Concetta Antico always suspected she was different. But she never thought she had super-human vision.
Looking back now, it makes sense: For one thing, she was obsessed with make up. “I could see a lot more colour in my natural skin,” she tells tells i100.co.uk. “I thought I was covering up blue or green or violet.” Antico is too polite to say whether she was embarrassed for her friends who didn’t do the same.
The San Diego based artist and teacher was diagnosed as a Tetrachromat in November 2012 - two decades after she set up her art school - following one of her students suggesting she may have the rare genetic condition.
Antico's tetrachromacy means she has more receptors in her eyes that allow her to see colours that others cannot.
Scientists studying Antico at the University of California, Irvine, believe she can see up to one hundred times more shades than an average person. The condition also enhances Antico’s vision in dark lighting. "It’s a little bit sci-fi,” she says.
I guess I get a glimpse into what other people are seeing when I look at their art or how they put themselves together. Someone can walk into a room dressed in red and have a red hat and a red pair of shoes and a red handbag and a red lipstick and I look at them and I think ‘my gosh none of it matches.’
- Concetta Antico
Many have described Antico’s art as inspired by the impressionists. But her paintings are just representative of how she sees the world. She knows how lucky she is, saying “it’s like winning the art lottery”.
This picture, titled Moonrise, was painted at night
The condition only occurs in females and its thought around two per cent of all women could be tetrachromes. But Antico says the ability “doesn’t express itself if it isn’t used”.
“If I hadn’t been an artist I wouldn’t be functioning to the level that I am. It’s really important to know. It’s like having superior muscles. If you’ve never run the Olympics you would never realise your potential.”
A Canyon Cameo, Mission Hills
If you’re jealous, Antico has this advice: “Look a little harder at everything. You’ll see more.”