Purple, red, blue, white, different shades of yellow, all poured into a plastic cup and tipped upside down onto a canvas. While experimenting with different colors of paint, the artist doesn’t see the final product the same way most people do.
Cameron Roy is an early college student attending Goddard College for education with an emphasis in art. He is an artist who has gradual color blindness due to a severe color field deficiency.
Stressful, traumatic events can lead to a person’s loss of vision.
“I have severe medical issues,” he said. “My health issues stress me out. I’m always sick, my hands are a mess. I have severe carpal tunnel because I’ve done art forever and so now I have the hands of a 45-year-old.”
Cameron can’t see colors the way he used to, and when he realized that he was losing his ability to see colors the way they are, he sat in front of a color sheet and memorized all of the hues with their names.
He says that he has to read the labels when he is painting because he can’t see a lot of colors the way he knows everyone else can see them.
Cameron also has synesthesia, which is when your body mixes your senses together in weird and different ways.
Synesthesia is different for everyone who has it. Names can have a taste in your mouth, letters and numbers written in black ink will appear to have been written with different colors, sounds may have colors attached to them.
For Cameron, he sees people as colors.
“But not… obvious skin colors,” he said. “You’re like a hazel green and blue and a little bit of lavender.”
He explained that when he gets to know a person, that person becomes a combination of colors, and their colors never change. He uses his synesthesia for inspiration when creating characters in his art.
Krista Dy teaches painting and photography at U-32 High School.
“I think Cameron’s art, part of the reason why it’s so incredible is the color blindness,” Krista said. “It’s so vibrant. I don’t know if he would make it as vibrant if he could see it the way everyone else is seeing it.”
Krista explained that artists may be afraid to go the extra step with colors the way Cameron does. He pushes boundaries that other artists won’t.
Tiffany Caldwell, Cameron’s mother, says that he has shown an interest in art ever since he was 9 months old.
She says that her favorite piece, titled ‘Oceans,’ hangs over the record player in their house.
“It’s a large piece,” said Tiffany. “To me it kind of looks like music, color, movement.”
“That’s what it is,” said Cameron in response to his mother. “That’s what synesthesia looks like.”
Tiffany says that the advice she would give her son is to “find whatever medium is gonna work for you [Cameron] physically, so you can always have that spiritual connection.”
Cameron says that although his color blindness and other factors in his life have presented a challenge, he will never stop doing the thing he loves the most: art.
“I know what thalo blue looks like,” Cameron said. “I just gotta remember it. I can see it in my head, I just can’t see it in my life.”
*If you are interested in purchasing the art that Cameron has done, or would like him to paint something for you personally, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org