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.

Monday Mandala

Or, mandala Monday?

Monday Mandala 19 August 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve spent a little time this morning working on this rather sunshiny mandala. It’s not finished yet and I’ll think I’ll keep the sunrise (or sunset) colour theme for the rest of it.

Digital art using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I am feeling tired today. I woke with a headache and tried to sleep it off and woke again with it still there. I’ve taken some Anadin extra, but it’s still faintly there.

I’m feeling tired emotionally too. I’ve had a couple of things happen this past week that have caused some quite visceral emotional reactions. Some of these events I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, others I’m not at all comfortable to share, not even with my therapist, not yet that is.

I constantly feel on the point of tears, and I know what has been the trigger for that. I also thought I’d got past it, but obviously not. That disheartens me a little. It may be there are different facets to this particular collection of relatively recent events.

Oh, the joys of living with CPTSD. It’s not described as complex for no reason at all.

Despite the tearfulness and some fearful anxiety, I can still touch that inner contentedness that I have cultivated. The contentedness is the ocean; the tears, anxiety, fear, the stupidity I feel, as well as other emotions I can’t label yet, are the waves on the surface.

Waves come and go. Sometimes the ocean surface is as calm as a millpond on a still day. Sometimes it’s as turbulent as tsunami rising onto a beach.

The surface of my ocean of contentedness is somewhat choppy, perhaps verging on stormy, but far away from being at the level of a tsunami.

I do have EMDR therapy soon; there’s a very good chance it’s going to be a rather emotional session. I just hope it doesn’t add energy to the waves that are currently forming upon my inner ocean. Given how emotionally fragile and vulnerable I feel at this time, I won’t hold my breath!

Mandala 15 August 2019

Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This is definitely a ‘not sure about it’ verging on the ‘I hate it’ work.

It was doing great until I added that grey area, and it all went to pot I think. I do struggle with colours at times that’s for sure, and it’s gone downhill from there.

I’m kicking myself for combining all the layers at that point. I’m working digitally, as is my preference for mandalas. I could leave the various ‘rings’ as separate layers until I’m finished. Or I could just save versions of the work as I go along. However, I didn’t. Maybe I’ll remember to do this in the future. Mind you, I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

I don’t want to go and change the grey areas; I really don’t have the motivation to do so. Also, to edit that digitally would be really fiddly and awkward and I know I’ll just get myself into a bit of a state. I’m frustrated with myself for being a twit and not saving the mandala in layers.

On reflection, I now know that my emotional state last night affected my work.

The bright purple, pink, yellow and green central section really reflected my contented, optimistic mood rather well. Then, I went out to visit friends in the evening, and something happened that triggered me into full flight mode. I almost ran (and I don’t do running, ever), straight to the safety of my car and I drove away.

One of them phoned me as I was driving home and persuaded me to return. I had to sit in my car for a long while, just crying until I was ready to return. When I did return to them, floods of tears happened again.

I’m self-aware enough that I now understand what my flight was all about. Also, I’ve gained an insight into what I’m processing in EMDR, which is going to be of value in next week’s session.

I can’t believe how suddenly I flew away. I had no chance to ground, breathe, think through things logically. It was a very visceral reaction.

An hour or so later and I was laughing and smiling once more. However, I can see from this mandala that my mood was severely affected as I worked on those grey areas last night before bed.

I don’t think I can save this mandala now.

Whatever I have added to it just doesn’t work. I’ve tried changing the background colour and darkness/lightness with no luck as well. So, it’ll be one of my rare pieces of art that won’t be finished.

Working on the mandala did help to soothe my emotions before I retired to bed, so it’s not all negative. I think that’s why I can now leave this as it is. It’s served its purpose for me.

Actually, thinking about it I have quite a few pieces that I’ve not finished and am now not likely to do so for various reasons. This particular mandala, however, is one that shows me just how much my art can reflect my emotional state.

That is something new for me; it’s not often, if ever, my emotional state is reflected in my art. Looks like that’s changed! Or, at the very least, I’m just aware of it now.

So, I’ll start with a clean state, metaphorically speaking. I also think I’ll create a limited palette to use with the next mandala. That may help me with my colour issue at the moment.

Also, I’m awaiting delivery of my Chameleon Fineliner pens in a couple of hours. So, I know I’ll want to ‘play’ with them. I suspect some art with pen and paper will be appearing on the blog tomorrow, even if it’s just a sheet of experiments with the fine-liners both in drawing and hand-lettering and handwriting. Maybe there’ll be a dangle design too. At the moment I don’t really know myself.

So, I’m going to get myself another mug of tea and ponder what I want to do artistically/creatively for the rest of the day. I also need to write about last night’s flight and process it as best as I can.

Oh, I used my favourite digital art tools for this – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

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.

Colouring Reef Illustrations

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

This morning I started to colour the reef illustrations I posted yesterday. I’m using a mixture of Chameleon marker pens and pencils to do this. My photograph of the work in progress isn’t brilliant, but you get the idea I’m sure.

In the larger motifs, I’m using the Chameleon Color Tones markers along with the Color Tops to achieve gradient colouring. Flat colour is added to smaller areas using the pen.

Then, I use Chameleon pencils to add depth and dimension. I’m also adding more depth and dimension by using a white gel pen and a fine Unipin pen to add highlights and texture.

I’m enjoying the process, but I must admit I’m finding it more ‘fussy’ to do than when I digitally colour! Continually swapping pens and pencils is a little frustrating for me.

Maybe that’s just today as I’m tired. I didn’t sleep at all well last night. Stomach cramps were plaguing me throughout the night, though they do seem better today. Painkillers have stopped the pain completely today; yesterday, they merely dulled it.

Also, when I woke, my mind was very active with flashbacks related to my EMDR therapy yesterday. It was a very emotional session, lots of tears and upset. However, my therapist tells me I’m making good progress. I believe her.

Today, everything seems like hard work as I’m so exhausted, not just from the lack of sleep, but emotionally too. These feelings will pass; they always do.

I don’t know how much more I’ll do today. I don’t think I’ll get a lot of colouring done. I do feel I need to draw though, so perhaps I’ll do that after I’ve done some errands today. Typical of ‘adulting’ to get in the way of self-soothing and self-care.

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.