How would a color blind person begin?

I have a genetic condition as red-green color blindness.  It is the bane of my life.  I could create a laundry list as long as your arm of things is has prevented me from doing in life.  I have also found little "life hacks" to work around the handicap in certain areas of my life.  I am trying to figure out if it's possible to do so in this context and successfully learn to paint.

I've been watching a lot of Mark's videos and one idea I've had is simply to have my wife assist me.  Have her mix up the colors in advance and then I'll work them into the canvas.  I am referring to this video here: 

The only problem I see with this is that when I watch the video on setting up a color palette with the proper steps of color with darkest values on the bottom to lightest chosen vales at the top, Mark then says that you'll mix colors side to side.  Essentially to taste.  I can see how my wife and I could work as a team to set up the paint in the value steps as outlined, but when it comes to mixing them together in order to get things "just right" on I would I know if it's just right or not? 

I could judge value...but that's it.  I couldn't have my wife do everything for me for every single step of the way every time I need to create a transition color.  I'm thinking I might just have to release control and just like..."use the force" and "let the force guide me" kind of thing and just mix and hope and whatever comes out comes out?

Of course maybe I'm thinking of it completely wrong and there's a solution I'm not thinking of.  Which is why I'm asking for input from this group.  Any insight that could be lent would be greatly appreciated.


  • Hi Brian,

    Welcome. :)

    First of all, have you tried EnChroma Glasses and see if they help you?

  • @brianmi, as everyone says values are the most important thing in the painting, you can get away with colors if you get your values right. i would try to do something monocromatic, see how it works then try to add colors, but you probably have already tried this? 
  • @Richard_P - I have gotten color vision "correcting" contacts lenses before.  They work on the same principle.  They don't really work.  All they do is "break out" purple and a few other colors so you can recognize that they are different.  But you can't "see" them.  Not for real.  They basically have you seeing through two lenses of slightly different color tint.  This causes something to happen in the brain so that you can "pattern out" the missing colors.  So they'll enable you to pass a color blindness test because they amplify the differences in the colors of the dots...but you don't actaully get to SEE the colors you are missing.  It's not really possible.  Color blind people lack a certain shaped receptor in their eyes.  They can't see the colors unless they come up with some new gene therapy that will stimulate the retina to produce those types of receptors.

    @ArtGal - I have not tried that.  But I suppose I could give it a go.
  • Ok, thanks for the explanation. :)

    You could try the monochrome painting and then use a paint program to show you where the greens, reds, etc.. are then try to glaze the transparent colours over the top. But not sure how well that work would in practice?
  • Would any app like this help you to identify which colour groups you've mixed go where?
  • @brianmi I have a friend who is color blind like you.  She just kept working at it until she became familiar with paint, put her paint in the same place every time, carefully gauged her values and then painted it the best she could.  She is now winning awards in national competitions and selling paintings.  You will have to"feel" your way through all the information to utilize what will work for you.  Some of Mark's methods might not be feasible for you and compromises may have to be made to fit your situation.  Give it your best shot, you'll be amazed at what you can do.
  • CJDCJD -
    edited December 2020
    You could try a monochrome value underpainting and then go over it with a predetermined colour scheme. I do something similar with some paintings - for a bird I'll do a blue body and then a complimentary colour for the eyes and that's it. Might not work for the dmp method though of copying what you see, but I've learned that many of the best realist artists just make up the colours anyway to create an image more beautiful than what they see, and how they do this or at least one way is to use pre determined colour schemes.

    It would work with laying out/mixing the value strings too
  • Have you working out a solution yet?

    One suggestion I have is that Mark's "color groups" are generally based on different objects within the painting.  The color groups are then mixed by value for each group.  Face, hair, shirt, scarf, eyes. etc.

    Perhaps the color groups could be broken down a bit farther...  A group of the values in the shadow side of the face, in the lighted side of the face, etc.

    A second thought I had is that I've seen some very interesting paintings in which a picture is divided into a limited number of monochrome values.  7 or 8 works well.   Then colors that have a value similar to each monochrome value, but that are not necessarily related to the colors of the original picture are used to replace the monochrome values.  This works quite well with portraits or people or animals.  

    You could probably come up with a "standard" set of color/values that you could use in all your paintings.  
Sign In or Register to comment.