Concetta Antico has a super power that most of us can only dream of – and even then it would pale in comparison to the saturated luminescence that is her everyday world. The prolific painter, who will soon call Myocum home after 20 years abroad, has a genetic condition that allows her to distinguish up to 100 million more shades of colour than the average human being. (The human eye, with its standard three colour channels, can see around one million.)
While it has long been known that Tetrachromacy exists on the animal kingdom – namely certain species of birds, fish, reptiles, insects and amphibians – scientists have only recently become aware of its presence in human species. Though an estimated 12 percent of women may carry the mutated genes for this super vision (courtesy of two X chromosomes), significantly less may actually be considered “functioning Tetrachromats” like Concetta.
“It is believed only 2-3% of the world’s population has this gift and, of those, far fewer are professional artists,” said Concetta, who grew up in Sydney. “As I am able to see the myriad of colours in everything, the subtle nuances that I can define with my super vision gift allows me to show these colours to others through my work. My paintings are a lesson in the colours that are truly there in our world.”
Researchers have determined that this rare genotype, coupled with a life-long career as an oil painter and teacher, has created the “perfect storm” in Concetta by allowing her to reach the maximum potential for Tetrachromacy. It also enables her to produce images onto canvas in a fraction of the time it would take a similarly seasoned artist. Her painting process is typically executed in the alla prima, or direct, method to allow for greater speed of application. “I paint what moves me and always in just one sitting; I birth my canvases, so to speak,” she said. “I have over 700 works that feature birds, animals, flowers, sea and landscapes. My Eucalyptus trees are a collector favourite.”
Along with Concetta’s multi-dimensional perception of colour is the extensive vocabulary she uses to describe the myriad of colours that capture her attention. “When it comes down to color theory, I have to create colours I need, which can prove challenging,” she said. “Typically, I am able to mix to find the right colour, hue, or value, to make it look just right. Colour is very specific to me so I have very specific words to differentiate every one. It can definitely get overwhelming. When you are so focused on colour all of the time, and it dictates everything in your world – it dictates what I’m buying, it dictates what I’m seeing – so sometimes it’s like having obsessive compulsive colour disorder.”
While most of us don’t see the same kaleidoscope of colour in the world around us, Concetta has taught thousands of art students how to further their colour appreciation and potential. “The more you exercise that part of the brain, the stronger it gets,” she explained. “People may not be able to see up to 100 million colours like I can, they can learn to increase their colour range by better understanding – and looking for – the colours that exist in nature.When I share my super vision with my students, an entirely new visual world is revealed to them. They tell me after just a short time at the easel, that they have never really seen the true colours of nature. The beauty of more colour improves their lives as a result.”
Using the “forgiving oil painting medium”, students can choose from thematic topics or select their own masterpieces to interpret in an independent study. “I also offer outdoor painting sessions during the night or day,” said Concetta. “Programs are interesting and technical, yet they encourage the student to further their creative potential. My unique value palette system has been tried and tested for over 25 years by 20,000 budding artists.”
This time next year, North Coast art lovers will also be able to stay year-round in organic vintage inspired cabins to enjoy a complete artist’s retreat while enjoying views down the stunning Myocum valley. Five-week instructional schedules are also available online. Book here.