I actually drew this one last night. My emotions were overwrought and I needed something that was calming and relaxing.
I used a digital equivalent to scratchboard art. I used my digital brushes to remove areas from the upper black layer to reveal the lower, coloured layer.
To create the more geometric areas I used the digital equivalent of fineliner pens. For the more organic lines, I used a flexible nib digital brush.
There is a kind of magic in revealing the colour hidden by the black darkness. I found myself working in a quite different way to recent mandalas; it’s going to be a technique I return to again and again I’m sure.
Digitally created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
Monday is still EMDR therapy day for me. My emotional and mental health is generally the best it’s ever been. However, I’ve discovered that I’m still a bit too close to the edge of the abyss within which I was trapped for most of my life. I wore a well practiced mask so that few people really knew the inner struggles I had on a daily basis.
It was such a good mask that I mostly fooled myself, until I could no longer do so around ten or twelve years ago.
I thought everybody thought and felt the same way I did; I never knew any different. Now, however, I know what contentment is and what feeling happy is too.
Last week’s EMDR session floored me for around three days. I didn’t expect it to do so. Memories surfaced that I’d pushed away and they distressed me greatly. The emotional exhaustion was intense; all I wanted to do was sleep. That wasn’t possible – as well as having the Spectacular Sea Life colouring book to finish I’m involved in an intense project which requires a lot of focus and concentration of a different kind. It’s also provoking emotional responses in me that are causing me some difficulties. One of those emotional responses resulted in me running away from the internet to watch Star Wars and then to create this mandala.
I have learned how to self-soothe!
The realm of emotions is really tricky for me. For most of my life I numbed my emotions. It was a strategy that helped me to survive as a child and the unhealthy strategy continued into my adult life.
Through EMDR, I’ve discovered that I have emotions, some I never knew existed in me and I had no names for them. Which is odd, as I could always recognise those emotions in others!
Anyway, by becoming more self-aware of my body and emotions and dropping the protective mask I’m having to learn to put boundaries and barriers in place to protect myself. Learning to say no, or the clear equivalent of that little word, is not an easy task. However, I am learning.
Healing from CPTSD is a tricky process, but it really is possible! It takes time though. Well, in my case it has.
Today’s mandala is another white on red one. Drawn digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I really am enjoying white on darker coloured backgrounds, particularly red at this time for some reason. The white gives a lacy, delicate feel to the design. It also gives the illusion of the white pushing the darkness away in the background, making the red appear to start to glow. I like that metaphor, very much.
I’m aching today. Yesterday I tumbled down the stairs, clonking my elbow, butt and bending my left foot under itself. My foot is very painful and stiff today. I can stand and limp around on it so it’s not broken, just soft tissue damage. That’s the second time in a couple of weeks that I’ve fallen over and hurt my foot; last time, it was my right foot that was hurt. My hands and fingers are also sore from reaching out to try to stop my fall. That hasn’t stopped me doing some art, though. I don’t think I’ll be going out and about today either. I’ll be trying to keep my foot up! Bit of a shame, really, as it’s a lovely, sunny day outside.
I’ve always been such a clumsy person; I can trip over thin air. However, it’s been many, many years since I fell down the stairs. The last time must’ve been nearly 20 years ago. That time I pulled some ligaments behind my knee. That made it difficult for me to climb to the Cerrig Duon stone circle and standing stone on the edge of the Afon Tawe. I also had to cross the river by stepping over the natural, uneven stones in the river channel.
It has been so lovely to be able to draw this morning. A mandala is a lovely way to warm up my hand-eye coordination and wake up my creativity.
This is an unusual colour combination for me. The bold red contrasts so well with the white line art of the mandala. I think it creates quite a startling design.
I also like the way the beads and teardrops make the mandala seem to shine. I also like the way the fresh, new white is pushing the darkness away to reveal the brighter, vibrant red.
That’s somewhat symbolic for my challenges in life at the moment it seems. My mental and emotional health is good; the contentedness is there. I have some new challenges in life that are engaging my mind in a different kind of focus and concentration. These challenges are, symbolically, to make the world a brighter, more hopeful place.
Yesterday, my day was taken up with meetings and planning. By the time I’d done that I was too exhausted to do any art.
Today, I had a clear plan of what needed to do so I have most of the day to focus on art, starting with this mandala.
I’ll need to get a big mug of tea before I start to ‘art’!
It’s been a bit of a crazy day. Between trying to sort out things for a project I’m involved in, some deeply tiring and seemingly powerful EMDR therapy, and a meeting to round off the day, I’ve not had much time for art. I did manage to get one template done for my ‘Splendid Sea Life’ colouring book for the Creative Haven series from Dover Publications Inc. I have also spent some self-care and self-soothing time this evening creating this relatively simple mandala.
Mandalas are incredibly soothing to draw, especially black and white line art ones with a fair amount of repeating patterns.
Digital work using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, May 1915
Poppies have been the symbol of remembrance for those fallen on the fields of battle since Moina Belle Michael was deeply moved by the last verse of John McCrae’s poem. She vowed to always wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields on her lapel in memory of those who had died in WWI, and wrote this poem in response to McCrae’s.
We Shall Keep The Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields, Sleep sweet – to rise anew! We caught the torch you threw And holding high, we keep the Faith With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red That grows on fields where valor led; It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies, But lends a lustre to the red Of the flower that blooms above the dead In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red We wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought In Flanders Fields.
Moina Belle Michael
Moina wrote her poem on 9th November 1918 while working at the 25th Annual Conference of the YMCA War Secretaries’ Headquarters in New York.
Some of the delegates approached her and gave her a $10 donation in appreciation of the flowers she had used to brighten up the place. She showed them the poem she had written and vowed she would buy twenty-five red poppies with the donation, which she did later that day. On returning to duty, delegates at the conference taking place in the headquarters crowded around her, asking for poppies to wear. She gave out all but one of the poppies, which she wore herself.
Moina campaigned to get the red poppy adopted as the symbol for Remembrance for the fallen. However, it wasn’t until the 29th September 1920, that the National American Legion adopted the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.
Anna Guerin, a French woman, was present at the National American Legion convention. She was inspired by Moina’s efforts, and saw how the poppy could be extended to raise funds for the needy.
Anna founded the American and French Children’s League, and she organised French women, children and war veterans to make cloth poppies to be sold, the proceeds of which could be used to help fund the restoration of the war ravaged regions of France.
In 1921, Anna either went herself or sent representatives to America, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, to tell them about the poppy and the work of the American and French Children’s League.
Anna went in person to meet Field Marshal Earl Douglas Haig, founder and President of The British Legion. She persuaded him to adopt the Flanders Poppy as an emblem for The Legion. This was formalized in the autumn of 1921.
The first British Poppy Appeal occurred in 1921, in the run up to 11th November – the third anniversary of the Armistice of the Great War.
Since then, red poppies have been sold during October and early November to raise funds for the charitable causes of the Royal British Legion.
About my Remembrance Mandala
I chose green and red for the background to the white poppies.
Green represents the battlefields that so many lives were lost on, and so many more changed forever.
Red represents the blood spilled that soaked into the ground.
The black lines represent the death of so very, very many during the World Wars, and so many other wars and conflicts since.
Why have I not coloured the poppies red?
White peace poppies are warn by many. Not as a sign of disrespect, but as a sign of respect and a sign of hope for peace in the world, so that no more lives will be lost through war and conflict.
My white poppies are that wish for peace, but also tolerance, compassion and understanding. They are also a reminder of how the causes of past wars still haunt humanity today, of how hate-speech is on the rise, how societies have become divided in ways that are reminiscent of the times before WWII.
I have always hoped I would live in a world where peace reigned between all peoples, where there was enough for everyone, and everyone’s needs were catered for. I hope for a world described in John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
Yes, I know I’m a dreamer, an idealist. I’m also a realist and know it’s not likely in my lifetime. It doesn’t stop me dreaming and doing what little I can to help make the world a better place.
Before anyone complains or criticises me, my father was a veteran of WWII, Korea and Burma. He rarely spoke of his experiences; when he did, it was usually the humorous ones. Once, when he was drunk one New Year’s Eve, he mentioned he’d been at a concentration camp. When he realised what he’d said, he refused to speak any more and I will never forget the haunted, pained, deeply saddened look on his face that showed the ghosts of his past had risen up to torment him once again. I have the deepest respect for my father, for what he must have gone through, and for how he carried that pain with him through his life.
I have the greatest respect for all those who have served in the armed forces, for all they give to help to restore and maintain peace.
I do, however, wish there was no need of them; that all nations, all religions, all people could come together and work out how we can all live together in peace and find better ways to work out our differences rather than through threats, violence and hate-filled rhetoric.
There Will Be Peace
There will be peace: when attitudes change; when self-interest is seen as part of common interest; when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes are deleted from the account; when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain; when justice and equality before the law become the basis of government; when basic freedoms exist; when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal; when parents teach their children new ways to think about people. There will be peace: when enemies become fellow human beings.