Amazing Mandala – nearly done

Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

Yup, that’s right. I’ve nearly finished this mandala. I’m on the last ‘ring’ of the design.

It’s rather busy, as designs go, but that’s also typical for me.

I’ve learned a lot about creating digital art that reflects my style. I’ve also learned a lot about my own creative expression too.

This is also a piece of art that has taken me the longest to create in terms of hours or work put in to it. I didn’t keep track, but I estimate it’s taken me well over 20 hours to do, maybe a lot more.

I’ve yet to settle on a background colour/texture. I found the green I had used wasn’t working given the minty greens of the leaves in the penultimate ring. So, for now, I’ve settled on a grey. When I finish the outer ring I’ll play around with different colours/textures until I’m happy.

Of course I’m thinking ahead to my next project of this kind and my mind is going to my usual entangled art. This is going to be an interesting experiment for sure! However, if I can create a mandala that looks like this, I can work with a sample of my entangled drawings and work out how I can do similar for them.

As usual, my digital tools have been Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

I’m feeling fairly content today. A little tired, but content.

I had EMDR yesterday and though I was left feeling rather tired in the evening, I left the session feeling quite content.

That word crops up a lot – content – but that’s how I feel. And content is a good feeling to me.

More work was done with the inner child as well as EMDR on the feelings/thoughts that came up. This is surprising to me, but it also seems to be helping with stored trauma.

I also started reading a book recommended to me by my therapist. It’s called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. I’ve only read 30 or so pages, but out of the several sections I’ve highlighted this stands out:

We have also begun to understand how overwhelming experiences affect our innermost sensations and our relationship to our physical reality – the core of who we are. We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. … For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.

Bessel Van Der Kolk “The Body Keeps the Score” 2014, Penguin, page 21

The body needs to learn that the danger has passed.

Part of cPTSD is living in a near constant state of anxiety. It is easy for something to happen that provokes the flight/flight/freeze response. Levels of stress hormones constantly flood the body. These hormones can wreak havoc with the functioning of the body and can cause long term health problems. I don’t know too much about that…yet. But I will.

This put in black and white what the purpose of EMDR is about – releasing trauma that is stored in the mind, brain and body.

I know that EMDR is working for me. I am so much better nowadays than I have been. Not just in comparison to the darkest days of my two big ‘breakdowns’, but to the majority of my days.

I have a lot of work to do yet, however. The anxiety that having to do some ‘adulting’ this morning showed me that. The bit of adulting I’ve done was to get a new quote for motor insurance. The quote from the brokers I’ve used for years had gone ridiculously high. So after one call I had a quote for one-third of the quote from my old brokers. After sorting the new insurance out, I then had to phone the brokers to cancel the renewal.

To do this I had to quite literally sneak up on myself, catch myself unawares and just do it. If I’d thought too much about it I would’ve got so anxious I wouldn’t have been able to make the phone call. Not only that, I would most likely develop a horrid headache and upset stomach too that would preclude me from doing anything else today.

Just one example of how anxiety causes a problem for me in everyday life.

I can now not worry about adulting again today!

Instead, I can ‘art’, read, crochet or do anything else I might care to do.

It’s June! Time for another exclusive coloring template for the facebook group!

June Template for members of the Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans Facebook group ©Angela Porter 2019
June Template for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans Facebook group ©Angela Porter 2019

New month, new coloring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

If you’d like to print and colour it, then pop over to the group, join up and follow the terms and conditions for use of this template. You’d be made most welcome there; the members are lovely people and they produce amazing coloured versions of my templates – either the group ones or ones from my many coloring books (visit my Amazon author page to see all of my books, I think I’m close to 20 now!).

This template was drawn on Winsor and Newton Bristol board using Unipin pens then scanned in to clean up smudges and adjust the image for sharing digitally. I’ve added a colour background to share on social media outside of the group, until I colour this one in myself.

So, how are you doing today Angela?

I’m ok. Tired-ish but fairly content.

I was anxious going out yesterday and that unsettled feeling stayed with me, sometimes rising up, other times just being the familiar background ‘noise’ that I’ve lived with all my life.

I enjoyed drawing this coloring template. I’ve also enjoyed doing some crochet – yet another shawl. I need to find homes for some of the shawls I’ve made as I have way too many for myself, perhaps.

Anyways, I’m ok today. Content-ish. Not feeling very motivated to go out and about but I’ll see how I feel as the day goes on. I really could do with a walk.

Digital doodlies

Digital Doodlies ©Angela Porter 2019
Digital Doodlies ©Angela Porter 2019

I had a little bit of fun this morning after watching a video by creationsceecee on YouTube.

Rather than using traditional watercolours, I thought I’d try the idea out digitally.

I’m still very much learning and finding my ‘style’ when it comes to digital art. I haven’t really done much with watercolour brushes, so thought this a brilliant idea to try some watercolour brushes out as well as to practice drawing digitally.

Yes, practice digital drawing. Although it is almost exactly like drawing on paper it’s also slightly different, different enough that it’s good to draw regularly using digital media.

Anyway. I started with water colour ‘blobs’, trying out different watercolour brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The colours came from the blue-violet Copic colour palette.

Finally, I drew patterns on top of the blobs using a fine watercolour brush with black and white paints.

I said I had a bit of fun, and it was fun. I’m not so sure I like all of the results. the ones I don’t like are where smooth black outlines have resulted. All the same, it was fun to do and to try something new out too.

My tools for this artwork were Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I know Friday is usually dangle day and there’s still time in the day for me to get a dangle design done.

So Angela, how are you today?

Tired, but content enough. At this moment, I’d like to go back to bed and sleep some more. However, that’s not possible as I’m taking my younger sister out for a couple of hours.

I’m finding it hard to wend my way to the shower and get myself tidied up to pop out. That’s me just feeling tired, I think. But there may be something else going on with me too. Perhaps some anxiety about going out for lunch.

Hmm. Yes, there’s anxiety. Even though I know it will be just fine, I’m still all anxious about leaving the safety of my home and venturing out into the big, wide, people-y world.

Damn you CPTSD and the inner critic. I wish I could catch what you’re speaking to me at the moment so I can work on disempowering you.

There’s a ‘well done, Angela’ for me too for spotting that I’m feeling this way and for noticing how strong it is as I spot it. Yes, it’s intensified and is making me feel sick.

Oh, the joys of anxiety. Still, I won’t let it stop me going out for lunch with my sister, so it’s time to go shower and stuff.

Abstract Floral Design

Abstract Floral Design 4 May 2019 ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Abstract Floral Design 4 May 2019 ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I started drawing this one fairly late last night and completed it just now. The tools I used were a soft Fudenosuke pen by Tombow, a 0.4 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen on white mixed media paper from Claire Fontaine.

I then scanned the drawing into the Surface Studio and used Autodesk Pro and a Surface Pen to clean up the image and then add a few details and some shading to it.

The original drawing is approx. 5″ x 6″ in size.

I’m quite pleased with this one as it’s not my usual ‘lets see how much space we can fill with line and pattern’ kind of drawing. The design has a kind of leaf shape to it in outline, and I’ve let white space exist in the design, which is really unusual for me.

Working in monotone is also unusual for me, but the grey shading certainly adds depth and dimension to the design, brings it to life.

I also have some brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that I can use to mimic graphite pencil shading, which I did here.

I started with the flower motif in the middle and let the design flow out from that point. Of course my design motifs had to include foliage, seedpods and some abstract/geometrical patterns too. Oh and some fungi/mushrooms too. And orbs/spheres.

I really like my circular arches of a pattern inspired by Early Celtic/La Tene art. The shading really helped to define this pattern.

I’m going to make this one available for purchase from my RedBubble shop.

Still emotionally exhausted…

I slept so much yesterday and last night. I’m still emotionally exhausted after my trip out on Thursday. I’m still finding it hard to believe how much something so simple exhausted me so much in terms of emotion particularly. I didn’t think I was any more anxious than usual, or stressed than usual. Seems I was oblivious to my own body.

I do feel a bit better today, but I could just curl up and sleep again now and I’ve only been awake for 4 hours.

I won’t go to sleep this afternoon though. I’m going to keep myself awake somehow. Maybe with art. Maybe with some books I bought on Thursday. Maybe with crochet. Maybe with all of them, but not at the same time!

Even though I’m exhausted I do feel quite content within myself. However, even though it’s a lovely sunny day, if rather windy, here in Welsh Wales, I don’t think I’ll venture out into the realms of peopledom. It’s another Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so the world tends to be more people-y than usual. I think that could overwhelm me again and I’m better off just remaining where I feel safe and calm.

The more aware I am of my emotions and my self, the more aware I am of how much CPTSD has affected me, of how it limits my life, and of how much work I still have to do. Mind you, that self awareness is showing me as well the progress I have made and how I make decisions based around self care too. Like today, knowing the world is too people-y and somethings can be left until the world is a little less people-y.

Entangled Monograms – C, D and E

Entangled Monograms C, D and E ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Monograms C, D and E ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

Arty things

Another lovely day or so spent hand lettering and drawing the etntangled designs around the monograms.

I used Tombow Fudenosuke, Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens on 15cm x 15cm pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.

The Tombow Fudenosuke pens are giving me a much thicker line than I’d usually use, along with variable line width too. I must admit I rather like the bolder lines as they really define the designs. What do you think about my use of bolder line?

I have scanned these, and yesterday’s A and B monograms, so I can add colour digitally, should I choose to do so. At the moment I’m really just enjoying the graphic quality of the black and white line art.

Therapy day

Today is EMDR therapy day for me. My appointment is mid-afternoon and it’s been almost a fortnight since my last one as there’s been a Bank Holiday in between.

I must say that I’ve had quite a contented fortnight. The last session was rather disturbing and distressing and though I was absolutely exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically after it for the rest of the day and part of the next, I think I found my balance much quicker than I expected.

I’ve had my moments, hours, mind you. Often when I’m tired and need a nap. So, I take a nap if I can. That’s one of the fab things about being a self-employed/freelancing artist/illustrator/author. It’s a lot easier to do self-care things when self-care is needed. If I need a nap, I can often take a nap. If I need a day or three to recover from EMDR I can take that time, or at least break the time up so I have chunks of self-care in amongst the work I need to do to fulfil contracts.

I really am grateful for this flexibility, a flexibility that is in sharp contrast with the very structured, timetabled, hamster-wheel existence of my life as a teacher.

Flexibility and freedom – a double edged sword

It’s really difficult for me to make full use of the flexibility and freedom I have. I often have an urge to go out somewhere, but I can never decide on where to go, or when to go, or whether I should even bother going as really, what do I want to go there for. Telling myself it’s to sketch, draw, photograph, gain inspiration, for the experience, because I like to walk when I do go and walk, because being in nature is good for my emotional and mental wellbeing, or just because I CAN just doesn’t cut it with the problems that arise from the CPTSD, especially anxiety and social anxiety that forms part of the experience of being a survivor of trauma.

Sometimes I manage to sneak up on myself and surprise myself and get out and about and visit somewhere either familiar or new to me.

More often than not the inner critic manages to talk me out of it.

I think I need to make a list of places close to me, and a bit further away, that I’d like to visit. A list that contains both familiar and unfamiliar places.

Familiar places are less stressful for me to visit on my own. Knowing my way around, knowing where I can enjoy lunch or tea, knowing where I can park my car and knowing I can find my way back to the car, and so on and so forth makes it a much easier experience for me.

Going somewhere unfamiliar increases stress for me as simple things like going into an unfamiliar cafe for some tea or lunch causes me huge anxiety when I’m by myself. The worry about not being able to find my way back to my car is another added source of anxiety too. Even going into unfamiliar shops, cathedrals, museums and so on provokes anxiety in me.

It’s that old fear from being a bullied, abused child that rises up where I worry if I’ll get hurtful comments from people, if I’ll make a fool of myself in some way and people will laugh, if they’ll pass comment about my choice of food or tea.

None of these things have happened to me as an adult, yet the anxiety that lurks within me rises up and tells me again and again that these things may happen. The voice of my anxiety, of my inner critic, can paralyse me or cause me to flee back home without even getting out of my car, that’s if I even manage to drive to where I’d like to go.

If I have company I’m really brave. I’m often the first to enter a cafe or similar and ask for a table and so on. I’m the one who will bravely explore a new cathedral or museum or place quite eagerly.

On my own though, the inner critic is way too strong as I feel vulnerable. As vulnerable as I did when I was a child and all the way through my adult life.

I can overcome this vulnerability, the anxiety, if there is a purpose to my trip, such as giving an anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales. I do it because I don’t want to let others down (as well as because I believe in the mission of Time to Change Wales).

Part of my anxiety is that I never, or rarely, ask anyone to go out with me (not go out in a romantic sense, just go out as in a jolly day out visiting somewhere of mutual interest and enjoying pleasant company). The fear of rejection is still too huge. I’m also very much aware that people I’d call friends and family are busy with their own family and work and so on, and I never, ever, want to become a burden to anyone.

That’s something that I learned early in my life – not to bother anyone with my needs or problems or issues. It’s something as an adult I’ve not gotten over yet.

I also am aware that there are trips I need to make solo. I like to sit and draw and write in places I visit. I can lose myself in this for a long time, I can take as much time as I need to look at . If I’m with someone I don’t want to spoil their day by indulging myself in such an activity. If I’m by myself I don’t have to worry about them not enjoying themselves as much as they could, so I tend to put my needs completely to one side to make sure they’re happy.

Being a people pleaser is part of the CPTSD. It’s what I did to try to gain approval of people who would never approve of anything I did or said or how I looked. Rejection, ridicule, being put down was par for the course no matter what I did. That didn’t stop me trying to please others, to make sure they were happy as if they were happy then perhaps I’d have an easier time of it and wouldn’t be pushed away yet again.

CPTSD sure messes a person up.

I know that there are plenty of people who experience anxiety who are able to do these simple, everyday, taken for granted things like going into a cafe for a cup of tea. They’re able to overcome that anxiety and don’t buy into it’s messages.

I’ve not learned to overcome it or have disempowered the inner critic enough that I can do these simple everyday things, well not yet. I think the critic has a way to go to be disempowered first.

Still, there are days when I’ll be able to sneak up on myself and head out and actually visit places, sketchbook and visual BuJo in my bag, and take that time and will wonder at how I don’t do things like that more often as it’s really not that bad.

I hope those days will eventually outweigh the days where the inner critic wins out.

Until that days comes I just need to be kind to myself and not beat myself up about giving in to the inner critic once again and remind myself a day will soon come where through sneakery or just disempowering the inner critic enough that I can go out.

Entangled Art

©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

This morning I started my day with some warm-up drawing. I drew this one with Sakura Pigma Micron pens on Daler-Rowney Bristol Board that measures approx. 7cm x 30cm. I added the coloured background digitally, along with the watermarks.

You may be curious why I use a square of coloured and textured paper behind my art work. Well, for Instagram, a square image fits perfectly without being cropped weirdly, and as many of my pieces of art are not square…well, you get the idea! So, for consistency across my social media, I use the same image.

I enjoyed drawing ths one. There’s some new patterns and motifs in it. I spent yesterday looking at ‘Art Forms in Nature’ by Ernst Haeckel for inspiration to add new patterns and motifs to my visual reference book. This little A5 dot grid notebook from Claire Fontaine is becoming rather useful. I add my favourite patterns, new patterns, motifs, doodles to it as I need to. I make use of the idea of ‘threading’ used in Bullet Journals to help link sections together.

What a brilliant idea ‘threading’ is. I used to get so frustrated with either folders with drawings in or having sections scattered in a book with a clumsy index to help find them. Now, I just follow the page numbers to direct me to where the particular collection continues. The index then lists just the first occurrence of that particular collection. My collections include abstract botanicals, foliage, floral, fungi, trees, feathers, crystals, Christmas, favourite patterns, dangles and charms.

I’m sure that when I start a new book, there’ll be a way to thread to the new book!

Why am I doing this? Well, as well as keeping track of patterns and motifs I like and organising them roughly into collections it’s also a source book of inspiration for art when I feel I’m lacking in inspiration or I feel my work is getting more than a bit samey.

It’s also something that is part of my self-care on days where it’s too much of a challenge to do something completely new and different. Sometimes this means adding familiar patterns and motifs. At other times it means researching new ones.

Yesterday I was really tired and feeling quite low after a very tiring day on Saturday followed by a poor nights sleep. Last night my sleep was even worse. I woke from disturbing dreams with my mind busy, busy, busy. Not sure why this is, or why I just feel more anxious than usual. There’s no reason at all for me to feel this way. Just some stormy emotional weather in advance of EMDR today and starting to process something new to EMDR but old to me. The CPTSD recovery journey continues…

Morning Mandala

© Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
© Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

Today’s morning warm up art – a mandala, drawn digitally. I added the colour with a gradient tool. Maybe I’ll go back and add colour section by section at another time.

I used my usual tool trifecta – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface studio.

The soundtrack to my work has been The Killers Station on Amazon Music.

My mood isn’t wonderful today. Seems the effects of EMDR on Monday are lingering still. I do need to write about some thoughts I had while doing this mandala. Complex swirls and circles of my life, but also how throughout my life I’ve been conditioned to think and feel as someone else has told me to think and feel. Started early in life, an easy pattern for others to make use of later in life. A pattern that has led to repeated trauma time and time again.

I’m now aware of it though. So it’s something to be processed and released in EMDR and replaced with a better way of thinking and acting. That’s not easy as it’s a totally new way to be learned, not just a reinstatement of an old, healthier way of being. That’s the problem with childhood trauma; it’s the way I’ve forgotten much of my early life, even the good bits. I’ve realised that I’ve never known anything other than constant anxiety and depression, amongst other things. I don’t remember any times where I was genuinely happy and at peace.

Each time I recognise something in me, a way of thinking and acting that is not healthy and bring it to the light and the ‘magic’ of EMDR, the closer I get to that tipping point of having dealt with more trauma from my past than the trauma left to deal with. The problem is the stuff that’s left is the seriously tricky icky stuff.

Any way, it looks like today is the fourth self-care day in a row. Not sure what I’ll do today, though I do have some errands to run this morning.