Mixed Media ACEOs, and updates

ACEOs_28May2017_AngelaPorter

Mixed Media ACEOs/ATCs

I’ve spent the last four or five hours creating this set of four ACEO/ATC cards.  It’s been a while since I did any mixed media work, but I felt the need to get a bit messy.

Each card measures 2½” x 3½” (approx. 6.5 cm x 9 cm) with the substrate being some fairly thick Kraft card.

I started by using some yellow Frog Tape to hold the cards together so I could make the background at the same time.

I started by applying PaperArtsy Fresco Paints to the kraft card until I had a finish I liked.  The colours I used were Cheesecake, Rose and Sherbet.

The next step was to add some Windsor and Newton Modelling Paste through a couple of stencils (one was the dot fade stencil by Tim Holtz, the other a mini dragonfly stencil by Creative Expressions).

Once the modelling paste was dried, which I hurried along using a Tim Holtz Heat Tool from Ranger, I watered down some Alchemy Waxes from Imagination Crafts  (white gold, tulip and apple green)and used a paintbrush to colour the dragonflies.  I then used the wax and a piece of Cut and Dry Foam from Ranger to apply some of the waxes over the dot patterns.

Once I’d finished applying the wax, I wasn’t happy with the result on the dragonflies, so I used Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint in Rich Gold to re-colour them. I was much happer with the results, especially the dragonflies that I’d coloured pink/red.

The next step was to have a furtle through various coloured diecuts I have in my stash.  Every now and again, I spend a day cutting out various die cuts (mainly cogs, flowers and foliage, but sometimes other things too) and then colouring them to add to my stash.  It saves on time when I have the urge to do some mixed media work. It also makes use of my rare urges to do die cutting, which I find a very tedious process.

After a good furtle, I found some cogs that would work on two ACEOs that had just the dots on the background. I couldn’t find anything I’d want to add to the dragonflies; I was just happy with them as they were.

The die cuts were applied with Cosmic Shimmer Acrylic Glue from Creative Expressions, then some Vintage Photo Distress Oxide Ink with a wet brush was used to add shadows.

I used a Quickie Glue pen from Sakura and Gold Superfine Embossing Powder from WOW to add some gold dots and to areas where there was no embossing paste.  Following this, I edged the cards using a piece of Cut and Dry foam and black Archival Ink from Ranger.

 

I then chose some words from the Tim Holtz Chit Chat stickers and glued them down with the Cosmic Shimmer Acrylic glue, and used a damp brush and a China Black Inktense pencil from Derwent to add shadows around the stickers.

The very final step was to add some sparkly gems, and they were done!  Once all is dry, I can add my information to the back and so on, and I have some ACEO cards to use on other mixed media projects or in my art journal.

Other arty news

Over the past week I’ve been keeping myself artfully busy learning a bit more about Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and how it works for me; you could say I’m building up a relationship with it.

For now, I’ve been drawing LOTS of mandalas!  I’m keeping them back from t’internet as I hope to publish them (some are already spoken for by the Colorist app), and other people asked if I was going to make some available for purchase.  So, I’m building up a collection of them for that purpose – either with a publisher, or I’ll self-publish if necessary.  I’ve also done a couple more small mandalas that work nicely as designs to be coloured and made into greetings cards, kind of like digital stamps.

Talking of digital stamps (digi stamps), there are some ideas rattling around my noggin that I’d like to try out, so there’ll be more news on this later on no doubt.

It looks like I’m going to be doing a colouring book of spooky templates in the near future, so if anyone has any ideas for ‘spooky’ or ‘eerie’ then feel free to share!

I also have a few ideas for written books rumbling around my noggin; however, it’s really hard for me to do something with them as I doubt myself so much, think they’re silly ideas, and so on.  The ideas aren’t wholly in my noggin, I do have notes on them on the ‘puter which need tidying up…but I’m finding it difficult to do this because of all my self-doubt and self-criticism. I just need to keep saying to myself, ‘But you have recorded these ideas so they are there for you, so you have made progress).

Other things going on in my life

A week ago, I finally had the hedge at the front of the house removed, as well as the back garden completely cleared.  My garden is tiny, but it’s amazing how much space was hidden by the cotoneaster and forsythia!  I do have some clean up to do, but there’s no great rush on that.  I also need to consider what to do with the back garden.

The process of getting this done has caused me great anxiety, but there was an ah-ha moment when I realised that some voile panels in the windows in my front room would help me to feel ‘safer’ and more ‘private’ while letting in daylight.  For a long time I’ve hid behind curtains; well, I still am, but at least I can see out through the voiles even if people outside can’t see in!  Why I didn’t think of this a long while ago, I don’t know, but thank goodness I did!

I’ve done a couple of anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales, and I’m seriously wondering if I’m really making any difference as my story is so bland and ordinary … after all it’s not a dramatic tale to tell, and I really don’t think it’s anything people haven’t heard/seen on TV on the soaps and so on…so I’m really feeling quite downhearted about that at the moment.

I know it may very well pass, but at the moment … it’s difficult….my therapy?  Art of course!

 

Changes are good!

I’ve finally done it!

I’ve left teaching to set sail on a new career as a freelance illustrator/artist and whatever else happens along my way.  It’s both exciting and scary.

A lot of things came together at once to get me to start a new path.  Another bout of long-term illness being one, a good look at the amount of work available to me from existing editors/publishers being another.

I think the financial aspect of the change is the biggest scary thing I have to face.  For 28 years I’ve been a teacher with a permanent contract that has a regular monthly salary attached to it.

Now, there’s no regularity in income, which is a tad scary when I stop and think about it in connection to my past.  However, I am doing my best not to do that, to think positively about my future, a future that is so good for me in so many ways.

One excellent thing about it is being able to choose as and when I work.  After 28 years of dancing to a regimented timetable and day the freedom is bliss!  I can make use of when I’m inspired and full of energy and motivation.  The deadlines I have to work to help with the focus, but I know that I do have a lot of flexibility in how I work to meet those deadlines. I also love the ability to have energizing afternoon naps when I need to!

Working from home is another plus.  It’s been my refuge and place of safety and security for so long that it’s nice to be here. My cat really appreciates me being home too; at 14 years of age and a clingy pusscat with some health problems I’m happy to be with him.  He’s good company and makes sure I go to bed at a sensible time; simply because he wants to cwtch up to me for his big nights sleeps.

Of course, the biggest wonderful thing about changing career is that I am doing something that I’m passionate about, that brings me joy and pleasure.

Not that teaching didn’t.  It did, for a long time, but it’s time for me to change.  I’m sure I’ll use my teaching skills in other ways as time goes on, but not in a school environment.  However, for the foreseeable future I’m going to be focusing on my arty pursuits, as well as learning about a lot of things such as accounts and accountants (I have one, I just have to collect together all that she needs from me …) and get into a routine of keeping receipts and a log of journeys made in connection with my business.

My home as had a HUGE clear-out to make space for me to work in comfortably as well as to store all my arty crafty supplies and completed artwork and various forms of paperwork and so on.  Eighteen years of accumulated stuff had to go as well as stuff I no longer need, value or find pleasure in.  My niece helped, rather, did most of the work, and between us we were ruthless! There are still bits and bobs to sort out and do, but deadlines take precedence for the next couple of weeks or so!  The clear out has me behind, eek!  Luckily I have so good and understanding editors who always build wiggle room into contracts for me without telling me what that wiggle room is.

The process is mostly finished, but a deep clean is on the cards for soon, and some repairs need doing so I need to find reliable tradesmen who charge fair price and do a good job, something else I need to learn about!

It is all exciting.

Add to that there’s more colouring books and stamps coming out that I’ve done the designs for.

I’m currently working on a Tropical Rainforest themed colouring book for Skyhorse Publishing and the sixth in the series of the Color Me books along with Lacy Mucklow.  The sixth book is appropriately named ‘Color Me Grateful’, and grateful is something I really am of my new career, my cleared out home, my family and friends who have helped in so many ways, and the many experiences from my past life as a teacher that have helped to get me to this point in my life, both good, indifferent and bad.

Friday last, I met up with a small number of colleagues from the school I taught at for 27 years for high tea in a local country house hotel.  There was lots of laughter as we remembered the good times over those many years, not a lot of mention was made of the not so good times.  All the characters we’ve worked with and known, both staff and students!  It was good to do.  I couldn’t go into the school for the official farewell gathering as my emotional/mental health isn’t strong enough for that yet.  But a quieter gathering away from the school was perfect!

One other thing I do hope to do is to make more frequent blog posts once I find my ‘voice’ for my blog. I’m thinking of adding some tutorials to do with the arty stuff I do, maybe.  Feedback or ideas are always welcome, whether for blog posts or ideas for future books, artwork themes and so on.

It’s been a while…

Untitled 8 March 2014 by Angela Porter

 

It has been a while since I last made a post to my blog.

I have been struggling with vagueness and lack of focus with the medication I’m taking, and this one I’m on now doesn’t suit either. As well as the vagueness, I’m constantly on edge and fidgety, and the medication is supposed to treat that not cause it.  Have to give it a couple more weeks before it’ll be changed though.  I’m still away from work as a result.

In spite of all of this I’ve still been busy with art, though the focus for the projects I’m involved in has been lacking at times, but just ‘doodling’ with no constraints or requirements does help me settle a little and also is something I can do that doesn’t need that focus.

In the summer I signed contracts to do the artwork for two books linked to art therapy.  In the last week I was approached by another company to do one book for them in the first instance, and if it goes well then there could be a whole series of them.   My hope is that I’ll have enough contracts and work lined up that I can go kind of part time at work.  That won’t be for a while and I need to get myself better first, but the part time may be a way of helping me remain ‘better’ in the future.  Time will tell.

Tea and musings around liminality

Yesterday I sat at a table lit by the golden light of the late spring sun, enjoying the feel of a soft breeze contradicting the warmth of sunlight on my skin while the glorious sound of birdsong gently caressing my ears in the café at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre. On the table was a lovely pot of tea and a home-made fairy cake (small ‘cupcake’) topped with vanilla buttercream icing and my journal-sketchbook into which I would be recording my thoughts and observations. This was a treat after picking up a batch of mugs that I’ve had printed with a piece of my artwork and a short greeting for my lovely year 11 class who are leaving on Thursday. That will be a day filled with tears and joy, a liminal moment for the pupils as they stand on the threshold of the next phase of their life. The leavers’ assembly being an opportunity to mark this transition point, a liminal point, with celebration, with laughter and with the memories of experiences.

The view from the window was of the neglected graveyard attached to St Peter’s Church which falls away towards the valley bottom as the café abuts the eastern edge of the graveyard and I realised that I was sat at a liminal place, but not one of one phase of life to another. This liminal place marks the boundary between the living and those who have passed out of this earthly existence.

As I realised this, a pair of magpies flitted from tree to tree, their tails twitching as they settled on branches, and sunlight on their plumage revealing the iridescent purples, blues and greens that are so often missed. A solitary cabbage white butterfly careened from plant to plant, it’s pale colour standing out against the brown tangles of brambles and the bright greens of spring growth, signs of life surrounding the memorials of those long dead.

Magpies are associated with bad omens, and one such superstition is that if you see a single magpie on the way to church then death is close (myth-making at blogspot). Considering that many churches have a graveyard around them or close to them, then that is quite true! I love magpies and the other members of the corvidae family of fine feathery friends, despite their gloomy reputations.

As one thought bounced to another, I realised that I too, was at a liminal point in my life as I continue to work on unravelling the tangles of the past through journaling, meditation, self-hypnosis, gratitude and pennies-dropped-epiphanies as I’m becoming more aware of the inner critics and their continual sussuration of negative messages about me. I’m learning how to dis-empower them, little by little, and I may be approaching a turning point for myself in how I view myself and what my beliefs are.

The grave markers were splotched with lichen and algae, patterns reminding me of growths of penicillin on laboratory agar plates or stale and mouldy bread. Tumbled tangled brambles wrapping round them, seemingly pulling them down, down, down into the ground, the Earth reclaiming what had been taken from it, and with it the memories of those long passed. Despite the pull of time and neglect, the taller columns and headstones bravely rose above the tangles, holding their heads up high in the sunshine, proud of their leprous appearance, suggesting age and longevity, that they remember even if the living no longer do.

Others, however, seemed to be surrendering to the gradual depredations of time. Their sharp leaning stance, the first phase in laying down, showing an acceptance of their fate. No one alive who remembers them, who cares for them enough to tend to the memorial of a life once lived. The connections between the present generation and the past generations fading and weakening with time as symbolised by the tumble-down state of the gravestones. This was reflected in the laughter and chatter of the living enjoying beverages and vittles in the bright, warm, life-giving sunshine. The proximity to the necropolis and it’s visible symbols of death, funerary rites, and grief having no effect upon the high spirits of the living.

Perhaps that is because a wall, a visible boundary separates the activities of the living from the area of the dead. If we were to dine and party on their graves, perhaps we may feel differently, irreverent perhaps; an attitude maybe not unique to our own culture or time. I saw this video about dining with the dead in Georgia on the BBC news website earlier this week, and an example of how different cultures approach death and the places of the dead and how rigid and solid the boundary between us, the living, and our deceased friends and family are.

Death is, essentially, a great leveller; the great and the good lie alongside the poor and meek. Only the memorials tell us who is who,and only a skilled osteologist would be able to tell which was which were their skeletons disinterred and separated from any clothing, jewellery or other funerary offerings that they were interred with. To most of humanity they would be the remains of people, equal in death as they were not in life. Given enough time, all return to the Earth, return to what we were created from, very few leaving traces that will last for centuries, millennia or the aeons of time.

Traces remain in the bones that remain of their lives; hardship, luxury, adversity, ease all leave their marks in the bones. As the flesh decays, as memories fade, so do the individual stories of each person’s life, the stories that make each of us unique. The funeral monuments may tell us about them, there may be hints of their life in written records, but so much about them, such as whether they were kind or cruel, loving or neglectful, are lost.

Gloomy thoughts? Not at all! I like what the we can learn of our ancestors from their funerary rites, from records, from stories still held in the memories of the living, maybe experienced first hand or tales handed down through the generations. It matters not whether they are iron-topped tombs of the magnates of Blaenavon or the ring-barrows of a person from the Bronze Age, or the fossilised remains of our distant relatives. For many, we can only make educated guesses about their life and times, sometimes more educated than others when written records exist.

Of course, the choice of a place for cemeteries is a story in itself. In ancient times where a lot of effort was expended to bury a few in monuments such as cairns, ring barrows, cists, long barrows, then they weren’t just plonked in the nearest available place. The choice of place had meaning, just as the choice of place has meaning to us whether it’s where we go on holiday, where we choose to live and experience life. We choose places that give us meaningful experiences, be they linked to happy or sad times. The same is true when we choose places for funerary rites, whether we choose them ourselves before we die or whether we choose them for our loved ones who have passed away. My father’s cremains were buried beneath a sapling plum tree in a country lane where he used to collect all kinds of fruits and plants to make wine from. A friend’s father’s ashes were sprinkled from a bridge to return to the sea which he loved and sailed while serving in the Navy. Another friend’s father’s ashes are to be buried with his brother, if permission can be gained from her aunt.

If we take time and care to choose an appropriate resting place for the physical remains of our loved ones, I’m sure our ancestors did so too, even though it may not have seemed so to us as in many cases we have no ideas of their beliefs and the practices that stemmed from them. Nor do we know for sure why certain people were accorded such seemingly prestigious and important funerals, whether they were the great and the good or whether their deaths had a different meaning and the funeral a different purpose than commemoration and a reminder of our connections to the people of the past, to our ancestors, to those who have shaped the society we life in at any particular point in history.

I couldn’t help but wonder what stories the land could tell us if we could access it’s memory. I’d love to know what events the stones beneath my feet have witnessed in their long aeons of existence. What lovers’ trysts and promises. What betrayals, joys, toils, griefs. Whose feet have passed over them and what is the story of the lives. I don’t just want to know about the great and the good, people whose lives are most probably fairly well documented. I want to know about the ‘ordinary’ people as well. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone’s life experience is unique to them due to their unique perceptions, beliefs, actions, reactions and personality, and what thoughts and beliefs they had about themselves and others.

Perhaps the land, the position of the cemeteries, their relationship to the use of the land in the past and the present, the stories told about the land, it’s people all serve to keep alive the memory of the ancestors, aiding in remembering their stories and the stories previous generations and in so doing keeping the ancestors alive, in memory, and our connection to them stronger. The scape surrounding the cemetery becomes woven into the stories of the recent ancestors and the myths of the more ancient ancestors, acting as aide-memoires to the tales. Each feature in the land around the cemetery is not devoid of emotion, of meaning, and for each feature these would change as the time of day, the season of the year and the weather changes. We interact with these scapes through the feelings and meanings and the way that we make use of them and that induces a feeling of belonging to them. Ideas such as these are propounded by archaeologists such as George Nash.

I realised then, how much I’d enjoyed writing my thoughts, how going to a different place other than home allowed me the inspiration I needed. It’s also brought up links between things that are occurring in my life at present, and that will help to unravel any tangles knotted by the inner critics in the past.

Soggy Sunday Afternoon…

Self-love, journal writing and letter writing to heal.

It’s been a while since I last blogged something.

Life has been both interesting and uninteresting.  I’ve had a lot of thinking to do, a lot of ‘down time’ has been needed to recover from the emotional stresses and strains of my working life.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, the latest books are about using a journal as a method of self-love and healing oneself from the events of the past.  Something I need to do.

I have kept a journal for many years now, and I do vent and rant in it and find my way to some kind of clarity.  I have become a little disheartened at times as I seem to end up ranting about the same things over and over.  The books I have read ( Writing to Heal by Jacqui Malpass and Journalution: Journal writing to heal your life and manifest your dreams by Sandy Grason) have shown me that this isn’t a problem, that it may take many times through the same thing to come to clarity, forgiveness (of self and others) and to let go and move on.  In other words, I need to be kinder to myself and not be such an overachieving perfectionist!  And I mean that kindly

My plans for my journal today are to make a list of people who I need to write letters to for the hurts done to me in the past (even if such hurt and pain was not their intent) and to people I’ve not had ‘completion’ with. These letters that will never be sent but will allow me to let out of myself the anger, fear, hate, upset, disappointment and so on, and work my way towards forgiving them and myself.

I’ve swallowed down hurt and upset and anger and fear and so many more emotions with copious quantities of food.  The emotional reactions have been locked away, though they burst out at times, quite explosively at times, and it scares me that this ‘ice maiden’ has such energetic emotions.  I’ve spent a lifetime of nearly fifty years suppressing my feelings, not sharing how I feel with others for fear of rejection, embarrassment  conflict, hatred.  I’m not good at putting into words what I think and feel if I’m upset in anyway.  I am, however, much better at writing things down, as shown in my journaling of the past decade or so.

I won’t keep the letters either.  I’m going to burn each one as it’s finished.  If I need to return to the same person or group of people over and over again to clear things up for me, then I will do so.  I will keep doing this until I can write a letter that forgives them, and one that forgives me too.

Some of the letters may be apologies for the way I behaved.  I do have a tendency to cut people off, dead, if they upset me or betray me in any way.  To keep myself safe, I walk away, ignore them when they are around.  If I’m expected to work with them I can be cold and short with my words, protecting myself with such a thick wall of icy feelings and icy words.

This is kind of a scary thing to do.  It’s not the first time I’ve tried this, but this time has the feeling of ‘the time is now’ about it.  Pennies have dropped about the purpose of the letter writing, of letting out all the things I’ve kept bottled up for years inside me in a controlled manner, the writing being the control.

Art

Art has been pretty much on hold as I struggle with the idea that I deserve to love myself, finding out what self-love and self-esteem are all about, and just letting ideas filter through the conscious to the unconscious mind.  Inspiration for art has been, maybe not lacking, but put on the back burner for a while.  However, there are some creations, some that are works in progress, others that are finished pieces.Rising above the pale©AngelaPorter2013

Tangled Border © Angela Porter 2013

Across the divide WIP © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#1 © Angela Porter 2013

Abstract May#2 © Angela Porter 2013

Mad March begins…

March Theta 1

March Theta 1 © Angela Porter 2013

10cm x 15cm (approx. 4″ x 6″).  Uni-Pin pens and graphite pencil on acid-free cartridge paper.

The product of a couple of evenings work here.

Imagination

Image

10cm x 10cm (approx. 4″ x 4″).  UniPin pens, Inktense pencils with wash and UniBall Sparkle gel pen in gold.

Just an experiment with a quote.  I’m not entirely sure that it works.

Crazy Time

Work has been manic and very stressful at times.  You’d think that after a full school inspection some of the pressure would ease off.  Not a chance.  Or maybe it has a little, but the staff, including myself, are exhausted mentally and emotionally and are struggling on.

I was away for the best part of a week with some kind of stomach ‘flu or bug.  Usually, I’d bounce back in a couple of days, but this one had me laid low.  On my return I was faced with staff friends stressed out about one thing or another, complaining about the behaviour and attitude of pupils and telling me about the incidents I’d missed while I’d been away.  Incidents that shocked me.  I had issues to deal with nearly every lesson; one of my tutor group arrived in my room in floods of tears stressed about school work and other things, another sensitive boy lost it in another lesson as the boys wouldn’t leave him alone when he was feeling a bit overwhelmed, another pupil had left a class because the boys were picking on her because her gran had died the night before.  All in two hours or so of arriving there.

The NHS

I’ve been getting on my high horse about the UK’s government’s plans to privatise the NHS through the back door.

I’m appalled at our present society.  The NHS, and the welfare state, are paid for by the British tax and National Insurance payers.  They are not owned by the government; the government is merely the administrator.  We, the tax payers own the NHS, as well as everything our taxes have paid for.  They have absolutely no right to sell them off without balloting the people.

It is not our fault the government and country is in dire financial straits.  It is wrong that our taxes are used to bail out the banks and other organisations.  It is wrong that the common people are hit by rising taxes, while the rich are given tax breaks when those who are most in need have to sell their homes, possessions in order to receive the care they need; this will only get worse if we end up having to pay for health care.  I’m sure our nation’s dental health has suffered as a result of the changes made in charges for dental care over the years.

We’re supposed to be a civilised, caring society where all have access to the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay.  Health care isn’t a business, it’s a basic human right, same as education, which has become a factory production line.

I signed a petition about the changes to the NHS and contacted my local MP.

If you’re in the UK and are reading this, you too can sign the petition at the 38degrees website.   In fact, please, please, please sign it.

It’s time the people realise that the government is answerable to us, the voters, that we expect them to manage things to take care of the society that contributes to the running of the country not the people who foul up financially, such as the banks, or to look after those who don’t need looking after as they are obscenely rich.

It seems that the government is stealing from the poorer echelons of society (and that includes the middle classes and professional people) in order to make sure the rich become richer.

Let It Grow

Let It Grow © Angela Porter

8″x 6″.  Rotring Rapidograph pen and black ink on heavy cartridge paper.

I’m not quite sure yet what I’m going to do with this outline – colour or not to colour, texture or not to texture.

Last night I had friends visiting and a look for the drawing that I did when visiting Tewkesbury Abbey a couple of years ago led they and I to looking through some of my old sketchbooks.  Suddenly, seeing all that had inspired me in the past, showed where my ‘visual vocabulary’ for my abstract art ‘doodles’ has come from.  Prehistoric art, Romanesque and Gothic architecture and sculpture, La Tene art, ammonites and other fossils, microscopic formanifera, microscopic images of cells, stained glass windows, insects, shells, flowers, ‘Celtic’ manuscripts and Anglo-Saxon art to name but a few.  I’d also picked up a copy of the BBC’s History magazine whilst out shopping as it had images of Anglo-Saxon artefacts which reminded me of patterns I use in my art.  Yesterday seems to have been a day of making links between all the work I’ve done in the past and how it flows out of me now, and a reminder of the things that inspire me as well as giving me a sense of validation with the way that I create art.

I think subtle colours for this one, with textures added in places, and just the hints of metallic highlights perhaps – after all, my inner raven demands the sparkle!