WIP Wednesday

Angela Porter Wednesday 11 April 2018 This is my current work in progress, with a little bit of wisdom thrown in.

I planned the lettering out on Rhodia dot grid paper before scanning it in. I then re-drew the letters digitally.

I did a blog post with tips for hand lettering  yesterday, but there’s also some in my upcoming book A Dangle A Day, available for pre-order.

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.

More mixed media

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!

Media used :

  • Distress oxide inks
  • Die cuts of gears and snowflakes
  • Ranger Gloss Multi-medium
  • Tim Holtz’s collage medium, matte
  • Perfect pearls
  • Imagination Crafts Rusty Patina
  • PaperArtsy Fresco paints
  • Posca paint pens
  • Liquitex and Pebeo iridescent and metallic paints
  • Various gems, glues, papers

Focusing on the positive

Being Star Wars-ed?

Well, now, where to start.  I know, I’m going to Star Wars you!  Here’s a quote from Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

“You’re focusing on the negative, Anakin. Be mindful of your thoughts.” – Obi Wan Kenobi

Over the past week or two, there have been numerous times when I’ve felt I’ve been in a Star Wars movie, being given advice about The Force.  However, the advice given by a dear friend of mine and my counsellor has been about focusing on the positive, good times and things in my life.   The counselling work has been about rebalancing my view of me and my life.  This has involved condensing the negative perceptions of myself and my reactions and thereby reducing their significance and expanding on the positive perceptions with evidence to support it.  The positive evidence, and focusing on the positive is not an easy thing for me to do.  To acknowledge my successes, my achievements, the times I’ve been praised and gained acclaim, these are times that are easily brushed aside.

All the same, I have endeavoured to focus on the positive.  I’ve made a concerted effort to write a list of good events, good feedback, things to be grateful for in my offline journal at the end of every day as I sit in bed before sleep.  I do write about problems, confrontations and so on still so that I can reflect on them, work my way through them, and come to a balanced perspective on them, but I have been doing my best to write down a gratitude list.  And even on the murkiest, darkest, trouble-beset days there are things to be grateful for.

Jedi philosophy, Buddhism, eastern religions … all seem to tie in, don’t they?  I remember seeing the first Star Wars Film – Episode 4, A New Hope.  It was the first time any kind of belief system had struck a chord within me, and though I knew the film was fantasy, the ideas would eventually ignite my own search for my personal brand of spirituality.  And it turns out that things for me aren’t too different from the Force!  Is this worrying?  I think not!

New phone

That time had come around again – the renewal of the mobile phone contract with T-mobile.  This time, I opted for a new phone rather than the £10 per month loyalty discount as the price for my tariff had plummeted considerably.  Essentially, the new bill is £20 a month, compared to £26 with the discount or £36 without the discount!  Brill!  And what phone did I get.  Well, the lovely chaps at T-mobile recommended the Motorola Defy to me, seeing as I have no idea about phones, am not interested in fashion statements and the like.  I wanted something that would be durable, easy to use, and they told me I also would want a phone that would let me use my unlimited internet allowance too.

Well the phone arrived, I was totally bemused for a while, but within a few hours was comfortable with it, and now find it a marvellous thing to have with me!  I certainly won’t get bored when waiting … I must remember to carry my glasses with me as I am getting eye-strain from looking at little letters on a little screen close to me.  Oh the joys of being long-sighted!

My favourite app so far is Google Sky, which was free for me to download and one of the student teachers at school was most disgusted at that as he’d have to pay to get it on his iPhone!  Result I think!  I also downloaded, amongst other things, a nice meditation timer which I’ve yet to use but is likely to prove useful in the future.  I’ve not got music on the phone yet, but there’s no rush for that either.

Having said that, the weather reports have been very useful given all the snow and traffic chaos that has ensued.  And it’s been nice to cwtch up nice and warm in bed and email/message friends rather than get drafty-cool sat at the ‘puter.

So, I march on into a new realm of communication, wondering why it took me so long!

Snow – bleurgh!

I’ve already mentioned the snow.  There’s not been too much of it around South Wales, generally, but enough to cause chaos at times with travelling.  The main roads have mostly stayed pretty clear and I’ve found it perfectly fine to get around, though I’ve not been to the higher reaches of the Valleys.

A bonus has been a couple of days at school with few pupils in.  Small classes, quiet, calm.  It should be like that all the time!  It’s amazing the difference it makes with just 5 or 6 out of each class – the mainstream class sizes then become around 25 to 27.  I’m a lot calmer, the pupils are a lot calmer too.  How on Earth class sizes have been allowed to creep up to such huge sizes.  Some days I feel like I’m engaging more in crowd-control than actually teaching.

New career needed … ideas anyone?

The good thing about smaller classes and the snow is that it reminds me of how teaching can be, how it would benefit the pupils and the teachers.

As I type this blog entry, it is now raining here.  I hope it washes away the snow and ice quick-sharp!

Arty stuff

I’ve not been able to settle to do much art in the last couple of weeks.  I seem to have been either tired or dashing around from place to place.  But that’s ok.  That’s how life is at times.

I have completed another auragraph for a lady, but I won’t post a picture of it until she’s had it and had a chance to show others it, if she wishes.  It is personal for her.  I have another two to do, and I hope to get one done later today.

Music and railways

Some musical events are coming up for me.  Firstly, I’ll be playing my flute with Marcus (of Marcus Music, Newport, South Wales) and his wife, Pauline, at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway on the 19th December.  Christmas carols/songs will be the order of the day.  Pauline asked if I would go and play with them again this year, which was really nice of her to do so.  That’s as long as I can get there given the weather conditions!  I always enjoy playing with Marcus and Pauline – no pressure on me with them at all.

There’s also the school Carol Concert coming up, where I’ll be playing flute in the orchestra and singing alto in the choir.  In years gone by it’s always been a stressful time for me and I often come down with tonsilitis, pharyngitis or some horrible form of ‘flu all brought about by the stress of performing in school, which goes back to my school days as a pupil!  I wish I could find a way to get over this … I really do.

However, it’s always nice to play with other people, and I do wish I could do so more often.  I’ve not found people to do that with … yet.

Things have taken an interesting turn concerning the railway and myself recently.  The creaking door that was still open by just a nano-metre has finally been closed.  To be honest, this is a relief to me.  I can now walk away from there without any guilt and find somewhere else to volunteer my time where I can learn and also teach others things.  One adventure has come to an end, many more await me.  That is perhaps a sign of a more positive me about me!  The only problem is getting me out there to take part in the adventures!

Limits and Growth

“This wasn’t about overcoming one’s limits, but acknowledging and living with them.” – Darren Shan, “The Birth of  Killer”

This sentence hit a chord within me, as I realised that part of my counselling process has been about recognising and accepting the limits that are part of who I really am, and recognising and dispelling limits that have been placed there as a result of other peoples actions.

I’m not talking about limits as in skills, talents and so on.

I am talking about limits that define you as a person.  Limits such as ‘you are not …’, limits that have been imposed on us by other people, people who think by getting us to fit into their image of who we should be they are helping us.

An example of this is that from a young age I was told that I was no good at art, that my brothers/sisters were much better than me, and I shouldn’t waste my time even thinking about taking art courses in school.  I’ve since found out that I really do have a talent for art, quirky as it is, it is there and it is me.

Another example is the flute.  I wanted to play flute when I started secondary school and we were played the young person’s guide to the orchestra.  It took me a couple of weeks to pluck up the courage to ask if I could learn, by which time all the flutes and flute lessons had been allocated and the only instruments and lessons left were ‘cello and double bass.  I chose to learn the ‘cello as I really wanted to play an instrument.  I went home and told my mother about the flute and her words were, ‘Oh, for goodness sake, you’d never be able to play the flute anyway – you have the wrong shaped mouth’.  Sympathy?  Empathy?  From my mother?  Never!

Anyway, a few years ago I had a phone call from a dear friend who told me I was to phone a number he gave me and I was to get a ticket for that night’s concert.  He wouldn’t tell me who it was, but that I was to call him back when I had one.  I duly did that, found myself speaking to someone at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, purchasing a ticket (one had been returned for an otherwise sold out concert!) and then asking who it was for.  I found out it was for Jethro Tull!

I rang my friend back, all excited and went to the concert.  I was absolutely transfixed by it all.  And, as Ian Anderson did things with a flute (musical things!) that were absolutely amazing, my love the flute came rushing back to me … and I was determined to play.  That very night, when I returned home, I went online and bought a flute, a decent quality flute which was on sale, as well as a tutor book or three.

The flute arrived a couple of days later, then the tutor books.  And I’ve not stopped practising and playing my flute ever since!  I did buy a better flute fairly soon after I realised that I could play, one with French keys and a silver head-joint.  And I still love to play!

My only regret is that it took me around 30 years of my life to discover this!

Counselling, particularly recently, has been about finding the limits that I have placed upon myself as a result of the way that other people have spoken to me and treated me throughout my life.  Then, looking for the evidence that refutes them and replacing them with a truer image of myself.  It’s about being an individual, being true to myself, and not trying to be something different just to please another person, as I have done since a very young age.  I’d not expect anyone else to change who they are for me (though our contact with others does change us in some way), and anyone who would want me to be something I am not in order to make them happy isn’t the right kind of person to have a place in my life.

There’s more to it than this, but that’s more than a tad personal, and I would not be comfortable sharing it with just anyone!

What is the point?

First post, and what to say…

The most burning issue on my mind is what is the point of being here, on the Earth, alive?  Everything seems such a struggle, there are so many hurdles and obstacles, problems and issues.  We’re surrounded by hate and violence and disrespect and seemingly endless desire to rape the planet of its resources and poison the environment we live in, or the environments of those far away who we’ll never know.   We’re each judged by how big/small/fat/thin we are, what we have or don’t have, what we do or don’t do, by the colour of our skin/hair/clothing, by our abilities/disabilities by our beliefs, by where we live.  Children, animals, old people, young people, middle-aged people are abused in all senses of the word for all kinds of spurious reasons.  Have we progressed at all as humankind?  Have we?  Or has all the progress that has been made just been to increase the damage done, to do it all more efficiently and on a bigger scale and more creatively?

Why?  What is the point of it all?  Is there a purpose to life?  Do we need a purpose?

There are oases of peace, quiet, tranquillity, harmony, love but they are few and far between.  Materialism seems to rule all, and even creeps in even to these oases.

I don’t expect answers, I don’t know if there are any, I doubt there are, perhaps there are as many answers as there are souls incarnate on this hunk of rock orbiting the star called Sol, and perhaps may more for all those souls who have ever experienced this existence, and for those yet to come.

And yes, I’m feeling very low today … I woke in the middle of the night feeling very tearful and upset and questioning all of this…and more…why I struggle to undo the lessons learned from the past, the views I have of myself, the way I value (or don’t value) myself when I just seem to get nowhere from my point of view, though others tell me that I have changed, the same but different, the same but greatly improved.  But still I wonder what it is all about, why.

***

Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust – we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.  ~Albert Einstein, in The Saturday Evening Post, 26 October 1929

In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.  ~Charlie Brown

Sometimes questions are more important than answers.  ~Nancy Willard, quoted in The Meaning of Life, compiled by Hugh S. Moorhead

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.  ~Mark Twain

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.  ~Albert Camus

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.  ~Joseph Campbell

There is no wealth but life.  ~John Ruskin

The philosophy of mine earth can be summed up as this:  Sunshine creates happiness, and I create myself.  Nights are long and life is predominantly good.  Wind is refreshing.  Tea is wisdom.  Do the best you can, and be good to yourself so that you can above all be good to others.  ~Jessi Lane Adams

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.  ~Havelock Ellis

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.  ~Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.  It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It is while you are patiently toiling at the little tasks of life that the meaning and shape of the great whole of life dawn on you.  ~Phillips Brook

When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.  ~Thomas Merton