Dangerous Curves (or...How I found art in myself)

Teresa Johnson-Noe

by Teresa Johnson-Noe

As I let the marker glide across the paper...black of course to begin with. I watch my own hand shake and create a fine line, followed of course by a divot. Damn curves.

I notice as I draw the square, I don’t have the same problem. The line is a straight and formal as a black tuxedo. Sharp. Precise.

But the curves. They are much harder to perfect.

I have been working on some silly little zen-doodle art projects. Mostly with sharpie fine point markers and a will of steel to avoid abject boredom.

I use all of the colors I can, but try to find something interesting in the black and white of it all, as well. I never intended to find writing material based on scribbles of color on a sketch pad.

But, here I am.

Reality is this:  I have A.D.D. And, while there has never been a legit diagnosis to support my claim, I am pretty sure. My parents struggled with me as a child as far as my insane energy level and my academic struggles. So, in an effort to combat this malady...I work in creative lines to make some of that lemonade, so to speak.

I draw, color, doodle, and write to be specific. Oh how I wish my talents leaned more toward music rather than the visual creatives. But, I’m sure some people out there also wish they could put pen to paper as easily as it has always come to me as well. So, myself and my 10 other personalities are thankful for this at least.

Never in my life had I assumed that my “mediums” would intertwine into one another, or find something in another. Yet it has.

And the long introduction of my story finds its way back to the original intent.

Curves are difficult.

Literally and metaphorically.
For years I struggled with my weight, and saw fat, where there was none.

Yeah, I had some chubby years...but as I grew into a woman-I realized that my body wasn’t just FAT as I assumed. Rather, it was just chock full of curves. Wide breed-worthy hips, large calves and thighs. Smaller on top. Pear shaped.

Curvy. Like a winding road, and not necessarily an hourglass.

A lot of my friends were the polar opposite. Athletic, thin, boyish. Square.

I aspired to look the same.

Boys of the 80’s (in my teen years) liked the straight lines a lot better than the circles and curves, and I sat out of a lot of school dances and mixers because of it.

I always felt like the round peg in the square hole.

True enough...I was.

As I was doing my weekly drawing the other day, I was delving into a complicated piece with circles. Large circles, medium circles, small circles. Curves. Rounded edges. Soft.

Nothing severe or sharp.

And as mentioned before, I found my hand shaking. I found it really difficult to perfect the curves and circles with no blunders in the piece. I found myself going back to the small imperfections and trying to fix them by making a thicker line, or going over it multiple times to “smooth it out”

All I did was make it look worse, honestly.

I crumpled the paper, pitched it,  and went back to squares. The straight lines were easier to draw, to shade,

To handle.

When a thought occurred to me.

Much like my life, I have spent years going over those curvy lines in my body, trying to smooth them out. Trying like hell to fix them.

And sometimes in doing so, I made the curves more severe. Larger. The imperfections were actually easier to spot than when I began. I went immediately back to straight lines and squares when things got tough.


Who knew?

The people around me were also guilty of this, I guess.

The boys in high school. The men of my early adult years. The crushes I had who never gave me the time of day, or passed me by for the straight-edged girls. In this creative pause-I had an real adult moment. An epiphone, if you will.

Like myself, drawing that picture. That doodle with pens. My zen relaxation sharpie-festival, I realized this: Those boys...those later men-they gave up just as I did on the picture with the circles. They couldn’t handle the curves! They couldn’t handle MY curves.

Talk about middle aged clarity.

I immediately dove back into the garbage and retrieved my crumpled up picture of circles, realizing my faux pas- and finished it. And, for comparison...I started a second picture as well, comprised mostly of squares and straight lines. Both full of color and energy. I showed both of these pictures to my husband, and asked pointedly which one he preferred.

His answer…

He liked the crumpled, colorful, imperfect circles. His  response, and I quote: “I like that one...it looks worn, but it is honest, and it has character. Oh, and it seems much more interesting than the other...too many straight lines.” He walked away without realizing he just affirmed half of my adult life and most of my self esteem as a woman.


I married a good one.

I keep drawing those curves, and don’t worry too much about the occasional divot in the paper, or the flaw in the rounded line. I just add color around it and admire it when it is all finished.

Truth be told...I don’t know whether it will ever be truly finished. But a work in progress is still a work of art.

And the thing is this: when women all over this crazy word start appreciating the journey just as much as the final destination-curvy, straight, crumpled, or other-they might find that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. And if that beholder happens to be yourself and not someone else...well, that’s OK too. Just buy a good pair of funky glasses and look for the colors, rather than the lines.

It will all come to you in time.

I promise.