Entangled art, mental health quote.

©Angela Porter 2019

The Art…

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote before I headed off to my EMDR therapy session. I decided I wanted a fairly simple pattern around/behind it, and just simple colours, though I’ve played around a little with adding patterns to the sections.

I printed out the quote and the borders. I Used a Pentel Sign pen to draw the bold, black lines of the design. To colour the design, I used a Microsoft Surface Pen, a Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Behind the design I added a paper texture which, with some wizardry of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, I was able to add to the design to add some texture and imperfection.

Walks, EMDR and being brave…

I had a lovely drive to Neath for my EMDR therapy and I arrived with enough time to go seek out some yarn to buy for my knitting/crochet stash as well as have a walk around Victoria Park in the winter sunshine.

The first blooming daffodils were proudly holding their bright yellow heads up for all to see, and there were signs of plenty more to follow. Snowdrops, crocuses, pansies were all there to be seen too. Lichens on the bark of trees created a beautiful natural tapestry of colour and pattern. It really was lovely to see.

Without the leaves on the trees to muffle the songs of the birds it was quite raucous at times, but raucous in a beautiful way. The birds didn’t quite drown out the sound of traffic, people or the tinny sounding music coming from the speakers in the bandstand, but they were loud enough that I could listen to them and filter out the other sounds.

It was nice to be out in the fresh air after a few days of barely leaving my home as I recovered from the emotionally draining days of last week. It was nice to take a space to breathe before going in for therapy.

The quote above was a starting point for my session, during the usual reflection on how last weeks EMDR had affected me and how I’d been through the week. One of the weeks sticking points that cause me some discomfort was the many people telling me I’m brave for telling my story, for going to therapy and how good it is that I’m showing people that it is possible to recover from mental illness.

Brave? Me? Surely not! That goes against everything I was led to believe about myself from as young as I could remember.

“You’re fat, thick, stupid, ugly. No one loves you. No one will love you. No one will be your friend. You’re useless. You’re a failure. So and so is much better than you at everything. Don’t bother me. You’re making it up. You’re’ to blame for all of this. Why do you want to bother doing that?”

If I asked for help I was either made fun of, dismissed or ignored. Me and my feelings weren’t important.

No matter what I did to try to please or make people proud of me or to acknowledge how well I had done it was never good enough. There was always a put-you-down.

The only time my narcissistic mother ever expressed any pride in me wasn’t really pride in ME.

My daughter has graduated.” ” My daughter has a PhD.”

She has three daughters. I was never mentioned by name, not even if I was stood next to her. It was all about her. I was only useful for what could make her look better, for her to be the centre of attention.

These messages were taken up by other people around me. They became ingrained in me as the view I had of myself. I still speak to myself using these phrases when I’m in a fragile state mentally or emotionally.

I’ve known about the way I think about myself and where it has come from long while. However, the realisation that my feelings have never been important to anyone, not even to myself. I’ve pushed my feelings, my needs away so that other people don’t get upset or angry with me, so I make sure they’re always happy, even if inside I’m suffering in some way. This was something that came out of the very, very painful, emotional and frustrating EMDR session that followed.

Frustrating as I have very, very few memories of my past. I was made aware I was trying to hard to find a memory and reminded that part of cPTSD is hiding painful memories away, forgetting about them as a way of coping. I was told it’s ok not to have any memory. That I just need to let things be as they are in EMDR.

I think I’m trying so hard to ‘succeed’ at finding a memory, not to disappoint, the harder I try, the less likely it is for a memory to appear. The funny thing is, that once I accepted that through all the tears and anger and frustration with myself, the memories just appeared. There were so many that we just bundled them together as a ‘cluster’ and worked with them.

Then, through the tears and the pain in my throat and heart, a quiet, small voice told me that I had done nothing wrong and I did not deserve any of this. That I deserve better.

We tried working on me believing that through EMDR techniques. That caused me more tears and upset and emotional pain. So we called an end to the EMDR and talked a little about things.

Through EMDR I’m revealing more and more of my story. It causes me pain when new parts are discovered or insights are gained. But without that revealing taking place there is no hope of me healing. My aim is to tell my story without feeling any pain.

I was very tearful with weird memories cropping up as I drove home and through the evening. I had weird and disturbing dreams through the night. I woke with a blinding headache, which is still with me despite some painkillers. I feel so tired, weepy. However, I know there’s been a breakthrough, more than one actually, through yesterday’s therapy session.

The last words my therapist left me with were that she thinks I am very brave. Brave for telling my story. Brave for seeking out therapy to help me heal. Brave for persevering with EMDR when it can cause me a lot of distress and upset. Brave for showing people that recovery from mental health problems is possible. Brave for telling people that seeking therapy/counselling is a strong thing to do as we are helped to learn the skills we need to regain our mental and emotional wellbeing.

I don’t feel brave. I don’t understand how people think that I am. I do know I want to tell what I feel able to do so of my story to let others know they’re not alone. I do want to tell people about my journey to recovery so they can see that recovery is possible. I tell it to try to help others.

I don’t do it for attention. I don’t do it to have people feel sorry for me. That is my narcissistic mother, and others, still putting me down via the voice that is my inner critic.

Entangled Quote

©Angela Porter 2019

I’ve worked on this design over the past three days. I wanted to do another version of this particular quote in my more characteristic pen and ink, intricate, entangled style of art.

I used various pens to draw this on recycled copy paper (I know, but it’s preserved for posterity as a digital file now). The quote and the boundary lines were printed out on a laser printer. I could have hand lettered it, but I wanted a typewritten look for the quote.

I did add colour and texture to the background using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio, but the drawing was all done traditionally with various black pens.

This is so characteristic of my work from quite a few years ago, before I worked on colouring books. I think last week’s stresses and strains – EMDR, Time to Talk Day – had me wanting to escape into the familiar, the comforting, the easy (for me at least) which is why I defaulted to this style of art.

I do have to push myself out of this very comfortable art zone to work on templates for my next coloring book, one which could have an added bit of stress for me concerning its theme. I’m determined to do it though!

It’s taken me until today to fully recover from all of last week’s emotionally tiring events, just in time for my weekly EMDR session! So, I plan to get some drawings done for the book this morning before I head to Neath in what looks like it’s going to be a sunny late winter day. I also really need to get a brisk walk in nature in today. My fragile state has had me remaining in the safety of my home or car. Today, I feel the need to move my body a bit more.

Monograms M and G

Yesterday was a day where I was out of sorts for some unspecified reason. Drawing little, intricate bits of art was the only thing that helped to soothe me and calm me. Along with comfort eating, which was not good way to cope.

I get days like this. I have no idea what triggered this response. It may have been a visit to my accountant on Tuesday and the tax bill to pay – I have absolutely nothing to worry about with either, but dealing with finances is a trigger for the anxiety and depression that are part of my cPTSD.

I know I was on edge about the meeting, even though I knew there would be nothing to worry about. The anxiety had been gradually growing through the previous few days. This anxiety provoked the warning signs of an incipient migraine/stress headache on Tuesday morning. Luckily I caught it in time with painkillers so that it didn’t develop into a full blown migraine and after the meeting I was left tired but feeling more at ease.

Yesterday, the anxiety ramped up again as I went to get the paperwork and bank card to make the payments. So, yesterday I needed to manage my anxiety and tiny, intricate drawings were what was needed.

Today, I know I have to do these things, and I will. I don’t have the anxiety I had about them yesterday. I think yesterday was just too close to a few days of spiralling anxiety as accounts day approached closer and closer.

cPTSD can make doing the simple things in life far more difficult to do. I do get things done, though I do have to be kind to myself at times, making sure I have plenty of time before the deadline.

I used fountain pens on white paper to draw the designs. The M is on paper that is around 4″ x 4″, the G is a little narrower than 4″ for some reason.

After scanning them in, I did a bit of digital wizardry to fill the letters with a gold foil texture, just to see what it would look like, and they look OK to me. I’m not too keen on the black line around the G though. I do like the contrast of the golden letters and the black and white designs around them.

Today, I have to colour the cover for my next book for Dover Publications Creative Haven series. And keep warm and safe. I woke up to a lovely sunrise with a frosty world – everything was covered with white. I know the temperature was down to -3ºC last night as I came home around 10:30 pm, and it would only have got colder as the skies were clear and starry. It’s beginning to go now, but clouds have covered the sky.

The frost is beginning to disappear now, but clouds have covered the blue skies. Snow is forecast for a bit later on today. I like to see snow. I like the way the world falls silent in heavy snow as it seems to muffle the usual background noise of modern times. I’m wise enough to know that for me to go out in snow is never a wise idea; I tend to slip and slide and fall and hurt myself. So, as I have nothing pressing that requires me to leave home, I’ll be staying safe and warm indoors! Once the cover is coloured, my attention will go to February’s templates for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans Facebook group. Someone there has asked for some simpler templates like my dangle designs, so I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Doodly Saturday

©Angela Porter 2019

It’s been a weird kind of day today for me. I’m quite open about my mental health, and today has been one where it’s not been completely tickettyboo. I’m out of sorts. Unsettled. Nothing I’ve done seems good enough to me. I’m quite teary and that really set in during a loving kindness meditation this morning.

Loving kindness meditations are always difficult for me. It’s easy for me to send out love and good wishes to all people. It’s not easy for me to accept the same for myself. Today, it was more difficult than usual, including some physical pain along with it. Traumas from my past kept rising up. Things I didn’t think were traumas, just stupid decisions made by myself. Seems I have work to do on those too in EMDR therapy.

I did colour some mixed media paper with distress inks and quite small pieces at that. I drew on two of them, as above. I’m really not happy with either of them. I really don’t know why I put the words on the left hand one. Growth is a funny word there.

I’ll just put it all down to me being out of sorts. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for me to focus on art.

This is odd for me as drawing or creating usually helps me to feel better. Today it hasn’t.

I received a book in the post today – “The Wild Remedy’ by Emma Mitchell. It’s a diary she’s written over a year of how she finds being in nature and drawing and painting helps her with her low moods. She’s subtitled the book ‘How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’. I’ve read the introduction and the first month in the diary, which is October. Both interesting reads.

I almost was inspired to go out for a walk, but I just couldn’t pull myself together to do this during the daylight hours. The Sun has just set here in South Wales in the UK. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll manage to get out for a walk at some point.

I know my moods don’t linger for long. I do have low days which can linger for a couple or few days. Nowhere near as bad as they used to be, but enough to result in me being unsettled and out of sorts and hypercritical of myself and anything I do. I’ve become aware enough that it’s best to do other things that draw for publishers on days like today as I’ll just get more and more frustrated with myself and my efforts.

On other days, whatever I draw I may consider good enough. But on days like today …

Still, the sun will rise again in the morning and it’ll be a new day. My mood may be better then and I’ll accomplish work I consider to be good enough. Now all I need to do is try to find something that I can settle down to do today. I’ve been back and forth all day between drawing, reading, knitting, fussing around. The only creative thing I’ve enjoyed today has been colouring paper with distress inks. Not sure I want to spend the evening doing that though.

Maybe I need to go out for a drive. Sometimes driving with upbeat music on can shift my mood, especially when I feel anxious and restless as I do now, for no reason either.

Entangled Art ‘b’

© Angela Porter 2-19

Yesterday, I just felt the need to do a bit of an entangled drawing. So, I started with the lower case b and added designs around it.

Not at all sure this works. The letter just looks ‘plonked’ on top of the design rather than part of it.

I do like the entangled stuff though.

Always something to learn – that’s my piece of Wednesday Wisdom. If you don’t try something, you never know if you can either do it or if it’ll work out. This one isn’t one of my better lettering adventures, but, I can reflect on what I like and what I don’t like and then try again another time.

I’m not at all sure I can ‘fix’ this one, but I can try again.

For this one I used Daler Rowney Bristol Board along with 08 Unipin Uniball and 04 Sakura Pigma Sensei pens.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

I’d like to wish all my American friends, and all others too, a very happy Thanksgiving celebration today. 

I’ve made the black and white template an exclusive ‘freebie’ for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. So, if you’d like to download and colour it, please wander over there. You’d be made very welcome indeed.

This template was had drawn using a Uniball Unipin pen on white paper. 

Abstract Entangled Art WIP 21 November 2018

I think all the line work is done on this design. I say ‘think’ because I’ll leave it to one side for a little while and come back to it with fresh eyes later on today to decide if I need to add details anywhere.

I also need to decide whether I just add shading/shadow in greys or whether I colour the design, or create a coloured background, or re-colour the lines, or any combination of these possibilities!

Shadows really help with increasing the sense of dimensionality of the design, as can colour. That’s the one thing I do like to do with my art once I’ve drawn it -create dimensionality, especially if I can manage to make it look like different elements are not just layered but are on different planes.

I have other decisions to make too. Whether to add shadow/colour digitally or whether to do this with traditional media. I do tend to favour digital colouring because of the wide range of colours and vibrancies available, and also it’s easy on my achy joints. The same applies to markers such as Chameleons or Copics; they require a lot less pressure than pencils and the wider barrels make it easy for me to grip them when my joints hurt, as they are today with the colder weather.

So, I need to have a bit of a break and come back to this image with a clearer idea of what to do. I also need some breakfast – it’s getting on for 11am here in the UK and I got so engrossed in completing the artwork after showering that I’ve not had tea or any thing to eat yet. That could help me with making those decisions about this drawing.

It’s WIPWednesday over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group today. #wipwednesday

It’s also #wednesdaywisdom or #wisdomwednesday, so my wisdom for the day is if you’re not sure what to do with a drawing, colouring or anything else, just take a break from it and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

Do this especially if you think it’s not working out for you. Come back to it and push through that doubt. There’s always a point part-way through any art I create where I think what I’ve done is awful and I just want to destroy it and throw it away, but I’ve learned to either push through those doubts or to take a break and come back to it later with the intention of completing it.

Even if you don’t like the end result, learn from the process and work out what hasn’t worked for you. Focus on which parts you like and why you like them.

Even then, don’t throw it away or destroy it. Leave it aside for days or weeks and then come back to it. Your mood will have changed. You’ll really have fresh eyes and you’ll notice different things about it. It may be that the bits you didn’t like are actually the ones you now really, really like.

Make use of those bits in future work. I think that’s how we learn and grow as creatives. if we’re outside what we usually do or make choices of colour or pattern or shape etc that we’d not usually do we’re usually uncomfortable with that change. Once we’ve taken a break from that uncomfortable feeling and are able to look back on the artwork we can appreciate it far more.

Even if we still end up disliking it, we can learn from that as to what is ‘right’ for us and what doesn’t work for us and use those lessons in future works.