff too!

Have I mentioned that we have lots of fun? 

To read all of the details, please visit the classes page of my website, (click here to get there). Scroll down past the glowing testimonials until you see Coloured Pencils Basics.

 I have spent quite a bit of time describing the course and the Bonus Package so please do yourself a favour and make sure you take in all of the super helpful info.

You can register via your credit card right from that page.

Need more help deciding?

If have read the course description and something inside of you is excitedly saying ‘yes’ and you really want to hit the cart button but you also have a few butterflies in your stomach, I get it. This is just a message from that tiny part of you that still wonders if you can really do this.

 Why not drop me a line? Click here for my email address.

We can set up a time for a quick get acquainted call. Together we can determine if this course is the right fit for you. And you can get to know me. Studying with someone you haven’t met can be intimidating but I can assure you, once we have chatted you will know that I am not the least bit scary. J There will be no pressure. Whether or not you register is entirely up to you. I simply want to give you any info that will help you make the decision that you feel is best.


Beyond the Basics         April 25th, May 2nd 2015

As the title suggests, this content packed two day course is all about launching into more artsy info that takes you beyond the basics of working in coloured pencil.

This course is perfect for someone who has already taken my CP Basics course or someone that is self taught and has been practicing on their own or someone who has studied with someone else and who wishes to explore the world of coloured pencil further.

We will cover a lot in this course but it won’t be overwhelming. I firmly believe that learning should be fun and we will take it all at a manageable pace. We will spend quite a bit of our time on learning how to see and create colour with greater mastery, we will explore the rich world of working with complementary colours, we will practice the different ways to create darker values and there will be fun bits of info on colour harmony and composition.

I won’t write out all of the course details because I have carefully described it all on my classes page. You need to scroll down the page to the Beyond the Basics section. You can register right from that page.

Please read the Need More Help Deciding? section just up above. The same applies for this course. If you would like to have a quick chat about this course, please email to set up a time for the call. I would love to hear from you.

On-Line Course Bonus

By now you know that I will be offering my first on-line course later this year. Perhaps you are trying to decide between coming to in-studio classes or waiting and taking something on-line.

The easy answer is that you should do both. BUT you won’t have to shell out tons of money for both.

As a thank you to everyone that has studied with me over the past decade, I shall be offering my on-line course to former students at a super duper special price.

The on-line course will run over many weeks and as a result it will contain a lot more content. Please don’t feel that you will miss out by taking the in-studio session.

 You will have the best of both worlds – you will be able to get started working with your pencils this spring AND you can sign up at a crazy bonus price to get all of the extra projects, on-line. I really do value and appreciate all the support I have received over the years and I want to thank you.

So just to be clear, you won’t have to pay the full price twice. It is not better to wait. It is a much better deal money wise, to take the in-studio session and then add on the on-line course when it becomes available.

Finally, if you know of someone that might be interested in these courses, please do them a favour and let them know.

 Spaces are very limited and seats are filled on a first come first served basis.

I don’t plan on offering these classes again in 2015 so if you are keen, please don’t miss out.

Have a great week everyone!

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