How is this possible?

So I had my medical for the pilot’s license today, and when they got to the Ishihara tests for color blindness, I thought they were especially confusing, and could barely make most of them out, and some not at all — unless I made some very lucky guesses, I’m sure I’ll have failed them. When I got home I looked at tests online, and even though I swear I can see all colors, I don’t seem to be able to do the tests. It’s actually pretty upsetting. I mean, how could I go through my whole life — I’m 35 now — and not notice that I’m color blind? Seriously, wtf?


I can’t read any of the above by the way. I don’t think this will affect my ability to get my regular VFR pilot’s license, but it might limit my ability to go and get a night flying license, should I want to. I’m still very weirded out by the whole thing and am having a lot of trouble believing it.

Other than that, my old friend Dave stopped by to catch up and helped me push the Sterling in to get its mechanicals worked on. You can see in this photo what a tiny little car it is. It’s just slightly a trick photo since Dave is seven feet tall.


Other than that, we all went to the park again after supper — a consistently nice way to cap off the day. Tomorrow is another day at the hospital, which is always very draining and although it’s important and it is hopefully moving me toward a solution and/or resolution, in many ways I am not looking forward to it, and especially because of being given the unsettling shock of discovering my potential color blindness, I’m quite pensive and will be happy to have tomorrow pass and Friday come, when I’ll again be up in the air doing spins in the plane.


  1. MajikMan wrote:

    I’m sure it is weird to find something like that out later in life, especially for an artist. I’ve never seen you use any odd color combinations, so….yeah, weird. I can read all three of the above images – 45, fuck the colorblind, and 74.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  2. Shannon wrote:

    Yeah, it’s weird. When I look at them, I can tell there are a mix of colors, and I can ID the colors (greenish and reddish brown), but I can’t put it together into anything meaningful… I don’t really get it and can’t understand why I can’t read it.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  3. Elizabeth wrote:

    How odd, you seem to appreciate beauty as much or way moreso than the average person, I love your photos. WEIRD. I am not colorblind. Yay!
    Good luck with the hospital thing tomorrow. I wish it all away.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  4. treyci wrote:

    that is pretty wild. i think i’d probably have a hard time digesting that one, too. regardless, you have an apparent sense of color of both of those shades judging by your art. red-green colorblindess, from what i understand, isn’t so much not being able to distinguish the two colors as it an optical default where it becomes difficult to focus when both are presented to you. my uncle is red-green colorblind and states that he hates christmas because “it messes with his head”.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  5. apolicious wrote:

    this is really interesting. as far as painting is concerned, your color choices seem to be right, but for the wrong reasons. is it purely coincidental that the paintings look good to both of us, although we’re not seeing the same thing?

    this begs a lot of fun questions.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  6. Shannon wrote:

    My gut instinct is that it’s more a problem with Ishihara tests and the way I’m perceiving them than color blindness… I really can’t convince myself that I’m color blind.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  7. JR wrote:

    I actually found i have the same problem. I’m 24 and didn’t find out until i was like 20 or 21.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink
  8. DIYer wrote:

    That one on the right is tricky. It could be 71 if you don’t count the yellowish-leaning greenish dots. But the 7 has some yellowish dots too, so it would be broken up if you didn’t count them. So there’s more to it than just making out the colors.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Simon wrote:

    My friend recently turned 31 and she only just found out she’s colour blind. She now realises why she got into arguments with people over the years questioning whether things were certain colours. It seems pretty crazy to learn you’re colour blind at that age, but it happens :) Not saying it’s not hard to digest though!

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 2:57 am | Permalink
  10. wlfdrgn wrote:

    How would you know you’re color blind if you’ve always been colorblind your whole life? If you are colorblind, you’d have learned them that way from the start, so you recognize the colors, can work with them, just don’t see them differently.

    I think finding this would bother me a lot, too. Set up an appointment with a good opthemologist to get a better exam?

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 3:56 am | Permalink
  11. Kyle wrote:

    My brother had to get glasses at 24 and realized that for the last 24 years hes beening seeing everything a little wider then it really is. He had no idea. Very odd thing. .. Do you think you have had it your whole life ? Or is this a side effect from tattooing your eye ?

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 6:38 am | Permalink
  12. Marjorie wrote:

    The first and last one i find really confusing, i can guess what they are but honestly i have a hard time recognising the numbers… weird stuff. The one in the midle tho is prety clear.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 6:40 am | Permalink
  13. Marjorie wrote:

    this is prety interesting if accurate

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  14. Twwly wrote:

    I hardly read the middle and I couldn’t make out the sides.

    I seem to have done okay in life doing colour correction though! Ha.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:26 am | Permalink
  15. Will wrote:

    I was surprised that I could read all three! I’ve known that my color perception is off (not blind, just strange) and have failed several tests because of it.

    The idea behind the test is to use images that do not have clear discernable edges to demonstrate that you can differentiate actual colors and not shapes. Your failure may be more related to shape recognition than to actual colors. I find that the closer I get to the image, the easier it is to “see” it. I had a little trouble with #3 until I got closer to the screen.

    One thing I’ve noticed from your paintings (which I like by the way), is that you use bright colors and not too much shading. It’s possible that is an “indication” of your color perception issue.

    I just wish my eyesight was good enough otherwise to get a pilots license. I flew a plane when I was about 8 just before my eyes went weird. (Yes I actually did fly the plane. I was in the front seat with my parents in the back on a “joy” ride with one of my parents friends :-) and the pilot, who was a professional commercial, instructor, private, and military, gave me the controls with which I immediately banked to the right to look down giving everyone a brief “thrill”!)

    One more thing, I understand its possible to “practice” these tests. Obviously, if you can’t distinguish the different colors, it won’t help, but if its just a matter of accustoming yourself to seeing the image, then it should help.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  16. ed wrote:

    I cannot make out any of those magic eyes posters. I know it’s not the same, except that its very frustrating when everyone sees stuff I dont. Good luck on your appts.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  17. Joan wrote:

    Omg, Dave, he has grey hair, I haven’t seen him in forever!!! say hi for me :)

    As to the colour blind issue, I agree with WLFDRGN youshould go set up an appointment with a good opthemologist to be 100% sure

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  18. Christina wrote:

    Aw you’re like that kid from Little Miss Sunshine. He wanted to be a pilot and when he found out he was colorblind he had to give up his dreams. I hope you don’t have to.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  19. jason wrote:

    Haha, also agree with WLFDRGN, how would you know? Ask a fish, what is water?

    I wore a grey jumper everywhere I went for about a year until someone took me aside and told me it was pink.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  20. estrojenn wrote:

    i haven’t seen rave dave since york u!!!

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  21. Nicole wrote:

    would this not be similar to certain people not being able to view certain illusion pictures?

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink
  22. Cid wrote:

    Lol.. Shannon was the middle one a joke?

    Fuck the Color Blind?

    Does a professional testing office for a pilots license really have something like that? LOL!!

    Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  23. Chris wrote:

    That has to be really crazy to find out that you’re color blind late in life. I work with a guy who is color blind, and myself and some of my other coworkers regularly ask him questions about it. We’re also pretty mean, so we make sure to diagram stuff on our white board in red and green :)

    Check out this page: I haven’t downloaded the program, but they do have some really good examples of what color-blind people see.

    Friday, July 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  24. Heather wrote:

    Tell Dave I said Hi!

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  25. Tera wrote:

    It’s interesting you can name the colours.


    it tests for multiple types of colour blindness and should give you more information

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink
  26. Shannon wrote:

    Yeah, it’s weird, because I can do that test — so I’m thinking it’s some neurological thing with the ishihara tests.

    Monday, July 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  27. Arynn wrote:

    Don’t worry. I can barely read any of them myself, and I’m pretty positive I see all colors in the visible spectrum…

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  28. Thomas.S wrote:

    I searched the web once for a friend who thought he might be colorblind. I learned that there are a lot of varying degrees of colorsightedness. I found the following to site quite helpful and entertaining at the same time:
    1. sorting colors:
    2. matching colors:

    I’m curious to read more from you about this, since your pictures show clearly, that you are better with colors than most.

    Monday, July 27, 2009 at 6:18 am | Permalink
  29. allana wrote:

    any other details about the medical for pilots? i’ve always known i’ve got better eyes than most (and is it true that a much higher percentage of males have colour-difficulty than females?) but i’m not sure what else they require of you. someone told me you essentially have to be a muscle-bound gorilla type to get into the military’s pilot program.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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