Today’s been a tough day emotionally for me. Monday is, usually, EMDR day, and today’s was really emotionally upsetting. The memory I’m using led to quite a few insights that caused some distress, which was at a 7 out of 10 at the start and went up to 10 at the end of the session. This happens. I have a lot to think about and process before my next session in a fortnight.
I’m absolutely exhausted. I did have a sleep when I got home, but I’m still exhausted.
I’ve tried to sit and draw and I’m not able to work in a manner that is satisfactory to me. So, I thought I’d set up a colour palette in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and colour the drawing from yesterday. Well, more like start to colour it.
Oddly, I’ve gone for rather muted, vintage colours in this one. Perhaps a reflection of how I feel. Or, maybe it goes with the lino cut ‘feel’ of this particular drawing with the strong, black lines.
Tomorrow, I hopefully start to colour in some of the templates for my next coloring book. My editor and her team at Dover Publications Inc have chosen their favourites. I do intend to give you some sneak peeks as the coloring progresses.
My tools for drawing this image were a Tombow Fudenosuke pen and a pencil. To colour it I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
I’ve had a lovely, quiet Sunday and I’m glad to say my emotional wellbeing is better than yesterday. Still a bit fragile, but there’s that hint of contentment that has been lacking over the past few days.
I’ve even had my oompf back to draw. This took the guise of adding patterns and outline drawings to my visual reference journal, and then using some of these ideas, plus some old favourites, in this drawing. I even added some dangles in places. Just little, delicate dangles, but still there’s dangles there.
For the drawing, I used a hard nib Tombow Fudenosuke pen. This has a flexible nib, not overly flexible, and so I could vary line weight while drawing.
I was inspired to try the Fudenosuke pen again after my experiments with digital brushes that vary line width with pressure and found that so much fun.
I found it much easier to use the Fudenosuke pen after my experience with digital brushes; it turns out working digitally does influence my work in traditional media and helps me gain new skills or confidence in new media.
I drew this design on an A5 piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol Board which is white and very smooth. Then, scanned it in and digitally added a background texture and some colour, along with my watermarks.
The drawing was mainly to try out the Fudenosuke pen, but also a bit of quiet self-care too. I’m quite happy with it, especially as it’s main purpose was to explore using the pen for drawing with.
I’ve relied on line weight to add some dimension to the drawing, though some colour and/or shading could help a lot. Maybe that’ll be my next task with this – to colour it either digitally or to use my Chameleon DuoTone and Color Tops marker pens after I print the image out.
I’ve really not been myself the past few days. With a couple of busy days this week, the emotional fallout from EMDR on Tuesday finally caught up with me as I slowed down Thursday afternoon. I’m so tired, and my mood isn’t the brightest to say the least.
It’s always a sign that even when I’m tired I can usually draw and create, but not much this week. I haven’t been able to find the inspiration to draw, nor have I found the interest or energy.
Today, around a meeting, I managed to draw this.
It’s a throwback to the more familiar art of earlier days. It has given me a chance to use some new motifs, as well as some favourite ones that crop up often.
The process of drawing was soothing, and I did my very best not to be too judgemental, though I did want to throw it out and restart several times as I wasn’t at all happy with what was coming out of the nib of my fountain pens or Uniball Unipins.
I switched to the Uniballs as the fountain pen ink was smudging lightly. I’ve fixed that, mostly, by digital wizardry. I also added the Distress Ink background digitally.
I know my inspiration and energy to draw will return, I’m just not feeling at all myself at the moment.
I do have a new self-care activity, which is sitting in/on the bed, crocheting shawls and listening to audiobooks – currently working my way through the Harry Potter series.
The rhythmic nature of crocheting is soothing. The familiarity of the Harry Potter story is also soothing. Being upstairs makes me feel safe, secure and it’s also comforting.
The memory being worked on in EMDR certainly has stirred some stuff up. I’ve had some very upsetting insights into how I’ve viewed myself. Releasing the trauma associated with this particular memory will be accompanied by a better view of myself. I may not fully believe it, but if I can believe a little of it then that is good enough for now.
I have to believe that with each memory and its associated traumatic experiences that are processed via EMDR I’ll believe the healthier, more positive statements about myself more and more.
These are some quotes I’ve found recently that are helpful to me in understanding me, helping me through this.
Trauma creates changes you don’t chose. Healing is about creating change that you do choose.
What happened to you was not your fault. The struggles you have today, like your cPTSD symptoms, are a normal response to abnormal events. So, please be kind to yourself.
The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.
This took me a bit longer than I expected this morning. I did, however, enjoy creating this card.
First, I drew the design out on a piece of paper that is 10cm x 14cm using various sizes of Uniball Unipin pens.
I copied the image using my Brother Laser printer. I didn’t scan it in at this time, but will do later on. All I needed was a copy to play around with.
The next step involved the use of Chameleon Duo Tone and Color Top markers to colour the design elements in. Even though some areas were quite small, I still managed to get bits of shading there.
Once the colouring with the Chameleon markers was done it was time to hot foil the design, and you can see where the gold foil catches the light in places as I took the photo. A friend of mine saw some of my foiling yesterday in person and she was said she was wowed by it. She thought it was good in the photos, but the photos really don’t do it justice at all.
After foiling, it was time to colour the background. I used a selection of Distress Inks, starting with mustard seed in the centre to give a subtle glow, then tumbled glass, crushed olive, peeled paint, pine needles and evergreen bough. I used a piece of cut and dry foam and a very light touch to add the colour.
I was worried that the Distress Inks may muddy up the colouring done with the Chameleon markers. Yes, they subtly changed the colours in some places, but I was careful to choose colours that wouldn’t make mud. Also, so little Distress Ink is added it barely alters the colours.
I can tell you I was well relieved by that!
Distress Inks are water reactive, so I gave the image a light spray of water knowing that only the Distress Inks would be affected. After a short while I dabbed the water off with a piece of paper towel. This lifted some of the colour leaving a subtle background texture.
As this point, after letting the paper dry completely, I could’ve added more Distress ink. Instead, I decided to use aged mahogany, again on a small piece of cut and dry foam, to edge the paper, to give it a border, and also to add a darker layer at the bottom of the design to ‘ground’ the image.
When I can find my Wink of Stella pen from Kuretake I’ll add some very subtle shimmer to the dragonflies, maybe to the seeds in the seedpods too. I also think some gold dots in small clusters would enhance the background.
I also need to think about adding a bit more shading to the bottoms of the laves to give a more dimensional look to them I think. I could definitely do the same to the dragonflies’ wings too.
Those are simple and quite minor changes that will make a difference I think. It’s only as I’m looking at the finished image now that I can see how those things would help. I often don’t think to step back and give myself time to look at the image with fresh and kindly critical eyes, seeing what I could do to improve my work.
In hindsight, the dragonflies may have worked well as black silhouettes in the design, which would then become totally covered in foil. Or just outlines that would be foiled. That’s something for me to try another time and see if I like that idea more.
I think you can tell I’m really enjoying this branch of my artistic journey. I’ve concentrated a lot on digital art of late. I’m not going to abandon my digital art journey at all; I can do things digitally that I can’t with traditional media.
However, it is showing me that working with traditional media is also a pleasurable and successful activity for me to do.
What am I going to do with this? I don’t know. Part of me wants to add it to my BuJo. Another part wants to mount it on a blank greeting card to send to a friend. Another part of me wants to put it into a reference sketchbook or folder for inspiration in the future.
Yesterday turned out to be a different day than I expected.
The anti-stigma talks I was booked in to do didn’t happen. No one knew about them. So, I drove to some services not far away for a wee, tea, something to nibble and time out to relax and draw.
Then, I wended my way to Neath for lunch in forty-six, a cafe in Queen Street that I love for it’s quirkiness. I finished the drawing over lunch, and the result is above. I used various Pitt Artists pens from Faber-Castell, grey Uniball Unipin pens, and some coloured pencils. I wanted to work in monochrome, but I also wanted to experiment with scanning a monochrome drawing in and adding colour to it digitally. I tried that last night, but my mood plummeted and well, I abandoned the idea for now.
EMDR therapy followed lunch and then a drive back home.
I thought the therapy was quite gentle this week, though there was lots and lots going on in my body. We haven’t quite finished processing the memory I’m working on at the moment. Maybe next week will see it finished. I felt tired and a bit spaced out when I left EMDR, but positive and hopeful on the way home.
However, when I got home, after preparing a vegetable stew and putting it on to cook, my emotions crashed in on me.
I was so disheartened with myself, my art, my life. I felt so sad, so tearful. I was so tired too. Emotionally tired, mentally tired.
I didn’t know why I was bothering to do art, to draw coloring books, to write words, to speak up about mental health and my journey to achieve some measure of healing from CPTSD. I felt so lonely, so alone. I didn’t believe my own story, that I was making everything up as an excuse for being overweight, for being a failure, for being useless at everything I do.
I’ve not felt this disheartened for many weeks, time. The suddenness surprised me. No warning. No gradual decline that I could pick up on and work towards halting it.
I ended up going to bed early to escape these thoughts and feelings.
I woke up this morning feeling a bit better but with a horrible, horrible headache behind my eyes. I feel the pressure to complete the book I’m working on before the end of this month, but I’m not sure I’m in the right place to continue with it.
I suspect EMDR has shaken some stuff loose… and I need to give it time and space to be processed and released. I’ll have to see how I go with drawing later on, when the headache tablets kick in, to see if I can do anything today.
I need to tell myself I have time to complete the requisite number of illustrations, plus a couple extra so choices can be made. That it may be better to take a day to find my balance again.
I finally managed to finish coloring this design in yesterday. I’m quite pleased with it. I’m more pleased with the lessons I learned on using different kinds of brushes as well as the need to use higher contrasts in tones. But that is something I can practice on later along
My focus in the next fortnight has to be the book I need to finish by the end of the month. I will get it done.
I’m still feeling very, very tired emotionally and mentally today. I do intend to get at least one coloring template done today. If I can get one done an day, two on some days, I’ll have the book all done before the deadline.
One a day is more than achievable, and allows me some days for self-care, something that I realise is important on days like today. It’s going to take me a while to recover from all the therapy and anti-stigma talks of the past week. As the adrenaline and other stress chemicals leave my body, the exhaustion settles in more and more for a while.
I know I will be just fine and dandy. I just need to take it as easy as I can and take time for myself too.
I can do that.
One or two templates a day is absolutely do-able, even on days where I feel as I do today. When the template’s done, I can then take the selfcare time and not feel guilty about it.