More mail art

More Mail Art © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
More Mail Art © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

After a very late night talking to a friend and not enough sleep, today is a self-care day. I’m going to go back to bed soon and try to sleep some more before driving for four hours tonight.

While waiting for sleep to catch up with me again, I thought I’d make some mail art. The photo isn’t the best; I’ve said it before, I’m not a brilliant photographer. However, I’m sure you get the idea. Also, I wanted to catch a glimpse of the metallic highlights I’ve added to this card, so the angle of the photography was just plain weird!

My brain seemed to have ticked over some ideas while I was asleep and I woke with some things I thought I could try out. This card is the result of some of them.

I started by using a 4″ x 4″ piece of watercolour paper and applying Distress inks to it to create a background.

I used a torn piece of paper to mask off the bottom of the panel so that could use an ink blending tool to apply Pine Needles and Crushed Olive Distress inks to create some land.

A sky was required, so I used Broken China Distress ink to create it so that it faded from top to the land.

I then sprayed the background with a mixture of gold Perfect Pearls and water to create a less perfect appearance.

While this was drying, I flipped through my Zibladone (visual dictionary) and found some motifs I liked. I used Pitt Artist pens from Faber-Castell to draw the motifs on the panel. I chose these pens because they’re waterproof when dry and I knew I wanted to add colour and sparkle to them later on.

To give a sense of dimension, I used black pens for the foreground motifs and a grey brush pen to create the foliage in the background.

To help the seed pods stand out, I used washes of Dusty Concorde and Seedless Preserves Distress inks. Then, I used some Cosmic Shimmer gold iridescent watercolour paint to add the gold highlights.

Once everything was dry, I used a piece of Cut’n’Dry foam to edge the panel with Dusty Concorde Distress Ink. The design was framed nicely by this edging; it also added a sense of dimensionality.

Next, I mounted the panel on a piece of black card and then adhered these layers to a 6″ x 6″ blank Kraft card, all done with Tombow Mono glue.

Finally, I carefully used a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen to add lines around the edge of the design panel and also the black mat.

I then turned my attention to the envelope. I drew some more of the seed pods before adding a light wash of Dusty Concorde and Seedless Preserves Distress Inks, being careful not to overwet the envelope. I added dots of gold watercolour paint to the seed pods and the space around them too, making sure I left enough space to write the name and address of the eventual recipient.

I’m quite pleased with the card. I’ve done this style of drawing digitally in the form of a mandala, but never like this. However, as I look at the card, it seems to need a focal motif in the space between the seedpods. I may be wrong; it may just be my constant need to fill up space with line and pattern and the difficulty I have in leaving white space in a design.

I shall let the card ‘sit’ for a while before making my mind up on that issue.

You Matter – a poem by Nikita Gill

You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The poem.

I was reading ‘Your Soul is a River’ by Nikita Gill this morning and this particular poem struck a chord with me. I thought it would be nice to use it to create some art to frame it.

It’s taken me a few attempts to get this far today; and I’m not entirely happy with what I’ve produced. However, I shall persevere later today; first I need to go out to do some provisions shopping and to have a very late breakfast. Actually it’s more like a very late lunch!

I produced the words with the border in Publisher. I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to do the artwork.

So, Angela, how are you today?

The poem reflects rather well how I’m feeling about myself in the moments when my emotions overwhelm me. I am rather emotionally fragile and vulnerable at the moment.

I am exhausted – emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a heck of an emotional week and yesterday was perhaps the most emotional day of all. No EMDR was done in therapy, but lots of tears were shed as I tried to work my way through what has caused the upsets.

Some of it is very obvious. But some of the triggering events have no apparent link to the past.

No apparent link; there’s something there which I can’t bring up or face at the moment. I’m fearful of it because it is something either unknown or something I have to face the truth of. It’s a difficult truth as I’ve told myself a story to deal with the painful experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Discovering I’ve been lying to myself is not easy, even though it has been a coping strategy, trying to make things more pleasant than they really are.

It’s a common coping strategy amongst survivors of trauma.

It’s a necessary process, for how else can I heal from the past?

It’s another one of those processes that is like surgery, but instead of removing or fixing a physical part of oneself that is damaged or broken it’s all about the mental and emotional processes that are damaged by trauma in the past.

No surgery is without some kind of pain, but the pain is endured as the result will be a better life with less pain.

Therapy is surgery for my damaged emotions and beliefs about myself; this surgery is necessary for me to heal from CPTSD.

My touchstone.

Yesterday, I talked about a lot of things with my therapist. One of those things was the recognition that I now have a mental and emotional state that I know I can return to. It’s that state where I feel content and optimisitic, a state of mind and emotions that I’ve not really experienced much in my life.

I know how that feels; even though my emotions are all higgledy-piggledy at the moment I can still sense that inner contentedness and hints of that optimism.

Where do I go from here?

Self-care and self-soothing is the order of the day today. I do need to sleep, but I don’t know if a nap will help or just throw my sleep out tonight.

I know this will pass; it has before, it will again.

It’s all just a bump in the road I’m travelling in my journey to recovery from CPTSD. This is NOT my destination; it’s just the wrong leaves on the tracks.

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.

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.

Some More Reef Illustrations

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

Reef Illustrations

Yesterday, I had an interesting day. I did manage to get these two illustrations done in between listening to a friend in need and taking care of a very upset tummy along with quite painful cramps.

I used 5″ x 7″ pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol board along with some Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs. This time, I didn’t add any grey shading. I will scan then print if I decide to colour them with traditional media.

The drawings turned out well, I think. I chose the size of paper for a reason, which I’m not about to divulge! It’s just an idea rattling around my noggin.

It’s Monday, so that means it’s EMDR therapy day.

I know on a Monday that my day can be broken up with a 3 hour or so trip to Neath and back for EMDR.

Today, I’m feeling more like I did last Monday before I received some post that threw me a curveball. I am tired as rather painful tummy cramps woke me from time to time through the night. I’m still getting them now, but a couple of Anadin Extra has taken the edge off them. I must leave early enough to pick up some more painkillers on my way to therapy.

I’ve had some flashbacks this week to events I thought I’d put to bed via EMDR. It seems that these events have several facets to them. Each of these facets relates to a negative belief I hold about myself, so each will need to be processed separately.

I’ve been trying to keep a record of the insights I gain from these flashbacks, and also any other negative beliefs that crop up from them. However, they often happen when I don’t have my BuJo to hand, and by the time I do, they’ve evaporated from my mind.

Hmm. Not really evaporated, the flashbacks have just been automatically shut away in their box once again.

I’ve learned not to try to second-guess what is going to happen in therapy each week. Whatever I have thought may happen rarely if ever happens. So I try to go with an open mind unless something has cropped up in the week that needs discussing.