World Kindness Day 2018

Angela Porter 13 November 2018 International Kindness Day

I started drawing this yesterday when I was feeling emotional. I was even more so during and after EMDR therapy and woke this morning with an emotional ‘hangover’. Some painkillers for this headache and a couple of hours later and I finished this off with a quote about kindness from the Dalai Lama when I found out today is World Kindness Day.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

I think it needs to be World Kindness Day every single day.  I can’t find the words to express myself why I think this, I just know if everyone on this planet was kinder and had more empathy not just for friends and family, but for others, no matter of their social status or religious, ethnic, cultural background or nationality it could help to bring a better understanding which could lead to a kinder world for us all.

And of course there’s the animals and plants that we share this planet with, along with the ecosystems they co-inhabit with us. There’s too much animal cruelty, damage to the environment going on, and we are dependent on a healthy global ecosystem and need to be a lot kinder to the world around us.

There’s feelings and thoughts drifting around my head here that just can’t find their way out of the maze of the lingering pain and fuzziness from the headache that characterises my emotional ‘hangover’. Still, some words did appear.

I used Pigma micron pens, some circle stencils to draw the design on dot grid paper. That meant I needed to scan it into my Microsoft Surface Studio so I could use GiMP to remove the dot grid and create a transparent background.

My next step was to add the hand lettered quote. I used my Microsoft Surface Pen in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to do this.

The final step was to add the watermarks and a gentle pink gradient background colour.

I can see how I could add some shading to intensify the 3D illusion of the design elements, as well as adding some more pen details. However, it will do as it is…for now.

Autumn mandala 6 November 2018

Angela Porter Mandala 4 Nov 2018

This has taken me a couple of days to complete, mainly because of appointments but also a big need for some self-care.

Autumn Mandala

I don’t get to create many mandalas at times. So, On Sunday, after creating the cute angel kitty dangle design, I put my creative energy into drawing and starting to colour a mandala.

I worked directly on my Surface Studio screen with the Surface pen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and it’s fab symmetry tool to outline the the design in black ink.

Next, I used a marker brush and a blender brush to colour the design.

It’s the colouring that takes a lot of time.

I wanted to keep the colour scheme fairly simple, so I chose some vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Finally, I added a beautiful blue background and texture to the finished artwork.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with it. The bright colours have been needed today as it’s a rather grey and damp day here in the Valleys of South Wales. Someone has a bonfire burning on the hillside opposite my home and the smoke is floating down the valley. There’s a temperature inversion that’s trapping the smoke quite low.

Add to that all the smoke and particulates from the plethora of fireworks that have been set off in the past few days and the air is rather fuggy, hazy.

However, the golden hues of the autumn trees glow all the more brightly against the grey skies, especially with a dusting of rain on them.

What I absolutely love to see are the dark trunks and branches becoming more visible as the leaves fall from the trees. The architectural contrast fascinates me; it’s being able to clearly see the skeleton that gives the tree form.

I didn’t have autumn in my mind when I was drawing or coloring this mandala, even though autumn is my favourite season. However, the jewel tones and the gradual predominance of the autumnal golds, oranges and reds on the outside of the mandala give it that kind of autumnal feel. The greens gradually change from blue-greens to more yellow-greens from the centre out, adding to that sense of a seasonal progression.

The coloured mandala also has a feeling of stained glass. I love stained glass windows and this one would make a very interesting ‘rose’ window! That I adhere to using black lines to delineate my design only reinforces the suggestion of stained glass.

What I haven’t done is add detailed patterns to the mandala. I don’t think this one needs it, though the leaves may need a bit of shadow and highlight to make them feel less ‘flat’.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with this one. I think I’ve manged to get enough contrast from dark to light in each section to give that sense of dimension – something else I like to incorporate into my artwork.

The need for self-care

I’ve been rather emotional over the past few days. The post about remembrance and my Dad tapped into some grief, a door that had never opened before I had to say goodbye to my beautiful white cat Cuffs back in May.

I took time out of things to watch some Harry Potter films. I do get emotional when I watch them (or read the books) even though I know what’s going to happen. However, this weekend I was more emotional than I’ve been before.

Yesterday, was EMDR therapy day, and various memories had cropped up and one we worked with yesterday. That left me absolutely pole-axed, emotionally that is.

Part of my mental health – the CPTSD – is that I avoid emotions and when I get emotional I have shoved it aside and locked the emotions in a box, symbolically. I also shove the memories away, something referred to as dissociation.

I have very few memories of my childhood, adolescence or even adulthood. That’s because many of them are painful in some way or another and they have been locked away.

Locking them away means I have never worked through, processed, them and the trauma or emotions that go with them. The trauma is still there and is still hurting my emotional and mental health.

EMDR is helping to unlock memories, sometimes very painful memories I don’t want to believe happened or believe certain  things about people. I always want to see the best and believe the best in people, except when it comes to myself; then, it’s always the worst possible.

I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance and some very uncomfortable times as I try to come to terms with various realisations.

Add into the mix a busy week or so with appointments and events and I’m emotionally tired. Oh, not to mention the constant jumpiness with all the fireworks going off.

So, self-care is important. I watch films. Knit. Drink lots of tea. Snuggle up under a cosy throw. Nap if I need to. Eat healthily, when I can. Create art that I want to create rather than any that I feel I have to to meet a contract or some deadline or other, either real or self-imposed. Have some alone time – being an introvert beneath the face I present to the world I need alone time to recharge.

I know I’m on a jolly tomorrow with my pal Liz, so it’s even more important I recharge before that day out.

So, that’s why I’ve needed some self-care time.

 

Inktober 2018 Day 20 ‘Breakable’ and Day 21 ‘Drain’

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 20 Breakable and Day 21 Drain

Yesterday’s prompt ‘breakable’ got turned into ‘broken’ as that’s how I felt yesterday and still feel today in terms of creativity and inspiration.

Drain definitely became drained as that is how my brain feels at this time. I’ll be fine soon enough.

I don’t know what’s caused this, other than the icky-sickyness I’ve had for a day or two. Not as bad as Thursday night, but it seems to have left me shattered and more than a little bit ‘meh’. I seem to have slept well, but I still feel incredibly tired at the moment. Me being tired for no particular reason usually means something has overwhelmed or stressed me in someway that causes my mood to plummet which results in me feeling tired and usually tearful.

So, today I wanted to catch up on yesterday’s Inktober prompt and do a quick one for today.

And they were quick. Hand lettering practice. Making a list of things I can do for self-care when I feel this way. For me to recognise that I need some time out is a step forward in terms of me looking after myself and my mental and emotional health. Making a list  of things I can do for self-care is also a first I think.

For ‘drained’ it almost counts as a dangle design. I did draw some cute monsters and my white cat there with expressions that show I feel (even though I have a smile on my face and a bright and sunny disposition when engaging with people). I’m not sure the drunk looking skull applies to me – I just think he snuck in there just to lighten the mood a tad.

Sheesh, I really do need a lot of practice with hand lettering! However, these are just quick ‘sketches’. No colour. No fancy-schmancy designs or line patterns. Just the basics, including smudges, mistakes, pencil guide-lines that haven’t been fully erased…

Now, if I were to adapt/edit these to include in my Bullet Journal I would add colour, a few more dangles to the drained design…and perhaps a border full of intricate designs based on flowers and hearts.

It’s a big if though…maybe I will, when I feel up to it.

Today, though, I’m working through my directory of reference designs and patterns seeking out inspiration for the work on my latest Entangled book for Creative Haven. I’m also editing the collection and redrawing them so they can be housed in a new folder as the A5 filofax I was using is now full and I really want to put them on A4 sheets in a ring binder in poly pockets.

Doing familiar work like this is soothing to me. It also has the benefit of allowing me to practice my drawing skills. It lets me workout which patterns I really am likely to use and which can be left to one side in the A5 filofax. As I go through them, one by one, some jump out as being good ones to use in a template for the Entangled book, others for a different project. It also gives me a chance to try out different pens, or use pens I’d not use for any art/illustration/drawing project but I like to write with or use for things like this.

That nasty inner critic tells me I’m wasting my time. My kinder, gentler voice to do with self-care tells me I’m not as it’s helping stir up the cauldron of creativity inside me. As I re-visit and re-draw patterns/design elements they float to the surface and the potential for variety in my work is re-charged as a result.

The kind inner voice, self-talk, tells me if it soothes me when I need soothing, then that’s good.

The nasty inner critic says I’m procrastinating. Maybe that’s true, to a degree. But I’d rather take some time out to do something different, something that will stir up my creativity and recharge inspiration rather than plod on with unsatisfactory work for the book.

The kind inner version of self-talk is winning out, and that is a good thing for me! And a positive change.

What do you do when you need some time out to take care of your emotional and mental well being?

Monday musings

Angela Porter 28 August 2018

It’s been a little while since I’ve done an illustrated quote. Today, I was drawn to one by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and even though it was written over 200 years ago, it still has relevance in our time.

I printed the words out and then used Ohto Graphic Liner pens to draw the illustration around it. After scanning the image in, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to alter the colour and add my watermark.

A nice way to spend a damp, sometimes drizzly Monday morning here in the UK. The schools return, the teachers at least for their day of training/preparation for the return of their students in the coming day(s), the interminable meetings where so much information is passed on it’s hard to retain it, let along digest it!

I do not miss this one bit. I loved teaching – the actual teaching, helping pupils to grow and develop, not only as little scientists but also as human beings and in confidence and self-belief.

I do not miss the huge number of meetings, the constant change, the challenges of behaviour/attitudes that changes in society have wreaked, the homogenization of teaching strategies…and so much more.

I’m feeling grateful this day that I get to do what I love, to make a new career from it, to continue to help people through my colouring books, and in other ways too.

I was once ignorant of the fact that I could do something else with my life, I thought I’d be a teacher until I reached retirement age, and that I would struggle more and more with my mental health and emotional health over time. I was also ignorant of the fact I had depression, anxiety and more – willfully ignoring the signs, denying that it was a problem, that I was just tired, or it was the result of a verbal attack or poor behaviour or even a physical threat at the end of my time teaching.

I was ignorant as I chose to ignore the facts of what was happening to my mind and emotions.

It must have been a terrible thing for those who truly knew me (not many, one maybe, thanks to the carefully crafted mask of happiness and jollity that I wore all my life when with people, very different behind closed doors with no one around to observe) to see how I was plummeting downward, to have me dismiss their observations with the excuse ‘I’m just tired’ or ‘I’ve had a tough day’ or ‘So and so did such and such yet again today and it got to me. I’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep’.

Eventually I had no choice but to get help, to have months and months away from teaching so that I could recover just enough to return and last another eight months.

I know now my ignorance of my own well being wasn’t out of innocence about mental health issues; instead it was borne out of the messages I had as I grew up from the mother, from society, that to have depression, to be anxious, was a shameful, weak thing and there was something wrong with you if this was you.

I stigmatized myself, and prevented myself from getting the help I needed for a long time.

I was ignorant as I willfully ignored the facts, the evidence that was right in front of me, staring back at me whenever I looked in the mirror. It wasn’t innocence. I knew about mental illness, mental ill-health, depression, anxiety, but I refused to consider that was what was wrong with me.

Ignorance, ignoring the facts, the knowledge or applying it as it didn’t suit what I wanted to believe.

To give myself a bit of a softer time, I’d never known anything but depression and anxiety, ever that I can recall. So, to me, the worsening state of my mental/emotional health was just me being worn out by the day, the week, the term (semester) or academic year.

It took a very skillful and understanding GP to help me see that I needed help, and I took it, and still am with my weekly therapy sessions.

That’s a personal example of why I don’t see innocence and ignorance as the same thing with reference to the quote.

Hello September!

Angela Porter September Template 2018 small

September 2018’s coloring template

A new month begins and a coloring template for September 2018(above) for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group is now available.

If you’d like to access to September 2018’s uncoloured template, which is exclusive to members of the group, just wander over to the group, join and download. Please note, that terms and conditions do apply.

I drew this in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Studio using my Microsoft Surface Pen.

Autumn is a-coming!

With the calendar turning to September, my heart lifts with the expectation of the glory of nature as autumn asserts it’s influence.

It’s my favourite season of the year. I love the bright, vivid colours that replace the darker, duller greens of summer. Nature’s picks out it’s most glorious paintbox and sets the world alight in fiery autumnal hues.

I also luxuriate in the cooler evenings and mornings and look forward to waking up to see dew, or even frost, on Binky, my Smartcar.

The fresh, clean, clear air that the turning season brings blows away the dustiness of the hot, dry summer.

There’s also the return of the pleasure and comfort of snuggling up under a duvet as night time is cooler. Not to mention the relief of sleeping well throughout the night.

There are other things I’m looking forward to this year too.

It’s hard to remember now the fear and trepidation that the return to school as a teacher that would come with the start of this month as the new school year starts.

Now, I look forward to the start of the new school year as the world is calmer, quieter during the school day and I can begin to venture forth from my home without my CPTSD panic kicking in when I hear the sound of teenagers shouting and arguing and swearing and being belligerent, just them being themselves really.

It’s not their fault, I know, but their sounds are triggers for my fear, anxiety, panic and cause me to want to hide in a quiet dark corner of my safe home. So much so, that I find it so difficult to venture out of my front door during daytime during the school holidays.

Through therapy, I will overcome this, but the reaction is so ingrained in me and goes right back to my earliest years; teaching, dealing with the dramas of teens on a daily basis as well as being the focus for some to vent their anger, just reinforced these automatic responses. This means not just unraveling the web of trauma that resulted in the panic response, it means learning a healthy response to such triggers, one that I’ve never, ever had in the first place.

Now, with the start of the school year, and a daytime world that is quieter, I’ll be able to find my courage to venture forth during the day once again. Maybe not often, but from time to time.

With it being my favourite season, with the theme of my next book being forests, to sketch and find inspiration in woods and forests during autumn is something I want to do this year.

It’s all part of my road to recovery from CPTSD. Autumn always feels like a time of new starts, more so than New Year. As nature begins to shed what is unnecessary so survival through winter is possible, so I work on shedding the trauma that has kept me in a metaphorical winter in terms of my mental and emotional health for a very, very long time.

 

 

BuJo for June 2018 and a reflection on May 2018

Angela Porter Bujo June 2018 CoverAngela Porter Bujo June 2018 MonthlyOverviewAngela Porter Bujo June 2018 Mood Habit TrackerIt’s that time again – starting to fill in my bullet journal (BuJo) pages for the upcoming month of June.

I’ve set up part of my bullet journal for June. I decided to go with daises again.  They’re such happy little flowers, bright spots in the green grass. They remind me of innocence and hope. Pale pink, green and flashes of gold will be the colours I use, where I use them, for this month.

May has been a very stressful, upsetting and emotional month, and my bullet journaling, along with lots of other things, went out of the window.

My little smartcar, Smartoo Deetoo, broke down. I had the stress/anxiety/panic of a very long time for the car and I to be recovered and taken home, and then organising recovery of the car to the Mercedes dealership in Cardiff for repairs. Eventually it was diagnosed with a terminally broken gearbox.

Instead of paying to have it replaced, I decided to buy a brand new Smartcar fortwo, which then had the added stress/worry/anxiety/panic of applying for finance.

Very quickly though, Binky was with me – my third Smartcar. Binky is fantastic and I can’t be happier with it.

Just after I signed all the paper work for Binky, I went to check on my cat who had been poorly for a day or two and who had rallied round that morning. I found he’d gone seriously downhill, so to the emergency vets we went.

After a night at the vets, test results and observations of my beautiful boy Cuffs, the diagnosis was brain cancer, so I had to make the decision to let him go, and went to say goodbye to him.

Cuffs was amazing. I had 16 years companionship with him.  He was with me for some of the best and the worst times of my recent life. He always greeted me when I came home and he often tried to stop me leaving for work, especially when teaching had become so very, very hard for me when my mental health was plummeting downwards.

There’s just too much to say about him here. To say I’ve been upset would be a gross understatement. I’ve grieved for him, and it’s knocked me not just for six but for 6 million I think.

I’m beginning to feel better, I still have moments when I miss the purrfurball, when a lumpy bit of the duvet will make my heart leap that he’s under it, only to remember he’s not and to feel that disappointment and sadness.

I am feeling better and getting back into my creative stride.

I’m working on the illustrations for Entangled Butterflies.

I will be working on the June colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group later today.

 

mhaw18

Angela Porter mhaw18 17 May 2018

Today I’m feeling tickettyboo, a little tired, but definitely only a teeny tiny bit emotionally drained.  I think that some lovely icecream on a toasted waffle after my talk yesterday, in the company of a lovely friend, seriously helped, as did time with other friends in the evening and a serious dose of meditation.

Of course, my morning drawing helps me, and today it’s a mandala.

The perfect kind of relaxation to do before I head out later to do my fourth anti-stigma talk of the week, this time at Companies House.

This morning it’s time for some self-care, and for learning how to create amigurumi critters.  Crocheting is always a challenge for me, but I had an overwhelming desire to create a cuddly cuttlefish, all rainbow colours.  However, I think I bit off more than I could chew by starting on something so big without practicing and figuring out how amigurumi works and how to avoid increasing the number of stitches when they’re supposed to remain the same number, and how to know when the next ‘row’ starts when you’re essentially working in a spiral, and and and …

So, I finished the body and ears of a simple bear yesterday and started on a little mouse. I’ve still not figured out fully how it works, but I may be getting there, and smaller projects are definitely the way to go to learn and understand the techniques needed.