Exploring the Secrets of a Color Blind Artist’s Work

How can an understanding of color blindness reveal new ways of seeing a painting?

Brian Brooks and his labeled watercolor tray. "Color Blind" is a misleading term: the vast majority of people see a limited range of color rather than an absence.
Brian Brooks and his labeled watercolor tray. The word “Color blind”, like the black-and-white in this photo, is misleading: the vast majority of people see a limited range of color rather than an absence.

While I was working on my color-blindness-simulating paintings of Brian’s watercolor trays, it opened up an ongoing conversation between us as two visual artists: him red-green color blind, and me with color vision in the normal range.

An obvious question emerged: If he’s seeing his tray of colors very differently, how does it show up in the paintings he creates? Continue reading

Painting the Palette of a Color Blind Artist 

We know not everyone sees the world in the same way. But do we ever really think about it?

Me with my painting Portrait of a Color Blind Artist’s Watercolor Tray — Red-Green Color Blind Simulation, 2016, oil on wood panel, 24 x 36 inches. This is what Brian’s new watercolor palette looked like to him when he first handed it to me to be labeled. Photo by Brian Brooks
Me with my painting Portrait of a Color Blind Artist’s Watercolor Tray — Red-Green Color Blind Simulation, 2016, oil on wood panel, 24 x 36 inches.

An offhand remark can be life-changing.  My boyfriend, Brian Brooks, is red-green color blind, and asked me one day if I could label his watercolor tray so he would stop mixing up reds and greens and browns. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Continue reading