The Start of the Rainbow Portrait Project

It has been surreal watching as the world broke down. It started with my friends in Florida, face and body artists that watched as event after event was canceled and a whole “season” was just coming down in shambles back towards the end of March and beginning of April.

Then it started hitting the rest of the country in the United States. Everything was canceled from small to big, to do the best they could to be responsible and caring for the general populace in keeping the virus that was going around, COVID-19, from getting out of hand before there was medical infrastructure to handle it.

I watched a lot of heartache happen.

As I sat, I wondered what I could possibly do to help. What I decided to do is a little mental journey.

At least once a week or sometimes more often, I practice doing rhythmic face lines to draw the face. I started this years ago when I discovered the Reilly Method of drawing the face in an effort to make myself put the face down quicker. I regularly do a simple exercise to keep it fresh and retain muscle memory. It has worked SO well. I can now put down a basic sketch in about 20 minutes where it used to take me 3-4 hours, often with a lot of frustration.

I generally do these exercises in ballpoint pen, a love of mine from since I was a kid. I don’t think I’ll ever NOT have a blue ballpoint pen somewhere near to use.

I decided to raid my digital photos that I keep of “draw someday” and drew a friend named Joann.

Joann Ballpoint Sketch

She shocked me with how much she liked it. It was just a small sketch, nothing worked SUPER hard on, how is this something enjoyed? She bought it.

I then thought, what would I enjoy doing even further? I wanted to do a rainbow inspired thing, partly inspired by a book that Dolly Parton wrote for kids called “I Am a Rainbow“. My favorite phrase from it:

So be a rainbow –
Shine above
And filter all your glow
Through love.

This really touches me. The book is about emotions being colors and how we go through so many things. It talks about having emotions is not bad, but what we do with them matters.

I had seen an artist called Bao Pham do drawings with a “rainbow lead” colored pencil. I didn’t feel like spending the money so I just pulled out some rainbow colors and played with the skin tones.

Be Present
Be Present


Joann was the first again and she purchased it. I thought that if something that I had a lot of fun with could bring some joy to people’s lives, then that’s what I’ll do. I made a bowl of names and every week I pull one.


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