Sketchbook Page – First of 2021

About the sketchbook page

My sketchbooks have been the focus of my attention during the waning days of 2020 and the start of 2021. I’ve done pages of zentangle-type patterns, borders and ‘fragments. I’ve been trying out monograms, and I’ve been drawing in more of my signature style, as above.

This page shows some experiment with colour and texture in the sketchbook. I used fineliner pens for the textures and Pitt Artist Brush Pens, both ‘neat’ and with a waterbrush.

I had to work hard with myself to do this. I didn’t want to mess up the drawing, which I quite like, with colour and so on. But then I told myself I can always re-draw it, along with losing the elements I’m not keen on. I really like the bird-like design at the top of this coloured image.

The others were drawings done for the sheer joy and comfort of drawing. All intuitive, though I did pay attention to a reference photo of a meso-American pot for the face in the right-hand drawing.

All drawings were done with an 05 Unipin pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The 05 pen nib has become worn, and usually I’d bin it, but I’m working with it and seeing how I can vary the width and intensity of line. I’m trying to allow myself to embrace the perfectly imperfect quality of the line and the character it brings to my drawings. I find that I like it, which surprises me. Now, all I need to do is to work to replicate this digitally; maybe not a perfect replication but something that is similar enough.

Sketchbooks

I have three sketchbooks on the go at the moment.

The A4 and A5 Enviros are for drawings and designs, as above. Fairly polished and starting points for further work. I can try different things out – such as colour and texture – knowing that I can either scan the drawings in before I try these experiments out, or I can always re-draw the design, altering the parts I’m not happy with.

The third is an A4 SeaWhite all-media sketchbook. Although I have done some drawings in there, it’s been repurposed into a zentangle/pattern experimentation and record book. I use colour and shading with the drawings as they are purely for reference and the pleasure of drawing them. Not surprisingly, many of the pages are aesthetically pleasing in the way that needlework or cross-stitch samplers are. You can look at the page again and again and still find designs or sections of designs that surprise you.

Comfort Art

The past few days I’ve needed to find an activity that comforts me. I find this time of year emotionally difficult as I’m triggered by Christmas and New Year and all the hoo-haa around it. The short days and lack of sunshine doesn’t help much. My daylight therapy lamp helps somewhat, but it isn’t as good as working at my desk or taking a walk bathed in winter sunlight. I also find myself bone-weary a lot. Mind you, not sleeping properly at night isn’t helping me either.

As an introvert, I tend to retreat into a world of my own at these times, or to immerse myself in other worlds through films and books. And of course art. I limit my social media activity to the absolute necessary. This way, the societal pressures I feel fade away, and before long the world is back to the way it is for the vast majority of the year.

This year, my main haven of peace and contentment has been in my sketchbooks. I’ve found particular comfort and delight indulging myself in zentangle patterns. The patterns are familiar, but working on them to create unique variations that are my own has been something new and different for me. As has allowing myself to draw them in my own way.

As well as comforting me, I’ve discovered that I find it hard to be uniquely me in my artistic expression. Accepting that the way I draw something is just fine as long as I’m happy with it. The videos from the Zentangle family have been incredibly useful in helping me see this, as well as making me determined to change it too. Not just with zentangle type stuff, but with my art in general. Also, I realised that I do this for other people, but never for myself. Time to change that, methinks!

I’m still in ‘comfort art’ mode for the next couple of days. I’m still not ‘right’ emotionally, and I’d like to be before I turn my attention to the example coloured templates for Entangled Starry Skies and sketches for the cover of the next colouring book.

Insomniac Art

What do I do when I wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep. I draw, sat all cwtched up in bed, until I’m ready to go to sleep once again. Usually I manage to get back to the land of nod again, mostly. I did last night. I find it’s better than tossing and turning and fretting about not sleeping.

This is a weird mix of zentangle-y patterns and the more abstract lines and shapes that have appeared in my work of late.

I’ve digitally added some shadow and highlight to the drawing, rather clumsily. I’ll eventually work out how to do this in a way that pleases me digitally.

Original art – A5 in size, drawn with a 05 Unipin pen on acid-free cartridge paper in an Artway Enviro sketchbook.

Template Thursday (on a Tuesday!)

We’re rapidly approaching the end of 2020 and it’s my custom to create a coloring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group to mark the calendar changeover day.

In the past few years, there’s been a flurry of coloured templates appearing on the page throughout New Year’s Day, always something beautiful and wonderful to behold. Many members post their templates close to midnight when the year changes.

I’ve not coloured the template yet. I hope my focus continues over the next couple of days so I can get it done to join in.

I had a right ‘mare of a time getting the image above done. I think I tried four times in total, with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro crashing before I could save it. Sketchbook pro has always been very, very stable, so I guess the gremlins of 2020 got to it today. But I finally got it done. That could be a very perfect metaphor for 2020, perhaps.

Drawn with a fine Uniball Eye pen on acid-free cartdridge paper. Backgrounds added digitally.

Abstract 28 Dec 2020

Drawn with 01 and 03 Uniball Unipin pens on acid-free cartridge paper. Approx. 16cm x 17cm in size.

Just something I drew last night whilst watching/listening to stuff on the TV. I digitally added colour quickly as I want to return to drawing and so on.

I wanted to play around with hand-drawn borders, letting my mind tick over possibilities as I do so. I’d spent much of the day doing ‘comfort art’, which meant exploring Zentangle patterns, shading and monochrome colour. I find the repetitive action of such pattern drawing meditative, relaxing and soothing.

Of course, once I was happy with the borders, I had to add something in the middle! As I have scanned the image in, if I ever wish to use the border for something else, it’ll be easy enough for me to remove the inner drawing.

I suspect much of my day will be spent in comfort art. I didn’t sleep well last night (hot flashes again) and I’m tired. I was practically falling asleep as I was adding colour to this artwork – which is why it’s simple flood-fills of colour.

The colors I’ve chosen are rather soft and muted, which is pretty uncharacteristic for me. That, too, is probably a reflection of how I’m feeling at the moment.

I can also say I’m really grateful for the spell-checking thingy too. It seems the tireder I am, the more I lose my ability to spell! I typed spell-chicken above, which is fairly humourous, but seriously wrong! The second time I tried to type spell-checking, it came out as sleep-chickpen. I think it’s time I went back to sleep!

Crimbo Day Artyness

I’ve been working on this pen and ink drawing over the past three days. It’s a bit smaller than A4 in size and I’m working with 0.35 and 0.25 Rotring Rapidograph pens on smooth, heavyweight, acid-free cartridge paper.

I’ve digitally added a red background, along with some fast and dirty highlights/shadows.

Once again, all the best of the season’s wishes to you all.

Season’s Greetings!

Here is my Christmas Mandala for 2020.

I’d like to wish all of you the very best that this season promises, not just for the few short days of this celebration, but for each and every day ahead of you.

May each of those days be filled with joy and wonder, good memories, contentment, peace, creative inspiration, and health.

May you have all that you need.

Template Thursday

If you popped along here for this week’s coloring template, I was a day early! Just click on the link to see it.

Sunday…

A little drawing I’ve been working on this morning. The paper tile is 5″ square. Sakura Pigma Micron 05 and Faber Castell Pitt Artist pen 1.5 were used, as well as some digital stuff to add the star, which doesn’t quite work.

The black square resulted from a whole host of mistakes made in that little section. I was deeply unhappy about what I’d drawn there. So, out came the thicker black pen and I covered it up.

I thought It would be fun to add something gold there. I’ve tried lots of different motifs, but stuck with this one. I have very little sense of scale when I draw digitally, and this golden star is a classic example of that!

The rest of the design I’m quite happy with. Shadow and highlight are needed to bring it to life as it looks just so flat.

But I’m tired again and don’t have the energy or desire to sort out that bleedin’ star nor the shadow/highlight and/or colour at the moment. I need to snuggle up with a warm and cuddly blanket, mocha and films that lift my spirits. I sense a Star Wars marathon in the offing…

Saturday Entanglements

Today’s art is a selection of the small, detailed, intricate and fairly abstract drawings I’ve done over the past day or so, all in varying states of completeness.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I have a need to immerse myself in something that’s kind of familiar. Call it ‘comfort drawing’ if you like. But that’s what this has been; drawing to comfort and self-soothe.

My emotions are out of sorts. I’m dissatisfied with almost everything I do artistically at the moment, so I stepped back in time to do entangled zentangle-style drawings, with a twist here and there. Small projects. Pens and pencils on various paper. If something doesn’t work out, well it’s not great shakes, I just carry on and try to accept it for what it is, and learn a bit more about what works and what doesn’t.

I’m tired today. Not just physically but emotionally. The sun is shining and that is helping my mood somewhat. But I’m still tired.

Past experience tells me this will pass. It’s just emotional weather. I’m aware of the source of it, and I just need time to process, heal and learn from it.

I don’t really sit and think my way through things in the way people describe how they think. With me it’s all abstract and difficult to communicate in words. It happens on a more intuitive, subconscious level. When I’m ready, I’ll write about it, and give form to the abstract and symbolic processes of my inner self.

I’ve never really been able to express my emotions artistically. Sometimes they creep out in terms of colour choice. I do think my choice of more geometric, repetitive patterns in these artworks is an expression of my need to build a new structure in my emotional self.

My EMDR therapist was always saying I was too much in my head, not much in my body. A lot of the work we did was very somatic and a process of learning I did have emotions and recognising what these emotions are. It’s a troublesome realm, but an important one, even if it gets rather messy at times.

Messy. That’s something my art never is. Something my emotions rarely are. Everything so tightly controlled and precise; at least that’s how I seem to the outside world.

My older sister used to call me the ‘ice maiden’ as I never showed much enthusiasm or reactions to anything. I learned early in life that if I showed that I loved something or that it was valuable to me, then others would go out of their way to wreck it. I learned if I showed ambivalence, that things may not be wrecked by others.

The first time I can remember showing awe and wonder was on a trip to the British Museum, with my older sister and youngest brother. We went to see the mummies, but took a wrong turn and ended up at the Sutton Hoo treasures. I couldn’t help expressing the awe and wonder I felt on seeing them in person for the first time.

I feel a sense of awe and wonder often now, some thirty or more years on from that day. That day cracked open the seals on those emotions and I was able to share them with others through my teaching career and beyond. But not with everyone. Some in my life didn’t want me to be excited about anything. So I learned to choose how and when they were shown.

Now, I feel no embarrassment at showing awe and wonder. I’m able to lose myself in the beauty of nature, the grandeur of architecture, the magic of music, and more.

But other emotions are still a bit tricky for me. Messy. Confusing. Troubling.

And when I feel messy, confused and troubled emotionally, I fall back to comfort art. Often entangled style art, like these. And entangled is an apt way to describe emotions and life.

Just as one small drawing comes to a close, it being good enough for now, so will my confused and troubling emotions work their way to a good enough state of resolution, leading to contentment and peace.

Friday Art

Yesterday really didn’t go to plan. I ended up having a major emotional and stress episode and I was so tired afterwards that I didn’t have much in the way of focus. It also gave me a seriously upset stomach, as any emotional/stress event does.

I did, however, work on these two zentangle-style drawings.

The one on the left I did during the night and early this morning as my sleep was disturbed. I used a small square of Claire Fontaine Natural Paint On mixed media paper and a 03 Sakura Micron pen. The paper is 5″ square. The colour and shading was adding using a selection of Daler-Rowney artist’s sketching pencils and a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen. I left a blank space so I could add a quote at a later time.

The one on the right I started after I’d completed the line-art for Entangled Starry Skies. I used a 6″ Strathmore Artist’s Tile along with Unipin pens. To add colour and shading I used Stabilo Carbothello pastel pencils and Derwent Graphitint pencils with a light wash of water. I used this particular drawing as a way to try out different traditional media I’ve not used for a long time. I did mean to add gold to the white circular highlights, but it slipped my mind.

It was actually really nice to lose myself in the intricacy of these drawings. Intricacy, pattern, abstract, organic satisfy a large part of my arty heart.

I do feel a bit more settled today, but I am tired after yesterday’s stress and upset and a poor night’s sleep. But I do need to sort out my Christmas card design for this year!

Template Thursday

It’s that day again – Template Thursday!

Each Thursday throughout the pandemic I’ve designed a colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

This week, the design has one big focal point motif of a zentangle-inspired Christmas Tree. It’s cute and whimsical, and is surrounded by holly, mistletoe, gifts, stars and baubles. Of course there’s some hearts there too.

Although the drawing is quite detailed, it’s split into smaller sections. This is great if you only have a bit of time or feel overwhelmed by the whole image. This way you can do one section at a time.

There’s a couple of reasons I usually only colour part of the template. One is a question of time when I have other things that have to be done. The other is that it shows the difference colour makes to the drawing, how it brings it to life.

I love to see how colourists bring my drawings to life with colour and how unique each person’s approach to colouring is. Every time I see one coloured it brings a smile to my face. I have so many colouring books published, so many templates drawn that I don’t have time to colour them all myself.

But when I see a template I wasn’t happy with all coloured in and how wonderful it looks, it not only makes me smile, but it gives me a little confidence boost that my drawings may be just good enough after all.

Yes, I suffer with imposter syndrome and a lack of self-confidence still.

For the rest of the day I really do need to get on with my Christmas card design for this year and get the moonpig ones sorted out and sent off.