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:

Drawing Practice, and other stuff.

Drawing Practice ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Drawing Practice.

The other day, I was drawing a design for the book I’m working on. I wasn’t at all happy with the way I was drawing. I’ve been working so much digitally that I feel out of practice with pen on paper.

I may end up re-drawing my illustrations for the book digitally, but I want the option of doing that.

So, yesterday evening, as some self-soothing, and this morning, I’ve been drawing in my ‘visual zibladone’, my A5 dotgrid where I keep all the patterns and motifs, well maybe not all but most, that I like to use. It’s a little book that I can flip through to find inspiration if I need it.

Adding designs, even if they’re duplicates, is a nice way to practice my drawing skills with pen or pencil.

When I work digitally, my pen strokes are much bigger, longer and involve me using my whole arm and wrist a lot more than when I use pen on paper.

I’m perhaps a lot bolder with my lines as I work digitally than I am when working on paper. I’m still precise with my lines, but the way my muscles work when I’m working digitally is different.

I hadn’t realised this until today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drawing both ways, with traditional tools or digital tools.

However, I’d not really noticed the way that I move my fingers, wrist and arm when I work is different with each media. How curious!

So, I need to make time every day to draw with pen on paper to keep those skills just ticketty boo.

Just a little warning.
The words that follow may contain material for some that may be upsetting or triggering.
Please feel free to skip it.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok. Tired. EMDR yesterday was very emotional and exhausting.

I arrived at the session after having some snail mail which had me doubting my abilities as an artist/illustrator/author and it triggered that inner critic inside.

I felt warmth drain from my body. I started calling myself a failure, useless, delusional of my abilities and talent, that I really am worthless and useless, and that I’ve let people down. I even questioned my abilities as an artist, if I was deluding myself and others, living in a fantasy world rather than reality. Part of me just wanted to give it all up.

Another part of me told me that I wasn’t being silly, what I was hearing was not myself but the inner critic who had attacked me at the point of vulnerability and tried to stick its claws in once again and continue the job of so many people in my childhood and beyond of keeping me down and thinking the worst of myself.

This all tracks back to the earliest days I can remember in my life, and most of the days beyond. Nothing I did was ever good enough, and if I did good at something there was always someone who was either better or potentially was better. Always the slap-down. Every time I thought I’d done something good and tried to show it, I was always told I was wrong and everyone else was right and better.

By the time I got to therapy I was in a bit of a state. I do have to say nowhere as near as bad as I would’ve been even a few months ago, let alone a year or more ago. But still in a bit of an emotional state. Tearful. Worried. But not with the level of anxiety I’d usually feel, which surprised me, even though thoughts were running around my head like crazy.

Some of the thoughts were fairly rational, sensible, logical. That also surprised me.

Jung would call this an prime example of synchronicity – there’s no such thing as something being just a coincidence. Last week we started working on the negative belief I have that I’m a failure and useless and a disappointment. What a bit of synchronicity is that, eh?

We talked about what had triggered me and how I don’t need to go into or stay in full panic/flight/freeze mode, and about the confusion I felt that I should be really anxious and panicked, but I wasn’t. But we did use those negative thoughts for EMDR.

Lots of tears and physical pain and discomfort with the session yesterday. The negative beliefs I had changed into one of being deeply disappointed in myself and of having let others down.

At the end, I left feeling more upbeat than I arrived, even though I was absolutely bushwhacked emotionally.

I eventually got home, after a stop to get supplies to make some cucumber sandwiches. For some reason I really fancied them. I was hungry as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast early that morning.

I was tired, but knew that I couldn’t nap as it would wreck my sleep pattern, which was likely to be wrecked anyway.

And it was. I had a broken night’s sleep. I kept waking up and started fretting a little about yesterday’s mail. In the end, I gave up trying to go back to sleep and got up, breakfasted and determined I’d do some drawing.

I seem to be OK at the moment. My mind isn’t dwelling on the mail. I still feel a bit nervy though. That will pass.

Even though it was a challenging day yesterday, I think it’s shown me how far I’ve come. Not that long ago this would’ve absolutely floored me. Now, I seem to have a little resilience, and I reached out to people for some more information and explanation and advice too.

The rest of my day is going to be spent in self-soothing activities, which do include art!

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve been quietly working at this one over the past day or so. I’ve also found myself at that point of giving up. Not because I’m unhappy with what I’m doing, but because I was/am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the work ahead of me and some confusion about what order I need to work the elements of the design in.

I need to work from the top down; that’s the way my brain works. It also allows me to work with clean overlaps of sections, in the way I know I’d not get if I was trying to work things the other way around.

It’s a lot easier to colour the black and white line art! And a lot quicker too.

However, that doesn’t challenge me in the way this particular kind of art is challenging me. I’m having a lot of fun with using light and shadow to create dimension, as well as working in layers.

I think there’s another reason why I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I’ll talk about that in my ‘So, how are you today Angela?’ section.

I’ve been working on this design for a week already, most days giving a few to several hours to it. As an estimate I’d say I’ve done somewhere between 25 and 30 hours work. You can see how much I have left to do as today I’ve posted the whole design for you to see.

I’ve just realised that spending so much time on one artwork is something new to me. Usually, a drawing takes between one hour and over a day, depending on the intricacy, size and whether it’s a sketch or a finished. inked in piece.

I think previously the longest I’ve spent on an artwork is about two days, and that was for an A3 sized mixed media piece. Oh, I have spent a lot of time on the abstract kind of embroidery/art I used to do.

However, nothing like this particular design.

Of course my tools are the usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK. I’ve had a couple of ‘off’ days.

Nowhere near like I used to have, even in the recent past. Just feeling off and a bit ‘meh’ and uninspired.

I had been feeling content, upbeat, happy even for a number of weeks now. How I’m feeling now was how I felt before on my best days I think.

I also think I know what the trigger has been too. I have homework from therapy to do to check in with my inner child. The experience on Friday caused me to feel really sad and tearful. I’m sure that’s what triggered this.

All the same, it’s something that can be worked on. It’s also given me a couple of insights I’d not had previously, if I can remember them for therapy tomorrow. I’m sure I will, if not tomorrow then later on.

It feels like a step backwards, but it isn’t really. It’s all part of the process.

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A bit more done on this work today and yesterday evening. As usual my tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m tired. EMDR yesterday was very, very emotional and draining. The negative thought I started with was that I’m a failure. That went to I’m never good enough for anyone.

I was getting so emotionally upset (distressed) that my therapist voiced quite a bit of concern about me throughout the process and kind of called it to a halt to do something different, but still working with it all.

At the start of the session it was noted how well I was looking, and my therapist has a feeling she’ll be losing me soon … which is signs I really am making good progress. I also know that’s part of the therapy process, preparing the client for therapy coming to an end…

So, all’s good. I’m emotional today, but there’s that contentedness there, and not a lot of anxiety either.

I’ve had weird dreams overnight, and memories cropping up I thought I’d firmly locked away. They’re all connected to the negative belief, however. So, I suspect processing is still going on.

So onwards I go towards healing and being good enough. More importantly believing I am good enough.

Three years ago…

WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Three years ago I spent time with friends from a school I’d taught at for 27 years. As I look back on my time there it mostly seems a distant memory.

My life has changed in so many ways.

Being self-employed as an artist, illustrator and author is a wonderful thing, it barely feels like work as it is something I love to do for pleasure as well as to contracts. I choose my own workload and what I wish to do for the day.

There’s no appalling attitudes or behaviour to deal with (well rarely).

Healing from CPTSD is continuing, and perhaps the source of so many, many positive changes for me.

Three years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would ever feel content with a really low level of anxiety. I rarely ever go to sleep wishing I wouldn’t wake up. That was a nearly daily occurrence in the several years marking my leaving teaching for good after two huge ‘breakdowns’ where I had nearly broken my mind and my will through struggling in work and with a sharply declining mental and emotional health.

Looking back on my life, my mental and emotional health were never good; it’s always been degrees of how bad they’ve been. The mask of smiling happiness and competence was constructed at an early age. I bought into the lie of that mask and it took my mind and emotions nearly breaking to make me face up to that fact that I had some serious problems mentally and emotionally.

I lost my ability to read. Rather, I lost my ability to make sense, process, and remember what I was reading. I could hear the words in my mind but they may just as well have been in an alien tongue. It’s only in recent months that my ability to read and take in what I’m reading has been returning. It’s still hard work, but I persevere.

For over two years I couldn’t drive past the school where I talked, even in night time. I now can. A sign of healing and progress I think.

Gradually, I’m finding the strength and courage to leave my home more often by myself, not just for appointments but just because I can. It’s slow progress, but it’s happening. I get startled into hyper-vigilance still fairly easy, and panic attacks can ensue and I go into full flight mode back to the safety of my car or home. They seem to happen less often though, but they’re still there.

There are still many things that need healing or strengthening with me. Such as finding the confidence and belief in myself to sell my art and promote it.

I still carry many negative beliefs about myself; they’re like a many headed monster that when one head is slayed another becomes visible that was hidden in the crowd of faces.

However, eventually there will be no place these faces can hide, no places for the negative beliefs to hide, and the end will be in sight.

I will get there. It just takes some time.

Thanks to my fabulous EMDR therapist, I’m improving all the time. Even when what seems like a backwards step at the time seems to result in more forwards movement given enough time.

Yes, in three years my life has changed noticeably, and for the better, I think.

About the art…

The little bit of art above is my newest work in progress (WIP). I couldn’t find my ‘Be Brave’ art yesterday and thought I’d start a new one. Today, ‘Be Brave’ was very obviously in the folder for July’s artwork. I just couldn’t see it for looking!

The swirly bits will be changed on this one. They’re not working out for me the way I hoped they would. I will work it out though.

Of course, I’m using my trifecta of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.

WIP Monogram A

WIP "Monogram A" © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
WIP “Monogram A” © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve managed to get a bit more of this design done today.

I’m finding I’m enjoying working ‘freeform’ i.e. without a sketch. I’m just adding shapes and patterns that I particularly like and trying out colour combinations that may work well together and alongside others.

Also, I’m finding that the more I work digitally, the more my head is getting around this digital lark.

As usual, my digital tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen along with a Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

I had a good night’s sleep, sleeping through to nearly 8 am from just before midnight. I felt really upbeat and ticketty boo, once I’d come around. It takes me ages to wake up properly these days and I have no idea when that crept up on me!

All the same, I felt up to some ‘adulting’. Today, that involved posting a couple of packages off and doing some shopping.

I also have to say that I’m quite content, and today I don’t seem to have much anxiety. I noticed yesterday that I kept trying to find it or to make myself anxious so that I could feel it.

When did this happen that the anxiety has not vanished but diminished noticeably.

And here’s me thinking that Monday’s EMDR didn’t have much of an effect …

And that is all I have to say about that today, other than I do have to go and do a bit more ‘adulting’ in the form of cooking a healthy meal. I really fancy a curry … one with lots and lots of veggies!

WIP – Monogram ‘A’

WIP Monogram A © Angela Porter |Artwyrd.com
WIP Monogram A © Angela Porter |Artwyrd.com

I’ve got a bit more work done on this entangled monogram. It’s coming along fairly well, though I’m still not at all sure about the colour choices. Mind you, that often happens with me and I persevere and it works out fine at the end.

As usual my trio of digital tools are : Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m still really, really tired. I got to bed early-ish (for me). I had weird dreams again. That’s the third night in a row.

I could just go back to bed, but I can’t. I’m taking my sister out for lunch and she’ll be arriving soon.

I’m still content, but there’s a shadow there too. It may be tiredness. It may be the inner critic taking advantage of my tiredness. It may be that sense of deflation after EMDR. Or it could be any combination of these or something else entirely!

What I do know is that I’ll focus on that contented feeling that is there, if a little in the background today.

It’s not that long ago that this kind of tiredness would have me really down in the dumps, sad, miserable, fed up. I’m tired, but my lack of energy is due to tiredness, some of which is emotional tiredness after EMDR. It is taking a while for me to recover this week.

That’s OK though, for recover I will. I’ll soon be full of energy (relatively speaking) once again.