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An acid trip of colors without drugs

Sometimes you don't need any "outside help" to see a rainbow of colors on the human face.

I began my first conversation with my instructor at Studio Escalier by saying that I wasn't yet able to see on the model all the colors that I know are there from viewing portraits by the great masters. When she described shades of blue and green and purple on the face, I knew they were there but I couldn't see  them. 

(The following poster studies are in chronological order) 

(Instructor helped me with the above)

(My instructor said I'd accomplished a Vermeer-like background on this one!🤗) 

After a few more excruciating days of painting poster studies, I was beginning to see the colors on the model's face, at last! But putting them there in paint became the challenge. My poster studies were shades of brown still. The disconnect between what I saw and what I was able to put on the canvas was still wide. 

The next poster study showed some improvement. Although still relegated to shades of brown there were some subtle nuances and even forays into cooler shades. I could feel my eyes becoming more sensitive and my brain more capable of making the connection and my hands went more quickly to mix the better colors on the palette. 

One and a half weeks in to the session, I have had a perception breakthrough. Last night my friend and I were walking in the Latin Quarter near the Pantheon, toward the setting sun. As she was talking I looked at her and her face suddenly appeared divided into shocking pink and yellow and the shadow on her hair became a complementary shade of pale green. 

I felt astonished, shocked even, that my color perception could advance not in increments as I expected but in exploding bolts of color like a stained glass window. It was as though my brain had created its own special concoction to help me perceive what is already there. 

When you can learn to see the world like this, who needs "outside help?"

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