July 05 Installment: Gasoline Rainbow

[…] In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter, […]

– From "Impossible to Tell", by Robert Pinsky

Sometimes, it doesn't take more than a single spoken line to inspire me. In this case, it was a line from a poem: "gasoline rainbow in the gutter".

About "Gasoline Rainbow"

Having been caught up with work, I wanted to not only do something simple for this months installment, but something close to my roots. I remember some of my first creative juices flowing around beautiful music by Björk, and accompanying graphics for the Homogenic album by MeCompany.

That's when I stumbled upon the "gasoline rainbow" from Robert Pinsky's jokingly aching and roughly urban poem "Impossible to Tell". Immediately, I thought back to bicycle rides in the Copenhagen evening, small puddles of water splashing, the lights of huge advertisements reflecting in the water. Not to mention the gasoline leaks under the cars, sparkling with the eerie but beautiful colours that are quintessentially urban.

It was a relief to paint these reflections. I've been without internet at home for 2 weeks, so there were no distractions. In those situations, it happens from time to time that I get that very special feeling that initially made me want to be a graphic designer. With hard times at work, such a feeling is very reaffirming.

During the while, it also became clear to me that 5 has been a magic number. Painting 5 pictures every month forces me to 1) come up with a concept, 2) paint that concept in the first picture, 3) stretch and try that concept in the 4 remaining pictures. Having done this for 4 years, it's almost routine. The first picture is the most difficult, and picture 4 or 5 is where I start mastering the concept. As such, it's more often than not that the last picture of the bunch is the best one. I'm undecided in this case, but I did feel I had a greater understanding of the material I was trying to work with—that is, an understanding that's hard to communicate with words. Those are the times when I'm reminded why I started doing this, and why I kept going.


Since my "Recut" last month, I've chosen to paint the pictures in high resolution. That means european A4 (unless I have a good reason for another format), in 300 dpi. That comes up to more than 3000 pixels in width, which is obviously unfit for the monitor. But it does seem a waste not to allow you all to see the detail, so I built some functions that allow you to switch between a quarter-scale version, and the fullscale version. Quite simply, you view the installment, and click the picture. Update: It didn't work well for Mac, so instead I just enabled default Flash zooming. Right-click and "zoom in".

I would have wanted to make a magnifying icon, but being lazy got the better of me. Maybe next month. Add to that, some improvements to the way the size-switcher works—for instance I'd like to build that fantastic Mickey Mouse-hand that's available in any graphic application worth using (press space!).

Have a great Summer!

I'll be taking some vacation in the near future, much needed I might add. Here's my wish that we'll all have a great summer, and that we'll enjoy those special urban evenings where the gasoline rainbow is pretty to look at.

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12 thoughts on “July 05 Installment: Gasoline Rainbow

  1. #3 I think. You know, it’s gotten to the point now where I see “No | Month Installment” in my aggregator and the first thought I have is, “Oh, goody goody.” You’ve no idea how much I look forward to these. Who needs trips to the museum. I have Joen.

    Totally unrelated but you mentioned it. Why on earth do you have so many internet connection outages?

  2. Thanks Chris, I appreciate it, really.

    I also think #3 came out well, although there’s something about the water splash that’s a bit off.

    On the topic of internet outages, first of all, it’s actually surprisingly welcome. It fits nicely with my manifesto of blogging less. The reason though, is my apartment complex has a shared internet connection. The guy in charge of the, uh, routers I think, is on vacation. So he can’t turn “my router” off and on, which is all that’s required.

  3. Pretty cool. Personally, I like #4, while #3 and #1 are cool too. The new resolution is also perfect for my tiny powerbook screen.

    One problem, however, why does each of the images open in a new window in Safari? Just something for you to ponder now that you’re without internet 😛 Firefox shows the expected behavior (the image opens in the “frame” beneath the header).

  4. Thanks Jonas & Nik.

    One problem, however, why does each of the images open in a new window in Safari

    I have no idea. Maybe it’s the JavaScript that sort of borks it. But does it show the correct resolution pictures in that new window ? Or just a blank window?

    In any case, the idea for the revamp requires everything to be Flash, and no JavaScript. So if I can manage to pull that off, it won’t be a problem in the future.


    Thanks. It’s also perfect timing for a break, with the sun and all. Although, a couple of my neighbours have also started noticing there’s no shared internet, so something might happen soon to change the situation 🙂

  5. Joen,

    But does it show the correct resolution pictures in that new window ? Or just a blank window?

    Yep, just opens the php in a new window. Both initially and when clicking one (any) of the numbers.

  6. Yep, just opens the php in a new window. Both initially and when clicking one (any) of the numbers.

    Joen, no worries. It’s not a show stopping issue. Just something to keep in mind for the next time you’re mucking about with the site. Nowhere near as nutty as the refresh bug/issue from before.

  7. I thought I could get to the large version, but testing just now I noticed that Rob is right. Oh well, at least I can view the whole image without scrolling on my puny-vision 12″ powerbook.

    I must also second Joen, Denmark with these temperatures really is topless weather.

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