Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Animals with the Midas Touch

A golden bat recently discovered in Bolivia has joined the ranks of nature’s richly gilded creatures.
The newly described Myotis midastactus is named after Midas, the king of Greek legend who turned everything he touched to gold.


A photo of a golden bat.
The newfound bat, Myotis midastactus. Photograph by Dr. Marco Tschapka


The discovery was made after comparing specimens from museum collections in a study led by Ricardo Moratelli, a wildlife biologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Thought to be confined to central Bolivia’s tropical savanna region, M. midastactus’s “peculiar and distinctive fur color” is a puzzle, Moratelli admitted.
“Apparently it is not related to camouflage, because two other species of Myotis that occur in the same area are consistently darker and use similar [daytime] roosts,” he said. 
Another, unrelated South American bat, Noctilio albiventris, does share the newfound bat’s coloration. Since both species eat colorful insects, their diet may influence their striking appearance, Moratelli added.
Here are more animals that dazzle us with their golden splendor:
Golden Lion Tamarin
Destruction of its coastal rain forest habitat in eastern Brazil has made the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) a familiar zoo refugee. Efforts to reintroduce the animal—listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—into the wild have been successful.


A photo of a golden lion tamarin
A golden lion tamarin, Leontopithecus rosalia rosalia. Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative

Named for a lustrous, lion-like mane that frames its dark, impish face, the golden lion tamarin may get its color from exposure to tropical sunlight and a liking for foods rich in carotenoid, a pigment responsible for yellow colors in nature.
Golden Poison Dart Frog
Another South American resident, the golden poison dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) gleams luridly as a warning to predators. The amphibian’s skin contains potent alkaloid toxins that target nerve cells, causing heart and respiratory failure.


A photo of a golden poison dart frog
A golden poison dart frog in Cauca, Colombia. Photograph by Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis

Fatal even to large animals, including humans, the frog’s toxin was famously used by indigenous hunters in Colombia to poison their blowpipe darts. 
Where the frog collects the ingredients for its lethal toxin is unknown, though scientists suspect that a diet based on prey beetles from the Melyridae family may be responsible.
Article posted by James Owen in Weird & Wild.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why A Portraitist Added A Fly

15th C. portrait of a woman holding a Forget-me-Not, hood adorned by a fly, unknown German artist

Flysight

by Steven Connor

 

The Painter and the Fly

 

Flies had featured regularly as decorative elements in the margins of medieval illuminated manuscripts and Books of Hours such as the Isabella Breviary. They began to appear in paintings from the fifteenth century onwards. Art historians who have tracked the appearances of the fly over the ensuing century and a half have divided decorously into two groups. For some time, the consensus seemed to be that flies were to be read as religious symbols, connoting sin, corruption and mortality (Kühnel 1989, Estella 2002). The well-known associations between the fly and the name of Beelzebub, ‘Lord of the Flies’, a local Philistine deity first mentioned in 2 Kings 1 and later promoted to the condition of Satan’s lieutenant, helped pin down the fly’s demonic credentials. A clear example of this is The Mystic Betrothal of St. Agnes (c. 1495/1500), by the Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece, in the German National Museum in Nuremberg. The Golden Legend tells us that St Agnes gave an unwanted suitor the brush-off by telling him that she was betrothed to Christ. In the background of the painting are two peacocks, symbols of virginity and resurrection, and a larger-than-life fly, symbol of the earthly lusts she has renounced......

 

....More recently, art historians have begun to wonder whether the fly is quite so easily to be swatted for symbolic purposes. For the fly seems also to be used, as Felix Thülemann has put it, as ‘a selfconscious representation of superior painterly prowess’ (Thülemann 1992, 543). The fact that representations of flies are often to be found in the vicinity of artistic signatures, especially those which have the trompe l’oeil form of the rolled or torn strip of manuscript, seems to heighten the association between the fly and the making, even the maker, rather than the meaning, of the work of art... 

....
There is an ur-story of the painter and the fly, first told by Filarete in his Trattato di Architettura, written between 1461 and 1464, but known much more widely from Vasari’s brief reference to it in Lives of the Painters (Vasari 1996, I.117). 

The young Giotto arrived in the studio of his master Cimabue, to find a portrait in progress on an easel.

 Giotto painted a fly, seemingly poised on the nose of the painting’s subject. When the Master returned to the studio, 

he attempted repeatedly to brush away the fly. Implicitly, this is the moment at which the genius of the young Giotto was noticed, and a new area of realism inaugurated. The story was quickly transferred to other artists. In his fictitious dialogue between Leonardo and Pheidias, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo has Leonardo tell how the young Andrea Mantegna fooled his Mantuan Master by painting a fly on the eyelash of a lion in his painting of St Jerome; envious of his talents, the Mantuan master sent his uppity apprentice away to work with Bellini (Lomazzo 1974, I.93-4). 

In these stories, the fly signals the art that conceals art of the painter, an ostentation arising in ordinariness, a perfecting defacement.....

 

When they stumble into art, flies are the ground promoted to the status of figure, a breaking through into visible significance of the blooming buzzing monotony of the insignificant, the accidental, the ignored; they are what Wallace Stevens calls ‘a repetition/In a repetitiousness of men and flies’ (Stevens 1984, 502). Where other lowly or loathly creatures have often been held to characterise the abject or the informe, flies have a more specific office. As embodiments of accident, of what just happens to happen, as synecdoches of the untransfigured quotidian, their principal signification is as the opposite of art. And yet, for that very reason, flies have whizzed and crept and tiptoed across art and writing for centuries, never quite achieving the status of a subject, of that which may be fixed in view, and yet irresistibly drawing the eye and soliciting the attentions of the forming hand.

 

Flies are, in two senses, a provocation to art – a nose thumbed at art’s grandiose self-esteem, and a challenge to the artist’s skill. The fly is always caught – as though on a windowpane - between the condition of emblem and phenomenon: at first sight a mere smudge, blot or blemish, which then becomes the emblem of its own obstructive phenomenality.  


 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Fish of a Different Color

During our residency in Tulsa, Oklahoma, many koi ponds decorated back yards from modest houses to the palatial Philbrook mansion. Collecting fish as a hobby has a long history. Color plays a role.



Modern goldfish, staples of aquariums and ornamental ponds across the world, are the descendants of small carp domesticated in ancient China thousands of years ago. The original fish were a silver color with the occasional mutation yielding a more colorful variation in red, orange, or yellow. The first such mutations were recorded during the Jin Dynasty over fifteen centuries ago.
It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty, around 618 – 907, however, that the keeping of carp in ornamental ponds became popular. It was also around this time that people began isolating the fish with unique gold coloration to further breed them in hopes of producing more distinct coloration.
Even with the initial interest in the Tang Dynasty, there weren’t many truly golden fish; it wasn’t until the Song Dynasty in the 12th century that the goldfish really came into its own. Starting in 1162, the empress of the Song Dynasty ordered the construction of an enormous pond specifically for the purpose of breeding red and gold variants. From there, the practice of breeding and keeping goldfish became enmeshed and by the 17th century goldfish had even spread to Europe.

Color stands out in the murky water of ponds, no wonder the vivid colors of fish became so popular.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Psychology of Color and Branding

Gregory Ciotti explains why we are drawn to certain items because of their color. Marketers spend lots of money to determine color preferences of potential customers, so we need to know this to avoid being taken in by those who have studied color choices. Well informed = well armed, or becoming a savvy shopper:



Misconceptions around the Psychology of Color

Why does color psychology invoke so much conversation ... but is backed with so little factual data?
As research shows, it's likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.
The conversation is only worsened by incredibly vapid visuals that sum up color psychology with awesome "facts" such as this one:
The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding
Don't fret, though. Now it's time to take a look at some research-backed insights on how color plays a role in persuasion.

The Importance of Colors in Branding

First, let's address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.
There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors:
The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding
Image credit: The Logo Company
... but the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.
But there are broader messaging patterns to be found in color perceptions. For instance, colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.
In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
And in regards to the role that color plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand (in other words, does the color "fit" what is being sold).
The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn't get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).
Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Color Brown

Brown can make a bold statement or be a low-key sidekick to brighter hues in decor or in clothing. Brown is a blend of Red, Yellow, and Blue, the primaries.
:That's why every color goes with brown" says Interior Designer Elaine Griffin. She is a huge fan of this hard working neutral.
"If you use dark brown paint, walls become the star and the other objects play second fiddle; with light brown walls, the reverse is true."
One of the psychological aspects of brown is that it makes people feel safe, comfortable, grounded and at ease---all good things for cocooning.

Another take on naming colors, discusses brown:


Why We Love "Mocha" but Hate "Brown"

Although different colors can be perceived in different ways, the names of those colors matters as well!
According to this study, when subjects were asked to evaluate products with different color names (such as makeup), "fancy" names were preferred far more often. For example, mocha was found to be significantly more likable than brown--despite the fact that the researchers showed subjects the same color!
Additional research finds that the same effect applies to a wide variety of products; consumers rated elaborately named paint colors as more pleasing to the eye than their simply named counterparts.
It has also been shown that more unusual and unique color names can increase the intent to purchase. For instance, jelly beans with names such as razzmatazz were more likely to be chosen than jelly beans names such as lemon yellow. This effect was also found in non-food items such as sweatshirts.
As strange as it may seem, choosing creative, descriptive and memorable names to describe certain colors (such as "sky blue" over "light blue") can be an important part of making sure the color of the product achieves its biggest impact.
version of this article first appeared at HelpScout.net.

Wilmington, Del.,-based Gregory Ciotti is the marketing strategist at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for small businesses. He also writes about behavioral psychology at his blog Sparring Mind.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Store Color Affects Your Shopping

How many of us notice the wall colors in the stores where we shop? I was guilty of ignoring it until I read the following article. I feel the more insight we have about retailers' use of color to influence our purchases, the better equipped we are to resist impulse purchases. It keeps money in our pocketbooks when we are aware!


Shoppers most often choose what they buy based on color. In fact, it can account for up to 85 percent of the reason people buy one product over another, according to the Color Marketing Group, a professional organization for color designers in Alexandria, Va.
Color's influence on consumer behavior isn't confined to just merchandise. The colors surrounding customers while they're shopping also can influence whether they make a purchase. "Colors in a store format can create different emotions and store retailers can use that," says Rich Kizer, a St. Charles, Ill.-based retail design consultant.
Here are five ways store colors can affect the shopping experience and help turn browsers into buyers:
Five Ways Store Colors Can Influence Shoppers
Quiltique in Henderson, Nev., is decorated in an antique garden theme, with found objects like chairs and window frames providing accent colors.
Photo by Quiltique
1. Tell a story with color. Rather than simply select colors you like, it can be more effective to start with a theme and choose colors that represent that concept. For example, you could capture the essence of the beach with colors reminiscent of sand, water and sunshine. That would transport customers to an environment they associate with relaxation and enjoyment and make them want to stick around your shop longer.
"There are hardwires we have about colors," says Jill Morton, a Honolulu-based color psychologist and brand identity expert. "Blue is associated with water, green with grass, red is fire."
When Jennifer Albaugh chose a color scheme for Quiltique, her Henderson, Nev., sewing and quilting supply shop, she first decided on the theme of antique gardens. This prompted her to find colors that suggested garden spaces, rather than pick random paint swatches at the hardware store. She painted her walls celery green and used a brick red accent to call to mind foliage and garden pots.
Five Ways Store Colors Can Influence Shoppers
Accessories from the Heart in Oswego, Ore., uses a burnt orange color for the walls and floor to create a warm, welcoming environment.
Photo by Sarah Fenwick
2. Comfort and calm customers.Warm colors like oranges and browns are inviting and reassuring to shoppers, while cooling colors like green and blue can have a calming effect, says Georganne Bender, a partner and retail consultant with Rich Kizer.
"Orange makes you happy," she says. And happy customers are more likely to linger longer in your store. When Carol Winston moved her Lake Oswego, Ore., women's shop, Accessories From The Heart, to a new location, she decided to change the white walls to burnt orange. At night, under the store's halogen lighting, the interior gives off a warm calming glow.
"When it gets dark, the store looks like a jewelry box," Winston says. "It's really inviting." 
3. Alert your shoppers to certain products. Bright colors like yellow and red grab customers' attention, stopping them in their tracks before they breeze by a product display. That's because yellow is the color first perceived by the retina, according to Linda Cahan, a West Linn, Ore., retail design consultant. Red, of course, has long been associated with stopping, whether it's on a traffic signal, emergency vehicle or store design.
"People buy more when there is red," Cahan says.
But use these bold colors sparingly. Too much red will agitate shoppers, Bender warns. She recommends making bright accent colors no more than 20 percent of your store's overall color scheme.
Five Ways Store Colors Can Influence Shoppers
Wet Nose's periwinkle logo color is brought out in the store design, from the color of the ceiling to decorative ribbons around products.
Photo by Wet Nose
4. Build brand recognition. Colors can increase brand recognition by 80 percent, according to a 2007 study by psychology and management researchers at the University of Loyola, Maryland. Finding a way to work your logo colors into your retail design will help customers associate those colors with your company. But think beyond just the paint on your walls.
At Wet Nose, a pet shop with two locations in the Chicago area, owner Sheila Spitza draws inspiration from the shop's periwinkle logo. The ceiling is painted a rich purple, while merchandise tags, business cards and tissue paper match the lighter purple of the logo. A customer once told Spitza she spotted a little girl at a party wearing the shop's decorative periwinkle ribbons around her pigtails.
"I wanted to use a color that was unique and could be identified with Wet Nose," Spitza says.
5. Highlight rather than overpower your product. Be careful not to drown out what you're selling by immersing it in too much color. "In retail, you want the merchandise to pop and not the surroundings," Bender says.
If you are selling lingerie, for example, bold colors could work against the delicate quality of the product. Similarly, if you are selling electronics, too many bright, flashy colors can detract from your product's clean sleek look. Because Quiltique sells particularly busy and bright patterns, Albaugh limited the store's main color scheme to celery green and brick red to avoid overpowering the quilts on her walls. She worked other colors in more subtly by using found objects like a distressed turquoise bookcase and yellow antique gate as display pieces—all in keeping with her antique garden theme.
"You don't want to have explosive color [that] is irritating to the customer," she says. "We incorporate bright cheerful colors…It brings so much life to the store."



Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. You can find more of her work at Janeroseporter.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Scale Affects Our Emotions

An ingenious photographer had a brainstorm about enlarging the art on beer bottle caps, rust and all. There is something about large, familiar items that draws us in emotionally and many artists have capitalized on this phenomenon. Andy Warhol was one of the first to catch on to this trick.

Imagine these prints hanging above your bar. Many have excellent icon art, they are easy to recognize, and certainly deserve more than a quick glance.

I have known several collage artists who collect bottle caps and use them in their mixed-media art works. My kudos to the clever photographer who thought to blow up the miniature works of art. Now, I will study tiny throw aways to appreciate their artistic merit.


Rusty Crowns As Art


anchor-rusty-cap
I meant to write about these before, but they got away from me. British photographer — and current Bay Area resident — Charly Franklin is making some amazing art … with rusty beer caps. And not just rusty, but “rusted, bent, discolored and generally distressed.” He’s taking very detailed photos of these crowns and blowing them up large, over three feet in some cases, which gives them almost an otherworldly appearance. Or in Charly’s own words, an “extraordinary quality and graphic dynamic that looks amazing.” And I have to agree. The patina of the rust, along with the colors and texture of the bottle caps looks really cool. Check out some samples.
Here’s a black crown from Lagunitas:
rusty-crown-lagunitas-black
And one from Anchor:
rusty-crown-anchor
Check out the catalog of over 200 different available crowns from breweries around the world, but with quite a few from California and many craft breweries.
Here’s one from Trumer:
rusty-crown-trumer
And other of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum:
rusty-crown-hoptimum
Prints are available on framed canvases, in five sizes, including 18×18, 24×24, 30×30, 36×36 and 40×40 inches. Shipping is free within the U.S.
rusty-crown-framed
Finally, here are two more, starting with Bear Republic:
rusty-crown-bear-republic
And here’s Drake’s:
rusty-crown-drakes