If someone told you to color outside the lines, what would that mean to you?
My grandfather was an artist. His works line the halls of kings and presidents and galleries, great and small, worldwide. Paintings, sculptures, portraits, you name it. His talent knew no bounds. I used to love sitting in his studio, watching him work on his latest masterpiece. Sometimes I would ask him why he didn’t just focus on one type of art. Why he made so many different things.
“Sometimes you need to color outside the lines, Raine.”
I couldn’t understand it back then. I was only eight. I liked the lines in my coloring books. They showed the picture. I just gave it color. It never occurred to me that the colors could cross over the lines. That the picture could be even more beautiful when you ignored the lines and colored it whichever way your heart desired. The heart was what mattered, when it came to art.
Plus, it was hard to unlearn the lessons of staying inside the lines. Color outside the lines? Was he crazy? I spent so long learning how to color inside the lines! Staying in the lines was neat and tidy and very grown-up and not baby-like at all. I didn’t want my pictures to look like a baby had colored them. I was grown then, and everyone expected me to color inside the lines.
Looking back now, I get it. Color outside the lines. Do the unexpected. Don’t think that the only way to do something is the way “they” tell you to do it. Sometimes the lines just hold you back from reaching your potential.
Then again, grandad also believed the moon landing was faked, so maybe he was just an eccentric old coot after all. It doesn’t stop me from clinging to that memory when I miss him the most. I still color outside the lines in his honor.
Notes: Sometimes a prompt like this comes along and I want to wax poetic/philosophical but at the same time I don’t necessarily want to write it as myself. So I create a character to ruminate for me. It’s not really a story, I guess, but it isn’t quite me blathering on about a metaphor either. It seemed like something an artist would say. My grandfather was a dairy farmer, not an artist. Although… my Poppy was a carpenter who crafted beautiful things. I don’t think any of his pieces are in any palaces or government buildings though.
What do you think? What does “color outside the lines” mean to you? Maybe use it in a story. Have a mentor character say it. Have a crazy character say it. Have a child character say it. Play around with it and see where it gets you!
I’m traveling again this weekend. Not thousands of miles across the country again, but still. I’m very much looking forward to having a quiet weekend to myself again after this wedding we’re attending. All this social interaction is leaving this introvert exhausted. It’s been fun though; I’m not really complaining. Anyway. Have a great weekend! I’ll see you Sunday!
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