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.

You Matter – a poem by Nikita Gill

You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The poem.

I was reading ‘Your Soul is a River’ by Nikita Gill this morning and this particular poem struck a chord with me. I thought it would be nice to use it to create some art to frame it.

It’s taken me a few attempts to get this far today; and I’m not entirely happy with what I’ve produced. However, I shall persevere later today; first I need to go out to do some provisions shopping and to have a very late breakfast. Actually it’s more like a very late lunch!

I produced the words with the border in Publisher. I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to do the artwork.

So, Angela, how are you today?

The poem reflects rather well how I’m feeling about myself in the moments when my emotions overwhelm me. I am rather emotionally fragile and vulnerable at the moment.

I am exhausted – emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a heck of an emotional week and yesterday was perhaps the most emotional day of all. No EMDR was done in therapy, but lots of tears were shed as I tried to work my way through what has caused the upsets.

Some of it is very obvious. But some of the triggering events have no apparent link to the past.

No apparent link; there’s something there which I can’t bring up or face at the moment. I’m fearful of it because it is something either unknown or something I have to face the truth of. It’s a difficult truth as I’ve told myself a story to deal with the painful experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Discovering I’ve been lying to myself is not easy, even though it has been a coping strategy, trying to make things more pleasant than they really are.

It’s a common coping strategy amongst survivors of trauma.

It’s a necessary process, for how else can I heal from the past?

It’s another one of those processes that is like surgery, but instead of removing or fixing a physical part of oneself that is damaged or broken it’s all about the mental and emotional processes that are damaged by trauma in the past.

No surgery is without some kind of pain, but the pain is endured as the result will be a better life with less pain.

Therapy is surgery for my damaged emotions and beliefs about myself; this surgery is necessary for me to heal from CPTSD.

My touchstone.

Yesterday, I talked about a lot of things with my therapist. One of those things was the recognition that I now have a mental and emotional state that I know I can return to. It’s that state where I feel content and optimisitic, a state of mind and emotions that I’ve not really experienced much in my life.

I know how that feels; even though my emotions are all higgledy-piggledy at the moment I can still sense that inner contentedness and hints of that optimism.

Where do I go from here?

Self-care and self-soothing is the order of the day today. I do need to sleep, but I don’t know if a nap will help or just throw my sleep out tonight.

I know this will pass; it has before, it will again.

It’s all just a bump in the road I’m travelling in my journey to recovery from CPTSD. This is NOT my destination; it’s just the wrong leaves on the tracks.

Experimenting digitally…

Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.

Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.

I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.

Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.

Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.

The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.

As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.

What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.

I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.

I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.

I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.

Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!

Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.

When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.

I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.

I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.

Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.

I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.

I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.

I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.

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.

Coloring Book Day 2019

Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

That’s right, there’s an annual day to celebrate coloring books and to indulge yourself in the relaxing, calming, stress-busting activity of coloring, no matter your age or gender!

As you can see if you browse this blog, I do a lot of art. Whether drawing, colouring, or other forms of creativity in art it really does relax, calm and soothe me when I need it.

And there are times when I really do need calming and relaxing. It’s no secret to anyone who has followed my blog for a while that I have complex PTSD (CPTSD) and I am slowly recovering from it with the help of EMDR therapy. On the days where I have low mood or anxiety or I’ve been startled into hyper-vigilance, art really helps to soothe my jarred emotions and calm me until the stress hormones leach from my body returning to their normal level for me. That is still an elevated level, but a level that has always been there in my life.

It’s not just me saying this. Research has shown that spending time colouring has a similar effect on the brain as mindfulness meditation.

One piece of research at the University of West England in Bristol has shown that colouring can reduce stress, boost creativity and increased mindfulness (being aware of what you are doing at that moment, not thinking about the future or past).

The benefits of colouring are listed in an article on the developing good habits blog.

There are so many coloring books available as well as colouring pages, you can find just about anything to suit your tastes. Also, I have many colouring books available (I think it’s around 20 now) – have peek at at my Angela Porter Amazon author page.

If you like to draw your own designs to colour and are looking for something new and a little different, then you may like to take a look at my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show you what dangles are, how to draw them and use them with hand lettered sentiments and monograms. They’re fun to draw, simple, and there are many ways to use them such as in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, journals, scrapbooks, greetingscards, note cards, bookmarks and more.

Also, I gift an exclusive template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group at least once a month. They’re free to members and shouldn’t be available anywhere else, though intellectual theft isn’t unknown in the realms of the internet.

The image above is the August template for the facebook group. I coloured it digitally using gradient tools for some speed. It would take me weeks to do the way I’ve been creating digital art of late!

No matter what you use to colour – digital or traditional media – I’d love to see how you’ve brought my line art to life, whether from one of my books or from one of the templates available in the facebook group. There’s also some templates available on my angela porter illustrator facebook page too.

Here’s the tags you can use to connect with me on the social media platforms that I use:

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.

Any way, back to art…

My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.

While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.

I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.

Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.