Colourblind Artist



Being creative, not worrying about your eyes; staging your talents to an audience is often taken for granted by most visual artists. I’ve seen schoolmates at art class pluck colours effortlessly out the air to achieve their works of art. In a paint store, a clerk would help me with paint chips to identify intermediate colours.

I get greens, blues, browns and reds all mixed up. When I point out a green, I’m told it’s actually a brown. I almost failed my eye exam for my drivers test at sixteen because I didn’t get the green, or at least a shade of green brightened by a strong light projected inside a box that was setup on the counter. I said yellow, and quickly corrected myself after I was asked again about the colour; it couldn’t be red; so I have one other option; the green—then I passed.

“Once in a high school art class, I had to redo the colour wheel four times—I aced the grey scale”

This never bothered me growing up over the years, I have learned to live with my colour blindness and stayed quiet when colour was a topic. I’ve been told I have a acute sense of colour (being tetrachromat), that I can see colours not apparent to people who tell me what colour it is that I’m looking at. Give me a colour to copy, and I have no problems mixing and matching the tone and huge of any colour, but I still can’t see the value of the colour I have made.

photographs and paintings of a colour blind artist

There were eye colour games we sometimes played as kids, you know; letters or numbers hidden in a bunch of coloured dots and you had to identify what you can see. I couldn’t see anything within the greens, some blues. What I have is not unique, however it’s a problem with many males more than with women.

Sculpting for me is an activity I can do without worrying about colour. Painting on the other hand is my greatest obstacle. I need a visual crutch to compensate my disability, and the solution is to use a camera. A camera not only captures a frame of textures, shapes and details, it also registers all the colours within that frame.

By using photography to make paintings, a major part in the process of my work is achieved. I can enlarge the frame of any image that I have taken and use the print as a base for holding my palette of colours that I need to produce my paintings; like a paint-by-numbers guide or a grid that painter Chuck Close uses. Some people will call this cheating, I call it art, my art that represents who I am; the colourblind artist.

If you have a burning question about my article, leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to give you an answer in an upcoming article post.