A new colour perception on the great master’s

Art is evocative and emotional and to many people the meaning revolves around the subject matter and composition. Artist, Arthur Buxton invites us to look at art in new ways, to perceive it differently. Engaging and interesting in their intent, he has developed a new way of looking at color schemes.

By removing the context, sunflowers, the sunsets, the lillypads, the landscapes and leaving behind the raw facts,
Buxton allows us to objectively appreciate the colour palette and its harmonies. He leaves us with an openness to
explore our own perceptions and memories. His extraction exercises offer a powerful reassessment of some of arts
great masters. Following are some of his extractions that reveal imagery organised in pie charts.

British Vogue covers 2001 – 2011
Each block in the first artwork in this post is a British Vogue magazine cover in reverse chronological order,
from left to right. Within each block, the strips of colour, represent the five most common colours proportionally
found within that specific issue.

Van Gogh visualisation
Each pie represents the five most prominent colors within the painting, portraying each one as a percentage.

From left to right, top row: 1.Starry Night 2.Self portrait 3.Van Gogh’s Room at Arles 4.Bandaged 5.Reaper 6.Church at Arles
7.Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear 8.Sunflowers 9.Portrait of Dr. Gachet 10.The Night Café 11.Coal Barges 12.Wheat Fields
13.Sheaves of Wheat 14.The Sower 15.Old Man in Sorrow 16.The Exercise Yard 17.Mulberry tree 18.Pollard Willows 19.Chair
20.The Potato Eaters 21.Shoes 22.Almond tree 23.Thatched Cottage in Cordeville 24.Noon Rest from Work 25.Scull with Cigarette
26.A Field of Yellow Flowers 27.Irises 28.Field with Cypress

Gauguin visualisation

Matisse (left) and Monet (right) visualisations

Buxton has made waves in 2011 with his unique colour extraction experiments. The premise is simple but the concept and the results are amazing. They enable the audience to get an incredible sense of how these painters used color. Compare the visualisation of Matisse, a master of bright, bold hues, to that of Monet, who tended toward a lighter palette. The charts might simplify something quite complex but for a lot of artists, they provide a charming and challenging way to look at the art.

“I’ve come up with a novel way of looking at colour schemes. The pie charts are designed to be visually pleasing but also fuction as a colour trend visualization tool. They represent famous paintings, portraying the five most prominent colours in each as a percentage. Using software to analyse images means the only creative decisions I made creating the impressionist pie charts is the shape of the chart and the number of colours it contains. The less arbitrary design choices the better. Information is beautiful.”

If you’d like to talk to some people who spend way too much of their obsessing about colour. give us a call.

Cassandra Gill
Director of Design.


  1. Thanks Cassie. I think for brands this type of study has so much relevance. There is no doubt that certain colour combinations provide cues for certain brand perceptions in different markets based-on the brand colours of the leading brands in those markets. The unknown is exactly how strong this current of cues is as it works primarily at the sub-conscious level. For me I believe we only see the tip of the iceberg, and customers across all categories have a highly attuned capacity for drawing brand perceptions from subtle visual cues such as colour.

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