Amazing Mandala – nearly done

Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

Yup, that’s right. I’ve nearly finished this mandala. I’m on the last ‘ring’ of the design.

It’s rather busy, as designs go, but that’s also typical for me.

I’ve learned a lot about creating digital art that reflects my style. I’ve also learned a lot about my own creative expression too.

This is also a piece of art that has taken me the longest to create in terms of hours or work put in to it. I didn’t keep track, but I estimate it’s taken me well over 20 hours to do, maybe a lot more.

I’ve yet to settle on a background colour/texture. I found the green I had used wasn’t working given the minty greens of the leaves in the penultimate ring. So, for now, I’ve settled on a grey. When I finish the outer ring I’ll play around with different colours/textures until I’m happy.

Of course I’m thinking ahead to my next project of this kind and my mind is going to my usual entangled art. This is going to be an interesting experiment for sure! However, if I can create a mandala that looks like this, I can work with a sample of my entangled drawings and work out how I can do similar for them.

As usual, my digital tools have been Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

I’m feeling fairly content today. A little tired, but content.

I had EMDR yesterday and though I was left feeling rather tired in the evening, I left the session feeling quite content.

That word crops up a lot – content – but that’s how I feel. And content is a good feeling to me.

More work was done with the inner child as well as EMDR on the feelings/thoughts that came up. This is surprising to me, but it also seems to be helping with stored trauma.

I also started reading a book recommended to me by my therapist. It’s called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. I’ve only read 30 or so pages, but out of the several sections I’ve highlighted this stands out:

We have also begun to understand how overwhelming experiences affect our innermost sensations and our relationship to our physical reality – the core of who we are. We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. … For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.

Bessel Van Der Kolk “The Body Keeps the Score” 2014, Penguin, page 21

The body needs to learn that the danger has passed.

Part of cPTSD is living in a near constant state of anxiety. It is easy for something to happen that provokes the flight/flight/freeze response. Levels of stress hormones constantly flood the body. These hormones can wreak havoc with the functioning of the body and can cause long term health problems. I don’t know too much about that…yet. But I will.

This put in black and white what the purpose of EMDR is about – releasing trauma that is stored in the mind, brain and body.

I know that EMDR is working for me. I am so much better nowadays than I have been. Not just in comparison to the darkest days of my two big ‘breakdowns’, but to the majority of my days.

I have a lot of work to do yet, however. The anxiety that having to do some ‘adulting’ this morning showed me that. The bit of adulting I’ve done was to get a new quote for motor insurance. The quote from the brokers I’ve used for years had gone ridiculously high. So after one call I had a quote for one-third of the quote from my old brokers. After sorting the new insurance out, I then had to phone the brokers to cancel the renewal.

To do this I had to quite literally sneak up on myself, catch myself unawares and just do it. If I’d thought too much about it I would’ve got so anxious I wouldn’t have been able to make the phone call. Not only that, I would most likely develop a horrid headache and upset stomach too that would preclude me from doing anything else today.

Just one example of how anxiety causes a problem for me in everyday life.

I can now not worry about adulting again today!

Instead, I can ‘art’, read, crochet or do anything else I might care to do.

Amazing Mandala WIP

Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

This mandala is coming along slowly, but surely.

I’m definitely learning new ways to work digitally, but also new ways to express my creativity as well.

I’ve said it before and I’m amazed at what I’m creating. I never, ever thought that I’d be able to create anything like this, but I have and am doing so.

As usual, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to express my creativity.

The colours are bright and bold, which seems to be my signature style. They’re quite psychedelic too – all due to my love of playing with complementary colours.

I am child of the 60s in the respect I was born then and have some early memories of the music and art of that period thanks to my older half-sister who is 10 years my senior.

Perhaps I’m expressing my inner hippy. Or maybe I’m just expressing me, Angela.

I’ve said it before that I like to create things that are pretty, beautiful even. I don’t always get it right, but the more I do, the more I learn. I find my confidence little by little.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m tired but content. My stomach still isn’t right and it’s pulling my energy levels and my ability to concentrate on my art down.

I’ve had my moments of tears in the past day or so when I have been so tired once again. I’m not very resilient to the inner critic when I’m over tired or run down that’s for sure.

When I’m tired the inner critic seems to want to convince me I’m lonely, unloveable and unloved, worthless, useless.

I know when I feel this way to do anything artsy can be a self-defeating task as I’m never satisfied with what what I do and this feeds the inner critic who becomes nastier and nastier.

So, I don’t feed the inner critic and do other things until I find the energy I need to be stronger than the inner critic.

Today I did a little more on this mandala and I’m now doubting it greatly, even though I’m really pleased with it. I can feel the pressure bearing down on me to believe that this is horrible, it’s not as good as I’d like to think it is, that it’s ugly, it doesn’t work, that the black was a huge mistake and I’ll never get it right.

So, instead of sitting and worrying about it I shall go and do something else that the critic could have plenty to say about but it doesn’t bother me all that much. So, I’m working on crocheting a blanket for a friend. I’m not at all sure it’s going to work out; I’m doing a ‘scrap’ blanket to use up yarn from my stash so it’s not going to be planned out and that causes me some concern. However, I shall keep going.

Mandala WIP – today’s update

Mandala WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I’ve made some more progress on this mandala. It took me a good couple of hours to settle on the colour way for the black portion of the mandala. Whatever colour I tried it just seemed to be ‘too much’ against the bright motifs already in place. Black seems a little stark at the moment, maybe.

As I’m creating this digitally, I can always alter the black section. However, I think that as I ‘sit’ with the design the black will make some kind of sense.

As I put the simple shapes of the ‘shells’ or ‘flowers’ beyond the black section, I worried that they wouldn’t work. it was only by adding the details that I have become pleased with these motifs. They’re very textural in nature. I’ve even worked out how to have the ‘pearls’ or ‘pollen grains’ floating above the sections.

What I’m really pleased with, though, is the addition of some simple but effective details to the lighter parts of these motifs, including a couple of spirals that are in the same colour scheme. Sutble, but I think they’re lovely details.

It’s taken me a good five to six hours to complete these two sections You can also see I still have quite a bit left to do. I’m going to take a break from it for a while now. I didn’t realise how long I’ve been hunched over the Surface Studio working on this. Oh, I’ve been using my Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with the Surface Studio and it is a pleasure to do so.

My trio of tools are allowing me to create my own bit of personal artistic magic. Well, I think that’s what I’m doing. Something rather pretty, beautiful even, and colourful too.

Gosh, what am I saying? Me, recognising that something I’ve created is pretty even beautiful? Blimey! That doesn’t happen often I can tell you. But I really am rather proud of this mandala and the style in which I am working at the moment.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m ok today. Quite content really. I also have the sense of satisfaction that I’m doing a good job with this mandala.

Yes, a sense of satisfaction and the recognition I’m doing a good job. These are emotions that I’m only just becoming aware of in myself.

Another small sign of progress being made on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.

Mandala WIP – update

Mandala WIP - update © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP – update © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I have to say I am really, really pleased with how this mandala is working out. It’s not at all what I expected in the first instance, but I am so chuffed with myself.

I also think I am really getting the hang of this digital art malarkey too. I can also say that there is no way I would have been able to create this using traditional media – I’ve tried similar things in the past and it all ends up such a mess with me.

Digital art is the media I think I may have been waiting for. It’s taken me three years to get to this artistic level with digital art. Even in this mandala you can see how I have learned and developed ideas as I’ve worked from the centre out.

I absolutely love my Microsoft products – Surface Pen, Surface Book and Surface Studio. I cut my digital art teeth on the Surface Book (not literally!) and found I enjoyed digital art and when I felt I could I got a Surface Studio as the smaller size of the Surface Book screen was frustrating me a little.

The change to the Surface Studio is what has enabled me to really take to digital art. The size of the screen, the ease at which I can change the angles at which I work with the Surface Studio, the speed of the processors, the sensitivity of the pen on the screen…

I just love it! So much so I’m on the point of destashing nearly all my traditional art media and gifting them to a worthy cause.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to draw with pen on paper, that won’t ever change so my pen collection won’t be going anywhere. But the way I can use colour and texture digitally is an absolute dream. It’s also mess-free!

I hope you noticed that I said I’m really pleased with this mandala. It’s not often I’m able to say that about my art. But today I can and I am. I am actually smiling when I look at this mandala.

My only problem now is that I’ve changed the design of the mandala in the latest ‘ring’. Oh well, I can adjust accordingly or just create a new design around this one. I’ll see how I go with that.

I also quite like the ‘ghostly’ outline mandala design as a background, though silly me managed to leave the outline above the coloured design. One of the wonderful things about working in layers is that things like this aren’t a problem!

I think I may celebrate my progress with this mandala and also my digital art skills with a nice mug of tea!

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

My current work in progress is a mandala. Also, I’m using my line art as a guide for the coloured areas which is quite different for me to do. No black lines in the finished design. Not a one will there be.

I’m working digitally using my trusty trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I have also chosen a coloured, texture background for the design to sit/float upon.

Just as a guide, it took me an hour or so to draw out the mandala design. So far I’ve spent around 6 hours on adding the colour and so on – and that’s with the help of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I’d had to do each section individually it would’ve taken me eight times as long!

You can see I still have a lot to do, so it’s going to be a long term project for sure.

I’m actually enjoying this one. It’s been rather soothing to do given that I’ve not been feeling too well with some kind of upset tummy. I’m still not fully well today but I am feeling a fair bit better than I did yesterday, thank goodness.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

Other than still feeling not too well physically with some kind of dodgy tummy, I’m quite contented.

Contented is good enough I think. I’m being creative, quietly so. I’m enjoying listening to Audible (currently it’s “Fatal Alliance” the first in the Star Wars Old Republic series of books. This one is authored by Sean Williams) as I’m being artsy. However, as I type I’m listening to the Maroon 5 station on Amazon Music. I can’t write and listen to a book!

To go back to my mental and emotional health, I feel quite content and my anxiety levels are at the manageable background levels, which is barely noticeable unless I focus on them. That is good enough for me, though I do know that it doesn’t take much for them to be triggered.

The CPTSD hair triggers that lead to emotional flashbacks. Not clear memories of a traumatic event, the emotional memories of a series of similar events that tapped into the stored trauma of the first traumatic event, reinforcing the trauma again and again and again.

That’s one way in which CPTSD is different to PTSD.

As I become more aware of my emotions and what can trigger an emotional response I’m more able to manage how I interact (or not) with the world until that trigger no longer affects me.

All part of self care which is so important.

My recovery from CPTSD is a work in progress, something I won’t stop until I’m good enough in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing as well as my relationship with myself.

Happy Birthday Brett – all coloured

Happy Birthday Brett © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Happy Birthday Brett © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I finally got round to finishing colouring the Happy Birthday coloring template I created for Brett, the lovely person who runs the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board using Unipin pens and then I’ve added colour digitally, as well as a rose gold coloured and textured background.

I chose pink as a fairly dominant colour as Brett loves pink so much.

Oh, to colour I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how have you been?

I’ve been quiet on social media over the past few days. I’ve needed some quiet time to myself, which has involved an awful lot of crocheting. I’ve not even done anything much that has been arty either.

The reason for this is that I’ve not been feeling all that well. Nothing serious. just not well. I had a migraine on Sunday that took all day to go and left me exhausted.

Also, I’ve not been feeling right in my digestive system/stomach for a few days. This happens on a fairly regular basis (monthly) but this time it was rather unpleasant.

Last night, it hit new highs as I woke hot, sweaty, nauseous and headachy. Thank goodness it was rather chilly here in the UK and I had the windows open. The cool air was pleasant as I lay uncovered. It all passed eventually without me being sick, however I still feel yeuchy today and very, very tired.

Yesterday I had EMDR and that was an interesting session that left me rather tired later in the day. Another inner child made their presence known and I had help to communicate with them, which was so much easier after last weeks session. This child was all to do with loud voices, arguing voices and being startled and upset by them. So, we did some EMDR work with the emotions that came up from that child. A lot of body work was being done with pains around my body as the trauma was being processed with EMDR. Also, lots of memories of raised voices, harsh voices, argumentative voices…and just noisy environments.

I’ve known for a long while that I can be triggered into startle or panic mode when I hear a sudden loud voice or noise around me. I try to remember to take noise cancelling headphones or earphones with me so I can listen to music and not hear such sounds when I’m out and about, especially when I’m feeling rather fragile.

Saturday I flinched and became a bit panicked as I was talking to someone while waiting for a meeting outside a building in my local town. Sunday evening someone spoke quite harshly to me. I don’t think they realised it, but the response in me was one of upset and to withdraw from the situation, permanently.

So, we work with this in EMDR to heal those traumatised parts of me represented by these children.

Hmm, I wonder if these different aspects of me from times when I’ve been traumatised are coming forward so easily because I have so few concrete memories of events.

Either way, as crazy as it may seem to you, it seems to be helping me, and that is all that matters as far as I’m concerned.

“Inspiration” WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I’ve started colouring “Inspiration”, the drawing I completed yesterday.

The drawing was done with a Tombow Fudenosuke and a Lamy medium fountain pen on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. I’m colouring it digitally using my favourite trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So far, I’ve spent 3 hours colouring, so it’s going to take me a while longer to complete.

To be honest, it would be a lot quicker to colour using Chameleon markers or other traditional media. Weird, when computers make doing other tasks so much quicker and easier.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy adding colour. I mean, I could do that a lot quicker if I chose to use gradient fills. However, this time I wanted to add colour as if I was using traditional media, being able to follow the shapes of the design more closely, having more control over where I add shadows and highlights.

So, I’ll take the time over this one, like I do with many of my artworks.

So, how are you today Angela?

EMDR yesterday was a little different. We didn’t do any EMDR but we worked with my inner child on helping her to heal from past traumas.

I felt silly and daft initially. I didn’t have a clue what I was being asked to do, but my therapist guided me through the process, and eventually I relaxed a little and tried.

I was surprised. Emotional too. It’s not something that I’m comfortable sharing other than in general.

After EMDR I spent sometime in a Starbucks drinking tea, eating a piece of chocolate truffle cake and drawing. Partly this was to wait out the rush hour, mostly it was to give myself a treat after sticking with a therapy session that seemed silly and turned out to be an emotional, insightful and helpful process.

So, the healing journey from CPTSD continues, taking an unexpected turn.

Yesterday, as the sun came out as the day waned my mood brightened a little from just about content to a little more on the happy side. Today I’m a bit tired after a broken night’s sleep with weird dreams but I’m quite content.