A simple mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

Yesterday was very much a quiet, self-care day. Today, I’m feeling better in terms of energy and concentration.

This mandala was a product of yesterday’s quiet downtime doing art for arts sake. Though it was this morning I thought I’d like golden outlines to the design rather than the usual black. It took me a while to get my head around doing that!

I like the way I’ve repeated the simple spiral pattern in three layers. Keeping the colour palette simple has also worked nicely for me, even though the combination of colours is an unusual one for me. The colours remind me of cacti with flowers and a soft, golden sun.

I could mention that green is about achieving balance, the red is the energy I need to stoke up on, but a softer, more gentle kind of motivational energy. Golden sunshine is the healing I see. The way the spirals flow outwards and are unfurling suggests growth , springing forth from seeds long lain dormant in the ground of my soul. There’s hints of buds ready to bloom there too. Maybe the golden background and lines are suggesting that I am worth more than I think I am, that I do deserve better.

Oops, I have mentioned that! But somehow this mandala seems to show how I’m progressing in my recovery from cPTSD.

Now how’s that for an insightful piece of art?

No matter whether you agree with the interpretation of the mandala or not, it was definitely a calming and soothing experience, both the drawing and colouring.

It is a piece of digital art. I used my usual Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create this mandala.

Tomorrow is Time to Talk Day

©Angela Porter 2019

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time To Talk Day, which is tomorrow, and the art above was created using one of them, but more about that later in this wittering.

Time to Change Day and mental health

The whole idea of the day is to get people talking about mental health. Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. There’s still a huge stigma surrounding mental ill-health and that leads to discrimination of those experiencing mental illness.

I’m one of the 1 in 4. My cPTSD means that I am constantly anxious and it’ doesn’t take much of a trigger to get me into a full state of panic. I can have bouts of depression, nowadays not as deep or dark as they have been in the fairly recent past. I get emotional flashbacks to times of trauma. I don’t remember many traumatic experiences, but my body remembers the feelings associated with that trauma and I experience them yet again, retraumatising me.

Thanks to EMDR, however, these emotional flashbacks are less common and sometimes aren’t quite as intense, sometimes just as intense.

I have a whole host of other issues related to cPTSD and a quick google will bring back lots of information if you’re interested.

Tomorrow I will have my champions hat on for Time to Change Wales as I go to give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers in Ton Pentre and then on to man (woman?) a stand in Port Talbot after that. That means I won’t be parking in the police station car park again after my last experience there!

The anti-stigma talk has me telling people a little about Time To Change Wales, the statistics for mental illness, what stigma and discrimination there are and then I tell my story of my mental illness.

The talks wipe me out emotionally. I end up exhausted and often with what I call an emotional ‘hangover’ – I feel headachy and spaced out, sometimes quite upset too.

However, I consider that a small price to pay if my talks (and my blogs) help one person to recognise their mental health isn’t what it should be, or to find the courage to seek help as they know they are struggling.

It’s also important as meeting champions who have experienced or are experiencing mental health problems helps to break the stereotypes of what people with mental illnesses look like and behave.

I’m well on my path to recovery. I don’t know if that will be a full recovery from cPTSD or whether it will be a good enough recovery that I’m resilient to lifes ups and downs, that I’ll be able to form meaningful relationships, trust people, be able to travel by myself, be able to go places because I can go there not because I have to have some reason…and more.

I know that crowded, noisy places are always likely to be a no no – I don’t appear it, but I am an introvert. I learned to wear a mask of extroversion (among other masks) when I was very young and that mask kind of protects what is beneath it. Wearing that mask is exhausting.

So, back to the art.

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time to Talk Day 2019. Originally they were for the colouring day being run as part of Time to Talk Day at the Welsh Office! I’ve also made the templates available to Time to Change Wales and Mind have copies of them too, so they’ll be available over social media.

I’ll also be adding them to my facebook page – Angela Porter Illustrator as well as on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group too.

To create the art above I used one of the templates as a basis for the art. I think you’ll agree that this is a very different piece of art from me. It’s rather graphic and quite 1960s psychedelic too!

I had a lot of fun doing this artwork and I’m surprisingly happy with the result.

It is digital art; I used my usual trio of Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create it, along with my creativity.

February dangle design

©Angela Porter 2019

Friday is dangle day here in my arty world, and as it’s the first day of February the dangle needs to relate to that!

I created this design for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group (where today is furbaby friday). If you pop over then, join, then you can download the template to colour yourself.

The world is still in the grip of winter; I woke up this morning to a coverlet of snow covering everything. Yet again, I’m am so grateful that I work at home and don’t have to go out until it clears, even if that takes a day or so.

I wanted the colours in the dangle to reflect winter, but I also made Valentine’s Day a focus for the design, and I used that as an opportunity to include some more bits of hand lettering.

I did sketch the design out on Rhodia dot grid paper then scanned it in. I then re-drew the design digitally using my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

Today, I have a template or two to create for a colouring day at the Welsh Office in Cardiff on Time to Talk Day next Thursday. Time to Talk Day is the day where we’re encouraged to talk to people about mental health and well being. I don’t have anything to do on this day for Time to Change Wales, yet, or at any point in the week. I do have other projects to work on as well.

My own anxiety seems to have slid back to it’s usual constant background level after a stressful time earlier this week. It takes time. Mindfulness meditation helps somewhat, but it does take time for those stress response chemicals/hormones to leach out from my body even when I calm myself down.

Doing art does help too.

My book that takes you through drawing and designing dangles step by step – A Dangle A Day – is now published. Lots of ideas and examples of dangle designs are included in the book.

C is for … dangle design

Angela Porter C is for 10 Nov 2018

I don’t know what’s occurring with WordPress, but the colours of this particular dangle design aren’t quite so grey and dull. I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when I upload an image the colours change. Never used to do that…

Anyways, today’s dangle design was fun to draw and I chose to use a different color palette than is usually for me. It’s not more pastel, it’s more subdued perhaps. I actually quite like it, which has surprised me!

I do tend towards bright colour palettes, bright and vibrant. For me to choose a more subdued one is very unusual, but it’s something I think I may work with more now as I rather like this one.

Also, I’ve chosen just  7 colors that I’ve used tones/shades of – cool grey, cool violet, antique pink, a blue-green, a yellow-green, soft blue-grey and old gold tones.

Again, using just a few base colors rather than a whole host of different colours is not my usual way of working. What I’m beginning to realise about this is that it gives a much more cohesive look to the finished design. With the colours being more subtle, it also gives a much more grown-up even, dare I say it, more sophisticated look to what is a rather simple and whimsical kind of design. It particularly works well with the monogram ‘C’.

In fact, the cute kitty is really the only whimsical element of this design. The others are simple, yes, but not quite so cute and whimsical. However, I wouldn’t remove the kitty-cat as cats are the theme of this series of monogram dangle designs.

I’ve said it before that I really struggle with seeing my art as others see it. I often think my art, like this, is rather childish, simple, unsophisticated, naive with no real artistic value at all.

This is part of how I think of myself and it’s part of my CPTSD. I’m working on it. For me to recognise that I’ve done nice things, things I feel proud of is a step or two forwards. However, there’s that nasty inner critic that does its best to derail any positive thoughts I may have about myself or the things I do.

Anyways, onto the nitty gritty of how I created this dangle design.

The steps I took were:

  1. sketched out the design on dot grid paper
  2. scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
  3. used a technical pen ‘brush’ to ink in the design
  4. worked out the color palette I wanted to use
  5. coloured the design, in this case using gradient fills for speed
  6. added shadows to the design
  7. created a drop shadow
  8. created a coloured background
  9. added texture to both the design and background

I sketched the design out last night, and it took me between 2 and 3 hours to complete the steps above as this is a relatively small design.

If you’d like to learn how to create your own dangle designs, then my upcoming book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. You can pre-order it so it’s arrives on it’s release date in January 2019.

Autumn mandala 6 November 2018

Angela Porter Mandala 4 Nov 2018

This has taken me a couple of days to complete, mainly because of appointments but also a big need for some self-care.

Autumn Mandala

I don’t get to create many mandalas at times. So, On Sunday, after creating the cute angel kitty dangle design, I put my creative energy into drawing and starting to colour a mandala.

I worked directly on my Surface Studio screen with the Surface pen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and it’s fab symmetry tool to outline the the design in black ink.

Next, I used a marker brush and a blender brush to colour the design.

It’s the colouring that takes a lot of time.

I wanted to keep the colour scheme fairly simple, so I chose some vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Finally, I added a beautiful blue background and texture to the finished artwork.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with it. The bright colours have been needed today as it’s a rather grey and damp day here in the Valleys of South Wales. Someone has a bonfire burning on the hillside opposite my home and the smoke is floating down the valley. There’s a temperature inversion that’s trapping the smoke quite low.

Add to that all the smoke and particulates from the plethora of fireworks that have been set off in the past few days and the air is rather fuggy, hazy.

However, the golden hues of the autumn trees glow all the more brightly against the grey skies, especially with a dusting of rain on them.

What I absolutely love to see are the dark trunks and branches becoming more visible as the leaves fall from the trees. The architectural contrast fascinates me; it’s being able to clearly see the skeleton that gives the tree form.

I didn’t have autumn in my mind when I was drawing or coloring this mandala, even though autumn is my favourite season. However, the jewel tones and the gradual predominance of the autumnal golds, oranges and reds on the outside of the mandala give it that kind of autumnal feel. The greens gradually change from blue-greens to more yellow-greens from the centre out, adding to that sense of a seasonal progression.

The coloured mandala also has a feeling of stained glass. I love stained glass windows and this one would make a very interesting ‘rose’ window! That I adhere to using black lines to delineate my design only reinforces the suggestion of stained glass.

What I haven’t done is add detailed patterns to the mandala. I don’t think this one needs it, though the leaves may need a bit of shadow and highlight to make them feel less ‘flat’.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with this one. I think I’ve manged to get enough contrast from dark to light in each section to give that sense of dimension – something else I like to incorporate into my artwork.

The need for self-care

I’ve been rather emotional over the past few days. The post about remembrance and my Dad tapped into some grief, a door that had never opened before I had to say goodbye to my beautiful white cat Cuffs back in May.

I took time out of things to watch some Harry Potter films. I do get emotional when I watch them (or read the books) even though I know what’s going to happen. However, this weekend I was more emotional than I’ve been before.

Yesterday, was EMDR therapy day, and various memories had cropped up and one we worked with yesterday. That left me absolutely pole-axed, emotionally that is.

Part of my mental health – the CPTSD – is that I avoid emotions and when I get emotional I have shoved it aside and locked the emotions in a box, symbolically. I also shove the memories away, something referred to as dissociation.

I have very few memories of my childhood, adolescence or even adulthood. That’s because many of them are painful in some way or another and they have been locked away.

Locking them away means I have never worked through, processed, them and the trauma or emotions that go with them. The trauma is still there and is still hurting my emotional and mental health.

EMDR is helping to unlock memories, sometimes very painful memories I don’t want to believe happened or believe certain  things about people. I always want to see the best and believe the best in people, except when it comes to myself; then, it’s always the worst possible.

I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance and some very uncomfortable times as I try to come to terms with various realisations.

Add into the mix a busy week or so with appointments and events and I’m emotionally tired. Oh, not to mention the constant jumpiness with all the fireworks going off.

So, self-care is important. I watch films. Knit. Drink lots of tea. Snuggle up under a cosy throw. Nap if I need to. Eat healthily, when I can. Create art that I want to create rather than any that I feel I have to to meet a contract or some deadline or other, either real or self-imposed. Have some alone time – being an introvert beneath the face I present to the world I need alone time to recharge.

I know I’m on a jolly tomorrow with my pal Liz, so it’s even more important I recharge before that day out.

So, that’s why I’ve needed some self-care time.

 

Dangle Day Friday 21 September 2018

Angela Porter Dangle Day 21 September 2018

It’s Friday, so that means it’s #dangleday!

A simple, elegant design with a sweet sentiment for this week’s dangle design. I like the symmetrical nature of the dangles.

I did sketch the design out in pencil on dot grid paper which I scanned in to ink in digitally and make use of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I also coloured and added texture with various brushes in Sketchbook. Naturally, I made use of a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to do this.

I kept to a really simple colour scheme, using just one pink, golden, blue and green colour gradient for the design, with the exception of the rainbow beads in the central dangle.

It would be really easy to put a different sentiment or greeting in the box, but I like this one.

A different colour scheme, of course, would result in a very different ‘feel’ to the card, matching all kinds of seasons and occasions.

This would make a lovely greetings card or note card. I think I’d like to use it for the beginning of each month in a BuJo, planner or diary, changing the colour scheme as appropriate for that month. I do like playing with themes for my BuJo, but there’s something in me that likes a cohesiveness in design/style.

What would you do with this design? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Of course, I could print the uncoloured version out and colour with different media. It would be no great chore to re-draw the design on paper more suitable for, say, watercolours, where my printer doesn’t cope with decent quality watercolour paper.

Just a little reminder that my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available for pre-order, just click on this linkIn the book I give help, guidance and advice on creating your own dangle designs, as well as providing many examples of monogram dangles and dangle designs that you can use for your own projects.

Abstract Botanical 16 September 2016

Angela Porter 16 September2018

Another abstract botanical. Here are the steps I took in creating it.

  1. Draw the black and white line art design on dot-grid paper from Rhodia using Sakura Micron pens.
  2. Scanned the drawing in, removed the dot-grid, removed noise and created a transparent background in GiMP opensource photo editing software.
  3. Imported the image with a transparent image into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and added colour and texture.

It took a couple of hours to draw the design and several hours to colour and so on.

My digital tools are a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I love the way many of the elements seem to glow against the dark green-blue background.

Many of my latest works like this seem to have an ocean, watery background going on. So, in the one I have on the go at the moment I’ve done a kind of sunset background. I’ll see how that turns out. Working digitally means I can alter my backgrounds really easily for sure.

I’ve been creating backgrounds digitally, but I want to create some on paper with Distress Inks and scan them in to use instead of the digital backgrounds.

I also made use of a more limited colour palette in this work – going for a more cohesive look/feel. These aren’t colours I’d normally choose to go together, but they seem to work fine.

I now have a fair few of these images and so now really need to try to work out what to do with them. I may try to import them into Repper and create repeating patterns from parts of them; that could be an interesting exercise for sure, but a fun one!

If you have any ideas of how my artwork could be used, leave a comment – I’d love to hear!