Neuroaesthetics and the Curve - Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Neuroaesthetics and the Curve

Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889, Vincent van Gogh
Wheat Field with Cypresses          1889           Vincent van Gogh

   Dr. Ed Connor, Director of the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins, studies how the high-level perception areas of the brain process visual images into information about the world.

   He writes:  “Understanding what you see seems trivial—you only have to look at it! We are so good at vision that we tend not to recognize it as an ability or a process of any kind.  But in fact it is one of the most difficult things the brain does. Computer vision, even with deep networks, has not even begun to approach the kind of visual understanding that comes so easily to us. Computers can beat us at math, chess, go, and jeopardy, but they cannot understand the visual world the way we do.”

   One of the results of his research has been in finding evidence supporting our own intuitive visual preferences for rounded or curved shapes over sharper, squarer shapes. His work shows how individual brain neurons associated with visual perception respond more to broad curvatures than to sharp and pointed images. It is a biological imperative originating in our brain neurons and sensorimotor system.  

   Does it come from millions of years of evolution—from our primitive brain’s necessity to be aware of the shapes of animals that might harm us or that might save us from starvation? There is no definitive answer to the question, but the study of neuroaesthetics is leading to changes in design and architecture, with more nature-inspired curves and shapes and even a greater understanding of our urgent need to reboot ourselves by spending time in Nature.

   Perhaps this is one of the landscape/nature artist’s greatest contributions to those who suffer from “nature-deficit disorder.”

   For more information on this fascinating subject, be sure to read, Your Brain on Art by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross.

Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
Become an Artist's Road Member Today!

The Artist's Road LogoClick here to become a Member and enjoy access to all the in-depth painting and travel articles, videos and tutorials. Guaranteed!

Search the Site

Not ready to become a Member yet? Subscribe to our free email postcards, "Perspectives". Enter your email address here.

The Artist's Road Store
A Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes

Nocturnes - A Primer on Night Painting

Filled with inspirational examples by the masters of nightime painting, this little book is sure to fire up your creative energies. Never tried painting at night? We show you how it's done with a step-by-step-oil demo and a tale of night painting in the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Primer on Night Painting - Nocturnes is a 7 x 7" PDF download with 40 pages of text and images. It includes a gallery of paintings by masters of the nocturne, information to inspire and encourage you in your plein air nocturne painting, an illustrated step-by-step demo and tips for working in pastel and oil. Also available in a softcover edition. Check out the tools and other products that we use in our own art and travels in The Artist's Road Store. We only offer things for sale that we enthusiastically believe in.







About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
About Ann
     About John
 Hulsey Trusty Studios