“The Color Blind Artist” by Hallie Cirino

My co-teacher Maria Rosa’s husband, Dr. Paul Rockoff, calls himself “The Color Blind Artist”. He recently paid our class a visit, to share some of his paintings and to demonstrate some of his techniques. He also discussed what color blindness is, and told the children that he thinks of it as an advantage, because he doesn’t have to get obsessive with mixing the perfect colors, and he can ignore color criticisms!

“Doc Rock”, as the children called him, showed the class some of his recent works.

This is “Who”:


The class noted nuances in the paintings as they were shown. Harleaux liked “the owls because they are pretty”. Jack liked “how Doc Rock painted the trees, the owls, and the jeep”. Dutch liked “the dog in the jeep”. Cassie liked “how the owls are holding onto the branch with their claws”.

This one is “Urban Fisherman”:

  urban fisherman

William liked “how Doc Rock painted the buildings”.

Paul explained to the children that he generally paints with black and white, since he is unable to see color. However, sometimes he will add a pop of color, usually selected by reading the color name on the tube.

In contrast, he also shared a painting in which he used many colors. This one is “Card Sharks”:

card sharks

Esme liked how Doc Rock “made the sun rays slant down through the water”. Luke liked how Doc “painted the sharks’ noses and how they drink coffee”.

The children were invited to find Doc’s signature in his paintings, which is the image of his pet Labrador retriever. They loved analyzing each painting!

Doc Rock then demonstrated his painting process. He sketched a whale first, and then used it as a model for his next painting. He covered his entire canvas with gray, and then began to paint the outline of the whale with white.

Here is Doc, working on “Willy the Whale”:

Doc Rock paints

The children were fascinated to see Doc Rock continually step back and look, and then revise, just as they had done in their own journals.

Finally, before Doc Rock left, the children challenged him to a color blind test on the SMARTboard:

color-blind-test - CopyIt was difficult for the children to fathom how and why Doc Rock could not see what they could see. Overall, it was a fun, interesting, and informative visit with the Color Blind Artist. Thank you, Dr. Rockoff!