Mandala

Mandala 9 Nov 2019 ©Angela Porter |Artwyrd.com

This morning, I needed the calming and soothing process of drawing a mandala.

The last few days have been manic, tiring and emotional. I’ve also had to use a lot of mental concentration on a project that involves me. All this has resulted in evenings filled with headaches and emotional vulnerability.

I’m aware of what’s happening to me, and I do take steps to make sure that I practice self-care and self-soothing.

Drawing mandalas is always self-soothing for me. The abstract nature of them means anything goes, within the foundation of rings and angles. Drawing repeating patterns and shapes is also a soothing activity.

Today, I chose to draw in black and white and add a grey, textured background. Some subtle shading in greys helps to add the illusion of dimension to the mandala.

I drew this mandala digitally, using my favourite tool triad of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. This made it easy to alter what I wasn’t happy with as I worked on the mandala. This removed a source of potential stress and upset and allowed the perfectionist in me to smile.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any imperfections in the design; there are plenty of them! It just means I can fix the big mistakes quickly. I wish it were as easy to do that in life, for myself but also for others.

I enjoyed drawing the mandala. It has helped to soothe my fragile head and heart and has set me up for the rest of my arty, creative day.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’ve not written much about my mental and emotional health lately. It’s mostly been good. However, I’ve had some challenges with it and have had some weepy, teary times.

Previously, I’ve mentioned that I was looking at leaving therapy soon. I still think that will be the case, but these challenges have caused some flotsam and jetsam from my past to surface. They need to be processed and released before I consider leaving therapy.

I have so much to do in terms of work and other commitments that I really do need to schedule in that self-care time. Also, I’m aware that the challenges I’m currently facing could, potentially, harm my mental and emotional health. All the work of the past five years in therapy could, possibly, be undone. I can’t allow that to happen.

During the recent difficulties, I’ve found my emotions and thoughts harking back to the dark days of my poor mental and emotional health. I managed to stop myself falling into the bottomless, dark pit of despair and anguish. I recognised it was happening. Also, I recognised the trigger for this. It was strong enough to breathe some life into the pale ghosts of my past. Those ghosts have now been dispelled, but I know they can rise to haunt me at my vulnerable moments.

What scared me most was that I lost that awareness of inner contentment that has been present for many months now. It’s now back, once the ghosts had been returned to their realm – the past.

I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again – emotions are the weather of my inner being. Things happen or are said that can stir up a storm. The storm opens a portal to the past and ghosts can find their way to trouble my mind and feelings. I’m now more aware of myself, my emotions, and how to cope with this weather. I’m back to a calm sea where the contentment isn’t shrouded by the shades of the past.

Being able to banish these ghosts myself shows how far I’ve come since my darkest days.

Terracotta mandala

Terracotta Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning I awoke with a pounding headache, an introvert’s hangover from a therapy session and a busy meeting in the evening with lots of people and noise. A big mug of tea, a couple of Anadin Extra and the head has cleared somewhat, though I still feel quite fuzzy-headed and tired.

Despite the headache, or perhaps because of it, I slipped into mandala mode to start my day. I had wanted to include some wise words in it, but my mind just wasn’t functioning clearly enough.

Unusually for me, I chose a terracotta-coloured kraft paper background to draw with a creamy coloured ink. I added some shading behind the design in places, just to try to increase the depth and dimension. I’m not sure I’ve achieved it well this time, however. Once my head fully clears, I may do the shading afresh.

The resulting mandala is far more geometric and structured than is often the case with me, especially the outside ring. However, I’m quite pleased with it, especially given the state of my head!

I do like the warm, earthy tones of paper and ink in this design. The colours have been quite comforting and soothing to work with.

I drew this digitally, using my favourite combination of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio (which are the digital analogues of pen and paper).

Repeating patterns, my first experiment

Pattern 18 coloured v01 watermarked

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about and looking at how to make repeating patterns.

I’ve tried the old fashioned way of working on paper and cutting the paper and so on, and not found the results at all satisfactory.

I’ve had a bit of a go in Adobe Illustrator, but I find Illustrator so confusing and frustrating to use.  There seems to be a total disconnect between my brain and the software architecture of Illustrator, and other similar pieces of software.

A day or two ago I found a little app in the Microsoft Store called Amaziograph that lets me create repeating patterns in sheet form, which is great if I want a sheet of black and white repeating, entangled line art, but not what I want if I want a coloured repeating pattern.  Oh, the app is a lot of fun to mess around with for sure and no doubt I will use it to generate patterns.

Looking around at software today, a lot of it either works in Illustrator or is prohibitively expensive given that I just want to have a play, see what I can come up with and see if it’s something that I’d like to spend more time with.  Where they offer free trials, I know they’re not going to be a long enough trial for me to get to grips with Illustrator and the software/plugins, so I’d not be able to make my mind up.

So, on a wander around the corners of Google, I found a lovely little program called Repper. It had an online trial version that I could play with quite happily, and I decided to purchase it afterwards.

In Repper, you open your own artwork and use parts of it to create repeating patterns.  The pattern above is an example of that, kind of.

What I did was to take one of my coloured mandala patterns and use that to create a pattern that was pleasing to me.  Actually, I had many, many patterns that were pleasing to me, and I saved them as tiles that would form a repeating pattern.  With some, I saved them as a surface pattern, where the tiles were already repeated.

What is nice is that the program lets me set both the size and quality of the tile or surface image.

Next, I put the  tile I particularly liked into GiMP (GNU image Manipulation Program, open source software) to copy the black lines and create a new, uncoloured tile with a transparent background.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro was my next destination so that I could colour the tile as I liked.  Not so easy where the edges of the tiles will meet  and to have no edges showing up.

The tile is partly finished in terms of colour, but I wanted to see how it would look tiled.  Go, back to GiMP I went and the above was the result!

My head now hurts a little after this, which means I need more tea, LOTS more tea and a bit of a break.

I absolutely love that I can take my artwork and use it to create more interesting designs and patterns with.  It’s absolutely fascinating, very easy to get lost in it all.

Definitely a very nice way to spend a few hours on a chilly and very rainy afternoon!  My Surface Book and Surface Pen have had a good workout in the process too!

Butterflies

Butterfly 3 patterned_AngelaPorter_16June2017Butterfly 8 patterned_AngelaPorter_16June2017

I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Book along with my Surface Pen to add patterns and shading to two of the butterfly outline designs I drew yesterday.  I’m happy with the results.

Today I’ve also created two more dot mandalas, each around 5″ in diameter.  I added some gems to those, as well as to the small dot mandalas I created over the last couple of days.  The sparkle really adds something special to them, and helps to emphasise the circularity of mandala designs.

DotMandala1_16June2017_AngelaPorterDotMandala2_16June2017_AngelaPorterDotMandalaCards_16June2017_AngelaPorter

Half-term at last…pheweee!

It’s been a long half-term at school; eight weeks to be precise.  In that time there’s been two training days, a twilight training session. a memorial walk to raise money for school funds and the Senghenydd Mining Disaster Memorial, almost daily incidents of poor behaviour/attitude to deal with, lessons observations, book reviews (as in how well and regularly work is being marked), a consultation with my union representative, a stress-meltdown and hopefully the end of three year period of what feels like persecution/bullying in a particular situation at work (culminating in the union consultation and the stress meltdown).

I still have a pupil to be dealt with who has been making threats to physically attack me because I apparently ‘start on him’ by asking him to do his work.  How shocking is that, that I should request he stop shouting around the class, distracting others and to do his work?

Oh the joys of being a teacher.

Having said that, there are joys.  The shared smiles and laughter with pupils enjoying the lessons.  The ones whose faces light up when they see me and who never exhibit poor behaviour in my class, even though they may do in other lessons), the shared laughter with colleagues, morning breakfast with ‘the girls’, the helpfulness of the lab tech, the enthusiasm and questioning of pupils because they are interested in something, their kindness and thoughtfulness.  And so much more that it’s a shame it can become dominated by the negative things that occur and dominate my ruminating, over-analysing, over-thinking brain.

It’s been really busy for me with having to prepare work for a new course I’m running with my special needs classes, as well as teaching mainstream classes that I’ve not done for years.  It’s meant late nights at work and even bringing work home – something I avoid doing as I do not want to go down the route of being a workaholic as I was in the first decade or so of my teaching career.

This busy-ness has really eaten into my creative time.  Little art has been done, and I’m am doing my best to settle back into it in this half-term, especially as I have two contracts to create artwork for two books, though I have been waiting for direction for what the artwork is to be for a long while now.

I’ve barely stopped in the first four day so of the half-term.  I seem to be running away from time with myself.  I can struggle with being alone, feeling lonely and end up keeping moving, moving, moving to avoid it.  Today I am remaining at home and trying to get things out of the way so that I will settle to some arty pursuits, or de-stressing after the last half-term.

I do seem to be a lot more resilient than I was a year ago.  Though things can get to me (such as loneliness, lack of a sense of belonging, the constant worry I’m doing things wrong that have precipitated the situation at work that led to a stress-meltdown), I often find there’s a content ‘centre’ in me that I can access when I do things of a creative nature or things that focus my mind away from it’s rumination and negative thinking.  It’s a little easier to spot when this is happening, though I don’t always catch it in time to stop the tears, the self-loathing and the comfort eating.

I rejoined a choir I’ve been a member of since I was in school myself.  Sadly, I had to leave again once the stress levels rose as my voice was, and still is, affected by the stress.

Out of all of this, and at odd times during the last couple of months, I have managed to do some arty things.  Here’s two mandalas of mine.

Calmly Does It © Angela Porter 2013

Autumn Splendour ©Angela Porter 2013d

A different kind of mandala from me

August Mandala 9 © Angela Porter 2013

This one is a little different for me.  The colours are rather subdued for a start.  It shows the influence of my love of Romanesque architectural details, geometric patterns, natural patterns, doodly patterns, and, dare I say it, zentangles, though I do have to say the use of repeated patterns and doodly patterns has been around for thousands and thousands of years not just through the cleverly packaged and marketed brand of Zentangle!  I’ve used patterns like this in my art for a very long time, drawing on my own observations as well as those of others…

Anyway, this mandala has been created using Unipin pens, coloured pencils, a Pentel white hybrid gel pen, and gold and silver Sakura pens.  Yes, there are some very subtle metallic highlights on this one that don’t really show up in the scan.

Autumnal August Mandala 8

Yup, it’s the eighth one in the series this month.  I really have become hooked on mandalas this past week or two.  The repetition that’s necessary to complete them (well it is  the way I do them) is calming and meditative; that’s not just for drawing the outline, or for the colouring, but for all the texturing as well.

This one uses a rather unusual, for me any way, colour palette.  The background has been left white as I really don’t know what colour (or texture) to do it in.  Do I do earthy greys and black, rich earthy greens, blues the hues of autumnal day, twilight and night skies, or some other colour(s) that I’ve not considered yet?

It will come to me, and any suggestions are always welcome!

August Mandala 8 © Angela Porter 2013

And here it is with a background.  I’m ambivalent about the background; part of me likes it, part of methinks the colours are too similar to the mandala design, part of me wonders if I should have played around with colours more, and part of me thinks that the texture on the background should have been done in a copper metallic ink with dark inner shadows.

August Mandala 8 with background © Angela Porter 2013