I found this lovely quote a couple of days ago and knew I wanted to add entangled patterns around it.
About the art.
Rather than hand letter, I decided to print the quote by J.M. Storm out, along with the outlines to the boxes. I do very much like a well defined space to work within. I know I’ve done art where I’ve left an organic, uneven edge in the past, but I still like those clear boundaries.
To draw the patterns I used a Sheaffer fountain pen along with 06 and 04 Pigma Sensei pens from Sakura. The 06 led to me using some heavy lines to define the patterns and sections, something I’ve not often done for a very, very long time and I find it pleasing. Again, clear boundaries. I also like when art like this is coloured; it looks like stained glass and I love stained glass.
I may spend time colouring this today. I woke with a terrific headache this morning. Although it’s mostly passed, thanks to some Anadin Extras and copious quantities of tea, I still feel kind of spacey and tired and not able to focus much.
Why I like this quote.
She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again. – J.M. Storm –
I like it because it almost perfectly describes how I think about what is happening to me during therapy, about my journey to recovery.
The traumas of my life, right from a very young age, left me cracked and over time those cracks led to my mental health and emotional health breaking into pieces.
I’m the one who has to put the pieces back together, however I don’t have the skills and tools to do that. That’s where my therapist, my counsellor comes in. EMDR therapy helps to reprocess the traumas that led to me developing cPTSD and helps me to change the old, unhealthy, harmful thoughts and behaviours that I have into healthy thoughts and behaviours. My therapist helps me learn the tools I need to do this as well as to be more resilient as my life progresses, and so much more I’m sure.
I don’t know if it’s possible to make myself whole. My aim, though, is to be whole enough to have a life where I can do what I currently am unable to do – set healthy boundaries, be confident in myself, be less scared of the world around me, and so on.
I’ll always have cracks – evidence of the life I have led – but I want those cracks to be filled with gold or silver or copper so that they are things of beauty in themselves. They are evidence of where I’ve come from and what has led me to be the person I am.
I’m well aware that as I heal I won’t be quite the same person I was and many people won’t be happy about that. But those are the people who have wanted me to fit into their image of how they have thought I should be for their own ends, not least of which is my narcissistic mother.
No doubt my becoming the person I was meant to be, a mentally and emotionally healthy, resilient, self-aware, self-compassionate woman would be a source of great criticism for those who don’t like the changes in me as I heal the mental and emotional wounds.
Part of the process is learning from the past and freeing myself from the limitations placed upon me in the past by others with their own agenda, whether conscious or unconscious.
I’m sure there’s a lot more reasons why I like this quote, but the fluff-filled post-headache spaced out mind just can’t focus just now.
It really has been a week for me. I seem to have dashed from one thing to another, sometimes seemingly without time to catch my breath. I’m still feeling dazed, mentally drained and emotionally fragile after it all, particularly the events of yesterday’s ‘Time to Talk Day’.
I do have, however, lying beneath all of this a sense of a gentle smile, a soft calmness that I have been aware of since starting loving kindness meditations to help me with self-compassion. It is this presence that I’m trying to focus on and find when I feel overwhelmed by tiredness and fragility.
The tiredness, the fragility will pass. Some of the fragility and the deafening shouting of the inner critic will need some help to dispel, and that’s where EMDR comes in. Bit by bit it seems EMDR is helping to disempower that inner critic, the beastie on my back.
Time to Talk Day – a review
It was good yesterday to be able to help out on Time to Talk Day as a champion for Time To Change Wales, draining as the anti-stigma talk in the morning was for me. I spoke to a lovely group of police officers from the South Wales Police at Ton Pentre Police Station. They even gave me two rounds of applause at the end of the talk.
Part of the anti-stigma talk is sharing my story of my mental illness, cPTSD, my life, how cPTSD has affected my life and the stigma and discrimination I’ve faced as a result of it.
The biggest stigma I’ve had to contend with is self-stigma. It was that which stopped me from acknowledging the thoughts and feelings I had about myself were not healthy and it stopped me from seeking help for a very long time – nearly 50 years of my life.
It is draining to tell my story. I get some emotional flashbacks. I’m letting people know some of the most difficult times of my life in terms of what I was thinking and feeling at that time, though I don’t share everything that has happened to me in terms of trauma. I still can’t talk about some of it, and some of it I have amnesia about – a coping strategy for those like me who have traumas they can’t speak about. There were traumas that were horrifying to me at the time and I had no one to speak to about it. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. That inner critic still tells me I’m making it up, attention seeking, swinging the lead, pathetic, weak, useless, and more ugly words it has about me. I sometimes feel a total fraud when telling my story, doubting what few memories I have of my past, wondering if people actually believe me.
The evidence of the trauma is there in the way I think about myself and the way I speak to myself however. The trauma is also stored in my body and that comes out during EMDR, sometimes with a memory of something I had no recollection of until that time. That is extremely uncomfortable when it happens and it can challenge my view of my childhood experiences.
Why do I do this when it causes me some difficulties post-talk?
I want people to know what is mental health and what is not.
If I had known at a younger age that how I thought and felt and behaved wasn’t healthy maybe I would have sought out help sooner and maybe my life would have been different. I can’t do anything about that, though. I am doing my best to recover from all of this trauma and cPTSD. But if me talking about how my thoughts and emotions were helps them gain a better picture of good mental health vs poor mental health and perhaps even recognise in themselves that they’re struggling even a little and they get help, then that is a good job done.
That’s why I do this.
I want people to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Because mental health is something we don’t talk about, that people fear and fear talking about, it’s all too easy to feel that we’re alone. By talking about mental health, our own mental health, bit by bit we can change fear into understanding, stigma into acceptance and recognise that our mental and emotional health is as important as our physical health.
That’s why I do this.
I want to help break the stereotype of what someone experiencing mental ill-health looks and acts like.
That’s why I do this.
I battle with the shame of trauma that has been inflicted on me in my past, trauma that the perpetrators should feel shame about NOT me! I felt so shameful about struggling with my mental and emotional health as well. It’s enough to fight being ashamed of things others did to me without the shame of the stigma of mental illness too.
That’s why I do this.
I want people to know that it takes a lot of strength to live life when you’re not feeling well mentally or emotionally. It takes a lot of effort to do life’s daily tasks when you’re well, when you’re battling yourself, your mind, your emotions it takes a lot more energy and strength to do that. It takes a lot of energy to hide what goes on under the surface, what people can’t see – the storms in the mind and emotions – to appear that you’re coping well and can do everything. Doing that for too long and not recognising that I was struggling was what nearly broke my mind totally. I don’t want other people to experience that
That’s why I do this.
I am on the road to recovery from cPTSD. I want people to know you can recover. I want people to know that it is ok to ask for help.
As I explained to someone yesterday that if you want to learn to drive a car you seek out someone who can teach you and we’re not ashamed about this nor do we feel week about it either. However, if we’re struggling mentally or emotionally we don’t want to ask for help because of the fear of how people might view us – that’s the stigma and discrimination that exists. But if we need help and don’t know how to help ourselves we should feel able to ask for help for someone to help us learn the tools we need, tools we can add to our mental and emotional wellbeing kit, whatever those tools may be – medication, counselling, advice, help to see things in a different way, and so many more I’m sure.
That’s why I do this.
I’m sure there are many other reasons, but my brain is still tired and a bit addled from EMDR on Monday, which left me tired and drained and I hadn’t quite recovered from that for yesterday’s anti-stigma talk and then the stand at the ABM Trust Headquarters in Port Talbot.
Self Care Day
I do know that today I need to do a lot of self-care activities. That means doing things that are familiar to me. I think in artsy way I’ll be adding things to my visual reference Leuchtturm. I may also spend some time knitting and watching Star Wars. Again, these are familiar to me, there are no surprises waiting for me and I can just relax into them, and that is soothing to me when I’m emotionally drained.
I also need plenty of tea today. I have run out of milk though, so I’m going to have to brave the heavy rain and wild winds to pop out to get some, and some food that doesn’t take much in the way of preparation today as well. I think cooking, though it can be soothing could be annoying today.
The arty stuff
Usually on a Friday I’d post a dangle design. Today, I wanted to post a quote about mental health, and I decided to have a play with a similar very graphic style of art to place behind it. I’m not entirely sure the art works. No doubt I’ll have a go at another version later on today, perhaps.
For this one I sorted out the words and black boxes in Publisher and exported the page as a jpg file. I then used this file in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to add the artwork behind the quote.
I had a lovely, artsy, creative, relaxing time drawing the bottom design for this quote yesterday evening and this morning. It’s kind of a throwback to when I started drawing this kind of intricate art before I started doing all the work for colouring books, where the images have to be a fair bit less complex.
Unipin pens from Uniball, along with a blue-grey coloured pencil and a blender pencil from Derwent were the tools I used to create this.
I didn’t hand-letter the quote; I chose to use Serif’s Affinity Designer to add it instead, though I’ve not worked out how to get the text to follow a curve…yet. I will.
The quote is something I try to apply in my life. I’ve struggled with being a hyper-perfectionist all my life; learning to accept that something I produce is ‘good enough’ is something that is easier for me, though still not easy.
I cringe when I look back on earlier work.
Recently, I was approached by a lovely lady about using some old artwork of mine for her business branding logos and so on. I looked at it and knew I just had to re-work it; I recognised that my skills and style have developed and evolved a little, and I wanted to do the best I could now.
She seems to be really happy with the artwork, and I’m much happier with it too.
It’s not just in art that these words have meaning though.
It’s no secret that I am working in therapy (EMDR) at healing what I can from the CPTSD I’ve experienced all my life, especially the way it limits my life. Learning to accept that I’m good enough as a person is very difficult. Progress is slow, but it is progress.
My #tuesdaytip is to do just this – create every day!
It doesn’t matter for how long – 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, longer. Just take time to create.
You can create something new. You can work on practicing, say, your hand lettering. You could re-work or add to something you thought was finished. You could try a new skill or technique or medium. You could doodle aimlessly.
There’s just so many possibilities, so many ways to be creative – art, crafts, cooking, gardening, wood-turning, sculpting, decorating, sewing, colouring, are just a few of the possibilities.
Just create. Have fun. Play. Relax.
Take a break from the worries, stresses and strains of everyday life by focusing on being creative.
I use art to help me find my inner calm and stay there. My whole body exhales, calms and relaxes when I ‘art’. It’s a daily practice for me that has a similar effect as meditation and mindfulness does. Even if I don’t meditate every day, I ‘art’ every day, just for pleasure (as well as for my work).
When the days are very trying for me, as they have been lately due to a nightmare of a car breakdown and recovery that took 8 hours Saturday night into Sunday morning, I find creating collections of doodles and patterns for my BuJo or hand-writing quotes or words really soothing, especially if they are familiar to me. That’s what I needed at that time, something I could do automatically, that didn’t cause more stress for me. The rhythm and flow soothed. Just the process of repeating the drawings and drawing of letters involved practice and improvement of my favourite motifs, patterns, words; and when calm, I could move on to create something new.
Being creative isn’t just about making great works of art or craft, or any thing else. It’s also about feeding your heart, your soul, your being and finding calm and joy in what you do.
For me, it’s trying out new materials, new methods, new styles of drawing, colouring, lettering, using my art in different ways, most recently that includes Bullet Journals (BuJo) and these little quote illustrations.
It’s looking at how other artists and illustrators work and letting what I see spark creativity in me, not to copy them, but to inspire myself to broaden my artistic ‘vocabulary’, to try those new things that develop my skills, to still do things in my own way but adding techniques to my toolbox of artistic expression.
This quote is also a work in progress, I’ve yet to work out what to do with the entangled drawing at the bottom – to leave it as it is in plain black, to add shading, to add colour. At the moment I don’t know what to do with it, but I suspect it will come to me eventually.
Talking of work in progress wednesday, it’s the day the members over at the facebook group ‘Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans’ share their wip’s. Why not pop along and join in? They’re lovely people, very friendly.
The patterns around the quote were also drawn digitally, using my faithful Microsoft Surface pen, along with my Microsoft Surface Book and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I’ve started to add colour, though there’s quite a lot to do, including adding textures. It’s a pleasant way to spend time.
What I’m quite pleased with is the stone background behind the letters. It’s not perfect, but I got my head around how I could achieve this. Working in layers means I can do things I can’t do with traditional media, try as I might, but it involves working out how I can use layers to do different things as well as becoming aware of what I could use layers for.
Yes, I could watch and read tutorials, but there’s something satisfying about working out for yourself how to do things, and creating things in your own way. That’s the sheer bloody-minded independence I have at times.
Perhaps I could learn quicker with tutorials, but I also know I can become quickly overloaded with information and instructions and ideas (something that frustrates me as before my two episodes of severe depression and anxiety I had no trouble at all…) so bit by bit I discover what I need to be able to do at any one time. Then practice using it until it’s easy to do and natural.
I do love how I can flip-flop between traditional media and digital work, as well as combining the two, whether it be a sketch that is then worked on digitally or using traditional media backgrounds to draw upon digitally. It also takes me a little bit out of my ‘comfort zone’ too, but in an enjoyable way.
I’m really enjoying this, perhaps a bit too much as I’m not focusing on what, perhaps, needs focusing on. However, it is true that a change is as good as a rest!
It’s a nightmare trying to photograph these pieces of artwork as they are so metallic and iridescent, but hopefully you’ll get a fairly good idea. I’ve tried to scan them, and for the ATCs it’s a no go, and the scan of the other image isn’t any better than the photo.
The ATCs have been so much fun to do, especially as I’ve been collaging and playing with texture, and gears…gotta try a little steampunk-ish type stuff every now and again!