Abstract WIP 5 Jan 2021

The drawing

I’ve been working on this drawing for the past three days. I’m not sure if it is finished yet; I’m undecided about all the open spaces to the right. I’m beginning to understand the need for some space for the eyes to rest on, but my inner inclination is still to fill my drawing with pattern and complexity.

This one has been drawn with a black Uni Emott pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The Emott pen has a hard plastic tip and although it has become worn during the work of drawing, I’ve found the uneven, patchy, varying line widths that result most useful in achieving different weight and character of line in the drawing. Not that this shows up well in the reduced size and resolution image of the work. Neither does the texture of the colour applied digitally.

I’m quite heavy handed with pens and tend to wreck the more delicate Unipin and Pigma Micron pens (and others of a similar ilk) rather rapidly. The Pigma Micron PN pens weather my heavy-hand better as well. I don’t favour one over the other. I just choose what pen I feel like drawing with at the time – be it Unipins, Microns, Micron PN, Rotring Rapidograph, Tombow Fudenosuke, or traditional fountain pens.

Digital drawing is a challenge for me, even though I love the Surface Slim Pen and the way it glides on the screen of the Surface Studio. The challenge for me is the sense of scale, proportion and perspective. A sheet of paper gives me a well defined shape and size and as I can’t zoom in, there’s a limit to the tiny details I can add.

Sleeplessness

Saturday night into Sunday was another very broken nights sleep and it left me wiped out yesterday. I had various meetings to attend online during the day and evening as well. In between them, I had to sleep. I was overtired and that makes me emotional and teary. Sleep is the only cure for tiredness. Hence no blog entry yesterday.

So, this meant little time for art and stuff yesterday.

I did have a better night’s sleep last night, though I woke part way through. These night ‘sweats’ (I just get incredibly hot, no sweating as such…yet) are no fun! I wake up absolutely blisteringly hot, and it takes me ages to cool down, even though my bedroom is really cold. If these carry on into the warm/hot months when sleep is difficult anyway, I don’t know what I’m going to do! It seems perimenopause is moving along with me; age doesn’t come by itself. As well as the hot flushes during the night and day I’m finding more periods of fuzzy headedness and difficulty concentrating.

As I let the house go cold during the night in an effort to better cope with these night sweats, and I don’t know when I’m going to wake up in the morning if I do get back to sleep, I don’t have my heating turn on at a specific time. So I wake up to a cold house. Which is great if I’m in the throes of a hot flash. So, on these cold mornings, my habit is to go put the heating on, make breakfast, and take breakfast back to bed. That way I can keep warm while sitting in bed, having breakfast and faffing around with email and so on as well as my personal drawing projects.

What I’m realising is that I’m going to have to change my approach to working hours as perimenopause affects how my mind and body functions. I have no idea how long it will last; a year to many years apparently. I hope this will settle down into a pattern that I can work with, or that I can be more flexible with myself about when I work and when I don’t, and recognised when I need to take self-care time.

It won’t last forever, thank goodness. One of the plus sides of it is that I don’t feel the cold as much as I used to, at certain times of day anyway.

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.

Happy 2021 to you all!

Happy new year to each and every one of you. May the year ahead be filled with peace, compassion, good health, the opportunities to create good memories and all that you need in life.

I had created a scheduled post for midnight, but WordPress seems to have disapparated it! Ho hum.

This is the coloring template that I created for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group, all coloured in now.

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.

Drawing Practice

Every time I draw it’s practice, even if the result is a finished and fairly polished artwork.

This page from my new A5 landscape Enviro sketchbook from Artway, is definitely practice. Practice of pen drawing, geometric pattern creation, colour and using pencils and a tortillon to add shadow.

It was also a chance for me to practice creating iterations of a square ‘fragment’ used to create the surface patterns and border patterns.

This isn’t something I’ve done often when delving into the Zentangle realms. I’ve never really taken the time to try out different permutations to do with rotating and mirroring the unit square. Nor have I really spent time altering the unit square ways that it’s the same but different.

Using a different colour to add interest and depth to the patterns is also something I’ve not really done, but I found it interesting to do.

How did this come about? Well, I’ve been watching lots of Zentangle videos on YouTube while cwtched up all snug and warm.

The idea to work with the basic pattern unit, or ‘fragment’ as the Zentangle creators term it, and try all these different things out.

It becomes addictive, especially as it seems almost impossible to do something truly horrible! But if something doesn’t work, it’s learning about why it doesn’t, and can you make it work.

I’ve ended up with a page filled with variations on a ‘fragment’ that I can refer to for inspiration as I need to.

I also have ended up surprised at how much I like this page. It’s not my usual kind of thing, and while working on it I had many moments of ‘What the feck am I doing? This really isn’t going to work out nicely at all’. I persevered and am quite happy with the end result. It may not be my usual style of art, but it gave my pen skills a nice work out!

Zentangle is a particular method of drawing abstract patterns, step by step, with a focus on meditation and gratitude. It is something anyone can do with the most basic of equipment – pen, pencil and paper. There are lots of fab videos on Youtube from the Zentangle creators, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, along with others. They also have a website – Zentangle.com – full of resources. Another great online resource is TanglePatterns.com, run by Linda Farmer, a Certified Zentangle Teacher.

These kinds of patterns and abstraction have been a feature of my art long before Zentangle was a thing. It’s nice, however, to dip into the Zentangle resources from time to time for new inspiration and challenges, or just to practice my drawing skills.

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.

Template Thursday (on a Wednesday)!

The template

I’ve created this week’s template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group a day early this week.

This has been drawn with a Sakura Micron 05 pen on smooth, heavyweight cartridge paper (acid-free of course). I’ve added the background and colour digitally, keeping to a wintry, night-time kind of theme. Of course, this will work for any season at all, and any time of day.

As always, I look forward to seeing all the amazing, colourful interpretations of this template.

Taking a big of a break

I may not be as active on social media over the next few days. Christmas and New Year are difficult times of year for me emotionally and mentally and I know taking myself off into a largely Christmas-free bubble helps me drift through this time, as well as deal with anything that may creep in and cause some upset in me.

I know I’m not the only person who has difficulties with their emotional and mental health this year. Given all that has happened in the world this year, the huge number of people who have passed away during the pandemic and measures taken for people to keep themselves and their families free of Covid at this time, many more than usual will be struggling.

Being by myself at this time of year is not new to me, nor is withdrawing from the world at this time. I find it exhausting to keep up a mask of seasonal jollity when I feel anything but that. I find it easier to deal with whatever finds its way into my safe-bubble. It’s easier to deal with being alone if I do my best to carry on as normal.

I’m aware of what things I can do to self-care and self-soothe. Art. Music. Books, Films. TV. Naps. Nice food. Meditation.

Do you have a list? Have you learned to give yourself permission to take care of yourself, give yourself time and space to self-soothe?

Learning to give yourself permission to look after yourself, even if it means saying ‘no’ or setting limits, is one of the hardest things to do. And it takes a lot of practice. But it is one of the most important things we can learn to do.

I remind myself this is for just a few days a year, and that soon after the celebrations are done, life returns to ‘normal’, whatever that is in these pandemic times.

Entangled 22 Dec ’20

I’ve been drawing this over the past couple of days, little by little. The drawing is now done and it’s time to add shadow and highlight.

I like the colours I’m using for this, though I’m not too crazy about the slapdash way they seem to have been applied. That’s a function of me trying to alter digital brush settings to get the texture I like. I’ll get there, maybe when I’m more awake and with it. I’ve had a very disturbed night’s sleep and have been up since stupid o’clock.

Anyways, I have so many of these kinds of drawings to complete with shadow/highlight, yet I keep drawing more and more! The lure of pen and paper is irresistable at times; they’re also a lot more portable than the Surface Studio! I like drawing mandala’s digitally. I’m happy to ink in sketches digitally.But when I try to darw like this digitally, I lose all sense of proportion and perspective. I have no idea why that is. Perhaps because it’s all too easy to zoom in to work on an area. I don’t know.

As hard as I try to create pen brushes that mimic the way pens draw on paper, the lines look too perfect. I’m still working out what is the best way for me to work and I keep circling the idea of using both traditional drawing with digital wizardry. I really am unsure as to what I’m doing is ‘right’. It’s like I need to give myself permission to work this way, to reassure myself it’s art so it’s fine to work however I want.

What I do know is that I will eventually work it out. I will.