Mail Art – sneak peek

Mail art – sneak peek © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Making the mail art

I woke this morning and had a fancy to make a card along with a coordinating envelope. I’m going to be sending these to someone, so I didn’t want to show the whole design, so a sneak peek it is. I don’t think it gives much away about the mail art. I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient.

I used a pre-made card blank and envelope. The card is nearly 8½” x 4¼” in size and is plain white.

I cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 3½” x 7½”. I added some score lines ⅛” in from each edge and let them overlap to form little squares at the corners. To do this I used a score board and bone folder. I’ve never done this before, but it actually adds a nice touch. It also gives me an even border to work within, which is always useful.

My next step was to add colour to the top layer and the envelope. I decided to do some ink blending with Distress Inks. Here’s a list of the colours I used:

  • scattered straw
  • wild honey
  • crushed olive
  • candied apple
  • evergreen bough

Once I was happy with the colour gradient, I broke out my Uniball Unpin pens and started to draw the design. As I had a coloured background, I made use of lines and patterns to add texture and dimension.

When I was happy with the design, it was missing something. It needed some colour or shading. I decided to add some colour with Copic markers, being mindful of using colours that would work harmoniously with the background.

My final step was to add some dots of gold glitter to add some ‘bling’ to the card.

My attention then turned to the envelope.

First, I added some pencil lines to help me keep my hand lettering level and neat. I then used a black Tombow Fudenosuke pen to brush letter the recipient’s name. I then used a grey Tombow Fudenosuke pen to add shadow to the letters.

I then used a Uniball Unipin 08 pen to add the address. For this, I used simple capital letters for the hand-lettering.

My next task was to draw the design on the envelope. I used some elements from the card for this, plus a couple of extra ones. I also added texture and shadow with lines.

My final task, after I’d written my name and address on the back of the envelope, was to seal the envelope art with a thin layer of Distress Micro Glaze, carefully avoiding the area where stamps will be affixed. The Micro Glaze creates a waterproof layer so the Distress and Tombow inks shouldn’t run if they get wet.

Once the recipient has the card, I’ll post a full image of the mail art, carefully obscuring their information.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok today. I’m a tad tired, but I don’t seem as emotionally fragile as I have been. There’s still a bit of ‘flatness’ or ‘heaviness’ inside me, but the contentedness is of equal or greater intensity.

Today I need a quiet day at home; the last week or so has been crazy busy with either emotional upsets occurring or commitments I have to keep. The next commitment I have is on Thursday evening, so I’m going to make the most of the time I have to myself. Creating mail art was one activity in self-soothing.

I doubted that I would find this more settled state any time soon. That it’s appeared today is a real bonus. How long it stays for I don’t know as I know what is in my diary.

I’m not going to worry about that, well not much. I’m going to enjoy the contentedness and Use my quiet time to soothe my still fragile emotions.

Yes, I feel mostly content, but I also know that it won’t take much to provoke me to tears and some emotional distress.

One thing we talked about in therapy on Monday was the need for me to protect myself in situations where I’m emotionally vulnerable. I’ve had a lot of time interacting with people over the past few days. I now need time to relax, breathe, re-energise.

I enjoy being with people, but it also drains me. That’s one of the consequences of being an introvert. When I’m socially exhausted, it makes me more emotionally vulnerable than I usually am. So, I need time to recover from this.

I will recover. Nowadays, I always do given enough self-care and self-soothing time.

I also am self-aware enough to know that to start important projects is not a good idea at this time. It becomes all too easy for me to find fault with everything I do and for me to end up spiralling downwards into a mood where I am harsh to myself.

It is still hard to be kind to myself on days like this. There’s a nagging voice that I should be doing this or doing that and not indulging myself in activities that help me to heal. Other inner critics join in, telling me I’m worthless, useless, a failure, unloveable then join in, sensing the vulnerability in me. So, I’m learning to ignore that voice, even if I still feel a little guilty. As I feel better, refreshed and re-energised and more emotionally resilient, the inner critics become inaudible once again.

So, as hard as it is to accept that I need to be kind and to spend today doing what will help me heal, this is precisely what I am going to do. And that starts with me writing a letter to accompany the mail art. I also want to create some designs that I can print to colour and use to create greeting cards.

Hello – A dangle design card with coordinating envelope.

Hell - A Dangle Design card with coordinating envelope © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Hell – A Dangle Design card with coordinating envelope © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Yesterday I decided to make a second card with a coordinating envelope. I wanted to try out using the Chameleon fine-liners to add colour in the form of lines and cross-hatching. Finally, I added some gold dots to the points of the petals on the flower design.

To draw the design and execute the hand-lettering, I used a Uniball Unipin pen. I then used various pairs of Chameleon fineliners to add the colour.

I prefer this way of adding colour with the Chameleon fine-liners, though I’m not entirely happy about it either. Looking at it now, in the clear light of dawn, I think I could have added a flat colour below the coloured lines. I may go and add that colour in a little while. After all, it’s just a card, an experiment, and if I mess it up, I can always make another one! A lesson learned, an experience gained is worth the few pennies worth of materials and the time it took just as long as I remember the lesson in the future.

I’m also not happy with my hand-lettering; I like the idea of the letter layout, but it’s not centred between the arcs.

I do like the ‘banner’ I’ve used to enclose the hand-lettering. However, there’s something about the rectangular ribbons and the patterns within that I don’t particularly like. I’ll work out what it is in time.

For now, I’ll try adding flat colour to the coloured sections to see how that works out and not worry about messing up the card. I’ll use it as a learning experience.

And that reminds me, I’ve still not set up my One Note journal for my private critiques and what kinds of methods and techniques I use in my art.

Materials

A piece of yellow card cut to 4″ x 11″, scored and folded in half to make a top-fold card measuring 4″ x 5½”.

A piece of white card approx. 4″ x 5″ for the top layer.

A We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch board and an piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞” or a blank envelope that will fit a 4″ x 5½” card.

A pencil and ruler for the guide-lines and a good eraser to remove them.

A black fineliner pen for drawing and hand-lettering; I used a Uniball Unipin pen.

Pens to colour the design; I used Chameleon fineliner pens.

A gold gel pen for the dot embellishments; I used a Uniball Signo gold gel pen.

If you’d like to learn more about dangle designs or are looking for some more inspiration for them and how they can be used in cards, BuJos, scrapbooks, bookmarks, journals, and more then my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. It takes you through how to draw monograms and dangle designs for all kinds of occasions around the year in simple steps.

Thinking of you – dangle design card and envelope

Thinking of you © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Dangle designs

Today, I have a dangle design card along with a coordinating envelope for you. I’ve kept the construction of the card simple with just one layer on the card blank. The dangle design and hand lettering are also quite simple as well as whimsical in character.

If you’d like to find out more about drawing dangle designs, then
A Dangle A Day is my book about dangle designs with plenty of inspiration and suggestions.

Materials and dimensions of the card and envelope

The yellow card blank is 5½” x 4″ in size with a top fold. So, I started with a piece of card measuring 11″ x 4″.

I also cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 5″ x 3½” for the top panel.

Next, I used some thick printer paper to make an envelope. I used the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board. The size of paper needed and the position of the first score line are printed on the board. This tool from WRMK makes it so easy to create custom envelopes.

To make an envelope to fit a 5½” x 4″ card I needed to cut a piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞”. I used 120gsm white printer paper for the envelope.

Pencil guide-lines

Before I started, I used a ruler and pencil to draw in some faint guide-lines for the banner ribbon and the hand lettering on the top layer. I also pencilled in the hand lettering.

On the envelope, I added some guide-lines on the left and bottom to give me a border.

Hand-lettering and drawing the design

I started by hand-lettering the sentiment, then I drew the ribbon banner around it.

My next task was to draw the dangle comprising of beads and hearts.

Finally, for the top layer, I drew in the arrangement of plants and added some shells and butterflies.

I didn’t use a pencil to sketch the design before I drew it in ink simply because I’m confident in drawing these kinds of designs. However, it is a good idea to do so if you’re less than confident. I started with the central flower pot and let the design grow out from there.

I then took my attention to the envelope. I started by drawing in the ledge on the bottom. Next, I added the plants, flowers, shells and butterflies. I then drew a black border around the envelope, just inside the edge. This line gave me something to hang the dangle from; I added a dangle similar to the one on the card.

Adding colour

With all the drawing complete, it was time to add some colour.

I’d received my Chameleon fineliners yesterday, so I thought I’d try them out as there are lots of small areas in this design. I love my Chameleon markers, but using them to add colour to tiny spaces can be a little tricksy.

I did try the Chameleon fineliners out yesterday for drawing lines and hand lettering. I found that they give a very long gradient, even with the shortest of touches of the cap to the pen. I thought this might work well in colouring the flowers in. I achieved a pleasing change of colour of the petals on each bloom from just one blending process. This blending also worked well for the butterflies.

What I did notice is that the fineliners moved some of the black pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens that I used to draw the design with. That was a bit disappointing. It may be that in the future I will need to draw, scan and then laser print the design out. That’s a bit of a faff, but it’s doable.

I’ve never been a fan of fineliners for colouring; I find they leave lines and tend to pill the paper. This is just a personal gripe about all fineliners.

The Chameleon fineliners are pleasant and comfortable to write with – comparable to other fineliners. So, unless I want to add colour using lines and cross-hatching, writing is going to be my primary use for these pens.

To colour the pots, banner, leaves, cacti, shells and ledge, I used some of my Copic Ciao markers. I chose to use these as the brush nib lets me colour tiny areas. Also, I wanted to use pastel-ish colours to tone in with the colouring from the Chameleon fineliners.

I did add some very simple Copic shading to the design.

The Chameleon fineliners had spread the black dots I’d added to the flower centres. So, I broke out a gold Uniball Signo pen to colour in the centres of all the flowers. I also used it to add a sprinkling of little dots around the design.

Reflections

I enjoyed creating this card and envelope. It was a quick, simple project. I also do enjoy drawing whimsical designs.

I like the sunshiny yellow card blank; it makes me smile, especially as it is currenty a grey and rainy day here in the valleys of Welsh Wales.

I think the card may benefit from the use of a bit of Wink of Stella to add some shimmer and shine to the wings of the butterflies and maybe the hearts.

I could’ve ink blended a background to the design using Distress Inks. I also could’ve added a drop shadow around the design to give it some dimension. Today, I chose not to do these things to keep the card relatively simple.

I also only added one layer to the card. I could’ve cut a piece of contrasting colour to go beneath the top layer to give a bit more of a layer. Alternatively, I could’ve used amarker to colour the edge of the layer to give a border, or ink blended some distress ink around the edge. Again, I chose not to do so; I wanted to keep the card simple and easy to do.

I think the result is cute and whimsical. I now have to find someone to send it to! I think that I’ll use some Distress Micro Glaze to protect the artwork on the envelope before posting it though.

Hand writing matters!

In a blog post called “Handwriting matters!” by Marie Celine she discusses why she thinks handwriting still matters in this age of digital communication.

I agree that handwriting does matter. Handwriting is as unique and individual as the person creating it. It’s also a much more personal way to communicate with others. It takes longer to handwrite a letter, note or memo and then deliver it either to the person or the post office.

It’s always nice to receive chatty, friendly emails from friends, and of course this is a quick and instant communication. However, there’s something to be said about the slower nature of communication by traditional post and that personal touch that handwriting gives.

I make these cards but rarely send them to another person, let alone include a handwritten note or letter. The cards sit around my home and never get shared with another person.

I think that needs to change, don’t you?

Not sure how to go about it, but if anyone who reads this would like to receive one of my cards and maybe a letter then leave a comment or contact me via social media or email.

I actually do love to hand-write; I always have and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my handwriting. I remember making a huge effort to change it when I realised it was looking like my mother’s writing.

My preferred way of learning was to write and re-write my notes, condensing them into just a few lines of ‘memory joggers’. If my notes in lessons or lectures were messy, I would make it my task to tidy them up as soon as I could, which was also a way for me to review, consolidate and learn.

I have the facilities to hand-write digitally. I could keep a journal by writing on the screen. However, such activities frustrate me as I can’t turn the writing area to the angle I like to write at!

Also, as much as I love working digitally in so many artistic pursuits, there’s nothing quite like the feel of pen on paper, and I do love pens! I have a bit of an obsession with stationery, even though much of my work is digital these days.

Handwriting and therapy

Nowadays most of my handwriting is in my journals. It’s not as neat as I’d like it to be. I make mistakes. I like to hand-write my journals as the process of putting pen to paper slows my mind down. It gives me a chance to reflect and review what’s been going on in my life and also with my emotions.

Of course, reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, catching them in action is important to me as I continue with my journey to recovery from CPTSD. It also helps me to record events, emotions and thoughts that need to be discussed in EMDR therapy.

Handwriting vs Hand Lettering

Handwriting is that almost unconscious way we write things down – thoughts, notes, memos, to-do lists etc, as well as our signatures.

Hand lettering is a much more deliberate activity. It is like drawing the shapes of letters, not writing the whole word in one go. It’s consciously deciding what the shape, size and embellishments of a letter should be.

I enjoy hand lettering and I do tend to use the shapes of letters that I use in my handwriting. But that’s where the similarities end for me.

Do you still hand-write? How do you make use of handwriting? Do you think it’s still an important skill?

Leave a comment, I’d be really interested to hear what you think?

Some More Reef Illustrations

More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

Reef Illustrations

Yesterday, I had an interesting day. I did manage to get these two illustrations done in between listening to a friend in need and taking care of a very upset tummy along with quite painful cramps.

I used 5″ x 7″ pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol board along with some Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs. This time, I didn’t add any grey shading. I will scan then print if I decide to colour them with traditional media.

The drawings turned out well, I think. I chose the size of paper for a reason, which I’m not about to divulge! It’s just an idea rattling around my noggin.

It’s Monday, so that means it’s EMDR therapy day.

I know on a Monday that my day can be broken up with a 3 hour or so trip to Neath and back for EMDR.

Today, I’m feeling more like I did last Monday before I received some post that threw me a curveball. I am tired as rather painful tummy cramps woke me from time to time through the night. I’m still getting them now, but a couple of Anadin Extra has taken the edge off them. I must leave early enough to pick up some more painkillers on my way to therapy.

I’ve had some flashbacks this week to events I thought I’d put to bed via EMDR. It seems that these events have several facets to them. Each of these facets relates to a negative belief I hold about myself, so each will need to be processed separately.

I’ve been trying to keep a record of the insights I gain from these flashbacks, and also any other negative beliefs that crop up from them. However, they often happen when I don’t have my BuJo to hand, and by the time I do, they’ve evaporated from my mind.

Hmm. Not really evaporated, the flashbacks have just been automatically shut away in their box once again.

I’ve learned not to try to second-guess what is going to happen in therapy each week. Whatever I have thought may happen rarely if ever happens. So I try to go with an open mind unless something has cropped up in the week that needs discussing.

A colourful, small reef illustration

Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A little reef illustration.

Yesterday, I got round to colouring my little reef drawing. And it is a little drawing – the paper is just 4″ square (10cm square).

To colour it, I used my Chameleon pens – both the Color Tones and Color Tops. I finished the illustration off with some small dots from a white Uniball Signo gel pen.

What I didn’t expect was that the pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens bled somewhat. I don’t remember that happening before. Mind you, I usually scan and print my black and white line art and colour the print. I didn’t do that today — something to remember for future reference. This is why some of the colours look a little dirty.

All the same, it’s a colourful, happy little illustration. I also like the thickness of the main lines with the variation in line thickness in the details. Diversity in line weight is something I need to remember when I draw digitally. Looking at my latest colouring templates, I think I may have used a line that was too fine. Again, this is something that I need to consider in the future.

It’s always lovely to do artwork like this, using traditional media and working in a familiar, comfortable style. It gives me a chance to reflect on what I’m doing elsewhere and to adapt and change what I’m doing to improve it.

Creating this artwork has given me ideas for some projects in the future. More on that when they come to fruition.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing OK. I’m feeling a lot brighter as the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell fades.

I’m aware I really don’t get out of the house and move my body around much. I either get engrossed in art and the day slips past me quite quickly. Or, my anxiety rears up and try as I might to overcome it, I just can’t seem to make it out of the house.

After a conversation with a friend the night before, I remembered that I like to walk around cemeteries and that my local cemetery might be the perfect place to go for a stroll.

And I did. Go for a stroll.

My love affair with cemeteries started when I used to walk to and from school when I was 11 and 12 years old. Walking to school was always a bit of a dash. However, I could take my time on the walk home to wander and explore the cemetery.

Even on the gloomiest, darkest winter afternoons, I never got freaked out by the cemetery. The dead have never scared me. The living, however, are an entirely different matter. The living people around me were the source of my traumas and CPTSD. The dead could do nothing to me that was any worse than the living.

I found the variation in headstone styles fascinating. I found I could chart the change in fashions over time. I also found reading them fascinating as some of them could tell me about the deceased and their families. It was history related to real people and brought them back to life. It wasn’t the dusty, dry, uninteresting facts in the history lessons I had to endure in school.

And so began my love of wandering around cemeteries.

I find them soothing, calm places to be. They’re quiet, not many people visit them. And there’s plenty of wildlife in them if you’re quiet and take the time to look.

Perfect places for me to walk and explore. Even on the days when anxiety stops me going to more people-y places like towns or parks, a cemetery can offer me that quiet space I need to take a walk.

If you’d like to see some photos and read some words about my walk and the cemetery, then please visit my other blog, Curious Stops and Tea Shops.

A little reef tangle

A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a quietly arty morning today. I’ve been adding to my visual zibladone (journal, reference book).

Then, I had the urge to create a little tangled, entangled drawing. So I did.

I cut up some Winsor and Newton Bristol Board into 4″ squares (approx. 10cm squares) and used some Uniball Unipin pens to do the drawing and shading.

I’m quite happy with the result. I may add some colour, perhaps with my Chameleon pens and pencils; I may need the sharp point of a pencil to get into some of the small spaces to add some shadow.

I do need to get out for a walk today. I’ve been letting myself stay in the safety of my home. Mind you, and I think that’s what I’ve needed this week as part of my self-care.

However, I now am feeling a lot less anxious than at the start of the week. So, it’s time to venture forth for more than just a quick trip out for vittles.

Maybe. I do need to have breakfast first. Oh, I’ve just seen the time. I need lunch first!

Drawing Practice, and other stuff.

Drawing Practice ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Drawing Practice.

The other day, I was drawing a design for the book I’m working on. I wasn’t at all happy with the way I was drawing. I’ve been working so much digitally that I feel out of practice with pen on paper.

I may end up re-drawing my illustrations for the book digitally, but I want the option of doing that.

So, yesterday evening, as some self-soothing, and this morning, I’ve been drawing in my ‘visual zibladone’, my A5 dotgrid where I keep all the patterns and motifs, well maybe not all but most, that I like to use. It’s a little book that I can flip through to find inspiration if I need it.

Adding designs, even if they’re duplicates, is a nice way to practice my drawing skills with pen or pencil.

When I work digitally, my pen strokes are much bigger, longer and involve me using my whole arm and wrist a lot more than when I use pen on paper.

I’m perhaps a lot bolder with my lines as I work digitally than I am when working on paper. I’m still precise with my lines, but the way my muscles work when I’m working digitally is different.

I hadn’t realised this until today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drawing both ways, with traditional tools or digital tools.

However, I’d not really noticed the way that I move my fingers, wrist and arm when I work is different with each media. How curious!

So, I need to make time every day to draw with pen on paper to keep those skills just ticketty boo.

Just a little warning.
The words that follow may contain material for some that may be upsetting or triggering.
Please feel free to skip it.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok. Tired. EMDR yesterday was very emotional and exhausting.

I arrived at the session after having some snail mail which had me doubting my abilities as an artist/illustrator/author and it triggered that inner critic inside.

I felt warmth drain from my body. I started calling myself a failure, useless, delusional of my abilities and talent, that I really am worthless and useless, and that I’ve let people down. I even questioned my abilities as an artist, if I was deluding myself and others, living in a fantasy world rather than reality. Part of me just wanted to give it all up.

Another part of me told me that I wasn’t being silly, what I was hearing was not myself but the inner critic who had attacked me at the point of vulnerability and tried to stick its claws in once again and continue the job of so many people in my childhood and beyond of keeping me down and thinking the worst of myself.

This all tracks back to the earliest days I can remember in my life, and most of the days beyond. Nothing I did was ever good enough, and if I did good at something there was always someone who was either better or potentially was better. Always the slap-down. Every time I thought I’d done something good and tried to show it, I was always told I was wrong and everyone else was right and better.

By the time I got to therapy I was in a bit of a state. I do have to say nowhere as near as bad as I would’ve been even a few months ago, let alone a year or more ago. But still in a bit of an emotional state. Tearful. Worried. But not with the level of anxiety I’d usually feel, which surprised me, even though thoughts were running around my head like crazy.

Some of the thoughts were fairly rational, sensible, logical. That also surprised me.

Jung would call this an prime example of synchronicity – there’s no such thing as something being just a coincidence. Last week we started working on the negative belief I have that I’m a failure and useless and a disappointment. What a bit of synchronicity is that, eh?

We talked about what had triggered me and how I don’t need to go into or stay in full panic/flight/freeze mode, and about the confusion I felt that I should be really anxious and panicked, but I wasn’t. But we did use those negative thoughts for EMDR.

Lots of tears and physical pain and discomfort with the session yesterday. The negative beliefs I had changed into one of being deeply disappointed in myself and of having let others down.

At the end, I left feeling more upbeat than I arrived, even though I was absolutely bushwhacked emotionally.

I eventually got home, after a stop to get supplies to make some cucumber sandwiches. For some reason I really fancied them. I was hungry as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast early that morning.

I was tired, but knew that I couldn’t nap as it would wreck my sleep pattern, which was likely to be wrecked anyway.

And it was. I had a broken night’s sleep. I kept waking up and started fretting a little about yesterday’s mail. In the end, I gave up trying to go back to sleep and got up, breakfasted and determined I’d do some drawing.

I seem to be OK at the moment. My mind isn’t dwelling on the mail. I still feel a bit nervy though. That will pass.

Even though it was a challenging day yesterday, I think it’s shown me how far I’ve come. Not that long ago this would’ve absolutely floored me. Now, I seem to have a little resilience, and I reached out to people for some more information and explanation and advice too.

The rest of my day is going to be spent in self-soothing activities, which do include art!