Elsewhere on the interwebs it’s #furbabyfriday, but here, in the tiny corner of the web that is Artwyrd.com it’s dangle day.
It’s getting close to the end of May, so I thought today I’d create a dangle design for June. This would work really well as the monthly cover page for a BuJo or in a scrapbook, journal, planner, diary, greeting card, or anything else you can image it being used.
I did sketch this out in pencil on paper, but then I re-drew, hand lettered and coloured digitally using my usual trifecta of Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
On Wednesday I had a trip to Hereford for a meeting in the evening. On the way I stopped at my most favourite Romanesque church in Kilpeck to do some drawing. I included some patterns based on this visit in the charms and also the border under the plant pots.
As the Summer Solstice occurs in June, I wanted to include a lovely golden Sun, as well as plenty of golden tones. Also, the clear blues of summer skies and the aquas of sea and lake were a must as well. Cacti, succulents and flowering plants reside in the simple plant pots, with simple monograms on each pot. Of course I have beads and a heart as part of the design too.
I added a textured background upon which I layered a drop shadow for the dangle design.
So many ways that this design could be coloured. I’m quite happy with my design. I’m certainly happy with the line art, but I’m really not confident about my choices of colours. I do feel I’m struggling with colour at the moment.
Wednesday I was surprisingly content and managed to stop at Kilepeck Church, just outside Hereford. I usually visit the church once a year to soak up the awe and wonder and joy I feel looking at the Romanesque sculpture of this tiny three celled church.
I had my Dingbats quadrille A5 notebook with me, which is my current sketchbook. I spent a happy or or so inside the church taking my time to look at patterns and textures and to deconstruct then reconstruct them in thumbnail sketches.
It was really quiet and serene there; just what I needed.
Also, I’d packed up a light meal in a cool bag so I could have a late tea before going on to my meeting in the evening. I thought this was wise as the problems I have eating out when on my own could preclude me getting something to eat/drink. I found somewhere quiet with lovely views to park up and enjoy my light meal and some more quiet time.
My evening was long and I didn’t return home until nearly midnight. The stress being around people I don’t know also took its toll on me. So yesterday I was wiped out yet again.
I had to find my strength to get out to go and vote in the EU elections and to do some shopping, but this absolutely drained me.
When I’m this tired it is all too easy for me to be emotionally fragile and for this to impact on my mental health.
I caught myself having thoughts that were very unkind and hateful towards myself at times yesterday.
I’m still tired today, but feeling a bit more emotionally resilient. I’ve found the confidence to create art, something I didn’t have yesterday.
The ripples from EMDR and other stuff over the past couple of weeks still have energy, sometimes they’re more like storm waves. Storms pass. Waters calm eventually, with ripples that are easy to ride.
I think I’ve had a couple of storm waves approaching the size of tsunamis in the past couple of weeks and they’ve really drained me.
However, it’s all part of the healing journey. After all, I am a lot better now than I was a few weeks ago, a few months ago, a year ago, a few years ago …
I have, finally, finished this particular drawing. I managed to keep to my challenge of leaving some white space in the design. I did let the design spill over the pencil guidelines I’d drawn for the size of artwork. I then digitally trimmed it within those lines before applying the black and white borders. I do like to define the space within which my drawings and designs reside, that’s for sure. It’s like a window into my imagination, my mind, my intuitive creativity, how all the little things I have observed and imagine just blend and meld into a crazily layered, intricately pattern and yet flowing design that is always quite pretty.
You can’t have too much pretty patterns in this world I think.
I think it’s too detailed and fussy as a coloring template, though I may add some colour to it at some point in time. Before I think about doing that, though, I have an idea for another drawing with some hand lettering on it.
The drawing is a little less than A4 in size (US letter). It has been drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
My mental and emotional health
Monday I spent mostly in tears after the busy week and the emotional upsets of Sunday. In therapy we just talked about what happened and how I was feeling and thinking about myself and that I need to be a lot kinder to and caring of myself. It was also suggested I need to be a lot more accepting of where I am on my healing journey and not beat myself up for not being able to get out and about much by myself, even when I may want to.
I came home and slept until 2am, then went back to sleep a couple of hours later and slept through until mid morning yesterday, which was then followed by a very quiet day at home crocheting and drawing before yet another nap in the afternoon.
I slept for many hours last night too, and I’m still feeling exhausted. With exhaustion I am emotionally fragile and vulnerable too.
So, much of today will be spent quietly. I do have to head up to Hereford this evening, however. I’m debating whether to go a little early so I can spend a little time at Kilpeck church – my favourite church in the whole wide world. A tiny two celled Romanesque church, almost untouched by time. I’ll see how I feel as the day progresses and whether I manage to find a little oompf. After all, the church has been there for nearly one thousand years, I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere soon!
What a busy week last week was for me. It’s taken a while for me to add any significant work to this wip, but it’s beginning to become a bit more ‘fleshed’ out. My challenge is to leave some white space in the design. We’ll have to see if I can actually manage that!
This is being drawn with a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. The paper is A4 in size (approx US letter), just so you have an idea of the size of the design.
Mental health awareness week and an example of stigma I’ve experienced
What a week it was. I wasn’t as busy this year as last year, but it still took it out of me. I find looking after stands for Time to Change Wales a lot more stressful than doing the talks about my CPTSD and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.
By Thursday afternoon I was absolutely and totally poleaxed. So tired and exhausted in a way I haven’t been since, most probably, I was teaching! Mind you, I suspect I’ve been that exhausted since, but not for such an extended period of time.
It all started with the lead up to EMDR therapy last Tuesday. EMDR was quite distressing and left me exhausted emotionally and physically. I then had no time to recover before the stands on Weds and Thurs.
Friday I had to prepare for something I was doing on Saturday and that took every little bit of strength I’d recovered to do that. I enjoyed the preparation, but I didn’t take much time out to rest and recuperate from the previous days.
I woke at stupid o’clock (aka 3.30am) on Saturday fretting and worrying about my task for the day. So that had me exhausted yet again. The task worked out well, thankfully, but I was even more exhausted on the way home. I managed to throw some food together, which I didn’t really eat as I was too exhausted to eat. I slept for three hours, woke for a couple of hours (long enough to watch Return of the Sith) and then went back to bed and slept through until nearly 9am.
I did feel a lot better and had it in my mind to visit the National Museum in Cardiff to spend sometime with rocks and fossils in the Evolution of Wales exhibition with my sketchbook. I was all fairly excited about this and made my way there. I had a lovely couple of hours observing and drawing. I then realised how tired I was again. So, I thought a cup of tea and a little something to eat may be needed. I drank the tea but couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. I went back to the galleries, wandering around the natural history galleries. I suddenly started to get all emotional at the sight of animals stuffed and on display, and the gallery where the whale and leatherback turtle are finished me and I thought it was best I went home.
Which I did, cooked myself a relatively healthy meal, which I managed to eat and then just flopped in front of the TV until it was time for me to go out in the evening for a kind of meditation class.
And something happened in the evening that triggered a visceral and emotional response, something totally unexpected. I couldn’t stop crying for a good two hours. I definitely have food for thought. One of the things that got to me was the statement ‘you don’t need therapy, you just need to get out of your head and into your heart’. This from someone who knows nothing of my life story. Then it felt like people I’d known for a long while and who know my story were agreeing with this statement and that person.
Added to that was I was told I should trust to the love of my family.
Really? Just further proof they know nothing of my life and the family I was born into. Love? Well, if you mean destroying someone’s sense of self, their confidence, everything about them is love, well then I guess they were right.
They have no idea that I’ve tried self-help program after self-help program in the past 20 years or so, to very little positive effect. I was told I can do the work by myself. So no, I can’t. I’ve tried again and again and finally I had to accept I needed help in the form of therapy.
I’m actually feeling quite angry about this, I really am.
I got quite vocal when I told the person they knew nothing about me, about the abuse I’d suffered as a child. When I said that they said ‘I knew it, I just didn’t want to say’. Then, they went on to say ‘but you don’t need therapy for that, you just need to trust yourself’.
How? HOW? How the feck can I do that when all my life I’ve been told i’m wrong, I’m thick, I’m stupid, I know nothing, I’m useless, I’m an embarrassment, everyone else is better than me, I’m unloveable, I’m ugly, and everything else.
The whole message of my childhood is that I shouldn’t trust myself, that I’m always wrong and stupid.
Another example of the way mental ill-health is stigmatised by those who think they understand but don’t really. There’s so much prejudice about having therapy or counselling in society, even from people you’d expect not to have that prejudice.
This has shaken me somewhat, but my resolve to continue with EMDR is stronger now, this morning. I realise that people don’t want me to change, for whatever, that they think I’m good enough and ‘lovely’ just as I am.
Maybe that’s the case. But EMDR for me is more about helping me to find that courage and confidence that I want to have to continue to go to museums and abbeys and cathedrals by myself to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds. To be able to walk in nature alone. To not feel that I’m putting my life on hold for someone who will ‘rescue me’ and do these things with me.
I’ve put my life on hold for way, way too long hoping someone will come and ‘rescue me’.
I’m the only one who can do that. But I need help to learn how to do that. If I can’t drive a car, I find someone who can teach me. If I can’t learn how to trust myself, to become confident and so on then I need to find someone who can help me learn. That person is my lovely EMDR therapist.
I’m typing all this with tears in my eyes as it really did upset me, and still does, and I’m a bit angry about it too.
I will continue with EMDR. I will continue healing, little by little, even if part of that process are the days of absolute emotional exhaustion and the pain that comes along with realising how I’ve been hurt in the past. The pain is because I never processed the hurt properly, believing it was all I deserved, that it was ok to be spoken to or dismissed or ignored as that’s all that I knew growing from the earliest days I can remember.
I have to do what is right for me. Not do what other people think I should do for whatever reason they think that. I’ve lived my life through the messages drummed into me by those who were supposed to love and care and nurture and those messages have stopped me from being the person I would now like to be and have led to some severe episodes of deep depression and anxiety so bad I was off work for nearly a year in the first instance, and after several months the second time I never returned, a decision I do not regret as I can focus on recovery from a lifetime’s CPTSD and also focus on art and learning to live the life I’d like.
“I can do this” – reprise
So the message hand written on my artwork is so appropriate given the events of yesterday evening.
It makes me more determined to continue EMDR, which is the only therapy/counselling that really works.
I’ll do my best to push last night aside and continue to move forward now, which I have to do soon as I have therapy this afternoon!
Just like I will show my mother and others that they are wrong about me I will show others the same.
I woke up this morning with an idea, which was to use a dangle design of a flower along with some words about that flower. I chose to start with Daisy and you can see what I’ve come up with so far.
I’ve included a fair bit of etymology concerning the word Daisy; I find etymology (the origins and evolution of words) fascinating.
I drew the dangle design on paper and then scanned it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Surface Studio.
Next, I re-drew the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen just like pen on paper. I set the brush to have a width that varied with pressure.
My plan was then to hand letter the title and the words about the daisy.
I tried again and again and again and I was never happy with what my pen put on paper (or screen). So, in frustration with myself and the knowledge I have other things that I really need to get done today, I decided to foray into the realms of Microsoft Publisher.
I did choose a font that is very similar to my own basic hand lettering style. I think I may need to look at how I can convert my hand lettering into custom fonts to use in the near future for days like today.
I do quite like the simplicity of the layout, but I do think I could’ve done a bit better with the text. I’m quite happy with the dangle design – the simplicity suits the simplicity and innocence of lovely daisy itself.
If you’d like to learn how to draw dangle designs, step by step, then my book “A Dangle A Day” is now published.
My Emotional well being
I am emotionally exhausted. I’ve not had much of a chance to recover from my EMDR session on Tuesday which left me absolutely poleaxed.
Wednesday and Thursday I took care of a stand for Time to Change Wales, and though they didn’t take up all the day it still drained me.
I’d said to myself on Wednesday I’d not put the happy smiley mask on over my exhaustion and emotional ‘flatness’ as I had little energy to spare for the effort it takes to keep that mask in place.
I had no choice about the mask; it appeared automatically, draining me further on Wednesday and very much so yesterday.
What didn’t help was that I had a commitment on Wednesday evening which I couldn’t cancel. So I had very little time between the stand and dashing out again to have some self-care time.
The result of all this is that when I got home after the stand and then running a couple of important errands that couldn’t be put off was that I was absolutely running on empty. I had something to eat and ended up sleeping for a couple of hours.
This has all taken it’s toll on my digestive system which has been upset since EMDR on Tuesday. It’s still not right today even though I went to bed early and woke up later this morning than I usually would.
I know I have a busy day tomorrow, one I can’t cancel on and I have lots of things to get ready for that today. All I want to do is sleep. My mind doesn’t want to work but it has to work.
You may be wondering why I do all this to myself. Well, Time to Change Wales (TTCW) with it’s goal to end stigma and discrimination around mental health by getting people to talk about it to gain more understanding and compassion is very important to me. I’ve faced that stigma, discrimination and total lack of understanding by so many people.
Mental Health Awareness Week happens but once a year (though it should be mental health awareness week every week!) and TTCW are so busy everyone who can help does to make sure the message gets out.
Also, I had no idea that EMDR would floor me this week, but it did.
I knew about my commitment for tomorrow, but didn’t think that everything else in the run up to Saturday would drain me.
You may think I’ve let myself down by not taking care of myself.
Perhaps that is true. However, I think it’s worth it for just this one week. I’ll recover, most probably just in time for EMDR on Monday!
Even though I do have a fair amount of stuff to do in preparation for tomorrow, I can stay at home and take a nap if I need to. I also don’t have to answer the door – I already ignored a knock from someone who seemed to be trying to sell double glazing; I saw him and his mate walking down the street with a handful of leaflets each.
Even though I am very tired, emotionally and mentally, it was important to me I took time to do some art and I’m quite pleased with my drawing, and disappointed in myself that I just couldn’t hand letter it myself.
So, as much self-care as I can do in the next couple of days is absolutely essential for me, and art is part of my self-care toolbox.
A cute, whimsical dangle design today to say hello Friday, the gateway to the weekend.
Sunshine and grey clouds fill the skies today in the Valleys of South Wales, so if it rains there’s a good chance of rainbows. That’s why I chose a rainbow and sun design to hang the dangles from today. I love rainbows!
A bit of hand lettering in the ribbon banner to proclaim Friday is welcomed. Hearts feature simply because I like hearts and i used little gold beads as spacers.
I also included a bluebell. The hedgerows, shady spaces and woodlands are coloured blue at the moment with all the bluebells that are still flowering. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and every year I’m always wowed by their appearance.
Behind I’ve put pale blue and a little drop shadow so the dangle designs appears to float a little.
A lovely little design that would look rather pretty in a BuJo, planner, journal, diary, scrapbook, greeting card, notecard…the list is as endless as your imagination or needs!
I did draw and hand letter this one using digital media – Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. However, it’s a cute and simple design that would be easy to draw on dot grid paper for sure.
Just a little reminder that my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available from various outlets. It’s my tutorial book that takes you step by step through creating your own dangle designs.
A year has passed me by …
A year ago today I picked up Binky, my then brand new Smartfortwo SmartCar. Just five days before that I said goodbye to my furbaby companion of just over sixteen years – Cuffs the whoosh kittencat.
A year. One whole year. We have so many days in our lives that mark the end of one cycle of time and the start of another.
I still have and greatly enjoy driving Binky.
I still miss Cuffs. I’m still not ready to have another cat yet, for lots of complex reasons, a lot to do with me becoming so attached to my furbaby companion that I’d not do the exploring and travelling that I want to be able to do as I progress in my CPTSD healing journey.
I started drawing this one fairly late last night and completed it just now. The tools I used were a soft Fudenosuke pen by Tombow, a 0.4 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen on white mixed media paper from Claire Fontaine.
I then scanned the drawing into the Surface Studio and used Autodesk Pro and a Surface Pen to clean up the image and then add a few details and some shading to it.
The original drawing is approx. 5″ x 6″ in size.
I’m quite pleased with this one as it’s not my usual ‘lets see how much space we can fill with line and pattern’ kind of drawing. The design has a kind of leaf shape to it in outline, and I’ve let white space exist in the design, which is really unusual for me.
Working in monotone is also unusual for me, but the grey shading certainly adds depth and dimension to the design, brings it to life.
I also have some brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that I can use to mimic graphite pencil shading, which I did here.
I started with the flower motif in the middle and let the design flow out from that point. Of course my design motifs had to include foliage, seedpods and some abstract/geometrical patterns too. Oh and some fungi/mushrooms too. And orbs/spheres.
I really like my circular arches of a pattern inspired by Early Celtic/La Tene art. The shading really helped to define this pattern.
I’m going to make this one available for purchase from my RedBubble shop.
Still emotionally exhausted…
I slept so much yesterday and last night. I’m still emotionally exhausted after my trip out on Thursday. I’m still finding it hard to believe how much something so simple exhausted me so much in terms of emotion particularly. I didn’t think I was any more anxious than usual, or stressed than usual. Seems I was oblivious to my own body.
I do feel a bit better today, but I could just curl up and sleep again now and I’ve only been awake for 4 hours.
I won’t go to sleep this afternoon though. I’m going to keep myself awake somehow. Maybe with art. Maybe with some books I bought on Thursday. Maybe with crochet. Maybe with all of them, but not at the same time!
Even though I’m exhausted I do feel quite content within myself. However, even though it’s a lovely sunny day, if rather windy, here in Welsh Wales, I don’t think I’ll venture out into the realms of peopledom. It’s another Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so the world tends to be more people-y than usual. I think that could overwhelm me again and I’m better off just remaining where I feel safe and calm.
The more aware I am of my emotions and my self, the more aware I am of how much CPTSD has affected me, of how it limits my life, and of how much work I still have to do. Mind you, that self awareness is showing me as well the progress I have made and how I make decisions based around self care too. Like today, knowing the world is too people-y and somethings can be left until the world is a little less people-y.
It’s Friday so it’s dangle day! Today I’ve chosen to share with you my May dangle design from my book ‘A Dangle A Day‘
I’ve used the line-art design and just recoloured it. Different colours give a different ‘feel’ to the dangle design!
The design itself is made up of simple, repeating motifs added in chains of charms. Simple, cute, charming, whimsical and pretty too, even if I say so myself.
This would be lovely as the monthly cover page in a BuJo (bullet journal), planner, journal, diary.
A different sentiment could be used in the banner to make it a perfect greeting card or note card.
One of the dangles would look rather cute as a bookmark; it’s easy to lengthen the designs.
I took a little trip out on my own yesterday. It’s one of my goals as I progress along my healing journey from CPTSD to get out and about more. I chose to go somewhere familiar to me, the little town of Glastonbury in Somerset.
I was able to wander around shops, but when it came for lunch I totally balked at going into any cafe at all. Issues surrounding my body size rose up and I just couldn’t go into them.
So I went home.
The whole trip exhausted me. More of an emotional exhaustion though from being brave and keeping it together and interacting with people in shops.
When I got home I had something to eat, which then resulted in an upset stomach/digestive system.
I then went to bed and slept.
I’m still exhausted today.
But I did it. I went somewhere a bit further afield (a round trip of nearly 180 miles is a little further afield to me!) by myself.
I’m surprised at how much the trip has exhausted me given I went somewhere I know, that is familiar, and I used to feel quite comfortable there.
All the same, it’s highlighted some issues I have with how I view myself.
Don’t get my wrong, I am overweight, but my mind seems to think I’m the size of a small elephant and I won’t fit anywhere. I have no idea of my body size other than the size of clothes I wear, which tend to be larger than I need as I think I’m larger than I am.
Is this body dysmorphia? I don’t know.
So, when a cafe or shop is busy I tend to walk away fearing there’ll be nowhere I can fit into, as well as me being overwhelmed in crowds and crowded places.
The complex layers of how CPTSD affects my daily life and activities a lot of people take for granted. It also shows some more of the barriers I need to overcome in order to finally live the kind of life I’d like to, one that isn’t quite as limited by CPTSD as it has been through most of my life.