Art for those who are colour challenged

In my daily browsing of the BBC New website, I came across an article about an exhibition at the National Gallery called ‘Making Colour’ which is about how artists have throughout history used colour. This interests me as I am an artist who is fascinated with colour (I see words, letters and numbers in colour). I think most visual artists are interested in colour. Some artists use colour as a tool more than others. Some just want to recreate the exact colours they see and go to great lengths to try to do so, others want to use colour for enhancement or to create an aesthetic beyond the natural.

Part of the exhibition looks at the science behind what colour is and how the brain understands it (the science is actually quite boring I think – all about waves and cones and not at all about how amazing colour is). But included in this, is how colour is perceived by those who are colour-blind. The BBC news article includes the responses to the exhibition of someone who is colour-blind.

Can you read the number?

Can you read the number?

Apparently one in twelve men are colour-blind. This means that I must know some of them since I would count more than twelve men as my friends (even if just on Facebook). I am fascinated with how colour-blind people deal with the different way in which they view colour. I know of one friend who is colour-blind and he is also an artist (mostly a sculptor). He has told me how he finds painting certain things very challenging, such as fleshy tones and colours of nature.

I wish I could be rendered temporarily colour-blind so that I could experiment with my perceptions of colour and use it for painting. Justine Robertson is an artist who is colour-blind yet he uses this to his advantage in his art, creating interesting compositions which use colour in a way that I probably couldn’t as someone who perceives colour as they are.

A painting by a colour-blind artist

A painting by a colour-blind artist

Or at least I think I do, but that thought could lead me on an adventure in philosophy I’m not about to go on here.



Masters, T. 21 June 2014. ‘How the colour-blind see art with different eyes. Available from: [last accessed 21 June 2014]

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