Inktober 2019 – Day 7

Tiger skull and Mycena chlorophos

Inktober 2019 Day 7 © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inktober 2019 Day 7 © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I realised my skull and fungi Inktober illustrations were becoming a bit samey, so I’ve tried something a bit different.

Today, I used three Inktober prompt lists – Animal Skulls from @book_polygamist and Mushrooms from @nyan_sun, both of which are on Instagram. The third is the Inktober 2019 tangle from everythingis_art.com.

I kept the tiger skull drawing very simple, but added a complex patterned mandala behind them, incorporating the Mycena chlorophos mushrooms as the final ‘ring’. I did add some very simple (and rough) shading to the skulls.

As I wanted a more graphic feel to the design, I left it in black and white, though I did place a paper texture to overlay the artwork.

Again, I worked digitally, making use of the available symmetry tools to help speed up my work. Even then it took me more than a couple of hours to complete this design.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an Inktober 2019 tangle list on the Everything is Art blog. So, I thought that it would perfect to include the Huggins zentangle tangle pattern, along with some others from earlier on in Inktober viz. Zonked, Toodles and Tunnel Vizion.

I do like the contrast betwixt the more scientific skull illustrations and the busy background of the mandala.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

It’s Monday and so it’s EMDR therapy day for my CPTSD. I am tired today from a lack of sleep, but underlying that tiredness is that contentedness that now seems to be constantly present within me. When my emotions and thoughts are in turmoil, whipping up a veritable storm on the surface of the ocean that is me, I can still sense the contentedness in the ocean-depths.

I have no idea how EMDR will go today, nor do I have much of an idea of how I will feel after it. Last week’s session was so very confusing and not all that clear that I think that a new negative thought about myself may be started upon to bring EMDR back to a definite focus.

Inktober 2019 – Day 01 – Chameleon Skull and Amanita

©Angela Porter 2019

Inktober 2019

After hunting around Instagram for alternative prompt lists, I decided to go with two and combine them. I chose the Animal Skulls prompts from @book_polygamist and Mushrooms list from @nyan_sun.

So, the drawing above shows a chameleon skull combined with Amanita, along with some other design elements. Today’s official prompt from Jake Parker’s Inktober 2019 list is ‘ring’. I can make that fit in too – a ring of fairy toadstools, the ring of the eye-socket in the skull.

The black line work was done with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I then used an 8B pencil with a blending stump to clumsily add some shading. Then, after scanning the image in, I added colour digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

It’s been a very, very long time since I did any drawing like this. My usual style is rather whimsical, cute and simplified to create a stylised form.

While this drawing isn’t realistic, it is more so than I usually do. Having said that, I have added some simplified design elements in the form of leaves and berries and the repeating pattern of arches to give a floor for the skull to rest on.

I found it interesting to add the more realistic skull with the less realistic Amanita and stylised leaves and berries.

It took me over three hours to create this drawing; I’m not sure I can spend that amount of time everyday given the work I need to do in the coming weeks. I shall see though how it goes.

So, Angela, how are you feeling?

I’m OK. I don’t feel as tired as I have lately and there’s also a contented feeling inside me. There’s also a frisson of excitement about turning my attention to work – something that has been a bit lacking over the past month or so.

I did get an early night along with a good night’s sleep last night, which always helps. The sun has just broken through the clouds, albeit briefly, and even a little sunshine helps to boost my mood too. I hope there’ll be more periods of sunshine to help my mood after the past days of heavy rain and even heavier grey skies, although we did have a break from it on Sunday with some bright sunshine in the day.

It’s only in the past couple of weeks that I’ve recognised how much the weather can affect my mood.

EMDR yesterday was puzzling, confusing and upsetting too. However, I came away not as exhausted as I usually do. Indeed, I was able to focus on art in the evening – I did most of the drawing of the chameleon skull with amanita.

My therapist and I did have a conversation about how I found it so hard to go into a cafe for lunch after my Time to Change Wales talk last week. She suggested that in future I take something with me to eat just in case I can’t go into a cafe – that way I can still take care of my physical needs and emotional needs without being hard on myself, calling myself weak and a failure for not doing such a simple thing as going to a familiar cafe for lunch.

Still have progress to make on that goal of mine, but some progress on recognising how I feel about myself not being able to do it at the moment has been made. So it’s not all bad.

So long September

October Coloring Template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group
© Angela Porter

October-eve

Can you believe that September is nearly over? I swear that the older I get the faster time seems to go.

Anyway, a new month on the horizon means a new colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. There just has to be a Hallowe’en theme for October’s page, and you can see a sneak peek of it above. I couldn’t resist colouring some of it in as a way of trying out some new digital brushes and some ideas too.

I put some of my favourite All Hallows’ Eve motifs into the drawing, including a raven, skulls, fungi and a vampire cat! I always enjoy drawing stuff to do with Hallowe’en; it’s my favourite time of year because I don’t have any past traumas associated with it.

If you’d like to colour this template, pop over to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group and become a member; each month I do one drawing exclusively for group members (terms and conditions of use and sharing apply).

About the art

I used a combination of fountain pens and fine-line pens to draw the design on dot grid paper. I then scanned the drawing in and cleaned up smudges and smears digitally.

Then, I set about adding colour digitally using my usual tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I also added a background and surface texture that I had purchased via Creative Market.

I am really quite pleased with how the colour is bringing the illustration to life, especially the skull in a jar. I hope to be able to continue to add colour as the month progresses, though I do know I have quite a bit of work to do and focus on.

To Inktober or not Inktober, that is the question.

Last year, I really enjoyed taking part in Inktober. Inktober has become a really popular social media event where artists and creatives use a daily prompt to draw (or create) something based on that prompt and share it on social media.

There is an official prompt list, but people do create alternative lists and I may look at some of them as there may be variations that might be less time intensive than last years’ was!

I shall see what I find and go from there I think.

So, Angela, how are you today?

Tired. However, I’m am quite content, my mood is good enough today. I do have EMDR later on, and I often feel ‘flat’ before my therapy session. I think my unconscious mind starts to bring stuff up in preparation for EMDR.

I know that the likelihood of me being exhausted later is rather high, so I’m not planning to do loads of stuff later on. Self care will be the order of the late afternoon and evening.

Emotional Pain – A Quote

Emotional Pain - A quote. Artwork by Angela Porter of Artwyrd.com
Emotional Pain – A quote. Artwork by Angela Porter of Artwyrd.com

About the art

This Nicola Lyons quote is another that resonated with me and brought some tears to my eyes and echoes of pain to my heart too. I just had to make it pretty – Angela style of course.

I used a script font and printed the quote out in a square format. I added the illustration around it using a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I kept to a small number of repeating motifs in this design. I can now see that I may go back and add some texture and pattern to the leaves, berries and some flowers that are quite bare to help to bring them to add depth and dimension.

I scanned the drawing in, cleaned it up digitally and then added a background to it rather than colour the elements in. I may return to colouring the design in, but I think I’ll use colours that are reminiscent of linocut artworks – flat colour and letting the lines add the shadow and texture, depth and dimension to the image.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m tired. I got to sleep early enough but I woke around 3:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep until gone 5am. I’d set my alarm for 7:30am as I have to be in Llandridnod Wells before 11am to give an anti-stigma talk on behalf of Time to Change Wales.

I expect that I’ll be drained after the talk – I usually am. So self-care will be important later on in the day. I need lots of tea before I leave – I have less than an hour to sort myself out.

Warning – the following may contain triggers.

The quote above relates to me being a ‘people-pleaser’, which is one way that CPTSD presents in me.

From as early as I can remember, I tried to do and be what would make others around me like me or love me, even if it meant doing things that made me feel horrible. It’s a pattern of behaviour that carried on through my life.

It never worked though; other people would get what they wanted and in return I would not get what I was hoping for or was told I would get. I’ve been left believing that I am unlovable and unlikable and not good-enough. There’s a good helping of shame around all this too, along with a lot of grief for what never was and never could be.

Nowadays, I’m more aware of my emotional, physical and mental needs now, thanks to EMDR therapy. However, I can still default to this ‘people-pleaser’ setting when I’m anxious or emotionally vulnerable.

It took a lot of work in various forms of counselling, self-reflection and EMDR for me to recognise that I have been a people-pleaser. Once aware of this tendency I could start to change my behaviour. I don’t know how successful I’ve been. One coping strategy I have is that I don’t let people get close to me, yet I yearn for meaningful, deep connection with like-minded souls, kindred spirits.

It’s a conundrum and I’m not sure how I’m going to solve it other than by valuing myself in a healthy way, being able to put up healthy boundaries, and being able to say ‘no’ if I’m uncomfortable about something or it would cause me difficulties.

Heal

Heal - Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com
Heal – Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com

About the art.

I don’t know who said these words, but they resonated with me when I stumbled upon them. Not only did they resonate, but they also brought tears to my eyes and my heart too. I have words for one of my goals for recovery from cPTSD. This is why I had to do something with the quote in my own inimitable style.

So, I took the words and chose a pretty font for them, arranged them as I wished and then printed them out onto acid-free paper. I trimmed the paper to approx 21cm x 21cm and added some pencil guidelines for space around the quote and the edge of the paper.

Next, I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens to draw a design. I stuck to just a few motifs that I repeated to fill the space. I also let the design elements to spill over the pencil margins here and there to give a more organic feel to the artwork.

Finally, after erasing the pencil lines, I scanned the drawing in, increased the contrast a little to remove most of the remaining pencil marks. I then added a grungy, colourful, autumnal background.

I’m pleased with this one. I really like the way the Fudenosuke pens work for me now. I love the variation of line and the bolder line that I have used. I also think that using just a few design elements and repeating them to fill the space results in a more cohesive design.

I think I could have left a bit more space around the quote; however, it is good enough.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

And for me to say something is good enough is a sign that I am recovering from a bad day yesterday. I’m still somewhat emotionally fragile and vulnerable, but I’m able to see that my art is good enough.

Yesterday, nothing I did was good enough. I lost faith in my crochet, my digital art, my drawing. Nothing seemed to work out, and I really was doubting my abilities.

EMDR therapy for my cPTSD was rather distressing and left me exhausted. Mind you, I was exhausted to begin with. Monday I wore my protective mask as I had to go somewhere where I’d be with people I didn’t know, doing something I was really anxious about, and I didn’t know the place I was going to. I was exhausted after keeping my mask on for just four or so hours.

How on earth did I find the energy to keep the mask up for all those years? 

One good thing has come from this experience – I can see how exhausting it is to keep up a mask for even a short time. I wonder how on earth I managed it for most of my life!

Anyway, after EMDR, I was more exhausted and came home and slept. In the evening, I thought I needed to be creative. It all led to me being hard and overly critical of myself. Little comments made to me just made it worse, even though the comments weren’t negative, my emotionally vulnerable and exhausted state twisted them that way.

Even though I was emotionally vulnerable and caught up in a storm of thoughts and feelings, I was still aware of this contentedness inside me, but I just couldn’t anchor myself fully to it. I was a little bit adrift in the turbulent waters of my emotions and thoughts.

I should know by now that I need to choose what activities I do carefully at times like this. Last night, I didn’t do that. However, I eventually got back to sleep, and I woke this morning feeling more content.

There’s not quite the sunshine within present today; there are still some emotional clouds covering it up. However, I know that they will not persist and will move along as I practice self-soothing and self-care and do creative activities that won’t push me too much and won’t engage the inner critics.

I’m still drained, physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am in a better place today. I think my drawing above shows that too.

Crochet Seed Pods

Crochet Seed pods by Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I really do wish I could take better photos! However, I think you get the idea of this pair of pods that I created last night and in the early hours on waking.

These ones I’m really pleased with; they’re the ones that look most like the seed pods I draw. I’ve also progressed to adding leaves to the stems and that funny star-shape.

I’m going to spend the evening doing some more crochet. I had EMDR therapy this morning, and it has totally drained me. I was tired and emotionally fragile, to begin with; I’m now emotionally exhausted and need to take self-care time.

I know that if I were to attempt digital or traditional art/drawing, then I would not feel satisfied with what I do. I’d get frustrated with myself, I’d become overly self-critical and would end up feeling worse than I do now. Although I am emotionally exhausted, I feel calm and fairly content. I need to keep activities that would drag me down to a minimum until I am more emotionally resilient.

So, self-care it really does have to be this evening, and maybe some or all of tomorrow.

Hyperbolic!

Hyperbolic crochet samples.

Hyperbolic crochet

I’ve been having a lot of fun with hyperbolic crochet over the past couple of days. The photo shows just a couple of the hyperbolic surfaces I’ve created. they look like corals, flatworms, a kind of flowery ball, and some weird kind of seedpod (the one at the bottom right which I’m still working on)

To create them you only need to be able to crochet chain stitches as well as a double crochet (single crochet in the US), though you can use other stitches if you wish.

I learned a little more about it from an information sheet from IFF.

To create a hyperbolic surface, you start with any number of chains. You then work stitches into each chain, increasing at regular intervals. You can, if you wish, join the chains into a ring.

I’ve also discovered that you can get fascinating shapes if you decrease from time to time. The shapes end up like some of the weird seedpods and organic forms that I draw!

This form of crochet can be as structured or free-form as you like, or a mixture of the two.

I’ve not felt this excited about a crochet project since I made the virus shawl and then some flowers, stars, snowflakes and feathers.

The excitement is not knowing how the hyperbolic surface is going to work out.

My only problem is what to make with them, what use to put them to, or who to gift them to.

I do have to add that they are very tactile – they can easily be manipulated, and there is something pleasurable and soothing in how they do this, particularly the smaller, tighter forms.

So, Angela, how are you doing?

I’m doing just fine today. I feel optimistic, content, happy even. The sun is shining, I’ve been out for an appointment and a short walk into the town to look at some yarn and also a trip into Holland & Barretts for some organic seeds and nuts; I also scored a couple of vegetarian scotch eggs too. So, after that, I realised I really had to return home to pop them into the fridge. But not before visiting Shaws to look at yarn. I came away with three cones of four-ply yarn in cream, grey and a soft turquoise. No prizes for guessing what for!

Yesterday, I managed to get some sleep before I headed to Hereford for a meeting in the evening. I wasn’t feeling all that bright and cheery as I left home for the hour and a half or so drive there. My mood did improve as I was driving through pretty scenery through a beautiful sunset that bathed the world in soft pink.

It was a long-assed day though; I didn’t return home until nearly midnight. Fortunately, I slept well overnight, and I woke feeling alert, if still a bit tired around the edges.

I quickly found my balance after EMDR this week, which is good to notice. I’ve also found myself at times trying to see if there’s anything sad or worrisome lurking; it’s almost as if I want to take myself back to the darker days of my life. How weird. I wonder if it’s because part of me thinks I don’t deserve to be content like this. Or maybe I’m just wondering if it is real and lasting and I expect to be dragged back down into the pits of despair and misery.

However, that inner summer has been ignited now, and it won’t easily be put out again. Now I’ve found it, I won’t hide it away. It will always be a guiding light for me, even if I find myself in darker places emotionally or mentally. I’m realistic enough to know that things will happen that affect me one way or another – that’s just life. The difference now is that I have a point of reference to journey back to, a touchstone. I now know what it is like to feel contented, optimistic, and it’s a feeling I won’t forget…ever.

Dandelion Card and Envelope Mail Art

Dandelion Card and Envelope Mail Art © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Dandelion Card and Envelope Mail Art © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

About the art.

Materials:

  • 5″ x 2.5″ piece of watercolour paper.
  • 5.25″ x 2.75″ piece of black card.
  • 6″ x 6″ blank kraft card with matching envelope.
  • Distress Inks in Bundled Sage, Weathered Wood and Stormy Sky.
  • Distress Oxide Inks in Iced Spruce and Peeled paint.
  • Small paint brushes – I used a 0 for the details and a 4 for the circles.
  • Mini foam blending tool.
  • A spray bottle containing a mixture of gold Perfect Pearls and water.
  • Tim Holtz’s Distress Micro Glaze and a dedicated foam blending pad. (or just your fingers!).
  • A glass pen or other fine nib dip pen.
  • Gold and Silver inks from J Herbin
  • White Sakura Glaze pen.
  • Gold glitter Uniball Signo Pen.
  • Light grey 05 Unipin pen by Uniball.
  • Glue or strong tape to adhere the card layers (I used Tombow Mono glue)

Method:

I started with a 2.5″ x 5″ piece of watercolour paper and a brush. I used water to draw circles where I wanted the dandelion heads to be. I then used the brush to add Stormy Skies and Weathered Wood Distress Inks into the water, letting it spread as it liked. To ensure I had a darker area of the seedhead, I dropped the watered-down inks to the bottom and left of the circles.

While the circles were drying, I worked on the card base. I applied Peeled Paint and Iced Spruce Distress Oxide Inks with a mini foam blending tool. Then, I sprayed the card with a mixture of gold Perfect Pearls and water and let it dry. Finally, I used Tim Holtz’s Micro Glaze to seal in the Distress Oxides – they react all too quickly with the sweat in fingers.

By the time I’d set the card base aside to dry I could return to the dandelion seed heads. I used a fine paintbrush, and some Titanium Iridescent Watercolour paint from Cosmic Shimmer to add the stems of the seeds. Once they had dried, I added dots of Enchanted Gold Iridescent Watercolour paint to the stems and set the panel aside to dry.

I wanted to add some dandelion heads and seeds to the card base. I used a glass pen along with silver and gold inks from J Herbin. I didn’t think these would adhere to the micro glaze treated surface, but they did. On a darker background, I could really see how these inks look like liquid metals as they flow onto the paper. They didn’t dull as they dried, thanks to the micro glaze acting as a barrier to the Distress Oxide ink.

Next, I wanted to add the stems and leaves to the dandelions on the watercolour paper panel. I used some Bundled Sage, Weathered Wood and Stormy Skies Distress inks for this. I pressed them onto a sheet of plastic, diluted and mixed them with water and a brush and then used the mixture to add the stems and leaves. I started with a lighter colour wash, adding darker colours to the left of the stem and also under the dandelion heads to add some dimension.

Once I was reasonably happy with the stems, I worked on the leaves. Again, I started with a pale-coloured wash to get the shape of the leaves in place. Then I gradually added darker tones to give a sense of dimension.

When I’d finished this, I looked at the panel, and I wasn’t happy with the stems and leaves. They looked unfinished. So, I dug out a light grey Uniball Unipin pen and proceded to outline the stems and leaves. This improved matters greatly to my mind. I like the way the stems and leaves are now defined and how they contrast nicely with the airy, ephemeral feel of the seedheads.

I then set about adding some dots of the gold watercolour around the arrangement of dandelion seedheads, added my symbol and year, and that completed the top panel.

I cut a piece of black card that was approx. 5.25″ x 2.75″ and adhered the top panel to it. I then adhered these layers to the card base.

My last task was to decorate the envelope. I used a white Sakura Glaze pen to draw some dandelion seedheads. When the Glaze pen lines had dried, I used a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen to add dots.

My reflections.

I started with a 2.5″ x 5″ piece of watercolour paper and a brush. I used water to draw circles where I wanted the dandelion heads to be. I then used the brush to add Stormy Skies and Weathered Wood Distress Inks into the water, letting it spread as it liked. To ensure I had a darker area of the seedhead, I dropped the watered-down inks to the bottom and left of the circles.

While the circles were drying, I worked on the card base. I applied Peeled Paint and Iced Spruce Distress Oxide Inks with a mini foam blending tool. Then, I sprayed the card with a mixture of gold Perfect Pearls and water and let it dry. Finally, I used Tim Holtz’s Micro Glaze to seal in the Distress Oxides – they react all too quickly with the sweat in fingers.

By the time I’d set the card base aside to dry I could return to the dandelion seed heads. I used a fine paintbrush, and some Titanium Iridescent Watercolour paint from Cosmic Shimmer to add the stems of the seeds. Once they had dried, I added dots of Enchanted Gold Iridescent Watercolour paint to the stems and set the panel aside to dry.

I wanted to add some dandelion heads and seeds to the card base. I used a glass pen along with silver and gold inks from J Herbin. I didn’t think these would adhere to the micro glaze treated surface, but they did. On a darker background, I could really see how these inks look like liquid metals as they flow onto the paper. They didn’t dull as they dried, thanks to the micro glaze acting as a barrier to the Distress Oxide ink.

Next, I wanted to add the stems and leaves to the dandelions on the watercolour paper panel. I used some Bundled Sage, Weathered Wood and Stormy Skies Distress inks for this. I pressed them onto a sheet of plastic, diluted and mixed them with water and a brush and then used the mixture to add the stems and leaves. I started with a lighter colour wash, adding darker colours to the left of the stem and also under the dandelion heads to add some dimension.

Once I was reasonably happy with the stems, I worked on the leaves. Again, I started with a pale-coloured wash to get the shape of the leaves in place. Then I gradually added darker tones to give a sense of dimension.

When I’d finished this, I looked at the panel, and I wasn’t happy with the stems and leaves. They looked unfinished. So, I dug out a light grey Uniball Unipin pen and proceded to outline the stems and leaves. This improved matters greatly to my mind. I like the way the stems and leaves are now defined and how they contrast nicely with the airy, ephemeral feel of the seedheads.

I then set about adding some dots of the gold watercolour around the arrangement of dandelion seedheads, added my symbol and year, and that completed the top panel.

I cut a piece of black card that was approx. 5.25″ x 2.75″ and adhered the top panel to it. I then adhered these layers to the card base.

My last task was to decorate the envelope. I used a white Sakura Glaze pen to draw some dandelion seedheads. When the Glaze pen lines had dried, I used a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen to add dots.

Reflections on this project.

When I started, I only had a rough idea of what I’d like to do. I knew I wanted to use watercolour media and stylised dandelion heads.

At first, I tried to make the circles for the seed heads by using a Tombow Dual Brush pen to draw the outer circle. Then, I used water and a brush to get the ink to bleed into the circle.

The result wasn’t pretty.

So, I regrouped and tried Distress Inks and water, and I was much happier with the result, and the card grew from there.

I’m pleased that I ran with a more stylised dandelion head than I’d initially considered. One of my artistic strengths is my ability to create stylised motifs. I certainly think I managed to do that with the dandelion heads and their leaves, especially as watercolour media is not a strength of mine.

I’m also glad I used the iridescent paints to add the details. That makes my inner raven very happy. The use of metallic inks on the card base increased the happiness of the raven even further!

I was about to give up on the card when I’d added the stems and leaves with just Distress Inks; I wasn’t happy with them. However, trying the grey line made all the difference in the world. The dandelions went from almost being consigned to the waste bin to being good enough.

I’m now happy with the card and the envelope; it’s something I’ll try again in the future, maybe. After all, I do have a few more watercolour paper panels that need to be used!

So, Angela, how are you today?

Yesterday, I had EMDR therapy. The session was quite painful, physically, and a bit distressing emotionally. I felt content and optimistic going to the appointment, and I left feeling pretty much the same. However, I suddenly became exhausted when I was half-way home. And I do mean exhausted. I felt my eyes trying to cross and close.

I made it safely home and, after having a little something to eat, I collapsed into bed and slept until early evening.

I was still really tired when I woke, but a random chancing upon crochet patterns for hyperbolic surfaces and ammonites kept me up for a while. Indeed, I lost myself in crocheting hyperbolic forms.

This morning I woke feeling content and optimistic and cheerful. The sun was shining, which always helps my mood for sure.

Even though I was feeling sunny inside, I wanted to spend time on a little project or two today. I didn’t want to push myself after what turned out to be a gruelling EMDR session yesterday. So, that’s why I threw myself into creating this little card.

Now, it’s nearly 7 pm here in the UK, and I’m bone-tired once again. I’ll spend the evening either creating another card or crocheting. Either way, it’s self-care time.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The artwork.

I wanted to try to create a series of templates that could be used as frames for quotes. This is my first one. I remembered to save it as tiff file in layers so that I can easily change the background.

I didn’t start with the intention of creating waves filled with zentangle-type patterns, but that’s how it intuitively flowed from the tip of my Surface Pen onto the screen of my Surface Studio. So, I went with it.

It’s a very comfortable kind of art to create, whether you call it zentangle, zentangle inspired, entangled artwork, line art, doodled art. It’s just about filling space with patterns and lines, using them to add depth and dimension.

It was an enjoyable process that I could complete in a few sessions in-between a hectic few days.

The saga of the keyboard.

Saturday my Bluetooth keyboard decided to not connect to the Surface Studio. It had been finicky for a few days. I changed batteries, I tried disconnecting it and reconnecting it and following all the trouble-shooting processes I could find. All to no avail. This is why I’ve not done any blogs and been quiet around social media, along with life being a bit busy too.

It also worked out that the warranty on my Surface Studio and all it’s attendant bits and bobs had run out just over three weeks ago. Yes, I do have software I can use the Surface Pen with or a keyboard that pops up on the screen that I can tap with my fingers or mouse or pen, but they are so slow and frustrating to use in comparison to the speed at which I can type. I do love to handwrite, even on the screen. However, as I can’t turn the ‘paper’ or ‘writing window’ to an angle that makes it comfortable for me to write at I don’t do as much as I could.

Of course, I’d forgotten I still have, and use my Surface Book. However, when something goes wrong, my mind goes into instant ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got to sort that out as there’s no other way to get things done’ overwhelmed and panic mode. It’s only after I have solved the problem and calm down that I can see that I had alternatives open to me.

So, my brain told me my only option was to buy a new keyboard. Then I had a decision to make. Should I go for a wireless one or a wired one?
I decided on a wired one as that should always connect to the ‘puter. I also was beguiled by a keyboard that has pretty rainbow lights beneath the keys. Sparkly and colourful always attracts me.

So, I now have a keyboard and can email and write and do everything else that requires words from me quickly once again.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

Warning – this may contain emotional and mental health triggers.

The World Health Organisation says that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. 

In the UK, two people take their own lives every day.

In the UK, men account for approximately 75% of all suicides.

In the UK, suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 to 49.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says suicides are a serious public health problem. They also say that suicides are preventable and give a list of some of the measures that can be taken on their webpage about suicide – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide

They also say that one of the biggest obstacles to overcome in suicide prevention is the stigma and taboo that surrounds suicide and mental health problems.

The stigma and taboos that surround talking openly about suicide leads to a lack of awareness about suicide, and also about mental illness.

I am a champion for Time To Change Wales, a campaign whose aim is to get people talking about mental illness to break down the stigma that surrounds it. This also includes suicide.

As a champion, one of the things I do is to go to organisations and other groups to talk about my experience of mental illness and the stigma and discrimination I have faced. This includes self-stigma. 

Thanks to self-stigma, I was in denial that I was experiencing mental and emotional ill-health for many years. It led to me not seeking help until I had nearly broken my mind. I ended up being off work as a teacher for almost a year. I went back to work for just eight months before I had another ‘breakdown’ for want of another word. 

What I don’t often mention, and what I think also needs to be discussed here, is suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts. These are thoughts about wishing to die, wanting life to stop, hoping that one would not wake up in the morning. Not actively planning suicide, but wishing that life would end to bring the mental and emotional pain to an end.

For a long as I can remember, right back to being young, I can remember wishing this upon myself. I often wanted to die in my sleep and not have to face another day like the one I just had. I didn’t feel loved or valued in any way, and the constant bullying, name-calling, being ignored and neglected. I felt a burden, a bother, a nuisance, an irritation, a problem to my family. I thought they would be happier without me. That the world would be a better place without me. I never thought of actively taking my own life, but I certainly wished to die.

That belief about myself has followed me throughout my life. Sometimes it would be quiet, at other times it would be shouting through a megaphone in my head.

I remember driving to work most days in the last few years of my teaching career wanting to just keep driving and never come back to my life as it had become so very, very painful for me and I could see no way out of the pain.

I never did drive off towards the horizon as I didn’t actually know what I would do. Also, the thought of my cat and how he’d not cope without me would pop into my head. And so I would get myself to work so I could look after my cat.

At the time, it felt my cat was the only living thing that was consistently and unconditionally there for me, sharing love and affection with me. I still miss him now, a bit more than a year when I had to say goodbye to him.

I owe my life to my cat, and to the one friend (now my brother of the heart/choice) who kept nagging me about getting help, and the GP who knew the right words to say to me to get me to understand I needed help and a break from work and also from my mind. Now, I am also so grateful to my EMDR therapist for persisting with me.

I have tears flowing down my face as I write about this. The tears represent the sadness that I feel that I was ignorant of what good mental and emotional health is and of the stigma I held about it in regards to myself. Oddly, I never had those thoughts about others who were experiencing mental illness, having helped others during their own crises. I feel sad that I have lived most of my life with poor mental and emotional health, thinking that was how everyone else was. I feel sad that only now am I learning what it is like to have a touchstone of contentment and optimism to hold onto when times get tough.

The tears are also ones of gratitude that I’m still here. I have come through the darkest days of my life. My career has changed, and my life is gradually changing for the better, as is my mental and emotional health.

I rarely have suicidal thoughts now. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did. That says something about how far along my healing journey I have come.

If someone had told me in my darkest days that my life would be as it is now, with that contentment within me, an optimism for my future, I might not have believed them. In fact, I most probably wouldn’t have.

However, I am here to say that I made it through it all. Through my childhood and adulthood and now into middle age. 

I wish I’d known what I know now as a child. Maybe I would’ve sought help sooner in my life.

What I wish for everyone is that every person on this planet is given the information about what good mental and emotional health is. I want mental and emotional health to be seen as important as physical health with the links between them fully recognised, and support is available to all who need it.

No matter how bad life seems, there are always options to improve it. This is something I’ve had to learn. In fact, I’m still learning about it. When I get overwhelmed, or something goes wrong, I tend to slip into the black and white thinking mode.

That’s what the black and white borders to today’s art is about. The complexity shows just how crazily my mind was working during the darkest days.

For the space between them, the background on which the quote sits, I chose colours that remind me of a sunrise. A new day, with a fresh mind and eyes always comes with new options, if only we can see them.

My story has not ended. It will not end until my life is naturally completed. For the first time in my life, I have a feeling of optimism for my future. It may have taken me two severe episodes of mental ill-health and several years of EMDR therapy and counselling to get to this point. But I’ve got there. 

No matter how much of my life I have left, it will be lived with some contentment, peace and hope for my future. I wish the same for each and every person.

Entangled Parchment Craft Cards

Entangled Parchment Craft Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Entangled Parchment Craft Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Entangled in blue – a greeting card.

Yesterday, I mentioned some things I’d like to try out after my experience creating a greeting card using vellum and Distress Inks along with some die-cutting.

So, rather than take the nap I’d said I was likely to, I endeavoured to make another card in the same kind of entangled art style. This time, the two Distress Inks I used were Peacock Feathers and Mermaid Lagoon. 

I used these inks to colour the reverse of the vellum and to add colour to the card base – Mermaid Lagoon at the top, Peacock Feathers at the bottom and blending them in the middle.

I used the piece of card I’d cut the frame from as a stencil for the addition of colour, so I was sure it wouldn’t bleed out of the edge of the frame. 

After dry embossing the design on the vellum, I passed it just once through a hot laminator. The vellum became flat without losing too much of the definition given by the dry embossing.

I trimmed the vellum panel so it would fit neatly under the frame. I adhered the vellum to the frame using strong double-sided tape.

I wanted to lift the vellum above the card base. I doubled up some double-sided foam tape, using thin strips. In hindsight, I would’ve been happier with just one thickness of the foam tape. 

By applying the Distress Inks to the card base the colour has been intensified, and the dry embossing stands out better. I’m quite pleased with the result of this card.

I do wish I hadn’t added the gold dots around the frame though; I thought I needed some to complement the gold dots that I added to the entangled design. 

On the whole, I’m much happier with the entangled in blue card. 

I’ve just thought that it could be relatively easy to turn that panel into a shaker card by making sure the space beneath the vellum is completely sealed by the foam tape at the edges and then adding some sequins and/or glass beads — something for me to try another time maybe.

Comfort art.

The drawings in both of these panels are an example of me slipping into ‘comfort art’ mode. I tend to draw this way when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable or fragile. Entangled art like this is familiar to me, like a comfortable pair of old slippers, and it soothes me somewhat.

Entangled art is very much my ‘style’ of art. Digitally, I’m pushing my boundaries with it by not using black outlines or outlines in any colour. When I feel the way I have in the past few weeks, it can be tough for me to settle into art that challenges me even a little bit and digital art has been doing that. That’s why I’ve started many projects and not finished them; I get dissatisfied with what I’m doing and just stop it. That’s a sign that I really am not feeling as balanced as usual. 

In the past, I’ve mentioned that redrawing my favourite patterns and motifs in a zibladone ( a mixture of journal and random notes or interesting things) is comforting, soothing to me. I have only just noticed that drawing in this way is also so.

The challenging thing in these cards is the die-cutting and the use of various adhesives. And scissors. Scissors always cause me problems. Although I’m mostly right-handed, I use scissors in my left hand. I use right-handed scissors, and I find that problematic, but left-handed scissors are even worse for me! Craft knives have their own added issues for me.

A little more of a challenge.

Today I received two die sets in the post, both from Lawn Fawn and from Seven Hills Crafts. They’re the foursquare landscape and portrait backdrop die sets.

I want to try to make a pair of dangle design cards with these for tomorrow. So that’s one of my tasks for this afternoon.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK. I’m tired; I drove for over four hours yesterday, and when I got home, I was not only exhausted but cold as well. I didn’t sleep all that well as I didn’t warm up until around 6 am and I kept waking up shivering.

I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety and even fear about the current state of the world; I feel tearful about this a lot of the time and not very optimistic. 

Other than that, I think my life is settling down into a new kind of ‘normal’ after spending time with my friend and his partner last week. I still have lots of things to sort out that were stirred up from the pandora’s box of trauma within me. But now they’ve been identified they can be processed in EMDR.

Being tired makes me a lot less resilient to all this.