A fishy vlog …

Link to the vlog

It’s fishy because today I fancied drawing and painting some cute and whimsical fish! I drew the fish before I started filming.

Also, I wanted to try the Ecoline watercolour inks from the brush pens on a piece of the Canson Imagine Mixed Media paper. The watercolour ink works well enough on the paper, which is nice to know going forward.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day in the cooler realms of my downstairs living room. It was so hot, and it’s forecast to be so again today. A fair amount of time was spent filling pages in my sketchbook with drawings of whimsical birds and fish, simply because I could.

Today, it’s forecast to be as hot. It’s already almost insufferable upstairs (for me anyways). So, I’m going to be downstairs as much as possible today, except for three zoom meetings spread throughout the day. More time for drawing and sketching methinks. Perhaps using non-watercolour media to add some colour to the sketches. I’ll see how I feel.

Watercolour Practice and Wittering

Link to today’s vlog.

Watercolour Practice

This morning, I spent some time watercolour wrangling. I had started this work yesterday, but kept getting myself into more than a little bit of a pickle with it.

So, after a day away from it, I thought I’d try an idea I’d picked up from a Domestika course by Lapin to see if I could recover some of the parts I’d made a bit of a mess of. That idea is to use Gelly Roll or other pens to add highlights/colours/add details. But in this case I wanted to try to ‘hide the crimes’ and use these pens as a kind of watercolour resist in the tinier areas that were seriously vexing me yesterday.

I’m not entirely sure my experimenting is successful. But, it’s something to ponder on and work with going forward.

In my vlog I mused about how the watercolours were, or weren’t, working for me and starting to make connections.

No matter how many books I read, videos I watch, courses I take on watercolour, translating that knowledge/information into practice just doesn’t seem to have worked for me entirely. Experimenting for myself is the only way forward I think. As is finding the balance between controlling the medium and allowing watercolour magic to happen too.

I think the best way for me to work is by allowing two colours to merge along a wet edge, so that I get a modicum of control, but the mixing of wet into wet can still happen.

Wittering

I was out of action in terms of social media yesterday. I went for a walk on Saturday, didn’t watch where I was putting my feet and my right foot twisted over and I ended up on the ground on my hands and knees. One left knee with multiple cuts/grazes. One bruised, sore and aching right foot. And I was a bit shocked too. So Saturday went out of the window as far as anything arty was concerned.

Yesterday, I woke with various bits of my body aching from the jolt of the fall. I tried to do some art – the first steps in this particular painting – but it just kept going wrong. I started swearing, so decided to put it to one side.

Instead, I put my energy into editing some of the templates for the Whimsical Cats book, then inking in some of the sketches that have been approved (and declared “adorable”).

So, today I’m going to focus on inking in some of the sketches that need doing before getting some more sketches done.

I’m still feeling a bit out of sorts. I didn’t sleep well last night. So, I may crash and nap later on. So, now’s the time to get some work done. Inking in. Not too taxing, less likely to become frustrated with my artistic efforts while I’m tired and out of sorts.

Template Thursday

Coloring Template and Timelapse Video

It’s that day of the week once again – the day I create a new coloring template / coloring page for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

This week, the design is botanical, entangled and a tad on the abstract ‘mechanical’. As is my want, I’ve partly coloured the template to start to breathe life into it.

Drawn with Unipin pens on Claire Fontaine Paint On mixed media paper. Digitally coloured in Clip Studio Paint Pro.

I’ve also created a video. The drawing and colouring took me over 3 hours this morning, so I’ve sped the video up so it takes just a few seconds over 20 minutes.

Still not too well…

I’m feeling better today, but I’m still not right. My stomach/digestive system is still delicate and I have a headache on and off. I did get a bit more sleep last night, but not enough really.

Still, I’m on the mend and taking it easy again today.

Having said that, while this video was processing and then uploading and processing again in YouTube, I managed to edit two templates I drew on Tuesday and then ink in the one I wanted to use a symmetry tool to draw it. So, I’ve got some more templates done for the book I’m working on. The total is now 13 out of 31.

I don’t know if I’ll get any more done today. I’m flagging badly now and feel the need to sleep. I may have another mug of tea before I take a nap and see if that perks me up a tad.

Entangled Art WIP

Today, I finished drawing this entangled, zentangle inspired kind of floral/botanical design. I did start this yesterday afternoon, but continued it this morning before I settled back to sleep. I’ve had a poor night’s sleep thanks to yet another upset stomach, so after my Wednesday delivery from Abel & Cole, I drew and then settled back to sleep.

I’m still feeling very tired, my digestive system is still uncomfortable, delicate, upset. But I have to run an errand today. I’ll get to that soon enough and then I’ll see how I feel and how that dictates how I look after myself for the rest of the day. I suspect more sleep will be needed.

Anyways, this drawing is on an A5 piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. I used a 0.3 Unipin pen to draw the design, and I’m now adding colour using a fairly limited palette of Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens:
*green gray
*pale dawn gray
*olive green
*deep green
*ochre
*bright yellow
*pale rose
*lilac
*english lavender

I’m considering adding a couple of browns to this palette, as well as using some olive green over the grays.

These pens do move easily with a barely damp brush on this paper making it so easy to get a colour gradient. It’s also easy to add more colour to intensify the dark area.

I have recorded my morning art session as vlog.

In the vlog I talk about how the pressures of being constantly productive turned me into a workaholic when I was a teacher, and then fed negatively into my self-image which ultimately led to my burn-outs/breakdowns. I have learned that taking time for myself, to just be, to relax, to do things I enjoy, to look at ‘goals’ in a realistic kind of way to limit the pressure I put on myself.

I no longer have the external pressures of my career as a teacher, and one of the many hard lessons I’ve had to learn as part of my healing is how to value self-care time, and how that time can change from day to day. It’s so important for me, otherwise life’s own stresses and strains can take their toll on me and leads to physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion or even ill-health.

Taking time to rest, to relax, is being ‘productive’, but in an important way. The productivity is investing time in one’s self and one’s own well being. And that is so very important.

This is why I take time nearly every day to create art just for myself, for the pleasure of creating, of exploring and experimenting, with no pressure on myself to create a completed work of art or for commercial gain. Just for the simple joy it brings.

Admittedly, I can fixate on art and forget about doing other things I enjoy, such as playing my flute, or learning to play my harp or tongue drum, or reading, or journalling, or even getting out for a walk, or combining my walk with sketching.

I know this is something I do need to work on for sure. But, like everything else, it comes together in it’s own way, in it’s own time, when I am ready to do so.

Mandala Tile

As I was coming around from yesterday’s headache, I plopped yesterday’s drawing into Repper to see what geometric patterns and tiles I could create.

Repper is a browser app that is great fun to play around with and makes the creation of tiling patterns from my artwork so simple.

Rather than save the patterns, I saved the tiles as so many of them looked like perfect inspiration for mandalas.

So, I chose one design, popped it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, and used it to inspire this particular pattern.

I chose a colour palette of soft pinks and greens, colours that are related to self-love, self-care, balance and harmony. Perfect for how I was feeling yesterday!

Today, I’m still feeling somewhat tired and fragile. That’s mainly due to a really poor night’s sleep. Emotionally, however, I feel a lot better than I have the past few days. There was an emotional storm brewing and it the headache was the torrential downpour that was needed to clear the skies by forcing me to take care and shelter myself.

So, the rest of today is going to be a quiet. nurturing kind of time to shake off the lingering wisps of stormy clouds.

Tuesday – time for self-care

Well, I pushed on yesterday and finished this particular drawing. Lots of texture/patterning has been added. I’ve also temporarily added a pale grey-blue background until I decide how I want to add shadow/highlight/colour to this particular drawing.

I won’t be doing that today, however. I’m still feeling all out of sorts and I really don’t trust myself with colour, shadow and highlight. I’ll get frustrated and irritated with myself. I also woke with a headache that isn’t clearing up anytime soon it seems.

So, today is likely to be another day of binge watching stuff. Yesterday it was The Killing on Disney+. A dark tale of murder and the crazy awful ways humans tangle their lives with others it seems.

It’s an American version of a Danish noir murder/mystery series. I started watching the Danish version, with subtitles, quite a few years ago, but mislaid the DVDs. It’s full of twists and turns in the story line, and a surprising ending to the first story line – the murder of Rosie Larsen. And it’s nice to be surprised by such a tale for a change.

So, I think I’ll spend a fair amount of today finishing watching season 3 and making a start on season 4, the final season.

Once the headache clears, I may turn my attention to some arty stuff. I’ll see how it goes. Self-care is important, not just physically but emotionally too. I know from bitter past experiences that if I push myself to do things when I’m not up to it, whatever I do usually ends up disastrously. I still feel the guilt of giving myself time and space to return back to a point of balance, but I know that when I do return to that point the guilt will fade away and be replaced with relief and a sense of gratitude that I didn’t give into to the guilt. There’ll also be a touch of pride that I’m strong enough, now, to recognise when I need this time to just lose myself in fiction, do nothing else, and let whatever is the cause of the imbalance work itself through.

I suspect the headache is an expression of that imbalance and is the way my mind, body and soul have of telling me, “Woah there Angela! You have to stop and take a break from this, now! You’ve pushed yourself too far, so I’m going to get you to stop and do other things for a while.”

I am learning to listen to what I need, rather than what I think I should be doing. So, today, I will listen to them.

Out of sorts art…

I’ve been feeling out of sorts for the last day or so. It’s gradually intensified. A broken night’s sleep really hasn’t helped. House freezing cold (deliberately so!), Angela boiling hot in waves (not illness, just age).

I did draw in the darkest parts of the night when I couldn’t sleep, but what I produced was just a reflection of my ‘out of sorts’ mood. I added words and reflections to the drawings to try to elucidate where this has come from. And then that went to how I could use art in a journal, could I create journal pages, little areas for thoughts/words of meaning, and so on. So I jotted those ideas down.

The larger drawings I was doing in the night just overwhelmed me. The more work I did, the more overwhelmed and dissatisfied I felt. So, in an attempt to create some art that would soothe rather than disturb, I decided to create some small pieces of art and some borders seemed the right thing to do. This quartet of drawings is the result of that solution I sought to help me with my mood and my attitude to my efforts at drawing.

Duvet Day

Do you know the kind of days where it’s hard to get out of bed? Days when your body and soul need a day cwtched up safe and warm in bed? Well that was today for me.

A day spent doing very little. A bit of art. Watching geology videos on youtube. Playing games on my phone.

I’m now vertical, at my desk. I’ve scanned in one of my little drawings (approx 3¼” x 4″, or 8cm x 10cm) and digitally added a background, shadow and highlight. The shadow and highlight are a tad patchy, but they do help to bring the drawing to life.

Nurture

The artwork

I took a 6″ square Strathmore artist’s tile and coloured it with Distress Inks. Next, I used Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and Pigma Micron 01 pens to draw the design. Finally I added some graphite shadows.

Nuturing

This zentangle inspired drawing contains the Zibu symbol for ‘nurture’. Nurture is all about growth and expansion which involves encouraging, nourishing, protecting and caring.

I certainly need to care for myself today. For the past few days anxiety gradually increased as I got closer to meeting my accountant to hand over my paperwork. I was left exhausted after the essential business trip to meet her in a car park to do this. I’m still feeling exhausted, fuzzy headed, and not with it today.

Nurturing myself was an important lesson to learn through EMDR therapy. It’s not an easy lesson for any of us to learn, but it is essential. It’s not just about taking care of the basic needs, it’s about the whole of your being.

Yesterday, this involved quiet time with art, or just sitting and being, and some comforting, as well as nourishing, food. An early night was in order.

My nights sleep was broken and I’m still feeling the effects of the post-stress come-down. But these will pass as the cortisol and other stress hormones gradually leave my body.

On the good side, I was up to creating the cover for the next colouring book after Entangled Starry Skies. So, if the sketch is approved, I can get to inking and colouring it over the next couple of days.

Abstract WIP 5 Jan 2021

The drawing

I’ve been working on this drawing for the past three days. I’m not sure if it is finished yet; I’m undecided about all the open spaces to the right. I’m beginning to understand the need for some space for the eyes to rest on, but my inner inclination is still to fill my drawing with pattern and complexity.

This one has been drawn with a black Uni Emott pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The Emott pen has a hard plastic tip and although it has become worn during the work of drawing, I’ve found the uneven, patchy, varying line widths that result most useful in achieving different weight and character of line in the drawing. Not that this shows up well in the reduced size and resolution image of the work. Neither does the texture of the colour applied digitally.

I’m quite heavy handed with pens and tend to wreck the more delicate Unipin and Pigma Micron pens (and others of a similar ilk) rather rapidly. The Pigma Micron PN pens weather my heavy-hand better as well. I don’t favour one over the other. I just choose what pen I feel like drawing with at the time – be it Unipins, Microns, Micron PN, Rotring Rapidograph, Tombow Fudenosuke, or traditional fountain pens.

Digital drawing is a challenge for me, even though I love the Surface Slim Pen and the way it glides on the screen of the Surface Studio. The challenge for me is the sense of scale, proportion and perspective. A sheet of paper gives me a well defined shape and size and as I can’t zoom in, there’s a limit to the tiny details I can add.

Sleeplessness

Saturday night into Sunday was another very broken nights sleep and it left me wiped out yesterday. I had various meetings to attend online during the day and evening as well. In between them, I had to sleep. I was overtired and that makes me emotional and teary. Sleep is the only cure for tiredness. Hence no blog entry yesterday.

So, this meant little time for art and stuff yesterday.

I did have a better night’s sleep last night, though I woke part way through. These night ‘sweats’ (I just get incredibly hot, no sweating as such…yet) are no fun! I wake up absolutely blisteringly hot, and it takes me ages to cool down, even though my bedroom is really cold. If these carry on into the warm/hot months when sleep is difficult anyway, I don’t know what I’m going to do! It seems perimenopause is moving along with me; age doesn’t come by itself. As well as the hot flushes during the night and day I’m finding more periods of fuzzy headedness and difficulty concentrating.

As I let the house go cold during the night in an effort to better cope with these night sweats, and I don’t know when I’m going to wake up in the morning if I do get back to sleep, I don’t have my heating turn on at a specific time. So I wake up to a cold house. Which is great if I’m in the throes of a hot flash. So, on these cold mornings, my habit is to go put the heating on, make breakfast, and take breakfast back to bed. That way I can keep warm while sitting in bed, having breakfast and faffing around with email and so on as well as my personal drawing projects.

What I’m realising is that I’m going to have to change my approach to working hours as perimenopause affects how my mind and body functions. I have no idea how long it will last; a year to many years apparently. I hope this will settle down into a pattern that I can work with, or that I can be more flexible with myself about when I work and when I don’t, and recognised when I need to take self-care time.

It won’t last forever, thank goodness. One of the plus sides of it is that I don’t feel the cold as much as I used to, at certain times of day anyway.