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An Art Experiment

by Miles Mathis


After several weeks of politics, it is time to return to art and science.Here is an art experiment you can do with me.

††††† I have noticed a slight compartmentalization in my brain, concerning the way my eyes see color.I have not read of this particular specialization in any of my readings of brain function, so I thought I would let my readers supply me with the data to extend this finding beyond my own eyes.

†††††† In order to do this experiment, you need to be outside on a sunny day, in direct sunlight.You need some brightly colored objects, with colors that are as near to the primaries as possible.The paint-mixing primaries, not the photoshop primaries.††† Meaning, red, blue, yellow.†† Green also works well, so actually we can include the photoshop primaries, if we mean RBG and not CMYK.††† I discovered this phenomenon while lying on a brightly colored beach towel.†† For me it works best with blue and yellow.

††††††† Here is what I discovered.My left eye sees a richer blue and my right eye sees a richer yellow.†† There would appear to be more or better receptors for yellow in one eye, and for blue in the other.†† This makes the same red look more orange in my right eye and more purple in my left eye.†† And it makes the same green look yellower in my right eye and bluer in my left eye.

††††††† The difference is very slight, and I believe it would take an artist to notice it.†† I didnít notice it until I was older, which could mean one of two things.Either I wasnít as observant when I was younger, or the specialization hadnít yet become extreme enough to notice.

††††††† I am left-handed and left-eye dominant.†† For this reason, I might expect that right-handers would see blue better with the right eye.†† But we will have to see.†† These expectations donít always bear themselves out.


I have another interesting theory.Since the wiring is crossed in the brain, my right brain is receiving the information from my left hand and left visual hemisphere.This would mean that the visual information in my right brain is saturated bluer; and my left-brain, yellower.†† Now, the right brain specializes in many of the functions of art and creativity.††† Hence the famous book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.†† This is true both for left-handers and right-handers.†† It is thought that left-handers may have a more direct link to the right brain, but their brain maps are not reversed.†† The brain of a left-hander is, in most major ways, set up like a right-hander.†† Its chirality is the same.Other organization may vary, such as left/right links, or degree of asymmetry, but the major division is equivalent.

†††††††† This means that, in some sense, my entire creative process is saturated blue.This could explain why I always correct my photographs toward the blue, why I use little yellow on my palette, why my entire artistic oeuvre is more blue than yellow, and even why I like Picassoís Blue Period.††

†††††††† If we find that my experience is like that of other left-handers, it could mean that color preference is tied to handedness.Perhaps all lefties skew their paintings toward blue and all righties toward yellow.†† Leonardo, a lefty, certainly tends to confirm my hypothesis.†† As does Picasso.Munch was left-handed.And Titian was right-handed.†† We would expect Jamie Wyeth to be right-handed, as he is, and I believe I remember that Dan Gerhartz is right-handed.†† Was Reynolds a righty and Gainsborough a lefty?†† I donít know, but it is an interesting question.†††

†††††††† This would also have market consequences.If righties prefer warmer paintings, and righties make up 85 to 90% of the population, then this would tend to make it difficult for lefties.†† Only the fact that lefties tend to be more interested in art to start with begins to even it out a bit.††† Men are also more likely to be lefties, by at least 2 percentage points, but I am not sure that helps us.†† I would have to show that men shop for art more often than women and I cannot do that.

††††††††† It is not just color that differentiates art by left-handers and right-handers.Lefties may, in many ways, look at the face as a reversed image, compared to righties.We all know that this would make a huge difference, if it were true.†† A face reversed is not the same face.It doesnít have the same expression or the same emotional content.This has been proven beyond a doubt by manipulated photographs and false composites.††† You can see it clearly just by taking scans of your paintings into photoshop and reversing them.†† The whole tone of the painting may change, especially if it contains a face.

††††††† Could it be that a righty sees one of my paintings like that?†† That he or she feels what I feel when I see the reversed image, rather than what I feel when I look at the correct image?†† I donít know.It is possible, and it might explain a lot.

†††††††† Maybe I will post all my scans in reverse, with a yellow cast, and see if my sales go up.

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