Stay inside the lines

They always tell you, stay inside the lines.

I wasn't really fond of coloring books. I found the process tedious, especially when I somehow manage to botch the entire drawing. Either I place the wrong color on the wrong spot, or worse, I go beyond the line.

Nobody can help it, though. As children, coloring is a very haphazard process. Someone lays the somewhat blank canvas on your desk, you grab your crayons, and look at the image for around five seconds before you grab a crayon and start making fat strokes. It's going to look crazy, and the way it goes, you will end up going outside the lines.

I was eventually taught a workaround. I forgot who among my art teachers said it - or was it my mother? - but they advised me to draw an outline around the original black outline with the crayon that I wanted to use. So an area that's made to be red will be surrounded with a red border first, because I start doing another thing they taught me: slow, careful strokes, making sure that you stop before you actually stray. Soon, I was not making the same mistakes, but it still looks rushed, haphazard, perhaps crazy.

A second workaround, then, from someone who slips from my memory. If you color sidewards, color sidewards all throughout, they say. At least it will look coherent, with lines on a certain degree making the once blank area into lines of color, much like the way a television works. Another page is finished, and when I look at it from a reasonable distance, it does look more well-bound. Sensitive people will say, however, that you varied your hand's weight in some parts, so more crayon went on the right, for example, than to the left.

My aunt's the crafts master, and she's done everything - from trinkets to cross-stitching - as a hobby. She was the first to teach me about the magic of tissue paper; when everything is over, she says, get some tissue paper and start rubbing it across your entire artwork. That way, it will not just look polished, but it will feel polished. The ending may look like floor wax when you do it right; do it wrong, like the first-timers, and you'll be so ashamed, because something went beyond the lines, again.

By the time I learned that, however, I was over coloring books. Or, at least, I wasn't within the recommended age group. I was over handmade birthday cards, too, and I was over little expressions of thoughtfulness, preferring instead to write ineffective but crazy attempts at wittiness. But the lessons I was taught about coloring, well, obviously they're stuck in my head, kicking in when you have to, and even when you don't.

And there goes the quintessential rule. Stay inside the lines. Stay where you should be, and you'll do everything right. You can't polish without the straight lines, and you can't do the straight lines without making sure that red doesn't bleed to where blue should be, and vice versa. Break this rule, and the entire picture will be as messed up as it is meant to be.

I shouldn't do what my heart desires, because I'm not in the right place. So I wouldn't.

And your responses...

this is wonderfully written. i love the analogy!

and i love coloring. until now. heehee.

Anonymous Anonymous7/24/2008     

wow.. you are really good!!!

Blogger N.7/25/2008     

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