How To Make Art When You’re Colorblind

Do you know those teambuilding excerices where you have to tell a fun fact about yourself? Here’s mine:

I run a website dedicated to art and painting with over 1000 members. And I’m colorblind.

People are always shocked. “How can you do art when you don’t know the colors?” – “Isn’t this super hard for you?`” – “What color is this?” (while pointing at the sky).

Being colorblind

Yes, not knowing what color things are can be hard when painting. Did you know that clouds are not always grey, but sometimes pink? Or that peanut butter isn’t green?
I have protanopia, which means that I have problems discriminating red and green hues. This influences not only these two colors but almost every other one as well. What even IS purple?

But like most things in life, if things get hard you just have to work smart. Here are my top 4 tips to create art as a colorblind person.

1. Can’ see color? Don’t use color!

What sounds like a dumb joke is actually my number one tip. There are many different ways to create art. You can vary your subjects as well as the painting media you are using.

On days where I really can’t be bothered to kepp asking my girlfriend questions like “Hey, what color is this plant? What color is this house? What color is your hair?” I simply drop everything colorful and stick to black and white.

A great painting medium that doesn’t use any color is pen and ink. It’s also pretty cheap to get into as all you need is some paper and a pen. Of course you can get more fancy equipment later.

A sketch of the view from my balcony

Pen and ink uses techniques such as cross hatching to create texture and depth. All colors are reduced to black, white and grey. And if you really want to add a single color it is guaranteed to make your drawing pop!

A fantastic resource for beginners with pen and ink is the YouTube channel of Alphono Dunn. Dunn ist a graduate of the New York Academy of Art, an award winning artist and a successful YouTuber with over 600 000 subscribers.

Once you’ve watched a few of Alphonso’s YouTube tutorials you’ve got a great base to create same nice looking basic drawings with pen and ink. Especially his series on Urban Sketching (basically going outside and drawing your city) is worth a watch.

A great way to learn pen and ink in a more structured way is Dunn’s book “Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide”. If you have a few bucks to spare I also recommend you to get the accompanying workbook.

2. The value in understanding value

If pen and ink isn’t really for you or you’ve already bought oils or acrylics this one is for you.

A lot of what makes a painting good has nothing to do with color hues but color values. In this context it basically means how light or dark a color is.

The color value of different objects tell you a lot about how far away they are and about their position relative to each other.

Of course things near a light source are often lighter in value than objects in the shadows. But did you know that there is an effect called athmospheric perspective? This is the effect the atmosphere has on the appearance of an object as it is viewed from a distance.

Field before the storm
Painted by member Sunnylady this painting uses only three colors: Burnt Sienna, Titanium White and Ivory Black

As the distance between an object and a viewer increases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases, and the contrast of any markings or details within the object also decreases. The colours of the object also become less saturated and shift towards the background colour.

Or in short: objects get lighter in value when they are far away.

A great way to get your feet wet (or snowy) is the ‘The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross’ episode ‘Shades of Grey’. Bob Ross recorded this one after meeting a colorblind person who told him that he could never paint. And boy, did Bob prove him wrong!

Bob Ross colorblind episode

3. Stick to what you know, get help when you don’t

We know that the sky is blue. We know that grass is green. No problem choosing the right colors to paint these things.

All you have to do is check your paint tubes for the name of the color inside and youre good to go.

But what about the shirt in photo you are recreating in oils? Maybe some kind of green, yellow, orange or a color with a fancy name you don’t even know?

Technology is your friend. There are countless apps to help you get the name of the colors you can’t see. A great one I use is Color Blind Pal on Android. Simply open the app, point your camera and find out that the new shirt you just bought isn’t the color you thought it was. Great stuff!


Once you know which color you need to use you can either grab the right tube or check one of the numerous color mixing charts online to find out how to mix the hue you want.

4. Messed up? No problem

Painted a pink sky or orange grass by accident? No problem, just pretend you meant to do this from the very beginning. It’s art and if people don’t like it they just don’t get it 😉

Color Blind Problems T Shirt | Funny quotes, Funny pie charts ...

Have any other tips for colorblind artists? Reach out on Twitter and let me know!

6 Reasons Why You Should Start Painting During Lock-down

New cases of COVID-19 are rising all over the world, having many people staying at home practicing self-isolation and social distancing. And while this might have been quite fun for a few days (or in other words, the time you needed to binge-watch your favorite new Netflix series), by now we all start to feel the boredom kick in. But fear not, our beloved Bob Ross has got you covered! Let us show you why now is the perfect time for you to pick up a brush and start creating your own masterpieces.

1. Calm your nerves

Well to say the least, it’s definitely a strange and unsettling time full of uncertainty as we all collectively try to overcome this global pandemic. Amid the fears of the disease and all the consequences we are facing because of its spread, it’s no wonder we feel our anxieties heightened. It’s even more important now to find ways to care for ourselves and look after our mental health.

Countless studies have shown that painting can be a great tool for that. Only 45 minutes of doing art reduces the stress hormones in your body by a significant amount, calming your nerves and relieving anxiety (for more information check out Why Painting Is Great For Your Mental Health)

We all can surely need a little positivity right now, so what better way than to watch an episode with the happiest painter of all time and start painting a few happy little trees yourself?

2. Learn something new

While you might have run out of a few things by now (we hope you could get your share of toilet paper), free time surely isn’t one of them. With all this extra time on your hands while you’re stuck at home, why not use it to learn something new? You don’t have to put on jeans to feel productive – we promise!

Just use our simple guide showing you how to get started and become the artist Bob would have wanted you to be. If you’ve already got the basics down, you can use the time to advance your skills. Have a look at our articles section and check out the amazing tips given by our great community.

3. Get a lot for a little

You want to free yourself of the boredom you have endured the last couple of days, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money? We get it. Starting a new hobby or other ways of entertainment can be quite expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

The best option for beginners is to opt for the official Bob Ross Master Paint Set, which provides you with all the tools and colors you need to start painting right away. The best part: you get to entertain yourself painting your very own masterpieces hours upon hours for under 100$. All of the tools – including the infamous two inch brush – were especially designed to provide the best results for the Bob Ross wet-on-wet oil painting technique and they will basically last you forever.

After testing many different brands ourselves, we can fully recommend buying the official Bob Ross painting products. They really do offer the best value for money. And in case you wondered: no, we are not affiliated with Bob Ross Inc., we just made it our goal to provide you with the best Bob Ross experience possible.

To help you save money when buying painting supplies, be sure to check out our Dealfinder on Bob Ross supplies.

4. Get the perfect outdoor feeling at home

You miss seeing the sun setting down behind the snow-glazed mountains or the waves breaking at the beach? We feel you. Especially now as spring has finally arrived and the days are getting longer, it can be really challenging to stay inside.

But why not make your own beautiful landscapes in the safety of your home? By painting your favorite outdoor settings, you can let your mind wander to these amazing places without having to step foot outside of your door. So the only question is, where should your journey take you?

5. Make paintings for others

Before you start to paint your first pieces, you might ask yourself “Can it really be as easy as Bob makes it seem on TV?”. The answer is a resounding “YES!”. We know many of you may think that you just wouldn’t be able to create these beautiful art works yourself – we’ve all been there. You might not expect much of it now, but you sure will be amazed by the results of your inner artist once you get started.

And not only you. Soon your family and friends will ask you for paintings and what better gift for your loved ones than a homemade one? And if you are looking for an easy yet fulfilling side hustle, you will be surprised how much people are willing to pay for your creations. We’d say that’s a true win-win situation, so, what are you waiting for?

6. Be part of a worldwide community

While it’s important for us all to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the virus, we should not completely isolate ourselves from the outside world. Luckily, we have phones to stay connected with our families and friends, but thanks to the internet we can still also be part of bigger communities and get to know new people.

Here at TwoInchBrush we have a wonderful community of painters sharing their works, tips and tricks with each other. We would love for you to join us and share your art works with the world. From Texas to Belgium and Japan, you can be a part of it. Create an account here and together we can put the SOCIAL in social distancing!

Until then, stay home, stay healthy and happy painting!