In college I took an art class and the first thing we did was tape off a square in the center of the paper. This was the space where we would draw the vase sitting on a stool in front of the classroom. We drew on a bright white sheet with a rough matte surface, textured like an eggshell. I began at the center, of course, and carefully created a scale small enough to contain everything in front of me. To my delight, the finished product floated smack-dab in the middle of the paper. Nothing even neared the edge.
Despite my tangled mess of hair, things of the wild variety don’t come easily for me. My creativity comes from working with boundaries—like the finite rectangle in a frame of film. I no longer feel the need to stay inside the lines, but I like limits and indelible endings. They make the space seem full.
I guess “seem” is the imperative word there, since for the most part it’s only an illusion. Boundaries have a way of creating things, because they hint at what’s beyond them.
I once saw a Pollock in a museum; it took up the better part of a wall. The painting wasn’t framed, so you could see the sides of canvas and the staples that stretched it across. The color ran clear off the edges and I imagined onto the floor. The paint I could see felt like merely a piece—a swatch of some colossal and untamed outpouring.
We learn early on how to give just enough—to burn, but just a little, and be done. It’s smart to save a part of yourself, because what if this only gets harder?
But, there is no restraint in the month of May, no tenuous half-ways or kind-ofs. Every inch of the cherry trees is impossibly pink. The blossoms quiver with their unbearable lightness. After months of cold, the doors fly open again and a hive’s worth of bees begin buzzing. Ask them how much to give of your heart! They’ll answer the way that you’re fearing.
It sounds like paint hitting a canvas. Give everything. Give everything. Give everything.