Black and white mandala


I returned to work at school two weeks ago and I have found it has resulted in a lot less time for me to indulge myself in my creative, artistic pursuits.  The evenings and weekends seem to disappear in sleep as I’m so tired.

I do seem to be coping a lot better with the stresses and strains of being a teacher, which is a good thing.

The mandala above was finished earlier this week.  I am debating whether to add colour and/or shadows or to leave it as it is.  I shall see how the fancy takes me over the weekend.

Theta 2


I completed this yesterday.  It’s approx. A4 in size.  The major outlines were worked with an Umber Letraset Promarker with an ultrafine point.  The fine details were done using a UniBall UniPin fine line permanent pen.  There are gold highlights worked with a UniBall metallic gel pen.  The shading was done using a Derwent Graphitint pencil, Storm shade, and a water wash.  It took many hours of work…I lost count!

I’ve discovered Zentangles over the past few days.  The similarities between them and my art are remarkable, though I think my art has incorporated such things for a long time now without knowing about them, though it seems the first Zentangles were names as such in 2004 by their creators, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.

I have also found out that NeoPopRealism was created by Nadia Russ in 1989, and she used lines and repetetive patterns as a way to heal herself and her life.  This is taken from her website

“In 1989, Nadia Russ (aka Nadejda Maloletneva) invented the new art style, very unique art form of visual arts. Sensitive and emotional, Nadia was trying to get rid of her stress and frustration when things in her life were going wrong. But wrong was, then in 1989 and a few more years, almost everything. She drew with ink pen the line, turning into different shapes, figures, faces. Sections, that appeared, she filled with different repetitive patterns. Nadia never uses eraser. If she makes a “mistake”, it disappears because of the following patterns that balanced the whole composition. This drawing is meditative. Later, she was using the same concept when she created her oil and acrylic canvases. This art form called NeoPopRealism; she created this term January 4, 2003. The artworks of Nadia Russ are in different museums’ permanent art collections worldwide and in private collections all over the globe. “

Of course, doodling has been around for a very long time … and I often think of this kind of art that I do as ‘doodling’.  It is also very meditative and it can be the one thing that cheers me up during one of my darker days, something I look forward to coming home to at the end of a tough day at work.  It has a similar effect upon my soul and mind that the first mug of hot tea on arrival at home does – a huge inner sigh on the conscious, subconscious, physical and spiritual levels.

I am finding it interesting to look at the Zentangle patterns and how they can be constructed, and I’m even trying some of them out in a sketchbook.  Ultimately, my art flows, with no conception of what the finished piece will be; that has always been the case with my art – I really do just go with the flow.

*Added Tuesday 11 Feb 2013*

I have been told that Indian Mendhi designs predate Zentangles and NeoPopRealism by a very long time thanks to 1artviewer on deviantART.  These are the kind of designs that are applied using henna to the hands/feet of brides.

You can read more about these designs on Wikipedia and can see more on this website.

Of course, and I’ve mentioned this many times before, I’ve drawn inspiration from prehistoric rock art, as well as neolithic and bronze age art, early celtic and anglo-saxon art too.

*Edit ended*

Half Term at last!

3pm last Friday didn’t  come around quickly enough.  It’s been a short yet incredibly pressured half-term.  The pressure has come from the inspection, voice problems, and another problem that has affected my sleep, stress levels and health adversely.  I’m glad it’s over and I can have a week away from the madness without anything hanging over my head.

My only plans for this week are art, reading and sleeping, well apart from the other absolute necessities of life such as bathing and eating and so on.

It’s always quite tough for me to be alone to start with, but by the end of the week I’ll value my solitude.  It will have allowed me the time and space to just ‘be’, to relax, to rediscover myself.  Then, I will feel thrown back into the fray for another manic half-term.


Synchronicity 1

Synchronicity 1 © Angela Porter 2012

Approx. 16cm x 12cm

Rotring pen, Sakura Glaze pen, Derwent Inktense pencils with water wash on heavy watercolour paper.

Small, intricate, full of spirals and swirls.  Typically me when in a fussy, detailed mood.

Many of the patterns and shapes are inspired by ammonites, nature, cells, Romanesque architecture, Prehistoric pottery and rock art.

Synchronicity because there have been a lot of  ‘coincidences’ noted in my life recently.

Back at work

Oh the joys of teaching!  There is an element of sarcasm there.  The lack of respect, manners and cooperation seems to have increased over the summer – either that or I’m getting old, having passed the 49 year mark during the long holidays.

I find myself emotionally drained at the end of each day after the constant hard work to get pupils to stop making assorted weird noises, disrupting the lesson in a myriad of ways, and just trying to bet them to be polite.  I feel ‘battle weary’.  Yet, teaching should not be such a battle.

The worst thing for me, however, is the effect this has on my creativity and the time to create.  I miss the hours I could spend creating art during the break.  If only I could earn enough from art reliably and sustainably to become a full-time artist…or writer…or or or…


Well, yesterday, the Autumnal Equinox, saw the end of the hypnotherapy course.  I have an extension to complete the case studies, so the work isn’t quite over for me.  I managed, finally, to get a merit in one essay – hurrah!

Not sure if I’ll be able to start a hypnotherapy practice up for a few years for various reasons, but I’d like to keep my hand in and practice the skills I have learned until I’m ready to take that plunge.


Yesterday, in fact the past week or so, have been rather weird.  I’ve found myself very emotional, on the point of tears or past the point of holding them back on a number of occasions, including today.  I have no idea exactly what is the problem.  I thought it was hormonal, but I’m not too sure about that now.

Anyway, the hypnotherapy wasn’t the only ending this week.

I resigned from a committee that I perhaps have stayed on for a few months too long.

I’ve had various bits of a jigsaw puzzle about a friendship that ended a few months ago.  I’ve spent most of this time blaming myself as I was made to feel it was my fault.  However, the jigsaw pieces show that it isn’t my fault at all!

All this is quite apt for the equinox I think.


… one voice.  Stolen sometime last night.  If found please return.

Yup, I have acute laryngitis yet again.  My voice has completely vanished.  I discovered this when I got into work this morning, went to say ‘morning’ to a colleague and all that came out was a random squeak.

A two hour wait in the doctor’s surgery to be seen and I’ve been told to stay off work for at least a week, possibly two.   Total voice rest – no whispering, as that’s worse than talking.  I’m a teacher, so no voice means no can do my job…not unless they’d let me teach via Tweets or text messages – which I very much doubt!

Ho hum…what to do that doesn’t involve my voice…art…hypnotherapy script creating and essay writing…reading…film watching…practising my listening skills…

Almost the end of the Summer break…

Prehistoric Fertility 2 – A work in progress

Prehistoric Fertility 2 WIP © Angela Porter 2011

Dimensions – 23x30cm, approx.  Silk fibre needle felt on a black felt background.  Embellishement with beads, metallic and Japan threads, and custom-made sequins.

Photographs never seem to do my work justice, simply because I’m not a photographer.  There is no idea of the shimmery nature of the work, the way that the gold Japan threads used to outline various parts of the needle felt define the shapes and provide a channel along which the colours seem to flow like oil on water.  There is no sense of the texture and heights/depths that the needle felt has brought to the work, nor to the patterns and textures the beads give.  The colours still look garish in the photograph, yet in the actual piece they are more subtle and muted.

I have spent many hours on this so far – around 30 I would guess.  Every moment has been a pleasure, and I’ve even caught myself looking at it and smiling at how well it is working out – unusual for me as I’m my own worst critic, and it’s a step forward that I can appreciate the beauty in my creative work.

Last day of the holidays

It’s finally arrived.  Today marks the end of my freedom to a degree.  Tomorrow I return to work, to a structured day and all the ups and downs that go with the job that teaching is.  My time for art and other pursuits will become very limited.

I had a list of things to do over the Summer, and I’ve achieved few of them, however I have achieved other things, and that is good.  What is better is I’m not beating myself up about the tasks undone.  There’ll be time to do them…

I will miss the slow starts to the day, the spontaneity of trips and visits and time with friends.  Friday afternoon I spent with a friend in a local cafe-bar, drinking, talking about art and other things, working on art, having nice food and laughing before going to take the weekly meditation class I lead.  I will miss the opportunity to do those kinds of things.

On the positive side, it won’t be long until the next school break, and there are the weekends too…

There’s definitely a coolness in the air in the mornings and evenings.  It’s a feeling I associate with the coming of autumn, the return to school, the start of the new academic year and a sense of hope of better things to come, a hope that was usually misplaced, and still is.  However, I still hope that a new school year and a new term will bring new attitudes, opportunities and good achievements.

This year, the new attitudes must be towards myself and my expectations of me and how I react to the poor attitude/behaviour of others.  The Summer break has allowed me to relax, to become who I am meant to be.  I like this person, I like the contentment within me, I like the confidence that comes with it.  What I don’t want is to lose this with the stresses and strains of teaching.  There’s a challenge!

One of the tasks left mostly undone over the Summer was too look for an alternative career/job, one that will allow me to use all my personal skills/talents/gifts in a positive manner.  I’ve been stumped as to what to do, and looking around at available jobs there is nothing that seems to fit me, well not yet.

So that’s another task for the coming weeks – to keep looking at available jobs, to seek advice, suggestions, to continue the audit of my personal skills to help me focus on what  I could do.

I have been thinking about training as a hypnotherapist.  The biggest stumbling block for me is finding the money to pay the fees.  I’m making enquiries about that…so finger’s crossed!

The incipient return to work has been causing some anxiety and worry with me.  My meditation this morning was filled with thoughts of things that need to be done, ideas as to what to do, worries about things that cause me emotional pain …

Lazy days…

So tired

This has been another weekend of sheer laziness.  All I’ve done, mostly, is sleep or read or just potter and potch around the place.  All I can say is I must need this quiet time for whatever reason.  I’m most probably emotionally exhausted after a long term and a long year at school, as well as from such a busy fortnight with things happening in the evening.  No, not partying, but various classes and workshops and talks.  It all tires one out.  Perhaps this quiet time will mean that I recover sooner in the summer hols so that I can enjoy more of them.

Part of me is being hard on me for not using the time more productively, for not being busy, busy, busy.  Part of me is patting myself on the back for listening to myself and taking time out.  I wouldn’t sleep if I wasn’t tired or didn’t need it.  I’d have the inspiration to create if I was fully charged.  And if I catch up somewhat with myself I’ll have time in the summer hols to find the inspiration and lose myself in things that bring me pleasure.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

I went to see this on Friday afternoon.  It was good, but somehow anticlimactic.  I can’t put my finger on it, perhaps it’s simply because the book had so much more in it, or my imagination is so much more vivid.  Or maybe it’s because it’s come to an end, for now.  I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more of the wizarding world in the future; I don’t think J K Rowling can keep away from it for much longer!

Fallen Books

I’ve been reading these books by Lauren Kate.  It took a while to get into Fallen, but since I have done so I’ve been engrossed by them (hence the weekend of reading!).  I read Fallen in three or four days, Torment took just two days, and I’m stuck into Passion now.  All I can say is I’d never thought I’d be reading and enjoying books that had angels in them!  Wizards, witches, sorcerors, orcs, elves, fairies, nac-mac-feegles, and others yes, but angels?  I’d recommend the books as a lovely escape with exciting and heart-wrenching moments, as well as moments of that perfect, romantic, sensual love that can only exist in dreams (I think – though if anyone can offer me hard proof that such a love exists, then please tell me; I’ve never experienced it!).

Arty stuff.

My artistic endeavours this week have centred around my latest sketchbook which has pages being filled with work inspired by a photograph of a leaf skeleton.  I’m working with different media, developing shapes and patterns and colours and so on with the aim of producing some textile work.  All I know is that I’m enjoying the time I get to spend on it, which isn’t enough really.  It’s not long, though, until the long holidays…not long to go.  I just need to remember to borrow back my books of inspiration, particularly “Drawn to Stitch” by Gwen Hedley.

I’ve been asked to create a piece of textile art similar to this one for someone at school.  That’s a summer holiday project I’m sure!  Other projects will come from my sketchbook work, I think.  I’d also like to spend time trying to work out how to do landscapes…my way.

Weight loss…

I’m considering joining Slimming World to kickstart myself into eating healthily, taking care of my body via the food I eat, and losing weight.  Over the past couple of years my weight has steadily increased and I’m now where I was the summer after I finished with the long ago ex, which was some 13 years ago now.  I’ll have to be incredibly brave and firm with myself to actually go to a meeting, and then incredibly strong and firm with myself afterwards … and forgiving should I lapse momentarily too.  Believing I deserve to look after myself, treat myself well, be kind to myself is still a huge stumbling block for me.

I’m hoping that the work that has been done with me over the past three years or so will have done the equivalent of ctrl-alt-del and restarted the programs that are ‘me’ as they should run, well most of them; kind of like having the viruses removed, or at least the ones that have been identified.

Warming Winter Stew

Aaargh!  Today!

Today has been a frantic day in work.  Problems with mobile phones on in class, one madam actually was on Facebook!  Confiscation and all the hassle that causes ensued.  The noise today has been … almost totally unbearable, as has been the general lack of cooperation and respect.  I’m beginning to think there should be a total blanket ban on mobile phones in school.  They’re causing no end of trouble and disruption to lessons now.  The school does have a telephone system itself and if there is a reason to contact parents, or a reason for parents to contact their little darlings then it can be done via that system.  It always used to work perfectly fine as I remember.  The rules about having phones turned off (not just to silence) during lessons don’t seem to work, and the problems/issues that result from this …

So, I am so glad to be home.  I was met, unusually, by my pusscat who purred and fussed around me until I followed him upstairs to make a huge fuss of him (and he of me) before he settled back down to sleep.

Now, I am sat tippytapping at the ‘puter keyboard and my nose is being comforted by the delicious smell of a winter veggie stew cooking on the hob.

There is nothing like a hearty stew to warm the cockles of ones heart, or to comfort an over stressed me.  I will be making dumplings to go in it a bit later on in it’s cooking.  Then, when all is cooked to perfection, I shall enjoy eating it while cwtched up under a cuddly and warm fleecy blanket.  I’m sure the warmth and the goodness will sooth my frazzled emotions, will calm my jittery nerves, and I will feel so much better.  I already do, in fact, as the process of caring for another living creature and then taking the time to create a healthy, hearty feast for myself has been an example of self-caring.

Stew Recipe

No quantities will be given,  just ingredients … I’m very much an instinctive cook and just seem to know how much to put in by looking.  Of course, I vary the ingredients depending on what I have available or what I fancy.

Onions, fried in vegetable oil.  Today I added some Quorn Steak Strips and fried them until they were browned.  Next I added some roughly diced swede, parsnip carrot and potato and coated them all in the quorn and onions.  Red split lentils and pearl barley were then added and stirred around to coat them in the cooking juices.  Pepper and salt were added and then boiling water.  A couple of Just Bouillon veggie stock cubes, a sprinkling of mixed herbs, a couple of cloves of garlic finely sliced (they’ll disintegrate during cooking) and a healthy dollop of English Mustard.

It will take around 45 mins to 1 hour for the lentils and pearl barley to cook.  Around 20 minutes before the end of this time I will add dessert spoons of dumpling mixture – approx. 4oz of self-raising flower mixed with 2oz of veggie suet, salt and pepper to taste and maybe a few more mixed herbs.  A little milk and water is used to mix it to a sticky dough.  The lid is replaced on the pan and it’s all left to cook for 20 mins or so.

Served with a good shaking of veggie worcestershire sauce, it is one of the most comforting winter dishes I know!

I like to have more parsnips than swede and carrots; they give such a lovely, sweet flavour.  Sometimes I will add brussel sprouts and mushrooms to the veggie mix, but not today.  Sometimes I don’t use the Quorn.  Sometimes instead of putting potato in the stew, I’d boil or bake potatoes separately.  Today it’s a one-pot feast!  And there’s plenty there for tomorrow too!

And now I definitely feel a lot better!