Reef WIP

Reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a busy day today. It started with therapy late this morning. Then, I took myself off to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne for a walk and to look at, photo and draw some flora and foliage. I must admit I took more photos than I made sketches.

If you’d like to read more about my trip then please visit Curious Stops and Tea Shops, my other blog which is all about my trips out and about.

I have been working on this artwork where I’m working on a dark background with a soft pastel type effect upon it.

The colours are a lot brighter on my monitor than on wordpress. However, I’m sure you’ll get the idea. I like the floaty, fuzzy, ethereal feel the soft edged ‘pastels’ give the art. I also like the way I can get colours to glow against each other – very coral reef I think.

I’m still finding my way through this way of working. I’m not sure that it really is ‘me’; part of me thinks that it’s quite childish. I will persevere though and see where it leads me.

Nature

Nature © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This image is in the vein of experiments in digital art. It reminds me very much of chalk/soft pastels, a traditional medium I did experiment with many, many years ago. However, I abandoned it as I didn’t like the feel of the soft pastels nor the messiness of them.

Using a kind of digital version of them means no mess!

I like this pot potpourri of motifs quite a lot. The softness of the lines and translucency of the colours appeals to me. I also like the way the colours glow against the black background. Surprisingly, the simplicity of the motifs appeals to me as well, giving a folk art kind of vibe to this work. Overall this design has an ethereal, ghostly, perhaps even magical feel to it.

My usual style of art is quite intricate and detailed, so this is definitely a departure from this. It’s certainly a style I want to experiment with more.

As it’s digital art, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Sunday art experiments

Sunday art experiments © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Last night I had an idea to create a grid of little squares that I could try out some digital art techniques on. It’s ended up as a digital art sampler.

It has been another chance for me to experiment with some of the brushes and brush settings in Autodesk Sketchbook without worrying about messing up any art project I currently have on the go.

The more I play around with things, the more I understand them. I also find techniques or effects that I like-lots. There are quite a few squares in this sampler that I don’t like, but there are some I am pleased with, namely the two in the centre of the bottom row.

Some of the others have shown some interesting effects I could make use of in future artworks. Others I just look at and say to myself, ‘Angela, what on earth were you thinking?’. The answer is that I wasn’t thinking; I was trying different brushes, textures and settings to see what happened.

I certainly have a right mixed bunch of results in this sampler. Also, I have a bit more understanding of how different brush settings work. Having said that, I’m sure I still have an awful lot to experience and understand. Like everything else in life, this is always done one step at a time and when I am ready to explore, experiment and learn.

I also like to show experiments like this. Usually, you only get to see work in progress that I’m quite happy to share or finished artworks that I’m satisfied with. I think it’s important to show that I experiment, make mistakes, create art that is a bit of a mess.

Even when I make something that is a mess, there is always something to learn by reflecting on why I think it’s a mess, what could I do differently, is there anywhere I could make use of this technique where it would work out well for me? These are just a few questions I consider when I reflect and review my art.

I no longer keep a sketchbook/journal for my art as I mostly work digitally now. However, I just realised that I could create a digital version of a sketchbook journal using One Note. Now that’s a little task for me to do once I get rid of a horrible headache I had when I woke.

Abstract Reef WIP

Abstract reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Abstract reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning I decided I’d like to use one of my recent reef drawings and re-work it in colour. You can see my progress so far above. The coloured background makes a world of difference to how the design looks as I work it. I also have quite a fondness for teals, turquoises and purples for the background to my artwork. I also favour a darker background that makes the bright colours I like to use in my art ‘pop’ even more.

As it’s digital art, I’m using my favourite trio of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.

I’ve decided not to go with black pen outlines on this one. I’ve still not fully worked out why I shy away from them when I’m doing digital art, yet I’m more than comfortable to use them in my traditional drawings.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling quite upbeat today, if still a bit tired. This week has been a weirdly busy and draining one. Between horrible abdominal cramps and broken nights’ sleeps, being startled while out, and long conversations with various people about problems going on in their lives I am feeling a bit tired too, but surprisingly content and upbeat.

I’ve also had a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come in counselling. How much better my mental health in the form of thoughts and beliefs about myself are. I am closer to being ‘good enough’ or ‘more than good enough’ to live the life I’d like to than ever.

I still have work to be done. There are still some negative beliefs about myself that on the surface don’t seem much of a problem, yet during EMDR they turn out to be much more powerful and distressing than I realised.

I make progress, and that is all that matters. Each step forward is a step towards my goals for myself.

Experimenting digitally…

Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.

Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.

I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.

Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.

Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.

The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.

As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.

What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.

I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.

I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.

I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.

Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!

Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.

When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.

I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.

I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.

Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.

I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.

I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.

I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.

Abstract art card design

Abstract Art Card Design ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Abstract Art Card Design ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

This morning I thought I’d try out a little experiment. Instead of drawing the design first, I used my Chameleon markers to lay down colour shapes and gradients and then add the line art.

I remembered to take a photo of the colour pattern I created, so you can see where I started. I had started adding some line art on it.

After adding the black line art, I then added gold embellishments using a gold gel pen. These are mainly on the background, where I wanted to add some interest.

One thing I’d change if I could do this over is to keep the same pale yellow to pink gradient background instead of the blue section to the middle left. I also meant to use pencils to add some depth of colour to some of the flat-looking areas. It would also have been a good idea to use them to increase the illusion of 3D in some of the patterned regions.

Do you know, I often say that I should’ve added some shadows when I post what I think is a finished piece of art. I need to put a huge post-it note on my Surface Studio to remind me about this!

My final step was to use a piece of foam to sponge some black Distress Ink around the edge to give it a bit of a border. I’m not so sure this was a good idea; the edges are a bit more defined, but they also look a bit dirty and grungy. One lives and learns, eventually.

It certainly was an experiment for me with traditional media. The method I’ve used here is a bit like the method I use when creating digital art. There, I start with a block of colour for the section I’m working on and then add shadow and light and ‘carve’ patterns into it using various methods.

Let me know what you think about this little design.

Oh, it is a little design. The card blank is aprox. 5½” by 4″ (14cm x 10cm)and the design is approx. 3″ by 4¾” ( 8cm x 12cm)

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing ok. I had a good night’s sleep and so am feeling more alert and upbeat. I’m still a bit achy in the lower tummy area, but it’s nearly completely gone now.

Yesterday was a self-care day. I didn’t eat much; my appetite had departed me almost entirely. What I did eat made me feel sicky. That’s better today, as in I’ve had breakfast and though I didn’t eat much before I was full, I did eat.

I wasn’t happy with any art, or just about anything else I did; I just got frustrated with it and myself. Instead, I did spend a lot of the day cwtched up warm, crocheting and listening to Audible (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire read by Stephen Fry). Eventually, I settled down to sleep a little earlier than usual.

I’m glad to say that my mood seems a bit brighter and more stable today.

This morning, I’ve been busy ‘art-ing’, and I need to pop out soon. Errands to do and I need a bit of a walk as well. It looks like it’s going to stay dry for a while. That’s always a good thing. The temperature outdoors is more refreshing than it has been of late, which will make walking far more pleasant for me. It will help to blow the cobwebs away. Maybe it will also help with the stiffness/tenderness that those abdominal cramps have left in their wake. I may also find some inspiration for some more creative words in my journal too.

Colouring Reef Illustrations

Coloring Reef Illustrations © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Coloring Reef Illustrations © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

This morning I started to colour the reef illustrations I posted yesterday. I’m using a mixture of Chameleon marker pens and pencils to do this. My photograph of the work in progress isn’t brilliant, but you get the idea I’m sure.

In the larger motifs, I’m using the Chameleon Color Tones markers along with the Color Tops to achieve gradient colouring. Flat colour is added to smaller areas using the pen.

Then, I use Chameleon pencils to add depth and dimension. I’m also adding more depth and dimension by using a white gel pen and a fine Unipin pen to add highlights and texture.

I’m enjoying the process, but I must admit I’m finding it more ‘fussy’ to do than when I digitally colour! Continually swapping pens and pencils is a little frustrating for me.

Maybe that’s just today as I’m tired. I didn’t sleep at all well last night. Stomach cramps were plaguing me throughout the night, though they do seem better today. Painkillers have stopped the pain completely today; yesterday, they merely dulled it.

Also, when I woke, my mind was very active with flashbacks related to my EMDR therapy yesterday. It was a very emotional session, lots of tears and upset. However, my therapist tells me I’m making good progress. I believe her.

Today, everything seems like hard work as I’m so exhausted, not just from the lack of sleep, but emotionally too. These feelings will pass; they always do.

I don’t know how much more I’ll do today. I don’t think I’ll get a lot of colouring done. I do feel I need to draw though, so perhaps I’ll do that after I’ve done some errands today. Typical of ‘adulting’ to get in the way of self-soothing and self-care.