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The Master Painter with Kaleidoscope Eyes, an Interview with The Color Queen, Concetta Antico

We’re excited to be speaking today with acclaimed Master Painter Concetta Antico, also known far and wide by her nom de plume “The Color Queen”; greetings and salutations, Concetta! Before we dive down the proverbial Q&A kaleidoscope, how was your summer of ‘23?

Thank you so much, and what a lovely way to start! This has been one wild summer ride for me that started in Australia and ended in Southern California & other states for a month, so I lived in two extreme climates!  I moved from my farm in Byron Bay and back to my native Sydney during the first half of the year and back to my roots in the US, where I spent most of my life. I am opening a new gallery called EMPYREAN on Queen Street in Sydney, (Perfect for me and my pseudonym!), and now a new working studio too. To say I am running at a pace would be an understatement!  But I love it, I’m all in on life and my art and saving the planet!

We referred to you as “The Color Queen” in our introduction above because of the salient fact that you happen to be the world’s most famous tetrachromat! For anyone late to the party, can you explain what that means precisely?

Yes, the world media have dubbed me this, and it describes me well.  I am the world’s highest functioning Tetrachromat, scientifically endorsed by UC Irvine CA with over 12 years of testing so far. The exciting part of seeing 100 million more Colors than those with regular vision is that I can paint them too!  This way others without my gift can see the true colors of the world through my artwork. Physically, those with regular vision have three Color cones/rods in their eyes and I have four!  It’s a mighty colorful crown I wear… On top of this, I also have a luminance factor 7x higher than regular vision, so I see more light, even in the dark. My mutation presented in such a way that the fourth cone is in what the scientists call “the sweet spot”.  Still, the reason that I am the world’s most famous example of this gift is that my ability grew to its highest potential throughout my long art career.  I began painting with oils at age 5 and have taught over 25K others for over 3 decades, painting well over 1000 works.  This all made me “the perfect storm’ for supervision. It’s kind of like – if you were born with superior genes for running, but you never trained for the Olympics, you would never know you had a gift, right?  I was fortunate that I was on the life path for total expression from day one. I feel it was a divine calling.

Do you feel that by having that one extra color receptor in your eyes gives you an advantage as an artist that you may not otherwise have?

In terms of what I can see, absolutely, as it makes my art take on another dimension and relevance. Some say my artwork appears holographic, vibrating with color, “Avatarish”, otherworldly. It also makes it unique and collectible, as it is a rare gift to have. Also, it has enabled me to paint the way I do, all in one sitting with no correction.

My eyesight has morphed into a type of color computer. Thus, I am able to find and mix colors on my palette in moments. I am so lucky to see the true colors and beauty of our planet, nature, and the universe too, and be able to show that with paint on canvas. Not to negate the over 100K hours I have mastered my craft as an artist, as this is a very important part of how I am able to express and immortalize the fleeting beauty all around us and preserve its impression. My work is highly coveted as a result of all of these factors.

When did you become passionate about becoming an artist?

I believe not long after I opened my eyes and saw all that was around me! I was compelled…  Even as a toddler at preschool, I would paint with a bucket of water onto a fence, for hours, this was my playtime as I was “painting rainbows” that only I could see. By elementary school, I was reproducing the works of the great Impressionist masters. I channeled art throughout my senior education, everything was laced with artistic creativity for me.

Of course, as an adult, I longed to fulfill my mother’s prophecy after she passed away when I was 12 years old.  I believed in her and her wisdom, she knew me completely.  When I was just about 8 years old, she told me quite definitely that I would be a famous artist and art teacher one day.  I never forgot her words. The journey was set for me even then, and I never changed course.

Art has been my life, art has saved my life, art is life to me.

You grew up in the beautiful country of Australia. How did that vibrant land inform you as both an artist and as a person?

Australia is a land apart on this earth. Its colors in its unique flora and fauna are world-renowned. I was immersed in it all from a very young age – inspiration was everywhere.  I grew up with my home on the rough edge of the Royal Australian Golf Course and it was my vast playground from dawn til dusk. It fostered independence and creativity in all things, it gave me a wanderlust that led me to explore further and leave to live in America.

Australians are very free-spirited and high-energy, and I am no exception. The bushland here was my cradle, and the trees my canopy, I was a wood nymph one day, and a mermaid on the sands of its sparkling beaches the next. I pay homage to it in many ways through much of the subject matter in my artwork.

Impressionists have been a big influence on you and your art. What is it precisely about the likes of Monet, Pissarro and Cassatt which add fuel to your own creative fire?

The first thing that inspired me was that they broke the rules to pursue their own personal self-expression! They wanted to release their authentic creativity and what they saw as truth and beauty in a new way, (far from the rigidity of the traditional and the dark colors purported by academia at the time). They loved color and light and the world around them gave them abundant amounts of both.  They brought a new fascination for nature and scenes of nature to the center stage of 19th century art and The Salon judges at the time.  They showed real people, enjoying real pastimes, in real places. Their work speaks to me of the true colors I see too, and the excitement of being alive on this gorgeous planet.

My “mentor” is the French Impressionist Berthe Morisot, both for her perseverance against all odds to be a professional woman artist in a male-dominated art world and for her brilliance and practice as an artist.Further, “Impressionism” created a new movement in art history.  I feel the combination of my art and new science is doing the same thing as “Tetrachromatism” when science will uncover more artists who are seeing and using color, both in the past and in the future, as I do.

Where do you find your inspiration? Is it in the simple and the everyday of life, or is it something more abstract and intangible?

I am not a huge fan of the style of abstraction, though I can appreciate the skill.  For it is the truth and beauty of what I see around me that compels my imagery. Beauty stops me in my tracks, so much so that I must paint her. It can be a simple vignette in my home of a flower that becomes a still life, or the way a bird looks at me from a garden bed which will become a portrait, or the magical night sky as a nocturne. What I paint is not artistic license, or imaginative, and it must move me in some way to make it to my easel J. Thus, I find anything with nature in it the best subjects.

Your art has been featured in The Cut, Vogue, and BBC among many other high-profile venues. Has this type of exposure enabled you to reach a wider audience for your art than you might have if you had gone the road less traveled?

It goes without saying that mass media has the power to put you on the map. I was new and fascinating and they loved my work too.  It made for great stories, like in India where they called me “the luckiest person on earth”, and in many ways it is true.  Though I did travel that other harder road for many years with determination to succeed, and with complete faith in myself, as Tetrachromacy and world press were not until after 2012.  Still, my super-vision and associated scientific studies have been a sought-after topic that has spotlighted my work and my life’s journey and still holds world fascination for what I can see that others cannot.  It is an ongoing and exciting discovery, and I am so very grateful to be a part of it. Tetrachromacy has been the cherry on my fine art career cupcake!

Looking ahead, can you give our ever-inquisitive readers a hint or three as to what you have coming up art-wise?

OHHH so much!   I believe the best of me and my art is ahead of me, as I now look to outer space as my final canvas frontier!  Celestial and the magic of other realms is so compelling to me now that I am painting much of it. The infinite colors, as infinite as the universe itself hold my gaze.  Scientific developments are catapulting true and vibrant color in so many ways. Whether in the new Tetrachromacy studies forthcoming from my research scientist soon, or technological advancements in color vision equipment and devices which allow me to discern even more, (like the NASA telescopes which reaches so far into space and can show us such wonders like “The Boss”, an image of the furthest known galaxy ever recorded, (which I am going to paint for my next show in November titled “Otherworldly”). My new Gallery will be a museum for so many others to see my art as windows to the true colors around them.  I am also launching a new book in the next few months with 100 color plates of my work titled “100 Million Colored Masterpieces” as seen through my lens… with an informative forward by Dr. Kimberly Jameson from UC Irvine.

Personally, how do you define success as an artist?

I define success as an artist in three main ways:

Firstly, as the joy it brings to your soul to be able to express your creativity in a tangible way, a way which will stand for who you were, and as a forever legacy of your life. 

Secondly, as the hope that your art will have a positive impact on others and their lives, whether as an inspiration to them to be more creative, or purely from the happiness they will feel when they see your art.

Thirdly, I feel you have succeeded when you know you have had a positive impact on the environment and the world. Whether as a visual custodian, through paintings of the true beauty around us for all to see or as conservational imagery.  Artwork can bring a closer focus to it all.

 In these ways, through my art and my gift of color vision, I hope to be an inspiration to others to truly see that they indeed live in paradise. I hope my art and my messages will help others to appreciate all that we have been given here and to work to save it in any way they can.

At the end of the day, what do you hope folks walk away with after viewing your art?

I hope that they are filled with awe and belief in what is so precious here on earth.  I hope that they realize that our world is a magnificent place and that they will choose to look at this truth a little more closely.  I hope that through my art, my gift of color vision, and my knowledge of what is really here, that they have a renewed understanding of what brings happiness and what is truly precious.  Not commercialism, but rather a walk in a forest, a garden of flowers, a look into space to see stars or clouds, or simply to see the unique beauty in the eyes of every person and every animal, with love.

I hope they walk away knowing that these are the true gifts of our life here on planet Earth, and I pray my art is the beacon that leads them toward that view.

This post first appeared on A Teaser For The Upcoming Single From Faiz Hassan Song, Baytee., please read the originial post: here

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The Master Painter with Kaleidoscope Eyes, an Interview with The Color Queen, Concetta Antico


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