Monday Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

Monday morning.

I am so grateful that I work at home and don’t have to face the rush hour traffic any more. Rush hour traffic? That’s an oxymoron if ever there was one! Anyways, I digress.

Working at home means that I can take my time to come around, organise my days as I need to in order to satisfy the needs of contracts, appointments and self-care for myself. Including taking my time to fully wake up in the morning. I do wonder when was that point when I no longer woke totally alert and dashing to the shower was replaced by a slow, gradual ascent from sleep to awake enough to find my way to the bathroom. I

Today is one of those days where my day is peppered with things – my weekly therapy appointment, a commitment this evening, a prescription to pick up and have filled – that the day seems broken.

On days like this there are some things I do to help me balance myself. I sort out my BuJo for the day. I catch up in my journal. I do some art for the sake of doing art, for pleasure, for relaxation, for peace and calm.

Over the past week I’ve been doing loving kindness meditations at 11am. However, given the way I reacted to the last couple and how they affected my mood for the whole day I’m going to try scheduling them at the end of my day when all I need to do without being affected by any triggering of the cPTSD inner beasties is done and I have time to sit with the results of the meditation rather than try to fight them so I get done what needs to be done.

Talking of cPTSD, my mood is ok this morning, though I do have my EMDR therapy in a little while. That can unsettle me so I’ve decided to put off the loving kindness meditation until later today.

Art really can help me manage my mental health. Art can soothe me when I’m having a troublesome day. When it doesn’t, like on Saturday, I know that there’s stuff there that needs to be worked with. And that’s difficult because it’s difficult for me to even think about these things let along talk about them. However, I do know I can do ‘blind’ processing where my therapist doesn’t need to know what has triggered me, just what I’m noticing during the therapy.

So, that’s ahead of me in a little while.

This morning I felt I needed to create a mandala. So I did. Soft purples, lilacs, lavenders and a grey-ish blue. Not sure the colours work, but I enjoyed the process of creating this one, as I do all my mandalas.

Mandalas do seem to be one of my ‘things’ when it comes to creating stuff.

Of course, my Microsoft Surface Studio screen as my paper, Microsoft Surface Pen as my drawing tool and Autodesk Sketchboook Pro as my source of colour and texture media are more of my ‘things’ that help me to express my creativity. And they were used to help me create this mandala.

Blue Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I have had an artsy kind of day so far. A lot of the gloom, anxiety and troubled thoughts that descended on me have lifted, but not all. Once provoked the beasties that are my cPTSD take a while to settle down again. I also feel tired – mentally, physically and emotionally tired, despite a fairly good nights sleep.

I managed to get some work done on a template for my next book for Creative Haven by Dover. I got to a point, however, where I wasn’t happy with how it was going so I thought a break was in order.

So, for my break I thought I’d work on a mandala, and this is the one I’ve created today.

I didn’t consciously choose the colours or patterns I used in this mandala. However, the blues bring to mind water, rivers, the sea. I love to be near the sea. I find the rhythm of the waves calming, no matter how gentle or wild they are. The salty wind helps to blow away cobwebs in the mind, cobwebs that not so good thoughts have stuck to. I love to look at the patterns in the sand, rocks, pebbles. There’s so much more I love. So perhaps by choosing blue I’ve identified an unconscious need to visit the sea soon.

A lot of the patterns that have found their way into this mandala remind me of waves or shells. They’re all organic and flowing. Though there are some rather architectural arches and patterns there, lending some form to the design.

The ocean is used as metaphor in mindfulness meditations. I am the ocean. The waves are my emotions that ruffle the surface of that deep, calm body of water. Meditation is about finding that calm and being in touch with it in daily life.

Carl Jung believed that drawing a mandala daily helped to reveal what was going on in the subconscious mind, the things we need to bring into awareness and work on in order to heal.

Curious that this one speaks to me of water, the ocean.

Yesterday’s meditation stirred up the waves for sure. A veritable tsunami resulted of emotional, mental and physical pain. It’s freaked me out a little and I’ve been reluctant to meditate today, well not until I’ve done everything I need to do today.

I did draw this mandala digitally. In fact, returning to digital art let me exhale a little and relax a bit more into art. I also didn’t want to revisit my frustration with traditional media that I had yesterday.

I find working digitally wonderfully liberating in many ways. I know that I’m no expert in the use of mechanics of digital art – I use it more like I would traditional media. However, whereas I feel I struggle with colour and techniques with traditional media these days, I feel none of that with digital art.

Now that’s a surprise to me! I never, ever thought I’d feel that way about working digitally.

My digital tools are my Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The screen of the Surface Studio is my paper, the Surface pen is a multitude of pens, pencils, brushes and colours in one instrument. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is the software that allows me to work so intuitively, so naturally as I would with pen on paper, but with other tools and techniques I can use that I wouldn’t be able to reproduce with traditional media – I don’t have the skills to do that.

So, some insights about myself from the mandala, and also some realisations about myself and my relationship with digital art and how much that relationship has strengthened and deepened – and there’s still a lot more to learn and discover about digital art and myself.

Doodly Saturday

©Angela Porter 2019

It’s been a weird kind of day today for me. I’m quite open about my mental health, and today has been one where it’s not been completely tickettyboo. I’m out of sorts. Unsettled. Nothing I’ve done seems good enough to me. I’m quite teary and that really set in during a loving kindness meditation this morning.

Loving kindness meditations are always difficult for me. It’s easy for me to send out love and good wishes to all people. It’s not easy for me to accept the same for myself. Today, it was more difficult than usual, including some physical pain along with it. Traumas from my past kept rising up. Things I didn’t think were traumas, just stupid decisions made by myself. Seems I have work to do on those too in EMDR therapy.

I did colour some mixed media paper with distress inks and quite small pieces at that. I drew on two of them, as above. I’m really not happy with either of them. I really don’t know why I put the words on the left hand one. Growth is a funny word there.

I’ll just put it all down to me being out of sorts. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for me to focus on art.

This is odd for me as drawing or creating usually helps me to feel better. Today it hasn’t.

I received a book in the post today – “The Wild Remedy’ by Emma Mitchell. It’s a diary she’s written over a year of how she finds being in nature and drawing and painting helps her with her low moods. She’s subtitled the book ‘How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’. I’ve read the introduction and the first month in the diary, which is October. Both interesting reads.

I almost was inspired to go out for a walk, but I just couldn’t pull myself together to do this during the daylight hours. The Sun has just set here in South Wales in the UK. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll manage to get out for a walk at some point.

I know my moods don’t linger for long. I do have low days which can linger for a couple or few days. Nowhere near as bad as they used to be, but enough to result in me being unsettled and out of sorts and hypercritical of myself and anything I do. I’ve become aware enough that it’s best to do other things that draw for publishers on days like today as I’ll just get more and more frustrated with myself and my efforts.

On other days, whatever I draw I may consider good enough. But on days like today …

Still, the sun will rise again in the morning and it’ll be a new day. My mood may be better then and I’ll accomplish work I consider to be good enough. Now all I need to do is try to find something that I can settle down to do today. I’ve been back and forth all day between drawing, reading, knitting, fussing around. The only creative thing I’ve enjoyed today has been colouring paper with distress inks. Not sure I want to spend the evening doing that though.

Maybe I need to go out for a drive. Sometimes driving with upbeat music on can shift my mood, especially when I feel anxious and restless as I do now, for no reason either.

Thinking of you – a dangle design card

© Angela Porter 2019

This little card and envelope took me around 3 hours to make. I had to remember how to do various things and find my supplies to do them with!

My first task was to make the sentiment banner. I had the idea for this one after someone asked me for recommendations of good books for learning hand lettering as they’re not at all happy with their handwriting.

Hand lettering and handwriting are not the same thing. Hand lettering is something you unconsciously do. Hand lettering is the conscious and deliberate drawing of letters, one by one. Practice, like everything else you want to learn and become good enough at, is important. I suggested that they try printing the sentiments out on their computer or using words cut out of books or magazines or stickers or stamps and ink pads used by card makers until they’re comfortable with their own lettering style.

That led me to thinking that rather than writing the sentiment directly onto the paper that I’m going to draw the dangle design on, what about if I hand lettered it on paper again and again until I’m happy with it and then cut that version out. I could then layer it onto coloured card to make a border, or onto the paper or or or…

So, that’s what I wanted to use here. A variation on what I’ve done in previous cards. I cut two trips of mixed media paper, one around 1cm wide, the other around 0.7cm wide.

On the narrow strip I wrote my sentiment. I did this confidently as I knew if I got it wrong I could always write it again – I’d not ruin my dangle design in any way. I then trimmed the strip close to the start and end of the sentiment.

Next, I coloured the wider strip of paper with victorian velvet Distress Ink. I trimmed one piece so it was just a little longer than the sentiment. Then, I cut two rectangles from the coloured strip. I cut triangular notches into one end of each of the rectangles. I used the sponge applicator to make sure the edges of the coloured pieces, including inside the notches, and the sentiment strip coloured. By doing this, there’s a darker edge to the pieces and this defines them against the background. The final step in making the banner was to glue the pieces together as shown in the photo.

I cut two pieces of mixed media paper for the front of the card. The smaller one I made a little narrower than the sentiment banner; I wanted the ribbon to hang over the edge a little. I used a pencil to mark where I wanted the banner to sit on the card. I then used a pencil to mark out the centre of the card so I could position my dangle centrally.

Above where the ribbon would sit I wanted to place an arrangement of pot plants – succulents and a cacti. Below I wanted a fairly simple dangle, but one that had elements that appeared in the arrangement of pot plants. I drew these with a 05 Uniball Unipin Pen.

I then wanted to colour the two pieces of mixed media paper before I coloured the designs in.

For the larger one I used Peacock Feathers, Bundled Sage, Weathered Wood and Tumbled Glass Distress Inks to colour the whole of the paper panel. I edged this panel with Faded Denim Distress Ink. Then, I lightly sprayed the panel with water so that I’d get some faded watermarks as a texture in the colour.

For the upper panel, I used a very light hand to add the same Distress Inks to the paper, but in a much paler shade. I also edged this panel with the Faded Denim Distress Ink. I realised it hadn’t erased the pencil guidelines before I added the Distress Ink so when I went to erase them they wouldn’t fully erase. I’d forgotten that I had to do that! Still, it adds a bit to the distressed feel of the cards, that and the damage marks that were on the larger panel too.

To colour the dangle design I used Mitsubishi Uni coloured pencils. I used a fairly limited palette across the design.

The last two steps before assembling the card were add dots of gold ink and some shiny adhesive crystal gems.

To assemble the card I used glue to adhere the lower panel directly to the card. I then used foam squares to adhere the dangle design panel to the lower panel and the sentiment ribbon to the dangle design panel. This card has quite a bit of dimension to it.

My final job was to decorate the envelope. I decided to draw some pot plants and some of the daisies along the bottom. I added some butterflies to the left as the area above the pot plant seemed empty, unbalance. I haven’t coloured the envelope in as I’m in two minds whether to or not. Also, it would be nice to edge the envelope with the Faded Jeans Distress ink too, maybe even colouring the envelope with the same Distress Inks as the card. There’s also the back flap of the envelope that would benefit from a little potted succulent drawing I think.

Distress Inks are water-reactive, so if I do this, once the envelope is addressed a light application of Micro Glaze would seal the colour in so it wouldn’t be damaged in the mail.

I’m actually quite pleased with this card. It’s got me thinking about how to do more of this kind of stuff – card making the ‘Angela’ way!

If you give making cards like this a go, I’d love to see what you create! Happy art-ing, lettering and crafting!

Lots of ideas for dangle designs are shown in my book
‘A Dangle A Day’.

‘Amazing’ – Hand Lettering

© Angela Porter 2019

My morning warm up art session today was this little bit of hand lettering. I had a completely different idea in mind when I started this off but, as often happens, the creative energy flowed in a different direction.

I had wanted to do a monogram, perhaps with a dangle or maybe one set into a pattern border as a drop capital to a quote.

As I worked on first the pencil outline of the A, and then inking it in using fine and extra fine fountain pens filled with black ink, the lines that flowed out dictated the form of the letter rather than me consciously trying to force it into what I thought I wanted to create.

I think I’ve over patterned the inner space of the monogram, or not used the right kind of patterns there. However, it’ll do.

I wanted to use some birdwing copper FW Pearlescent ink from Daler-Rowney to add metallic highlights with a dip pen. I soon found out that dip pens and parchment paper that has been coloured with black ink don’t work well together. So, I ended up with the copper highlights at the bottom of the letters that fade up naturally. Adding dots of metallic colour to the monogram was easier on the unworked parchment. Over the black ink dots it wasn’t so easy. I’m also not sure that the ‘string of beads’ in the monogram actually works but I know it’s missing something. I need some time to reflect on this. As I do about adding any more copper highlights to it. I may yet decide to add some dangles to the word.

On the whole, I’m quite happy with how this turned out. I could add ‘You are’ in small letters above the letters. Either way, I think this would make a lovely notecard. I also think it could be used in a bujo, planner, journal, scrapbook or as framed art. I think I need to review the card making and mixed media techniques I once knew and have sidelined to focus on other aspects of art and adapt them to my current needs/ideas.

Dangle Design Card and Envelope

© Angela Porter 2019

Here’s a pretty pair of whimsical and cute dangle designs card and envelope.

For the focal point of the card I used a butterfly from a pack of Ephemera from Tim Holtz called Botanical. I added some metallic gold ink highlights to the butterfly as I knew I’d be adding gold to the design. I also edged the butterfly with some Peeled Paint Distress Ink using a sponge ink applicator.

I then cut my paper to fit the card blank I wanted to use; I learned my lesson from the the last card I made! The card blank measured 8½” by 4¼”. So, I cut a piece of Claire Fontaine Mixed Media paper 7¾” by 3¾” to create the dangle design on.

I used the butterfly as a guide as to where I wanted to add some flowers upon which it could alight. I also drew pencil guidelines in for the centre of the design and the sentiment banner.

Then it was drawing the design. I used a 05 Unipin pen from Uniball.

I started by drawing the flowers at the top of the design.

Next, it was the hand lettering for the sentiment ‘Just for you’.

Flowers, hearts, stars and spherical and teardrop shaped beads are my goto choices for dangles. I did add a charm that was based on some jewellery, as well as a square charm with a geometric pattern inside it.

When I’d drawn the main dangle I realised I wanted to add a bit of width to it. So, I added two bars stretching out from the side of the square charm and used the ends to hang dangles made up of hearts and beads.

Colouring was the next task. I used Tombow Dual Brush pens to colour the design in. The colour gradients weren’t strong enough for me, so I used Chameleon Duotone Pencils to add depth to the colours.

Then, it was time to attach the butterfly using some foam squares.

I then used a dip ink pen to add some dots of gold FW Pearlescent ink around the design. I also used gold to fill in the lettering of the sentiment and various elements of the dangle design.

Next, I added white dots highlights to some of the design elements using a Sakura Souffle pen.

I also used a blue-grey Chameleon pencil to add shadows to the design at this point.

Before affixing the design to the card blank I used a sponge ink applicator and Peeled Paint Distress Ink to edge the design. That was the card done.

I then thought it would be fun to create an example of an addressed envelope using a dangle design as a monogram. I used some of the charms from the card for this design. I also drew some simple, whimsical butterflies above the monogram. I used Chameleon Duotone Pencils to colour the dangle design and to add a shadow to the dangle.

Pencil guidelines helped me to keep my lettering evenly spaced and of a consistent size. In this case I just guesstimated them, but in future I think I will need to measure the spacing of the lines!

Finally, I added some glittery golden stars with a gold glitter Uniball Gel pen as well as some white dot highlights using a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen.

One thing I realise I didn’t do was to make the colours in the dangle more harmonious with the butterfly. The color tones of the butterfly are quite antique and grungy and I used rather bright, clean colours to colour the design with. I also am not happy with the monogram on the envelope; it’s too small and the lettering style doesn’t seem sympathetic to the rest of the lettering.

I’m going to put these down to me still suffering the lingering effects of the stinking cold I’ve had for the past three days. It’s definitely broken now, but I’m still not 100%.

It’s also a learning experience. I’m not a wonderful card maker; I do dabble in it from time to time, however dangle cards are fun to make and with the decorated envelopes it’s double the fun! I think I need to start sending happy mail to people! I’d be happy to receive this card with a letter inside – how would you feel about it?

‘A Dangle A Day’ was published on 15 Jan 2019 and many of the dangle design elements can be found in this book.

A Dangle A Day Dangle Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I’m now feeling a little better this evening and I thought I’d create a dangle mandala (dangle-dala?) to mark the publication of ‘A Dangle A Day’ today.

I drew this using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the digital paper that is my Microsoft Surface Studio screen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I then coloured it using the same tools.

I’ve uploaded the black and white line art version of this design to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. 

If you’d like to print and colour this design in, please follow the link and join the group. You’ll find some other coloring templates there too that are only available to members of the group.

Dangle designs are a lot of fun to create. They’re whimsical, cute and a lot simpler to draw than they look! I take you one step at a time through how to draw well over 100 different dangle designs in the book, as well as making suggestions about where you can use dangle designs and with words of encouragement.

If you do have a go at drawing dangle designs, and colouring them of course, I’d love to see what you create and how you use them!