Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The 64 Crayon Experiment: A Life Lesson

I told you about my vacation in the doldrums last week. The thing about that is I need to challenge my way out of them or I'll end up loathing myself for lack of productivity (of any kind). So, as I was treading water and keeping my head above water, I took an old challenge from Ben at benspark.com (here). I can no longer get the link to work, but you may wish to try.

The challenge, as mentioned before, was to use every crayon in the box in one sitting. I set my own parameters thusly: Use all 64 crayons and allow one minute for each crayon. Before I get on to what I learned from this experiment, let me just say that I was surprised there were no light purple crayons of any kind in my box of Crayolas. No lavender, no mauve, nothing. Not my color scheme of choice by any stretch, but still. Why were they completely omitted?

As it happened, I finished the challenge in 45 minutes. It's not my finest work of art, but that wasn't at all what I was going for anyway. While I didn't finish the letter to myself, "Barb, there's something you need to know...." was intended as an eye opener for myself. It was my way of being cryptic and coy with myself, while at the same time, giving myself a shake and saying, "Hey! Pay attention!"

Pay attention, I did.

What I learned from the 64 Crayon Experiment:
  • Every color is beautiful and deserves my attention. Each person in my life is a different color, equally deserving of my attention.
  • I work best when I'm forced to work on something. A little pressure applied to just the right spot(s) will help anyone keep their edge.
  • While blues are always my favorite color, I'm nevertheless more drawn (pun intended) to reds. What we think we want is not always what we need.
  • Sometimes the simplest things, like paper and crayons, are just what we need to reset our internal drives. K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid.
  • I can have no idea whatsoever of what will end up on paper, and still manage to fill an entire page. If we allow it, it will happen.
  • Much the same as the old adage, "when the student is ready, the master appears"... when the artist is ready, the vision appears. Example, I had the idea in my head to draw the flame, but I didn't notice until I was almost done that there was something writhing within the flame, begging me to make it real.
  • Art doesn't require the devotion of an entire day. Sometimes I have other things to do and by the time I get to thinking about my studio I give myself the excuse, "Ah, well.. it's too late in the day..." Bullshit. There is always time to do the thing that makes you feel best.
  • Not everything requires or bends to a black outline. In fact, very little seems to do just that. Colors blend and take shape all on their own. Being without borders is freeing.
  • Nothing hurts worse than doing nothing. I had spent all week convincing myself that I was too hot to think, too hot to do anything. I was wrong. It was merely too hot for me to do what I normally do in the room I normally use. Art is everywhere. I knew that and I ignored it until I was so internally wound up that I could hardly function. When we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing, it screws with everything else in our lives.
  •  The only one who can change your attitude is you. I had to pick up the crayons and paper. I had to make the first move.


  1. really like this wisdom :-)

  2. Thanks so much, Julie! I'm off to check out your site... :-)

  3. Hi Barb,
    Thanks for checking out my old experiment. I've been meaning to do another one on video. I need to clear my head. The link worked fine for me. Strange that it didn't work for you. Thanks for referencing it.

  4. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for stopping by! The link works for me now too. Maybe my server was just having an off day... I couldn't access any of your stuff! Love the 37 ideas for blogging too!!!

    The crayon experiment was great fun and just what I needed last week.

  5. Thanks for this Barb, it's a great idea; I'm someone who tends to stick to my 'favourite' colours time after time. I'm going to take a look at Ben's post.


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