Spreading the Rainbow

A guy approached me at my friends’ house party, asking if I can draw something for him. When I agreed, he gave me his notebook and a fragment of rainbow trapped in a 4-color crayon. Here is the result.

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I fell in love with the crazy and unpredictable process of drawing with the rainbow crayon. In the end, I let him keep the picture in exchange for a small piece of this magic. This was one of the best gifts I ever got in my life.

You know what’s best about my magic crayon? It has a personality on its own. Sometimes you think you’ll add some more yellow here and there and then suddenly… Magic! The whole thing turned navy blue. And still it looks awesome somehow. Drawing with the rainbow crayon is a unique kind of experience. Feels a bit like being both the creator and the creation at the same time.

There is also the second best thing… It’s impossible to create anything depressing with that. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never get any black out of the rainbow.

***

Two days later I had another 4 rainbow crayons on their way to my place and my own brand new sketchbook that had its own blog. I didn’t think of any precise idea or plan what I should do with these besides collecting as many drawings from friends, family and strangers as I possibly could.

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Having no plan beforehand, I started out by inviting people over, telling them the whole story and asking if they want to try out the rainbow crayon by themselves. One of these creative souls couldn’t get on with the rainbow crayon at first, but the whole concept of getting together on a Sunday afternoon just to paint, draw, sketch and chat turned out to be so much fun, we eventually started meeting like this regularly at one’s or another’s place and inviting other people to join us. In the meantime, we both collected a whole load of color crayons, pencils, pens, paints, chalks and glitter to have all of them at hand when the creativity kicks in. I’ve never had a collection of drawing supplies that big, even when I was a kid.

After the weekend I took my sketchbook and crayon to work and tried the same with my coworkers. “But I can’t draw!”, replied nearly all of them, but eventually some very brave few started filling my notebook with their ideas. I soon noticed the things people say while drawing are at least as interesting as the pictures themselves, so I started noting them and adding as captions on my blog. Some of the folks were concerned I would post all of it online with their names under it, so I promised to use whatever nickname they would prefer. No more than few days passed and random people on open space started asking “I heard you have a notebook with some crazy drawings. Can I take a look?”. One girl in my team asked for a piece of crayon and brought me her daughter’s drawings in return. I couldn’t have made a better deal.

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Meanwhile, I managed to find the guy who gave me the crayon on Facebook and sent him the link to my blog. He loved the idea and thought more of his friends should share their pictures and inspire one another to keep going. That’s how the Rainbow Temple was born – a Facebook group where people post art they created or found online. Most of the content is crazy-colored, a little weird, psychedelic, and absolutely lovely. I got to know lots of awesome artists thanks to this group – painters, digital wizards, musicians, and magicians mixing all of the above using the deep dream algorithms.

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Once I collected a number of pictures, I noticed I have become oddly comfortable asking some random strangers to draw something for me. The best places to try were development or UX meetups – after all, a huge part of these is networking so everyone’s prepared they will be talking to strangers. Random folks at pubs, bars and even museums surely weren’t prepared, but still most of them agreed to share their pictures and stories, quite unpredictable at times. I always loved meeting new people and getting to know them, but this is a level of self-confidence I never thought I could achieve.

It’s amazing how one random coincidence can have such a significant effect on someone’s life. If I didn’t go to the party that day, I would never have thought of drawing or painting as a full-time hobby, I was a quite busy person after all. Now after just 1.5 months I have over 70 entries on the rainbow blog (some created with techniques I used for the first time ever), few crayons given out to other folks, enough drawing supplies for a small kindergarten and few ideas on using the rainbow crayon on creative workshops with kids. What I don’t have is any idea where this project is going (except it’s going straight to the Cosmos, of course), but I don’t really feel this is necessary. Each time I start sketching with some vague picture in my mind, the rainbow crayon fills it out in ways in I could have never imagined. All I have to do is let go of control.

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4 thoughts on “Spreading the Rainbow

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