Inktober 2019 – Day 9

Swallow skull, Clathus Ruber and Lola tangle pattern.

This one is a riot of colour and I’m not entirely sure it works. However, I took my colour inspiration from the Clathus ruber fungus and thought green would play nicely against the reds, oranges and yellows. I’m not at all sure about the end result.

The swallow skull was simple to draw, so I took the opportunity to try colouring and shading with it to gain some depth and dimension. I think I achieved it, though the contrast between shadow and light could be greater.

The skull was so small so it lent itself to being drawn in a mandala-style ring; that’s how I ended up drawing another mandala today.

I definitely stylised the Clathus ruber fungus, with it ending up looking more like a holey autumnal leaf than the fungus itself. However, no one said the fungus had to be realistic!

The lola tangle pattern formed the two outer rings of foliage.

I worked digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.

I’m using Inktober 2019 prompts from these lovely people on Instagram – @book_polygamist (animal skulls), @nyan_sun (mushrooms) and @havepen_willdraw (tangle patterns).

Time to Change Wales Duties

A little later today I’m going to wend my way to Llandudno for an overnight stay in preparation for an event tomorrow, which is mental health day. I’m attending the Wales Health at Work Partnership Summit to set up a small stand and to take part in two ‘Open Minds’ workshops, which will focus on mental health and wellbeing in the work environment.

I’m feeling a bit anxious, which is normal. I’ve never been to Llandudno. I’ve not travelled further north than Llandridnod Wells (which is on my route). I’m travelling alone, overnight, for the first time in many, many years.

Challenges for me will be eating. I’m not good at going into unfamiliar places by myself to eat, especially at night. I’d also like to take a walk along the seafront and I’m hoping I’ll be able to manage that too. I also would like to stop along my way for a late lunch.

I’m feeling a bit tired. I had a really weird dream that relates to the anxiety I feel about the trip.

So, I’d better finish posting Inktober day 9 across my social media and then myself packed and sorted for my little trip.

Be gentle with yourself.

Artwork © Angela Porter 2019

About the artwork

This is the same illustration I used for yesterday’s quote, however, after adding some textural lines to the drawing, I’ve coloured the design.

I decided to use flat colours as it brings a feeling of a coloured wood cut or lino cut print to the design. I used a grungy texture overlay to enhance the vintage feel of the coloured design.

The line art was drawn using Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens on paper, but the colouring, textures and text have been added digitally. I used Affinity Publisher to produce the typography. A Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro were used to complete the colouring

It’s always interesting how just small changes can make such a big difference to artwork.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling fairly content and quite optimistic. I am, however, still a little tired to say the least.

My trip to Llandridnod Wells yesterday left me exhausted. I went there to give an antistigma talk as a champion for Time to Change Wales. Telling my story of cPTSD still leaves me emotionally exhausted and vulnerable. This is, however, a small price to pay for giving people food for thought and getting people talking about mental illness.

As I was feeling so emotional after the talk I didn’t take a walk around Llandridnod Wells. When I’m feeling the way I was it’s all too easy for me to panic and enter flight-mode when I’m overwhelmed by noise or an unfamiliar place. The anxiety I feel about getting myself turned-about and lost and not able to find my way back to the car just adds to the vulnerability.

So, I thought I’d drive back and see if I could find the courage to stop at a cafe on the way. I’d passed a nice-looking one called the Wye Knot. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop there. I was still too overwhelmed.

My brain kicked in and I thought I’d head to Honey Cafe in Bronllys. I’ve been there a few times before and it’s a familiar setting to me. However, when I went in there were so many people milling around the counter and others coming in the door and pushing past me that I went into flight-mode and dashed back to the car in tears.

I just drove home then, doing a mental inventory of what I had in the way of food.

I had something quick to eat and a big mug of tea and then I curled up in bed to sleep; a nap is one of my self-care activities. I know that if I can sleep for a while I wake feeling refreshed and more resilient than I was.

The exhaustion comes not just from being emotionally overwhelmed and triggered but from the effort of keeping a happy smiling mask up. Yesterday the mask wasn’t as ‘solid’ as on Monday, but I knew it was still there. Once the talk was over, I let the mask drop and I was suddenly exhausted.

This is, as I mentioned earlier, worth getting the word out about the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness, giving people some advice on what to and what not to do, and starting conversations.

I’m beginning to flag here; tiredness/exhaustion is catching up with me. I have managed to get some work done this morning. However, before I try to do anything else I need some more sleep I think.

So, I’m taking the advice of today’s quote – I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

Dangle Design Greeting Cards

Dangle Design Greeting Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Dangle Design Greeting Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Today I have two card designs for you, both featuring dangle designs, but in different ways.

If you like dangle designs and you’d like to give drawing them yourself but need a little help or inspiration, then you may find my book “A Dangle A Day” of interest. In the book, I take you, step by step, through how to draw over 100 dangle designs, along with some ideas of how you could use them. 

Love Ya and With Love Card.

I started by using the Foursquare Backdrop: Portrait die from lawn fawn to cut the frames and panels from a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. I purchased this die, and the one in the second card, from Seven Hills Crafts here in the UK.

Next, I used Stormy Skies and Broken China Distress Inks to add a subtle colour gradient to the panels.

My idea was to draw four different dangle designs for each small square panel. I also wanted to include some hand-lettering, which I did.

So, I used Unipin pens from Uniball to do the drawings and lettering. I did use pencil outlines for the ribbon banners and lettering to make sure their placement was just right.

I coloured the design elements and charms using Copic markers. As the individual design elements were so small, I just used two colours to achieve shading in the bigger ones.

I also added a drop shadow around the designs using a BV marker that is a greyish-violet. It’s a very subtle drop shadow.

I had to add some sparkle and shine to the card, so I used a clear Spectrum Noir Sparkle brush pen along with a gold glitter Signo gel pen to do this.

To assemble the card, I glued the frame to the card base using Tombow Mono adhesive. Then, I glued the square panels into place.

I managed to get glue onto the front of the card and trying to rub it off while wet just left a dark, dirty smear. I’ve ordered some Tombow Sand erasers to see if they’ll remove the mark. If not, I’ll have to either work out another way to cover it up or just consign the card to the pile of things not to do again!

Black and white floral card.

Again, my first job was to cut out the frame and panels using a die. For this card, I used the Foursquare Backdrop: Landscape die from lawn fawn along with Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. I also decided to use this die in portrait mode.

To draw the design elements, I used Unipin pens from Uniball. I hung dangle designs from the top of each card to fill in some of the space that was there. I wish I’d used a slightly thicker pen than the 01 though. They look almost like an afterthought.

Anyway, once I finished the drawings, I wasn’t sure whether to add colour or not. So, I’ve left the pictures as black and white line art for now.

I used Tombow Mono glue to attach the frame and panels to a 5″x7″ piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board. I did this as I realised that the dies are made to fit card blanks made from half a sheet of US letter-sized paper folded in half. In the UK, we use A4 sized paper, which is different enough in size to make it awkward to cut the paper to fit the card. I have ordered some 5″ x 7″ card blanks with envelopes, and then I can finish assembling this card. I’m likely to trim the foundation panel down a little and maybe try to carefully add some colour around the edge. Maybe.

It’s at this point I’ll decide whether or not to add colour and to see if I can thicken the lines around the dangles without messing it up. Mind you, if I do mess it up, it’s another experiment I can learn from, hopefully remembering not to do this again.

Things I’ve learned and techniques I want to try.

The lawn fawn dies work great! They come with smaller dies – heart, cloud, small star, large star, sun, small sun and speech bubble – which may be useful in the future. I had made my mind up that I’d limit myself to die sets that are simple in shape to for cutting out panels to draw on and maybe for layering. 

I rolled my eyes at myself when I worked out that dies from an American company would work best with American sized paper for card bases. However, I can work around that now I’ve realised that. I’m comfortable working with inches; most of my craft tools have both inches and centimetres on them. However, the inches are visibly the most dominant measurement system. 

Glue. Me and glue. Not sure how I can avoid smearing in the future. Hopefully, the sand eraser will help to remove my gluey, sticky, dirty-looking mistakes.

I like using Distress Inks for backgrounds. However, the pale colours of markers that I prefer to use are translucent and so combine with the background. I could use other media such as coloured pencils for colouring. Or I could use distress inks or water-based marker pens with a damp brush to add colour. I could also use a damp brush to remove some of the distress inks. In that case, I may have to use watercolour paper instead of Bristol Board.

I could also use a Versamark pen – which contains transparent, sticky ink – to colour over my design elements once coloured and then use clear embossing powder and a heat gun to protect the colours. I could then add the distress inks after heat-setting the embossing powder. The embossing powder would add some dimension and shine to the cards. If I used a sparkle pen or gold gel pen, for example, the embossing would encase it and highlight these embellishments Ieven more, I think. I need to try this idea out!

So, there are lots of possibilities for going forward with this.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling the more content and optimistic than I have for the past two or three weeks.

I’m still feeling out of kilter; changes are happening in my perceptions around my emotional/mental wellbeing. I’m also aware of shifts that are happening in other parts of me.

I’m still poop-scared about what is going on in the world. I can’t see that ending anytime soon, however. This, and the rest of the emotional rollercoaster I seem to be on, are still upsetting my digestive system, so I’m not feeling too well much of the time. 

Yesterday, I was so unsettled and scared that I couldn’t settle to do much art, and I became so dissatisfied and frustrated with whatever I did. I couldn’t settle to anything else either – not crochet, reading, nothing. 

As I’ve said, today I do feel better, so I need to turn my attention to trying out Affinity Publisher to create some materials I’ve been commissioned to do (the artwork and inserts for a CD by a band!). I’ll see about setting the templates up first and go from there. I’ve not tried to do this the past couple of days as I know my head and my emotions weren’t in the right place. I’m not sure that they are today; it’s only by doing that I will find out whether they are or not.

A colourful, small reef illustration

Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A little reef illustration.

Yesterday, I got round to colouring my little reef drawing. And it is a little drawing – the paper is just 4″ square (10cm square).

To colour it, I used my Chameleon pens – both the Color Tones and Color Tops. I finished the illustration off with some small dots from a white Uniball Signo gel pen.

What I didn’t expect was that the pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens bled somewhat. I don’t remember that happening before. Mind you, I usually scan and print my black and white line art and colour the print. I didn’t do that today — something to remember for future reference. This is why some of the colours look a little dirty.

All the same, it’s a colourful, happy little illustration. I also like the thickness of the main lines with the variation in line thickness in the details. Diversity in line weight is something I need to remember when I draw digitally. Looking at my latest colouring templates, I think I may have used a line that was too fine. Again, this is something that I need to consider in the future.

It’s always lovely to do artwork like this, using traditional media and working in a familiar, comfortable style. It gives me a chance to reflect on what I’m doing elsewhere and to adapt and change what I’m doing to improve it.

Creating this artwork has given me ideas for some projects in the future. More on that when they come to fruition.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing OK. I’m feeling a lot brighter as the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell fades.

I’m aware I really don’t get out of the house and move my body around much. I either get engrossed in art and the day slips past me quite quickly. Or, my anxiety rears up and try as I might to overcome it, I just can’t seem to make it out of the house.

After a conversation with a friend the night before, I remembered that I like to walk around cemeteries and that my local cemetery might be the perfect place to go for a stroll.

And I did. Go for a stroll.

My love affair with cemeteries started when I used to walk to and from school when I was 11 and 12 years old. Walking to school was always a bit of a dash. However, I could take my time on the walk home to wander and explore the cemetery.

Even on the gloomiest, darkest winter afternoons, I never got freaked out by the cemetery. The dead have never scared me. The living, however, are an entirely different matter. The living people around me were the source of my traumas and CPTSD. The dead could do nothing to me that was any worse than the living.

I found the variation in headstone styles fascinating. I found I could chart the change in fashions over time. I also found reading them fascinating as some of them could tell me about the deceased and their families. It was history related to real people and brought them back to life. It wasn’t the dusty, dry, uninteresting facts in the history lessons I had to endure in school.

And so began my love of wandering around cemeteries.

I find them soothing, calm places to be. They’re quiet, not many people visit them. And there’s plenty of wildlife in them if you’re quiet and take the time to look.

Perfect places for me to walk and explore. Even on the days when anxiety stops me going to more people-y places like towns or parks, a cemetery can offer me that quiet space I need to take a walk.

If you’d like to see some photos and read some words about my walk and the cemetery, then please visit my other blog, Curious Stops and Tea Shops.

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.

Any way, back to art…

My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.

While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.

I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.

Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 03/07/19 ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com #createdonsurface #surfaceart #digitalart #mandala
Mandala WIP 03/07/19 ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com
#createdonsurface #surfaceart #digitalart #mandala

It’s coming along as I take a break from drawing coloring templates. Working on something like this clears my mind of the coloring template just completed and lets me start afresh on the next one.

I’m not entirely sure about the darker ring of motifs. However, I know there’s a point in creating art that things seem to be going horribly wrong. All that I need to do is to push through that, keep going, and it will turn out OK.

I am trying to work within a palette of greens, green-blues and golds. I want to keep my palette fairly simple. So far, it seems to be working out ok.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing fine, feeling quite content with that soft inner smile, though I woke with a horrible headache. I think that was due to an anxious time at a meeting last night. I often suffer something that is migraine-like as quite elevated anxiety gradually leaks away to return to my usual background level.

Oh! The joys of CPTSD.

Today, I’ve also noticed that I have a hair-trigger for increased anxiety. A knock at the door, voices outside have had me feeling very anxious and somewhat scared. Need to get my noise-cancelling headphones, I think.

I often listen to either music or an audio-book while I create art. I also love to listen to a book as I crochet.

At the moment I’m listening to “Revan”, book number 2 in the Old Republic series of Star Wars books, just in case you’re interested in knowing that.

Anyway, back to my emotional health.

Being able to cut out the noise of the scary world outside the relative safety of my home is something that I do need to do when my anxiety is provoked. I am aware that too much of that and I can have a strong startle response and even head off into the realms of hyper-vigilance.

So, my next task today is to go get those headphones and put a load in the washing machine before returning to do some more art today. I think I may need some lunch too.

Be Brave WIP 30 June 19

Be Brave ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Another 6 hours work done on ‘Be Brave’ since I posted yesterday.

I rather like the ‘tubes’ arcing off to the top right. I love geometric patterns. I also love playing with light and shadow.

In my home I have quite a few pieces of artwork from my AS and A level art days, some 15 or so years ago now. Three of them are oil paintings. They’re abstract paintings of patterns taken from rusty worm screws from a steam locomotive, some kind of gear thingy from a diesel locomotive (also rusty) and detail from an angel from the tympanum above the door to Malmesbury Abbey. Each one is done in a simple colour palette – magenta, red, orange and yellow for the locomotive parts and blues and white for the Romanesque angel abstract.

I discovered I hated working with oil paints. They’re slimy and messy. I don’t like slimy nor messy (I think that’s why I’ve fallen in love with digital art!).

However, I remember the exhibition where these were show after the AS exam. I recall being puzzled why people were coming up and touching the paintings. So, I asked a friend who’d attended why she had felt my oil paintings.

She said they looked so three-dimensional she had to touch them to see how I’d achieved it and was amazed they were flat.

I hadn’t seen this 3D property of my artwork until someone pointed it out to me. Then, just like magic, I could see what others could see and why they were touching the paintings.

As I worked on the ‘tubes’ I remembered this experience. I know that I don’t see my work as others see it and it can often appear ‘flat’ to me as I know it really is flat! I don’t always see the illusions of depth that I create in my work, illusions I bring out mostly unconsciously as I add colour.

I think this memory cropped up as, like with the oil paintings, I’m working with pure colour – no black lines to outline the design elements.

As you can see, I am using a drawing of mine as the guide, the map for what I will produce in colour.

This is a difference in the way I usually work, that’s for sure.

The amazing mandala I completed a week or so ago now opened the door for this way of working. I did start with an outline drawing for the mandala, and it really was a basic line mandala. It gave me the basic forms and shapes. I then started to go to town on embellishing that basic design.

I discovered I really enjoyed working this way, not least because I realised my digital art skills had progressed enough for me to succeed.

Mandalas are one thing, but working on a drawing like this is a bit different for me. It’s full of self-doubt and worry it’s not going to work out. Because it’s not so symmetrical it requires thinking about what order I complete each design element.

It is, however, turning out ok. And I’m really learning a lot more about my favourite digital brushes, and new ones, and how I can get the effects I want.

I use a Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create my digital art.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling content and I can feel a gentle smile inside me and a slight smile on my lips. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it’s the only way I can describe how I feel today. Also, my digestive system has settled down as well.

Yes, there’s still the background ‘noise’ of anxiety, but it’s not as vociferous as it was just a day or so ago, and one heck of a lot quieter than it was last Monday post-EMDR.

I do have EMDR again tomorrow. The same thing may happen in terms of heightened anxiety and upset digestive system.

I have to say to gain days like today – days where I have that contentedness, that inner gentle smile – are more than worth the days of feeling not so well both physically and emotionally.

Even my bad days are nowhere near as bad as they were in the years leading up to my first serious ‘breakdown’. That is an excellent thing. I am progressing along slowly but surely on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.