Inktober 2019 – Day 01 – Chameleon Skull and Amanita

©Angela Porter 2019

Inktober 2019

After hunting around Instagram for alternative prompt lists, I decided to go with two and combine them. I chose the Animal Skulls prompts from @book_polygamist and Mushrooms list from @nyan_sun.

So, the drawing above shows a chameleon skull combined with Amanita, along with some other design elements. Today’s official prompt from Jake Parker’s Inktober 2019 list is ‘ring’. I can make that fit in too – a ring of fairy toadstools, the ring of the eye-socket in the skull.

The black line work was done with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I then used an 8B pencil with a blending stump to clumsily add some shading. Then, after scanning the image in, I added colour digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

It’s been a very, very long time since I did any drawing like this. My usual style is rather whimsical, cute and simplified to create a stylised form.

While this drawing isn’t realistic, it is more so than I usually do. Having said that, I have added some simplified design elements in the form of leaves and berries and the repeating pattern of arches to give a floor for the skull to rest on.

I found it interesting to add the more realistic skull with the less realistic Amanita and stylised leaves and berries.

It took me over three hours to create this drawing; I’m not sure I can spend that amount of time everyday given the work I need to do in the coming weeks. I shall see though how it goes.

So, Angela, how are you feeling?

I’m OK. I don’t feel as tired as I have lately and there’s also a contented feeling inside me. There’s also a frisson of excitement about turning my attention to work – something that has been a bit lacking over the past month or so.

I did get an early night along with a good night’s sleep last night, which always helps. The sun has just broken through the clouds, albeit briefly, and even a little sunshine helps to boost my mood too. I hope there’ll be more periods of sunshine to help my mood after the past days of heavy rain and even heavier grey skies, although we did have a break from it on Sunday with some bright sunshine in the day.

It’s only in the past couple of weeks that I’ve recognised how much the weather can affect my mood.

EMDR yesterday was puzzling, confusing and upsetting too. However, I came away not as exhausted as I usually do. Indeed, I was able to focus on art in the evening – I did most of the drawing of the chameleon skull with amanita.

My therapist and I did have a conversation about how I found it so hard to go into a cafe for lunch after my Time to Change Wales talk last week. She suggested that in future I take something with me to eat just in case I can’t go into a cafe – that way I can still take care of my physical needs and emotional needs without being hard on myself, calling myself weak and a failure for not doing such a simple thing as going to a familiar cafe for lunch.

Still have progress to make on that goal of mine, but some progress on recognising how I feel about myself not being able to do it at the moment has been made. So it’s not all bad.

An invincible summer

About the art

I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and I thought it so embodied how I feel about how I am becoming via EMDR therapy.

I laser-printed the quote and borders on heavyweight, acid-free, white printer paper. I then used a fountain pen, one of my Kaweco pens, to draw the entangled art.

After scanning in, I added a background and a texture, finally adding my watermarks.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m quietly calm and content with a fair dose of optimism. I’ll be heading out for my weekly EMDR appointment soon, so I have no idea of how my emotions will be later on today.

This quote by Albert Camus struck a chord with me. It gave me words for how I feel about my CPTSD healing journey via EMDR.

The state of my mental and emotional health, the lack of compassion I had for myself, and how tough on myself I was had me in a cold winter where love was lacking. Love for myself.

Now, I feel like there’s a small, warm sun somewhere inside me illuminating the cold and darkness of the inner winter.

I’ve never felt this before. There’s so much I could say about how I felt this when I thought there was ‘love’, how it depended on someone else’s approval, and so on.

This feeling isn’t dependent on anyone else; it’s a seed within me that’s started to grow, showing itself as a baby sun that will continue to grow and illuminate my inner self. Its light will help to chase the shadows of my past away by bringing them into the light of love to be examined, healed and released and in the process healing me.

If someone had told me this would happen to me even a few months ago, I might not have believed them. I would have hoped for it, but never thought I deserved it. 

Now I know it is absolutely possible and inevitable as I continue to work on healing myself with the help of EMDR and my therapist.

Little Artworks

Little Artworks © Angela Porter |

Little artworks.

Earlier last week, I spent a couple of hours colouring some pieces of Bristol Board and Mixed Media Paper with either Distress Inks or Distress Oxide Inks.

I brayered the Distress Oxide inks onto a small Gelli Plate and then sprayed them with a mixture of Perfect Pearls and water. Then, I used a piece of paper to take a print and let it dry. Once dry, I used a rectangular die and a Sizzix Big Shot machine to cut out rectangles from the print. The panels are 4.25″ x 2.5″ in size.

For the Distress Inks, I used mini foam blending tools to achieve a pleasing colour gradient. I then sprayed them with a mixture of Perfect Pearls and water. These panels, not shown here, are larger at 4″ x 5.5″.

Last night I got around to drawing on a couple of these panels. I chose some of the smaller, Distress Oxide background panels for this as well as some Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens. 

The first panel I drew is on the top left. I didn’t leave much blank space in this one! It’s much more my typical kind of entangled art. I did use a white coloured pencil to lighten some parts of the design to help them stand out a little more.

In the other two, I left a lot more blank space, and added a simple hand-drawn border, though in the top right panel I just had to add some embellishment to the right side.

I couldn’t resist using a gold glitter gel pen from Uniball to add some shiny highlights to the panels.

I’m quite pleased with each panel. I do like my entangled art at the top left. However, I’m surprised at how much I like the floral panels, particularly the top right one. The one on the bottom left needs something to be done to the petals. I don’t know if shading with coloured pencils will help to add some depth and dimension to them. I may come back to them in a day or two.

What am I going to do with these panels? Well, I most probably will mount them on card blanks and make some coordinating envelopes to send out as mail art at some point in time. There’s undoubtedly space on the floral panels to add a sentiment or a quote. For the more detailed panel, I could add a sentiment to the card blank, or use a ribbon banner.

The best-laid plans.

This seems to be a recurring theme in life at the moment for me. I plan what I’d like to do on a given day, and then life goes on a crazy roller-coaster ride.

Maybe I’m over-dramatising, but unexpected things came along that meant I had to put those plans aside, and that’s included my blog posts.

Today, I hope that life will take a diversion around my house during the day so that I can settle to work. I need a few hours of uninterrupted focus time to get most of a project completed before I venture out early evening to an event.

So, with that, I should get on to work asap.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling fine and tickety-boo. I had a disturbing dream which is still haunting me a little. That will pass.

My unexpected break from ‘work’ has refreshed me somewhat. I have the oompf and focus I need to complete a project, and I’m looking forward to it.

In previous days, I had felt totally overwhelmed by the project. Today, I think I can manage it, and do it well.

So, despite it being Sunday and a gloriously sunny day outside, I will turn today into a working day. Not that any creative/artistic activities ever feel like work to me. However, this one needs some particular focus from me as I have to use Affinity Publisher to create materials to go to print. 

It’s not that I haven’t done things like this before – I have. I’ve just not done them for a very long time, and I used Microsoft Publisher previously. These types of materials are new to me too. I’m doing the artwork and typography for the CD for a prog-metal band called Anubis Gate, who hail from Denmark.

This is an exciting commission for me, but also overwhelming as I so want to make sure I get things just right. And that is where the focus comes in! I usually find myself in a flow state when creating art. However, I have to focus so much when laying out images and text, setting up templates, checking my typing, and so on, that I have to pay close attention to what I’m doing.

So, I have to be kind to myself and recognise that if I’m not in the right place to do this kind of work I give myself a break from it. I end up making mistakes and getting more and more frustrated with myself. As I get frustrated with myself, the inner critics wake up and start telling me how useless I am. They take their opportunity to attack me.

Fortunately, the days when they do this are fewer and further between them. However, there are still days when they fill their lungs and scream at me and get to me.

Today is a day where I feel strong enough to forge ahead with this project, a day where I feel stronger than the inner critics.

So, I’d better finish all my social media stuff and knuckle down to the CD designs!

What are your favourite quotes?

What are your favourite quotes ©Angela Porter |
What are your favourite quotes ©Angela Porter |

A request from me to you.

I enjoy using quote and adding artwork around them. So, I thought I’d ask, “What are your favourite quotes?”. Leave a comment with them – you never know I may illustrate them!

Reflecting on today’s artwork.

I have finished the illustration above; I just wanted to try some ideas out where I combine more realistic (ermm, probably stylised realistic) motifs along with some of my signature style entangled art. It’s been an interesting experiment and I quite like the results.

I have no idea how the flower at the bottom left ended up so huge in comparison to the others! Having said that, it’s most probably my favourite as I love the depth of colour in the petals.

I also like the line-art in grey. It’s subtle, adds a background to the flower without being overpowering like black line art can be.

I certainly have some things to think about here.

This is digital art, created using my usual trio of Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

The best laid plans of mice and Angelas.

Today is one of those frustrating days where I had planned to settle down to work on a commission and then life happens.

First, I slept longer than I usually do in the morning and it also took longer for my eyes, brain and body to wake up properly and work.

I knew I needed a few hours to myself to focus and concentrate on searching out the artwork I need, organising it, setting up templates, and getting everything clear in my head.

Well, with the unplanned sleep-in, having to deal with various other stuff it’s just not going to happen today as I have something to do this evening.

This frustrates me as I had got myself sorted to get it done. However, I do know how I work best, and my next opportunity for an uninterrupted day is Saturday as I have things to do tomorrow.

Ho hum. It means I’ll work on a dangle design for tomorrow’s blog instead. Perhaps a couple so I have at least one ready for next week.

So, Angela, how are you today?

Despite sleeping in this morning, I am feeling tired. I’m also frustrated that my plans have been waylaid by circumstances beyond my control.

Once all the circumstances have been dealt with, I may just return to bed to sleep for a while. That may clear my head.

I’m doing my best not to be hard on myself, beating myself up by telling myself I’m lazy. That’s how it feels on one level, but that harks right back to childhood where I was told that’s what I was no matter what I did.

It’s a false belief that’s followed me through life. Even when I was a workaholic, I thought myself lazy for having to sleep or eat or do other things.

In hindsight, I can see I was going above and beyond what I needed to do. I can also see that the busy-ness was all about avoiding difficult emotions and thoughts. It was a coping mechanism, an unhealthy one.
I am better at self-care and understanding why it so important.

However, I still find I tell myself I’m lazy and useless when another self-care day is needed. Today that’s partly through circumstances that have developed that need dealing with. It’s also party through me feeling emotionally exhausted once again.

Hang on. I shouldn’t say, “once again”. It’s a continuation of the exhaustion I felt after therapy on Monday. I’ve had a busy time since then, with little chance to catch my proverbial breath. Yesterday, I had an appointment that I got very anxious about, anxious to the point of cold, sweaty palms and enlarged pupils and on the verge of hyper-vigilance.

That rise in anxiety drained me. However, there was little chance to calm and settle as I had other things to do soon after.

So, even though I have things going on today that I didn’t expect, I think it’s a good thing as it gives me some periods of time to do some self-care. I could’ve ended up pushing myself to work on the commission and get more and more frustrated with myself as I made mistake after mistake, lost my train of thought again and again, and lost confidence in myself and gave the inner critics a chance to get their loud-hailers out and scream at me that I’m useless, pathetic, a failure.

I’ve yet to learn it’s OK to err on the side of caution. I’ve learned that a day of self-care can make all the difference for the next day and how I feel about a project.

Taking time out means that when I turn to the project, I can feel excited, optimistic, creative, focused.

In contrast, today, I feel overwhelmed, dim-witted, lacking energy and would have to force myself to work when I know I’d mess up and have to do it all over again.

So, I’m trying to work out how to give myself permission to take some more self-care time yet again. It seems that’s all I’ve been doing lately. I’m putting myself under pressure to get projects done when I’m not in the right kind of place to work on them to a good enough standard.

Today, I’m a good lesson in how to tie yourself in knots when overwhelmed and emotionally fragile!

Be kind …

Be Kind © Angela Porter |
Be Kind ©Angela Porter |

This morning, I finally finished the drawing that’s the background for one of my favourite quotes.

I printed the quote and it’s border and then I used Uniball Unipin pens to draw the design. After scanning in to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, I cleaned the artwork up. I then used the software to colour the line art and typography.

This was definitely a piece of ‘comfort art’ – it’s a style I slip back into when I need to focus on self-care. That doesn’t mean I consider this art less than my other art. It’s pretty, intricate and I actually love the way the colour softens the lines. Soft colours, soft lines, soft and loving quote, yet a powerful quote. It’s kindness and compassion towards all others and all living things that will change the world for the better.

So, Angela, how are you?

I’m OK, but still rather tired. Not physically but emotionally. Between therapy and then a rather emotionally difficult blog entry yesterday it’s wiped me out a bit.

I woke to a grey, wet day. However, there’s now some sunshine brightening the world and making the rain shine. It’s also brightening my mood a little, not that it was dark, just a little matte or flat.

I do need to turn my attention to some commissions and projects, however my emotions aren’t feeling all that stable today. I know I have an appointment in a couple of hours so perhaps rather than trying to make a start on the project work I’ll spend some time self-soothing and then focus on the projects when I return home.

Hope is rekindled – mandala WIP

Hope is rekindled Mandala WIP ©Angela Porter |
Hope is rekindled Mandala WIP ©Angela Porter |

I need some quietly creative, self-care, self-comforting time today. What is more perfect for doing this than creating a mandala?

I turned to my digital tools to do this – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I also wanted to work with just colour – no black outlines and no sketches to start me off. I just wanted to let the design flow and unfold as it needed to. And it did.

This mandala isn’t finished, it is a work in progress. The outer ring may disappear as I work on it more; it seems to help to create a finished mandala at this point in time.

I knew the mandala needed to titled ‘Hope is rekindled’. That seems to be quite apt for me at the moment.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’ve had a heck of a busy couple of days. Monday I popped in to see Russell at the Time to Change Wales offices to pick up some resources for an upcoming stand. Then, I had therapy followed by an extremely late lunch and a slightly late tea before going to something in the evening. I eventually got home less than an hour before midnight feeling exhausted.

Tuesday was an early start to get myself to Llantrisant Leisure Centre by 9:30am to set up a Time to Change Wales stand at Rhondda Cynon Taff Council’s corporate induction day. That lasted until nearly 4pm, so it was a mad dash home to get something to eat and to warm up. I was cold and chilly. I was also feeling quite low – mental exhaustion does not help with my emotional resilience. I’d not had time to recover from therapy on Monday nor the rest of the busy day.

I was glad to look after the stand, but interacting with strangers, as lovely as that was, took it’s toll on me emotionally and energetically. Not only do I have CPTSD but I’m also an introvert so a double whammy! My protective mask of jolly, happy, extrovert Angela during the stand; keeping that mask in place is exhausting. Yesterday I got a glimpse of just how exhausting it is to keep the mask raised.

Yesterday, I also realised how I don’t raise that mask too often nowadays.

After something to eat and a hot drink, I had a meeting to go. The meeting had some parts that had me quite fraught. I was glad to come home, deal with bits and bobs of emails and then go to bed, snuggled up under the comforting weight of my weighted blanket.

I’m tired today. However, later this afternoon I’m on the go yet again. My sister has asked me to accompany her to an appointment. I then have something on this evening too, if I have the energy to go there!

Time to get another big mug of tea and start to get myself ready for this afternoons outings.

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter |
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter |

Progress is being made slowly on this one, but still it’s progress. I’ve done a fair bit this morning before heading out for my weekly EMDR therapy session in a short while.

It’s giving me more opportunities to try different things out. Time and completion of the artwork will tell if they’ve been successful as part of the whole.

As usual, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio are the tools of my choice for digital art.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok. I’m feeling tired, but I’m ok.

My mood did brighten somewhat last night, and today it’s fine. Not as bright as last night, but still contented and not quite as ‘flat’ as in the previous few days.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s EMDR day. I know what we’re working on today, and I need a bit of help with that inner child that I mentioned yesterday.

It will all work out just fine I’m sure.