Be gentle with yourself.

Artwork © Angela Porter 2019

About the artwork

This is the same illustration I used for yesterday’s quote, however, after adding some textural lines to the drawing, I’ve coloured the design.

I decided to use flat colours as it brings a feeling of a coloured wood cut or lino cut print to the design. I used a grungy texture overlay to enhance the vintage feel of the coloured design.

The line art was drawn using Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens on paper, but the colouring, textures and text have been added digitally. I used Affinity Publisher to produce the typography. A Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro were used to complete the colouring

It’s always interesting how just small changes can make such a big difference to artwork.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling fairly content and quite optimistic. I am, however, still a little tired to say the least.

My trip to Llandridnod Wells yesterday left me exhausted. I went there to give an antistigma talk as a champion for Time to Change Wales. Telling my story of cPTSD still leaves me emotionally exhausted and vulnerable. This is, however, a small price to pay for giving people food for thought and getting people talking about mental illness.

As I was feeling so emotional after the talk I didn’t take a walk around Llandridnod Wells. When I’m feeling the way I was it’s all too easy for me to panic and enter flight-mode when I’m overwhelmed by noise or an unfamiliar place. The anxiety I feel about getting myself turned-about and lost and not able to find my way back to the car just adds to the vulnerability.

So, I thought I’d drive back and see if I could find the courage to stop at a cafe on the way. I’d passed a nice-looking one called the Wye Knot. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop there. I was still too overwhelmed.

My brain kicked in and I thought I’d head to Honey Cafe in Bronllys. I’ve been there a few times before and it’s a familiar setting to me. However, when I went in there were so many people milling around the counter and others coming in the door and pushing past me that I went into flight-mode and dashed back to the car in tears.

I just drove home then, doing a mental inventory of what I had in the way of food.

I had something quick to eat and a big mug of tea and then I curled up in bed to sleep; a nap is one of my self-care activities. I know that if I can sleep for a while I wake feeling refreshed and more resilient than I was.

The exhaustion comes not just from being emotionally overwhelmed and triggered but from the effort of keeping a happy smiling mask up. Yesterday the mask wasn’t as ‘solid’ as on Monday, but I knew it was still there. Once the talk was over, I let the mask drop and I was suddenly exhausted.

This is, as I mentioned earlier, worth getting the word out about the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness, giving people some advice on what to and what not to do, and starting conversations.

I’m beginning to flag here; tiredness/exhaustion is catching up with me. I have managed to get some work done this morning. However, before I try to do anything else I need some more sleep I think.

So, I’m taking the advice of today’s quote – I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 31 July 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.

Any way, back to art…

My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.

While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.

I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.

Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.

What a heck of a time, and bujo update

Angela Porter May Bujo1

The saga of my little car continues

Roller coaster rides abound here.  I’m very anxious, fearful today, but there’s also a calmness there too, which is well weird.

Yesterday I picked up a loan smart car from the garage, and not long after I got home I had a phone call to tell me that after trying what the experts had suggested, the conclusion is that something has broken inside the automatic gearbox.  It would cost over £4000 to replace the gearbox, and the car really isn’t worth it.

So, I had the panic and fear and worry about sorting out a new car. I’m going to try buying a new Smartfortwo first through the garage. I need to trust my car; I have to travel around a fair amount with the talks that I do.  Breaking down causes me huge stress, and not being sure of a car I’m driving does so too.  Having a second-hand gearbox fitted wouldn’t fill me with that kind of trust. There are other options, including buying a cheap runaround until a few things come together for me.

I know things will work out fine.  That this too will pass.  It makes settling down to focus on anything difficult for me, and when I’m like this one of my coping strategies is to sleep, lots.  Which I can’t do at the moment, though I really want to sleep, just sleep.

I need to run errands while I have the loan car, to make the most of it. I have editing work to do for A Dangle A Day.

Other stuff has gone out of the window. I did set up my monthly spread for May in my BuJo, along with my monthly trackers this morning; I couldn’t believe how shaky my fingers were.

May Monthly BuJo Spread and a large disc-bound format

The picture shows my monthly spread for may as well as the pens I used as well some pictures of my new disc-bound journal.

My monthly spread and trackers are decorated with hawthorn blossoms and leaves.  May blossom, as we call it here in the UK, is usually out around now, but it seems to be delayed this year, but it is a flower I associate with May time.

I included a little quote about May below the header:

May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive.                          – Fennel Hudson-

I’ve moved to a large disc-bound planner because I like the larger format as well as the flexibility of what paper I can use and the ability to rearrange pages as I understand my needs more without having to re-draw/re-write everything I have in my collections.

As I’ve said before, my BuJo is more like a Zibladone, where I collect all kinds of ‘stuff’ that interests me that I want to reference, including collections of patterns and drawings on various themes.  With the addition of the planner elements that are useful to me, I turn it into a very basic BuJo, where I include yearly, monthly and weekly diaries/calendars and also a journaling section, which is more important to me than having a page for a day with planning and so on in.

The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I’ve used quadrille/squared paper in this spread.  The simple reason is that I can cut down on the number of lines I need to draw for the tables! I particularly like it for the tracker.

Yes the lines are more obvious than the dots on dot-grid, but I’m happy to work with this in this instance.

I haven’t done my weekly spreads yet; and I don’t think I’ll get them done today as I have so much to do in terms of errands and also a nearly 3 hour round trip to make to give a talk tonight.

I do need to find time to meditate and let some of this anxiety/fear bleed off and to let the calmness that is under it become stronger.

Pre-orders

A Dangle A Day is available for pre-order.  I will be having a give-away for those of you who do pre-order, so check back for details of this once I’ve set it up.

Eerie Entangled Art is also available to preorder from Amazon as well as anywhere that stocks the Creative Haven colouring books from Dover Publishing Inc.

 

Artistic journeys…

Mixed media

IMG_0650My previous blog post about a mixed media work in progress is still on hold, although I have added a crackle paint to it in places, which has added some texture to it.  I’m pleased with the result, but I still am not sure what else to do to complete it.

I have completed a very textured background for some mixed media work; you can see it above.  What I’m going to do with it I’m not quite sure, but I’m sure it will all come together at the right time.

Abstract Line Art

I’ve been drawing more ‘Doodle Worlds’ images from time to time and now need to gather them together to see if there’s enough for another ‘book’ for the Colorist app.

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I also turned my attention to colour and pattern and the two images above are the results of around three to four days work.

I used A4 300g/m² smooth watercolour paper and applied distress inks to create the coloured areas.  I wanted to create the illusion of shadow and light in these areas.  Next, I used various drawing pens to add the patterns.  On the green piece, I’ve added copper and gold coloured metallic highlights.  The pink one isn’t quite finished yet.

Sketchbooks and my artistic journey

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As the days are becoming lighter and warmer, my thoughts are going to getting out to visit places and to do some sketching/drawing (intense anxiety and intense self-consciousness allowing).

With this in mind, I’ve prepared pages in an A5 and an A4 sketchbook.  I’ve used Distress and Distress Oxide Inks.

The image above shows the first page in my A4 sketchbook, a page full of daisies, worked using different media, trying out different styles and degrees of detail.

I like to work on a coloured background, I don’t know why, I just do.  I think it may be that I like to add shadows and highlights to create and image from the colour on the page.

I’ve not done much in the way of sketchbook work for a long while, but the need to revisit and to continue to explore different ways of expressing myself artistically has surfaced.  I think this is a much over-due response to the surfeit of work on colouring books in the past three or so years, as well as the struggle I’ve had with my mental health.

My energy, when mentally able, has been focused on completing the work I was contracted for with various publishers.  I enjoyed the work, the subject matter pushed my boundaries in the subjects I tackled.  I’m so grateful for that work as well as it allowed me to make changes in my working life that helps me to take care of my mental health.  It was/is also an activity that helps me manage my mood.  I lose myself in drawing/creating, finding myself ‘in the flow’ where my mind stills, or, rather, where I no longer pay attention to the inner critic.

However, the colouring book work was the focus of my artistic energies for much of that time, and I had little energy left to explore other areas of artistic expression.  I didn’t mind that at all, as I’ve said, I enjoyed all the work I did, and I will continue to create templates.  However, that is not all I want to do or to create.

I now have time to revisit ways of artistic expression I put to one side in my focus on the work for publishers, and I have the chance to see how my skills and expression have developed/changed.  I also get the chance to explore and discover new ways of expressing myself, using new media.

In this way I can continue to discover, practice and refine my artistic voice and vocabulary.  I still feel like a toddler in the world of art.  I wonder if I’ll ever progress from that state.

The biggest obstacle to me doing this is the lack of belief and confidence I have in myself and my artistic abilities.  I also have a problem in deciding on what to draw.  Then, there’s also the issue of finding themes/styles/media to explore that will challenge me just enough that I feel I can make a good attempt at them and gain confidence in them, but not so much that it overwhelms me and I fail before even trying.

The most important thing for me, however, is to enjoy my artistic journey, no matter where it leads me.  The pleasure and peace I get from creating will be something that will serve me extremely well throughout the rest of my days on this planet.

 

Dragonflies and the New Year

Dragonflies_AngelaPorter_Artwyrd_1 January 2015

It’s the first day of a new calendar.

Happy 1st of January 2015 to you all and may this day and all that follow be filled with all the love, joy, creativity and good things that each of you deserves so much.

This isn’t quite my first piece of art for this new year; I spent time today completing two pieces of Scandinavian art for Michael O’Mara Books.  I got the 1960s work for them done on Tuesday.  Yesterday was a day where I did some mandalas for the third ‘Color Me’ book to follow on from the huge success of Color Me Calm and Colour Me Happy.

I’m certainly being kept busy with art!

The winter break is nearly over, and all too soon.  It took me over  week to calm down enough that the palpitations from work related stress calmed down and for me to sleep properly once again.

No doubt the manic-ness that is teaching will have me stressed out again, especially as it’ll be crazy with an Estyn inspection in three weeks time.

Taking time to meditate, to create, to write will be so important for me, as it always is, but more so with this added pressure and the fact that I didn’t realise how stressed out I was with work, and how exhausted I was too.

I hope I can stave the exhaustion off for a longer time this coming school term …

Half-term at last…pheweee!

It’s been a long half-term at school; eight weeks to be precise.  In that time there’s been two training days, a twilight training session. a memorial walk to raise money for school funds and the Senghenydd Mining Disaster Memorial, almost daily incidents of poor behaviour/attitude to deal with, lessons observations, book reviews (as in how well and regularly work is being marked), a consultation with my union representative, a stress-meltdown and hopefully the end of three year period of what feels like persecution/bullying in a particular situation at work (culminating in the union consultation and the stress meltdown).

I still have a pupil to be dealt with who has been making threats to physically attack me because I apparently ‘start on him’ by asking him to do his work.  How shocking is that, that I should request he stop shouting around the class, distracting others and to do his work?

Oh the joys of being a teacher.

Having said that, there are joys.  The shared smiles and laughter with pupils enjoying the lessons.  The ones whose faces light up when they see me and who never exhibit poor behaviour in my class, even though they may do in other lessons), the shared laughter with colleagues, morning breakfast with ‘the girls’, the helpfulness of the lab tech, the enthusiasm and questioning of pupils because they are interested in something, their kindness and thoughtfulness.  And so much more that it’s a shame it can become dominated by the negative things that occur and dominate my ruminating, over-analysing, over-thinking brain.

It’s been really busy for me with having to prepare work for a new course I’m running with my special needs classes, as well as teaching mainstream classes that I’ve not done for years.  It’s meant late nights at work and even bringing work home – something I avoid doing as I do not want to go down the route of being a workaholic as I was in the first decade or so of my teaching career.

This busy-ness has really eaten into my creative time.  Little art has been done, and I’m am doing my best to settle back into it in this half-term, especially as I have two contracts to create artwork for two books, though I have been waiting for direction for what the artwork is to be for a long while now.

I’ve barely stopped in the first four day so of the half-term.  I seem to be running away from time with myself.  I can struggle with being alone, feeling lonely and end up keeping moving, moving, moving to avoid it.  Today I am remaining at home and trying to get things out of the way so that I will settle to some arty pursuits, or de-stressing after the last half-term.

I do seem to be a lot more resilient than I was a year ago.  Though things can get to me (such as loneliness, lack of a sense of belonging, the constant worry I’m doing things wrong that have precipitated the situation at work that led to a stress-meltdown), I often find there’s a content ‘centre’ in me that I can access when I do things of a creative nature or things that focus my mind away from it’s rumination and negative thinking.  It’s a little easier to spot when this is happening, though I don’t always catch it in time to stop the tears, the self-loathing and the comfort eating.

I rejoined a choir I’ve been a member of since I was in school myself.  Sadly, I had to leave again once the stress levels rose as my voice was, and still is, affected by the stress.

Out of all of this, and at odd times during the last couple of months, I have managed to do some arty things.  Here’s two mandalas of mine.

Calmly Does It © Angela Porter 2013

Autumn Splendour ©Angela Porter 2013d

Theta 2

Theta2©AngelaPorter2013

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.