I need soothing, calming art today. One day I may share why I’m so topsy-turvy emotionally and mentally. But not now.
For now, I’m being creative in a way that soothes my inner maelstrom. It’s a mini maelstrom, but still enough to provoke unease, fear, and unsettling emotions. Still, these things pass in time. And I have a lot to experience and learn connected to this unease and fear. I just don’t know the timescale and that kind of makes it worse!
But art is always my solace, though I need to find others too. There’s my illustrated journal – writing and, erm, art! It’s been a long while since I played my flute. Nearly a week since I went out for a walk. I still have an electric folk harp I’ve not learned how to play! And there’s plenty of tea to drink.
Tea! Twice, thrice and twice-twice blessed! Tea is always soothing, especially at that magic temperature where it just feels like every part of you relaxes, and a sigh of relief and pleasure is released!
So, once I’ve finished all my social media stuff, I’ll get another mug of tea and get a YouTube video done. Yes, more art. But I love drawing!
For a long while, I’ve been playing around with hand lettering, using my writing in art, and the idea of marrying together writing and drawing. Today, I started a new sketchbook dedicated to this idea and exploration. I woke up this morning with the concept clear in my head, and so I did!
A sketchbook is a perfect place to experiment and try things out. I’ve already got various notes on this page reflecting on what is working and what isn’t. And there’s some reflective journaling too. My handwriting is a mess. That Distress Ink-ed dot grid paper looks really grubby. The Inktense pencils and the use of a water brush may not have been a good idea on the sketchbook paper. However, it is a sketchbook. It’s not meant to be anything other than a place to explore, experiment, and unearth hidden thoughts and ideas.
The last paragraph had a lot of negatives in it. I do like the border, and this is something I’ll continue to do. The idea of collating notes onto a page intrigues me; even adding pockets and other things from junk journaling could be an idea. Places to store notes about ingredients and so on. I enjoy researching all kinds of things, including foods, ingredients, spices and condiments.
What is new is me drawing food! I don’t know if I’ll ever draw a plate or bowl of food, but the ingredients or various elements interest me. So I’ve written a note to myself to see if I can make patterns or motifs for my more abstract, non-representational work from them.
I also must learn that colours can be imperfect; close enough is good enough! The ginger jam (more correctly, ginger preserve) was troublesome. But it’s good enough for now.
Soothing fraught emotions and thoughts
I’ve been relatively open with my mental and emotional health challenges, to a degree at least. And I thought it would be an excellent idea to combine that with food, and maybe more.
Art and food are two ways I can soothe and comfort myself. On good days, I’ll be adventurous with cooking. It may be a takeaway delivery or something quick and easy on bad days. On the in-between days, comforting food is the go-to, often more traditional recipes.
Cooking is always a challenge as a singleton. However, the motivation to cook and feed me wholesome and healthy food can be a considerable challenge, especially on my fraught and frazzled days.
Where will this lead?
I don’t know. I know it’s a personal project, but a friend and I have talked about collaborating on a project about cooking. So this may be a way of kicking the project off, even though I am still determining where it will go. If nothing else, it will give me a way to draw new and different things, explore various techniques, both in art and cooking, and reflect on all kinds of things. I’ll get to practice my handwriting and hand lettering as well. And perhaps work out how to create a pleasing layout!
This will, I trust, encourage me to take more care of myself in terms of nutrition. In addition, adding daily entries for at least one meal will hold me accountable.
A variety of meals/dishes will be required too and so will stop me from eating the same old things again and again! That’s a rut I can get stuck in. Also, if I find something I enjoy, I will eat it again and again, day after day, until I become sickened by it! That is not good either!
Am I overloading myself with projects?
I have a book to do for Creative Haven by the end of June. There are some self-published colouring books that I’d like to do too. Then there’s my creepy-cute monsters project. YouTube. Writing. And more!
I often can’t see the wood for the trees. Being able to prioritise has never been a strong skill of mine. However, I do need variety and options of what to work on. Otherwise, the work can become stale and uninspiring to me. And I can so easily get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or tasks, to be done. And then there’s the fear of failure, of not being good enough, that results in procrastination.
Also, I know that at the moment, my emotions and, thus, my mental state isn’t the best; new challenges in life outside of art and creativity. But that means that art and creativity are more important to me to help me calm, relax, get in the flow and give my mind and emotions a break!
I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’m not one for schedules of work day by day and hour by hour. That may be something I need to look into.
But not now. Now I need a mega-big mug of good strong tea! I’m British (Welsh), and we think tea will solve everything!
This is now finished! Between drawing, adding colour and embellishments, it’s taken somewhere between six and seven hours, I think.
Materials used: * SeaWhite all media paper, 8″ x 8″ (195mm x 195mm) * Uniball Eye Pen – micro * Uniball Signo DX 0.38 Pen * Derwent Graphitint pencils * Brushes and water * Derwent Drawing Pencils * Cold Grey IV Pitt Artist Pen * White and yellow Sakura Soufflé pens * Clear Sakura Glaze pen
I actually managed to keep some white space in the design! I may have slightly overdone the dottiness. I did mess up by trying to use the Derwent Drawing pencils to add some darker tones to the green ‘leaves’.
Overall, I think this is good enough to move on to the next project, which is likely to be Thursday’s coloring template.
It’s been nice to lose myself in some art for the sake of art. Especially as my emotional weather is still damp, dull and grey and making me doubt myself. It’s been an emotional rainy spell that’s been brewing for a while, and that’s why I’ve returned to the familiarity and comfort of my entangled art.
I always circle back to entangled art, regardless of my experiments with other media and styles and getting frustrated with colour!
My tricksy emotional weather is only exacerbating my frustrations with colour. I know I need to get the coloured plates done for the Whimsical Cats colouring book, but as I am at the moment I will only get myself into a right royal kerfuffle. So, it’s time to just enjoy drawing, maybe using some colour – time for monochrome colour schemes I think.
Today has been a day of working with colour on various drawings in my sketchbook. This one is the one I’m most happy with; it’s been a bit of a frustrating day, colourwise.
This drawing was finished earlier today, and before adding any shading I wanted to add colour. This time, Derwent Graphitint pencils were my medium of choice, along with a brush and water.
I really like the softer, earthier, more vintage-y tones of these pencils. I was getting frustrated with the brighter colours of the Ecoline watercolour inks and Derwent Colorsoft Pencils.
So caught up in the process of adding colour (along with joys and frustrations), I didn’t realise how much of the day had gone! It’s now about tea-time here in the UK, and normally I do my social media postings mid-morning.
I am tired today. Tired because I was up way too late last night. My mood is weird – I’m content yet at the same time feeling rather sad and teary for no reason that I know. My EMDR therapist told me that in the West, we are convinced we can only feel one emotion at a time, but in the East it’s accepted that you can feel more than one at a time. I certainly experience that quite often.
The sad and teary may be a manifestation of the tiredness, but it’s nice to know the touchstone of contentment is present in the core of my being. Contentment is always present, no matter what other emotional weather is being experienced. It’s a storm anchor that helps me keep balanced during the less settled periods of emotional weather. For like all weather, emotions do pass in time. For me, I’ll feel much better when I’ve had a good night’s sleep I’m sure.
Today, I finished drawing this entangled, zentangle inspired kind of floral/botanical design. I did start this yesterday afternoon, but continued it this morning before I settled back to sleep. I’ve had a poor night’s sleep thanks to yet another upset stomach, so after my Wednesday delivery from Abel & Cole, I drew and then settled back to sleep.
I’m still feeling very tired, my digestive system is still uncomfortable, delicate, upset. But I have to run an errand today. I’ll get to that soon enough and then I’ll see how I feel and how that dictates how I look after myself for the rest of the day. I suspect more sleep will be needed.
Anyways, this drawing is on an A5 piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. I used a 0.3 Unipin pen to draw the design, and I’m now adding colour using a fairly limited palette of Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens: *green gray *pale dawn gray *olive green *deep green *ochre *bright yellow *pale rose *lilac *english lavender
I’m considering adding a couple of browns to this palette, as well as using some olive green over the grays.
These pens do move easily with a barely damp brush on this paper making it so easy to get a colour gradient. It’s also easy to add more colour to intensify the dark area.
In the vlog I talk about how the pressures of being constantly productive turned me into a workaholic when I was a teacher, and then fed negatively into my self-image which ultimately led to my burn-outs/breakdowns. I have learned that taking time for myself, to just be, to relax, to do things I enjoy, to look at ‘goals’ in a realistic kind of way to limit the pressure I put on myself.
I no longer have the external pressures of my career as a teacher, and one of the many hard lessons I’ve had to learn as part of my healing is how to value self-care time, and how that time can change from day to day. It’s so important for me, otherwise life’s own stresses and strains can take their toll on me and leads to physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion or even ill-health.
Taking time to rest, to relax, is being ‘productive’, but in an important way. The productivity is investing time in one’s self and one’s own well being. And that is so very important.
This is why I take time nearly every day to create art just for myself, for the pleasure of creating, of exploring and experimenting, with no pressure on myself to create a completed work of art or for commercial gain. Just for the simple joy it brings.
Admittedly, I can fixate on art and forget about doing other things I enjoy, such as playing my flute, or learning to play my harp or tongue drum, or reading, or journalling, or even getting out for a walk, or combining my walk with sketching.
I know this is something I do need to work on for sure. But, like everything else, it comes together in it’s own way, in it’s own time, when I am ready to do so.
As I was coming around from yesterday’s headache, I plopped yesterday’s drawing into Repper to see what geometric patterns and tiles I could create.
Repper is a browser app that is great fun to play around with and makes the creation of tiling patterns from my artwork so simple.
Rather than save the patterns, I saved the tiles as so many of them looked like perfect inspiration for mandalas.
So, I chose one design, popped it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, and used it to inspire this particular pattern.
I chose a colour palette of soft pinks and greens, colours that are related to self-love, self-care, balance and harmony. Perfect for how I was feeling yesterday!
Today, I’m still feeling somewhat tired and fragile. That’s mainly due to a really poor night’s sleep. Emotionally, however, I feel a lot better than I have the past few days. There was an emotional storm brewing and it the headache was the torrential downpour that was needed to clear the skies by forcing me to take care and shelter myself.
So, the rest of today is going to be a quiet. nurturing kind of time to shake off the lingering wisps of stormy clouds.
Well, I pushed on yesterday and finished this particular drawing. Lots of texture/patterning has been added. I’ve also temporarily added a pale grey-blue background until I decide how I want to add shadow/highlight/colour to this particular drawing.
I won’t be doing that today, however. I’m still feeling all out of sorts and I really don’t trust myself with colour, shadow and highlight. I’ll get frustrated and irritated with myself. I also woke with a headache that isn’t clearing up anytime soon it seems.
So, today is likely to be another day of binge watching stuff. Yesterday it was The Killing on Disney+. A dark tale of murder and the crazy awful ways humans tangle their lives with others it seems.
It’s an American version of a Danish noir murder/mystery series. I started watching the Danish version, with subtitles, quite a few years ago, but mislaid the DVDs. It’s full of twists and turns in the story line, and a surprising ending to the first story line – the murder of Rosie Larsen. And it’s nice to be surprised by such a tale for a change.
So, I think I’ll spend a fair amount of today finishing watching season 3 and making a start on season 4, the final season.
Once the headache clears, I may turn my attention to some arty stuff. I’ll see how it goes. Self-care is important, not just physically but emotionally too. I know from bitter past experiences that if I push myself to do things when I’m not up to it, whatever I do usually ends up disastrously. I still feel the guilt of giving myself time and space to return back to a point of balance, but I know that when I do return to that point the guilt will fade away and be replaced with relief and a sense of gratitude that I didn’t give into to the guilt. There’ll also be a touch of pride that I’m strong enough, now, to recognise when I need this time to just lose myself in fiction, do nothing else, and let whatever is the cause of the imbalance work itself through.
I suspect the headache is an expression of that imbalance and is the way my mind, body and soul have of telling me, “Woah there Angela! You have to stop and take a break from this, now! You’ve pushed yourself too far, so I’m going to get you to stop and do other things for a while.”
I am learning to listen to what I need, rather than what I think I should be doing. So, today, I will listen to them.
Started yesterday evening, worked on during my hours of mid-night waking, and on waking this morning, this measures 21 cm x 21 cm (approx 8.25″ x 8.25″) The paper is natural coloured Claire Fontaine Paint-On mixed media paper coloured with Aged Mahogany Distress Ink. The design is being drawn with a mix of 03 Unipin and 01 Sakura Micron pens.
I’m using a mixture of Stadedtler Triplus and Chameleon Fineliner pens to add colour to the design, along with a barely damp waterbrush to spread the colour out. Interestingly, some of the colour lines added remain visible, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on how much I work the colour with the waterbrush. Also, I’m finding that I really enjoy adding colour and texture like this.
The finishing bright white highlights are added using a Sakura Gelly Roll pen.
I find the fineliners used in this way give me much greater control over how much the colour spreads in the small areas in my drawing. They also don’t spread as much as, say, Tombow Dual Brush pens or Inktense pencils. That helps to control the spread of colour too.
I rather like the vintage-y look that the palette of browns and olive greens confers on the design, helped along by the background colour and texture of the paper.
Oh, I do intend to leave a ‘hole’ in this first layer of designs. I’m not sure I’ll do inside the space; a quote, more layers of design. For now I’m not sure. But once this first layer is done, I can scan it in and use it in different ways digitally.
There are lots of my favourite motifs appearing in this one, rather organic ones for the most part. What will appear from the tip of my pen in the rest of the design? I don’t know yet! It could be more of the same, or not. All I know is that the intricacy, detail and revisiting old favourite motifs is making my arty crafty heart smile.
“The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.”
Finally, the penny dropped as to why I’m feeling so out of sorts. Oddly, it was while I was listening to a documentary about the cult NXIVM as I was drawing during the stupid o’clock hours of drawing. Don’t worry, I’m not a member of a cult! However cognitive dissonance was mentioned and that was the ‘ta-da!’ moment for me.
Cognitive dissonance causes emotional distress related to holding contradictory beliefs or values. I’ve experienced this before during breakthrough moments in therapy where I’ve had to accept that I was a victim of trauma, that I really do have CPTSD and I’m not (as my mother would tell me) making it up, for example.
I’m poised on a knife edge, wanting to make a decision to leave something, but feeling guilty about thinking that way. I need to find a way to find some clarity to help me make that decision, and it has to do with my core values and beliefs.
Recognising this doesn’t make me feel any better, but it helps me understand what is going on, and that understanding will help me work my way through it! Making a decision won’t make it any easier for me to act upon it as there’ll be a lot of guilt and the old reactive feeling of believing I’m letting other people down.
However, I can’t put other people ahead of my own mental and emotional well-being. It’s never been easy for me to say ‘no’ to people, to leave organisations or people who are contributing to emotional and mental distress in myself. But I have done so occasionally, more so in the last year or two. And I will do so this time if it’s what I need to do to find that sense of balance, harmony, peace in myself once again.
This week’s offering is a mandala. I always find mandalas soothing to draw and colour. The circular form and repetitive nature are beguiling, relaxing, soothing and magical in some way.
This week’s is quite simple, as colouring templates need to be. It’s also quite botanical in nature. The colour palette I’ve chosen is full of sunshine, growth, peace, harmony and self-care. I haven’t quite finished colouring it, but that’s fine. It did what it needed to do for me.
I’m well out of sorts today. I really didn’t want to get out of bed. But I did, and showered.
I know what’s causing my emotional and mental turmoil at the moment. I just can’t seem to actually act to bring that to an end. Guilt, grief, and other emotions are causing me problems. I know I’ll act when I’m ready to do so, but it’s so difficult to let go. But I need to do so for my own emotional and mental well being.
Talking of emotional and mental well being, today is Time to Talk Day. It’s a day where Time to Talk Wales, along with sister organisations, encourage everyone to have a conversation about mental and emotional health. All to help to end the stigma and discrimination that exists around mental health.
This year’s theme is ‘Small things’. I’ve written on facebook about three small conversations I had that have led to me healing from complex post traumatic stress disorder. Not completely. I’m not sure you can completely heal as part of surviving complex trauma is hiding that trauma deep inside. I am, however, healed enough. I’m just waiting for the lockdown to end so I can start pushing my boundaries a bit.
Anyway, I’m going to finish all the social media stuff now and then I’ll be returning to arty pursuits. Maybe a nap too as I’m feeling so tired today. Emotional turmoil exhausts me. Also, sleep is one of my coping strategies when I’m stressed out in some way.
I’ve been feeling out of sorts for the last day or so. It’s gradually intensified. A broken night’s sleep really hasn’t helped. House freezing cold (deliberately so!), Angela boiling hot in waves (not illness, just age).
I did draw in the darkest parts of the night when I couldn’t sleep, but what I produced was just a reflection of my ‘out of sorts’ mood. I added words and reflections to the drawings to try to elucidate where this has come from. And then that went to how I could use art in a journal, could I create journal pages, little areas for thoughts/words of meaning, and so on. So I jotted those ideas down.
The larger drawings I was doing in the night just overwhelmed me. The more work I did, the more overwhelmed and dissatisfied I felt. So, in an attempt to create some art that would soothe rather than disturb, I decided to create some small pieces of art and some borders seemed the right thing to do. This quartet of drawings is the result of that solution I sought to help me with my mood and my attitude to my efforts at drawing.