You Matter – a poem by Nikita Gill

You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The poem.

I was reading ‘Your Soul is a River’ by Nikita Gill this morning and this particular poem struck a chord with me. I thought it would be nice to use it to create some art to frame it.

It’s taken me a few attempts to get this far today; and I’m not entirely happy with what I’ve produced. However, I shall persevere later today; first I need to go out to do some provisions shopping and to have a very late breakfast. Actually it’s more like a very late lunch!

I produced the words with the border in Publisher. I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to do the artwork.

So, Angela, how are you today?

The poem reflects rather well how I’m feeling about myself in the moments when my emotions overwhelm me. I am rather emotionally fragile and vulnerable at the moment.

I am exhausted – emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a heck of an emotional week and yesterday was perhaps the most emotional day of all. No EMDR was done in therapy, but lots of tears were shed as I tried to work my way through what has caused the upsets.

Some of it is very obvious. But some of the triggering events have no apparent link to the past.

No apparent link; there’s something there which I can’t bring up or face at the moment. I’m fearful of it because it is something either unknown or something I have to face the truth of. It’s a difficult truth as I’ve told myself a story to deal with the painful experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Discovering I’ve been lying to myself is not easy, even though it has been a coping strategy, trying to make things more pleasant than they really are.

It’s a common coping strategy amongst survivors of trauma.

It’s a necessary process, for how else can I heal from the past?

It’s another one of those processes that is like surgery, but instead of removing or fixing a physical part of oneself that is damaged or broken it’s all about the mental and emotional processes that are damaged by trauma in the past.

No surgery is without some kind of pain, but the pain is endured as the result will be a better life with less pain.

Therapy is surgery for my damaged emotions and beliefs about myself; this surgery is necessary for me to heal from CPTSD.

My touchstone.

Yesterday, I talked about a lot of things with my therapist. One of those things was the recognition that I now have a mental and emotional state that I know I can return to. It’s that state where I feel content and optimisitic, a state of mind and emotions that I’ve not really experienced much in my life.

I know how that feels; even though my emotions are all higgledy-piggledy at the moment I can still sense that inner contentedness and hints of that optimism.

Where do I go from here?

Self-care and self-soothing is the order of the day today. I do need to sleep, but I don’t know if a nap will help or just throw my sleep out tonight.

I know this will pass; it has before, it will again.

It’s all just a bump in the road I’m travelling in my journey to recovery from CPTSD. This is NOT my destination; it’s just the wrong leaves on the tracks.

Experimenting digitally…

Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.

Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.

I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.

Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.

Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.

The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.

As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.

What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.

I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.

I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.

I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.

Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!

Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.

When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.

I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.

I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.

Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.

I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.

I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.

I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.

Abstract art card design

Abstract Art Card Design ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Abstract Art Card Design ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

This morning I thought I’d try out a little experiment. Instead of drawing the design first, I used my Chameleon markers to lay down colour shapes and gradients and then add the line art.

I remembered to take a photo of the colour pattern I created, so you can see where I started. I had started adding some line art on it.

After adding the black line art, I then added gold embellishments using a gold gel pen. These are mainly on the background, where I wanted to add some interest.

One thing I’d change if I could do this over is to keep the same pale yellow to pink gradient background instead of the blue section to the middle left. I also meant to use pencils to add some depth of colour to some of the flat-looking areas. It would also have been a good idea to use them to increase the illusion of 3D in some of the patterned regions.

Do you know, I often say that I should’ve added some shadows when I post what I think is a finished piece of art. I need to put a huge post-it note on my Surface Studio to remind me about this!

My final step was to use a piece of foam to sponge some black Distress Ink around the edge to give it a bit of a border. I’m not so sure this was a good idea; the edges are a bit more defined, but they also look a bit dirty and grungy. One lives and learns, eventually.

It certainly was an experiment for me with traditional media. The method I’ve used here is a bit like the method I use when creating digital art. There, I start with a block of colour for the section I’m working on and then add shadow and light and ‘carve’ patterns into it using various methods.

Let me know what you think about this little design.

Oh, it is a little design. The card blank is aprox. 5½” by 4″ (14cm x 10cm)and the design is approx. 3″ by 4¾” ( 8cm x 12cm)

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing ok. I had a good night’s sleep and so am feeling more alert and upbeat. I’m still a bit achy in the lower tummy area, but it’s nearly completely gone now.

Yesterday was a self-care day. I didn’t eat much; my appetite had departed me almost entirely. What I did eat made me feel sicky. That’s better today, as in I’ve had breakfast and though I didn’t eat much before I was full, I did eat.

I wasn’t happy with any art, or just about anything else I did; I just got frustrated with it and myself. Instead, I did spend a lot of the day cwtched up warm, crocheting and listening to Audible (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire read by Stephen Fry). Eventually, I settled down to sleep a little earlier than usual.

I’m glad to say that my mood seems a bit brighter and more stable today.

This morning, I’ve been busy ‘art-ing’, and I need to pop out soon. Errands to do and I need a bit of a walk as well. It looks like it’s going to stay dry for a while. That’s always a good thing. The temperature outdoors is more refreshing than it has been of late, which will make walking far more pleasant for me. It will help to blow the cobwebs away. Maybe it will also help with the stiffness/tenderness that those abdominal cramps have left in their wake. I may also find some inspiration for some more creative words in my journal too.

Some More Reef Illustrations

More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

Reef Illustrations

Yesterday, I had an interesting day. I did manage to get these two illustrations done in between listening to a friend in need and taking care of a very upset tummy along with quite painful cramps.

I used 5″ x 7″ pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol board along with some Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs. This time, I didn’t add any grey shading. I will scan then print if I decide to colour them with traditional media.

The drawings turned out well, I think. I chose the size of paper for a reason, which I’m not about to divulge! It’s just an idea rattling around my noggin.

It’s Monday, so that means it’s EMDR therapy day.

I know on a Monday that my day can be broken up with a 3 hour or so trip to Neath and back for EMDR.

Today, I’m feeling more like I did last Monday before I received some post that threw me a curveball. I am tired as rather painful tummy cramps woke me from time to time through the night. I’m still getting them now, but a couple of Anadin Extra has taken the edge off them. I must leave early enough to pick up some more painkillers on my way to therapy.

I’ve had some flashbacks this week to events I thought I’d put to bed via EMDR. It seems that these events have several facets to them. Each of these facets relates to a negative belief I hold about myself, so each will need to be processed separately.

I’ve been trying to keep a record of the insights I gain from these flashbacks, and also any other negative beliefs that crop up from them. However, they often happen when I don’t have my BuJo to hand, and by the time I do, they’ve evaporated from my mind.

Hmm. Not really evaporated, the flashbacks have just been automatically shut away in their box once again.

I’ve learned not to try to second-guess what is going to happen in therapy each week. Whatever I have thought may happen rarely if ever happens. So I try to go with an open mind unless something has cropped up in the week that needs discussing.

A colourful, small reef illustration

Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A little reef illustration.

Yesterday, I got round to colouring my little reef drawing. And it is a little drawing – the paper is just 4″ square (10cm square).

To colour it, I used my Chameleon pens – both the Color Tones and Color Tops. I finished the illustration off with some small dots from a white Uniball Signo gel pen.

What I didn’t expect was that the pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens bled somewhat. I don’t remember that happening before. Mind you, I usually scan and print my black and white line art and colour the print. I didn’t do that today — something to remember for future reference. This is why some of the colours look a little dirty.

All the same, it’s a colourful, happy little illustration. I also like the thickness of the main lines with the variation in line thickness in the details. Diversity in line weight is something I need to remember when I draw digitally. Looking at my latest colouring templates, I think I may have used a line that was too fine. Again, this is something that I need to consider in the future.

It’s always lovely to do artwork like this, using traditional media and working in a familiar, comfortable style. It gives me a chance to reflect on what I’m doing elsewhere and to adapt and change what I’m doing to improve it.

Creating this artwork has given me ideas for some projects in the future. More on that when they come to fruition.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing OK. I’m feeling a lot brighter as the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell fades.

I’m aware I really don’t get out of the house and move my body around much. I either get engrossed in art and the day slips past me quite quickly. Or, my anxiety rears up and try as I might to overcome it, I just can’t seem to make it out of the house.

After a conversation with a friend the night before, I remembered that I like to walk around cemeteries and that my local cemetery might be the perfect place to go for a stroll.

And I did. Go for a stroll.

My love affair with cemeteries started when I used to walk to and from school when I was 11 and 12 years old. Walking to school was always a bit of a dash. However, I could take my time on the walk home to wander and explore the cemetery.

Even on the gloomiest, darkest winter afternoons, I never got freaked out by the cemetery. The dead have never scared me. The living, however, are an entirely different matter. The living people around me were the source of my traumas and CPTSD. The dead could do nothing to me that was any worse than the living.

I found the variation in headstone styles fascinating. I found I could chart the change in fashions over time. I also found reading them fascinating as some of them could tell me about the deceased and their families. It was history related to real people and brought them back to life. It wasn’t the dusty, dry, uninteresting facts in the history lessons I had to endure in school.

And so began my love of wandering around cemeteries.

I find them soothing, calm places to be. They’re quiet, not many people visit them. And there’s plenty of wildlife in them if you’re quiet and take the time to look.

Perfect places for me to walk and explore. Even on the days when anxiety stops me going to more people-y places like towns or parks, a cemetery can offer me that quiet space I need to take a walk.

If you’d like to see some photos and read some words about my walk and the cemetery, then please visit my other blog, Curious Stops and Tea Shops.

A little reef tangle

A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a quietly arty morning today. I’ve been adding to my visual zibladone (journal, reference book).

Then, I had the urge to create a little tangled, entangled drawing. So I did.

I cut up some Winsor and Newton Bristol Board into 4″ squares (approx. 10cm squares) and used some Uniball Unipin pens to do the drawing and shading.

I’m quite happy with the result. I may add some colour, perhaps with my Chameleon pens and pencils; I may need the sharp point of a pencil to get into some of the small spaces to add some shadow.

I do need to get out for a walk today. I’ve been letting myself stay in the safety of my home. Mind you, and I think that’s what I’ve needed this week as part of my self-care.

However, I now am feeling a lot less anxious than at the start of the week. So, it’s time to venture forth for more than just a quick trip out for vittles.

Maybe. I do need to have breakfast first. Oh, I’ve just seen the time. I need lunch first!

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve been quietly working at this one over the past day or so. I’ve also found myself at that point of giving up. Not because I’m unhappy with what I’m doing, but because I was/am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the work ahead of me and some confusion about what order I need to work the elements of the design in.

I need to work from the top down; that’s the way my brain works. It also allows me to work with clean overlaps of sections, in the way I know I’d not get if I was trying to work things the other way around.

It’s a lot easier to colour the black and white line art! And a lot quicker too.

However, that doesn’t challenge me in the way this particular kind of art is challenging me. I’m having a lot of fun with using light and shadow to create dimension, as well as working in layers.

I think there’s another reason why I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I’ll talk about that in my ‘So, how are you today Angela?’ section.

I’ve been working on this design for a week already, most days giving a few to several hours to it. As an estimate I’d say I’ve done somewhere between 25 and 30 hours work. You can see how much I have left to do as today I’ve posted the whole design for you to see.

I’ve just realised that spending so much time on one artwork is something new to me. Usually, a drawing takes between one hour and over a day, depending on the intricacy, size and whether it’s a sketch or a finished. inked in piece.

I think previously the longest I’ve spent on an artwork is about two days, and that was for an A3 sized mixed media piece. Oh, I have spent a lot of time on the abstract kind of embroidery/art I used to do.

However, nothing like this particular design.

Of course my tools are the usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK. I’ve had a couple of ‘off’ days.

Nowhere near like I used to have, even in the recent past. Just feeling off and a bit ‘meh’ and uninspired.

I had been feeling content, upbeat, happy even for a number of weeks now. How I’m feeling now was how I felt before on my best days I think.

I also think I know what the trigger has been too. I have homework from therapy to do to check in with my inner child. The experience on Friday caused me to feel really sad and tearful. I’m sure that’s what triggered this.

All the same, it’s something that can be worked on. It’s also given me a couple of insights I’d not had previously, if I can remember them for therapy tomorrow. I’m sure I will, if not tomorrow then later on.

It feels like a step backwards, but it isn’t really. It’s all part of the process.