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.

Amazing Mandala WIP

Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

This mandala is coming along slowly, but surely.

I’m definitely learning new ways to work digitally, but also new ways to express my creativity as well.

I’ve said it before and I’m amazed at what I’m creating. I never, ever thought that I’d be able to create anything like this, but I have and am doing so.

As usual, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to express my creativity.

The colours are bright and bold, which seems to be my signature style. They’re quite psychedelic too – all due to my love of playing with complementary colours.

I am child of the 60s in the respect I was born then and have some early memories of the music and art of that period thanks to my older half-sister who is 10 years my senior.

Perhaps I’m expressing my inner hippy. Or maybe I’m just expressing me, Angela.

I’ve said it before that I like to create things that are pretty, beautiful even. I don’t always get it right, but the more I do, the more I learn. I find my confidence little by little.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m tired but content. My stomach still isn’t right and it’s pulling my energy levels and my ability to concentrate on my art down.

I’ve had my moments of tears in the past day or so when I have been so tired once again. I’m not very resilient to the inner critic when I’m over tired or run down that’s for sure.

When I’m tired the inner critic seems to want to convince me I’m lonely, unloveable and unloved, worthless, useless.

I know when I feel this way to do anything artsy can be a self-defeating task as I’m never satisfied with what what I do and this feeds the inner critic who becomes nastier and nastier.

So, I don’t feed the inner critic and do other things until I find the energy I need to be stronger than the inner critic.

Today I did a little more on this mandala and I’m now doubting it greatly, even though I’m really pleased with it. I can feel the pressure bearing down on me to believe that this is horrible, it’s not as good as I’d like to think it is, that it’s ugly, it doesn’t work, that the black was a huge mistake and I’ll never get it right.

So, instead of sitting and worrying about it I shall go and do something else that the critic could have plenty to say about but it doesn’t bother me all that much. So, I’m working on crocheting a blanket for a friend. I’m not at all sure it’s going to work out; I’m doing a ‘scrap’ blanket to use up yarn from my stash so it’s not going to be planned out and that causes me some concern. However, I shall keep going.

Mandala WIP – today’s update

Mandala WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I’ve made some more progress on this mandala. It took me a good couple of hours to settle on the colour way for the black portion of the mandala. Whatever colour I tried it just seemed to be ‘too much’ against the bright motifs already in place. Black seems a little stark at the moment, maybe.

As I’m creating this digitally, I can always alter the black section. However, I think that as I ‘sit’ with the design the black will make some kind of sense.

As I put the simple shapes of the ‘shells’ or ‘flowers’ beyond the black section, I worried that they wouldn’t work. it was only by adding the details that I have become pleased with these motifs. They’re very textural in nature. I’ve even worked out how to have the ‘pearls’ or ‘pollen grains’ floating above the sections.

What I’m really pleased with, though, is the addition of some simple but effective details to the lighter parts of these motifs, including a couple of spirals that are in the same colour scheme. Sutble, but I think they’re lovely details.

It’s taken me a good five to six hours to complete these two sections You can also see I still have quite a bit left to do. I’m going to take a break from it for a while now. I didn’t realise how long I’ve been hunched over the Surface Studio working on this. Oh, I’ve been using my Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with the Surface Studio and it is a pleasure to do so.

My trio of tools are allowing me to create my own bit of personal artistic magic. Well, I think that’s what I’m doing. Something rather pretty, beautiful even, and colourful too.

Gosh, what am I saying? Me, recognising that something I’ve created is pretty even beautiful? Blimey! That doesn’t happen often I can tell you. But I really am rather proud of this mandala and the style in which I am working at the moment.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m ok today. Quite content really. I also have the sense of satisfaction that I’m doing a good job with this mandala.

Yes, a sense of satisfaction and the recognition I’m doing a good job. These are emotions that I’m only just becoming aware of in myself.

Another small sign of progress being made on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.

Mandala WIP – update

Mandala WIP - update © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP – update © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I have to say I am really, really pleased with how this mandala is working out. It’s not at all what I expected in the first instance, but I am so chuffed with myself.

I also think I am really getting the hang of this digital art malarkey too. I can also say that there is no way I would have been able to create this using traditional media – I’ve tried similar things in the past and it all ends up such a mess with me.

Digital art is the media I think I may have been waiting for. It’s taken me three years to get to this artistic level with digital art. Even in this mandala you can see how I have learned and developed ideas as I’ve worked from the centre out.

I absolutely love my Microsoft products – Surface Pen, Surface Book and Surface Studio. I cut my digital art teeth on the Surface Book (not literally!) and found I enjoyed digital art and when I felt I could I got a Surface Studio as the smaller size of the Surface Book screen was frustrating me a little.

The change to the Surface Studio is what has enabled me to really take to digital art. The size of the screen, the ease at which I can change the angles at which I work with the Surface Studio, the speed of the processors, the sensitivity of the pen on the screen…

I just love it! So much so I’m on the point of destashing nearly all my traditional art media and gifting them to a worthy cause.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to draw with pen on paper, that won’t ever change so my pen collection won’t be going anywhere. But the way I can use colour and texture digitally is an absolute dream. It’s also mess-free!

I hope you noticed that I said I’m really pleased with this mandala. It’s not often I’m able to say that about my art. But today I can and I am. I am actually smiling when I look at this mandala.

My only problem now is that I’ve changed the design of the mandala in the latest ‘ring’. Oh well, I can adjust accordingly or just create a new design around this one. I’ll see how I go with that.

I also quite like the ‘ghostly’ outline mandala design as a background, though silly me managed to leave the outline above the coloured design. One of the wonderful things about working in layers is that things like this aren’t a problem!

I think I may celebrate my progress with this mandala and also my digital art skills with a nice mug of tea!

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

My current work in progress is a mandala. Also, I’m using my line art as a guide for the coloured areas which is quite different for me to do. No black lines in the finished design. Not a one will there be.

I’m working digitally using my trusty trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I have also chosen a coloured, texture background for the design to sit/float upon.

Just as a guide, it took me an hour or so to draw out the mandala design. So far I’ve spent around 6 hours on adding the colour and so on – and that’s with the help of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I’d had to do each section individually it would’ve taken me eight times as long!

You can see I still have a lot to do, so it’s going to be a long term project for sure.

I’m actually enjoying this one. It’s been rather soothing to do given that I’ve not been feeling too well with some kind of upset tummy. I’m still not fully well today but I am feeling a fair bit better than I did yesterday, thank goodness.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

Other than still feeling not too well physically with some kind of dodgy tummy, I’m quite contented.

Contented is good enough I think. I’m being creative, quietly so. I’m enjoying listening to Audible (currently it’s “Fatal Alliance” the first in the Star Wars Old Republic series of books. This one is authored by Sean Williams) as I’m being artsy. However, as I type I’m listening to the Maroon 5 station on Amazon Music. I can’t write and listen to a book!

To go back to my mental and emotional health, I feel quite content and my anxiety levels are at the manageable background levels, which is barely noticeable unless I focus on them. That is good enough for me, though I do know that it doesn’t take much for them to be triggered.

The CPTSD hair triggers that lead to emotional flashbacks. Not clear memories of a traumatic event, the emotional memories of a series of similar events that tapped into the stored trauma of the first traumatic event, reinforcing the trauma again and again and again.

That’s one way in which CPTSD is different to PTSD.

As I become more aware of my emotions and what can trigger an emotional response I’m more able to manage how I interact (or not) with the world until that trigger no longer affects me.

All part of self care which is so important.

My recovery from CPTSD is a work in progress, something I won’t stop until I’m good enough in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing as well as my relationship with myself.

Magical landscape mandala

Magical landscape mandala © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Magical landscape mandala © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

Creating this mandala has had me smiling. Gentle smiles on my face and in my heart. There’s something about the graphic black and white, the grey foliage in the background and the mystical, magical moonlight illuminating the design. I look at it and I feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction with this one. It’s not perfect. There’s things I want to do with it, and working digitally allows me to do that. However, for now, it’s more than good enough. I need more tea and a bit of a break from it.

I have to say that it looks really nice in just black and white. but, the simple gradient background really sets the atmosphere for the design. I did use a gradient fill tool to create the coloured background, but I do want to go back and create one that I can have a bit more control over for sure, maybe using watercolour brushes to do that, and adding spots of glow too.

I’m really pleased with the lighter foliage in the background, adding depth and dimension to the design, adding interest. It’s delicate and ephemeral, misty too.

I want to try not letting the background colour the motifs. That’ll involve me adding white to the white spaces. For some reason I created them with transparent ink.! No great problem to go back and sort that out though.

I also want to try working on a landscape that isn’t a mandala, using the same kind of style of drawing and adding magical, mystical coloured backgrounds.

But overall, I’m pleased with this and I’m pleased with the progress I seem to be making in both digital art and in developing my art ‘voice’.

There’s been quite a few pieces of art I’ve created that have made me smile recently – many of my mandalas and entangled drawings, my cute kitty ‘cartoons’ spring to mind, especially one I did of the pink anti-stigma badger as a Jedi knight!

I can honestly say that this mandala, and my previous one, have made me smile more than most.

Mandala

Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com
Available on a range of quality products from Artwyrd on Redbubble.com

The art…

A black and white mandala today. No colour. No shading. Just black and white and varying line width.

I set up one of my pen brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to vary it’s width with pressure. I’ve only ever used brushes where I’ve had their thickness set at one size as that has usually been my style of drawing in both traditional and digital media.

My favourite pens to draw with on paper are Sakura Pigma Micron, Sakura Pigma Sensei, Uniball Unipin, fountain pens, or technical drawing pens from Rotring or Staedtler. So, it was natural for me to set the digital pen brushes to mimic them and the lines they leave on paper – which are usually rather uniform in thickness, but with a bit of feathering around the edges.

I’ve never had much success or satisfaction in using dip pens or brush pens with drawing. No matter how much I practiced I never got a result I thought was good enough. The only dip pen I like to use is a glass dip pen as it has a very uniform line and writes smoothly too.

Late last night, I thought it was time that I experimented with a pen brush where I could vary the thickness with the pressure of my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Book.

I did set the pen to have a sharp edge and to vary in size from 1px to 9px with pressure, Then off I went with the intention to draw a mandala.

It took me a few attempts to work out how the new kind of pen brush worked for me. It also reminded me of lino prints, so I wanted to get that kind of graphic quality into my drawing.

I like it just as it is. I may try adding colour, even if it’s a subtle background colour, at some point. But I do like it.

What I particularly like is that the brush pen made it possible for me to draw lines that started fine and became thick in a gradual way and with a neat edge, something I struggle with when using my favoured pens or brush pens or flexible nibs.

I feel that this experiment has taken my drawing to a bit of a different level.

What I think I need to consider in future is adding elements of the design in shades of grey to create depth and dimension to the image. Perhaps even using different colours to draw such designs on a coloured background.

I also need to use this pen on drawings other than mandalas, such as the fantasy garden type design I did the other day ago.

I also think playing a little with the pressure sensitivity settings is on the cards, until I get it just right for me!

My mental and emotional wellbeing

I’m feeling more resilient today and I have a soft smile on my lips and in my heart.

The feeling of satisfaction with the mandala, and also completing the edits of the templates for the new book has contributed to this, along with a goodly amount of rest.

Days like this are nice for me. Days where I’m content. Days where my emotional and mental wellbeing are ‘good enough’. And they are today.

I may not feel brave enough to go out into the busy and people-y world today. If I can find a crochet pattern for a pretty shawl I may head out later to get some yarn with which to create that. I’ve almost successfully finished a crochet shopping/market bag for a friend and that has given me the confidence to try a different project. I love pashminas at all times of year. So I’d love to successfully crochet a pashmina/shawl for myself in yarn that changes from one colour to another perhaps. First to find the pattern.

Yes, the success with something I’ve struggled with – two failed attempts at a bag for myself had me feeling really useless, but the perseverance and success has lifted me. In fact, there’s been a lot of perseverance this week, what with EMDR and foiling and now the different kind of pen brush for digital drawing.

I need to make notes of this in my ‘When it’s dark, look for stars’ book as a reminder that things can be surprisingly good and I do do good stuff on my darker days. In fact, I need to start to add patterns/designs around the quotes and so on in this little book, and colour some more pages with Distress and Distress Oxide Inks for future use.

My biggest problem at the moment is feeling overwhelmed with all the ideas I have that involve drawing, foiling, creating digital stamps, a mandala coloring book, another tutorial book, designs for RedBubble, and more. This is part and parcel of cPTSD. So much I could do that it overwhelms so much that I can think and organise myself at all…

Despite that, it’s still a day where I feel what I’ve done recently is good enough, at the least it’s good enough. And for me to recognise and accept that is quite a step forward.

Here’s to getting a ‘good enough’ life and opinion of myself through EMDR and recovery from CPTSD!