This could be the last piece of mail art from me for a few days. I need to get focused on art that is ‘work’ rather than just ‘for fun’. I enjoy my art, no matter what it is, but I can be easily distracted by the metaphorical shiny, bright new toy.
Mind you, once I’ve spent time doing art ‘for fun’, the commissioned work then feels like fun. A change is as good as a rest for sure. Different styles and methods of working keep everything fresh for me.
Here’s a brief outline of how I created the card:
Distress Ink background on watercolour paper. Use torn paper to use as a mask for the landscape. Use a circular mask for the sun.
Spray with a mixture of Perfect Pearls and water.
Use Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens to draw the design.
Add metallic highlights using a fine brush and Cosmic Shimmer Iridescent Shimmering Watercolour paints.
Add a distress ink ‘frame’ to the image.
Mount the design on black card. Attach the black card to the 6″ x 6″ card blank.
Use a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen to outline the top panel and black panel.
And here’s a brief outline of how I created the envelope:
Use a white Sakura Glaze pen to draw the flower motifs.
Use a fine paintbrush to add Cosmic Shimmer Iridescent Shimmering Watercolour paints.
For the envelope, I used a rainbow of colours for the flowers.
I like using Sakura Glaze pens to draw motifs when I’m adding watercolour; the ink dries to give a raised line that is waterproof. The thicker line width can also give stained glass feel to the artwork; this is particularly true for the black Glaze pens.
After a very late night talking to a friend and not enough sleep, today is a self-care day. I’m going to go back to bed soon and try to sleep some more before driving for four hours tonight.
While waiting for sleep to catch up with me again, I thought I’d make some mail art. The photo isn’t the best; I’ve said it before, I’m not a brilliant photographer. However, I’m sure you get the idea. Also, I wanted to catch a glimpse of the metallic highlights I’ve added to this card, so the angle of the photography was just plain weird!
My brain seemed to have ticked over some ideas while I was asleep and I woke with some things I thought I could try out. This card is the result of some of them.
I started by using a 4″ x 4″ piece of watercolour paper and applying Distress inks to it to create a background.
I used a torn piece of paper to mask off the bottom of the panel so that could use an ink blending tool to apply Pine Needles and Crushed Olive Distress inks to create some land.
A sky was required, so I used Broken China Distress ink to create it so that it faded from top to the land.
I then sprayed the background with a mixture of gold Perfect Pearls and water to create a less perfect appearance.
While this was drying, I flipped through my Zibladone (visual dictionary) and found some motifs I liked. I used Pitt Artist pens from Faber-Castell to draw the motifs on the panel. I chose these pens because they’re waterproof when dry and I knew I wanted to add colour and sparkle to them later on.
To give a sense of dimension, I used black pens for the foreground motifs and a grey brush pen to create the foliage in the background.
To help the seed pods stand out, I used washes of Dusty Concorde and Seedless Preserves Distress inks. Then, I used some Cosmic Shimmer gold iridescent watercolour paint to add the gold highlights.
Once everything was dry, I used a piece of Cut’n’Dry foam to edge the panel with Dusty Concorde Distress Ink. The design was framed nicely by this edging; it also added a sense of dimensionality.
Next, I mounted the panel on a piece of black card and then adhered these layers to a 6″ x 6″ blank Kraft card, all done with Tombow Mono glue.
Finally, I carefully used a gold glitter Uniball Signo gel pen to add lines around the edge of the design panel and also the black mat.
I then turned my attention to the envelope. I drew some more of the seed pods before adding a light wash of Dusty Concorde and Seedless Preserves Distress Inks, being careful not to overwet the envelope. I added dots of gold watercolour paint to the seed pods and the space around them too, making sure I left enough space to write the name and address of the eventual recipient.
I’m quite pleased with the card. I’ve done this style of drawing digitally in the form of a mandala, but never like this. However, as I look at the card, it seems to need a focal motif in the space between the seedpods. I may be wrong; it may just be my constant need to fill up space with line and pattern and the difficulty I have in leaving white space in a design.
I shall let the card ‘sit’ for a while before making my mind up on that issue.
So, I thought I’d design an entangled design for her birthday and ask members of the group to colouring using some or a lot of pink and shower the facebook group with pink in the coming hours and days (Brett loves pink!). I will be adding colour to the design in the coming day or two as well, to join in the colourful coloring celebration!
If you’d like to join in, just pop over and sign up to the group – you’ll be made most welcome there!
As it’s Friday it’s also dangle day and I sneaked a couple of dangles into the design, just for a bit of fun and also to make sure there’s some white space.
My tutorial book “A Dangle A Day” shows you how, step by step, to draw your own dangle designs.
To draw this design I used a 0.8 Uniball Unipin pen and an A4 sheet of Winsor and Newton Bristol board. I added the colour gradient digitally.
So, how are you today Angela?
My day started off rather flat and a tad ‘meh’ as I woke. It was raining-pouring and the skies were dark and leaden. The clouds have now broken and some sunshine is streaming through. As the sun has shone my mood has improved to a fairly content status.
I think I’ve confirmed what I finally noticed earlier this week – the weather really does affect my mood. I may have to get some lamp bulbs that mimic the qualities of sunlight for gloomy days to prevent gloomy moods.
Off I go now to add some colour to the design above!
There’s rather a lot of purple and teal-blue in ths one, as well as greens. I do have trouble with colour from time to time, it has to be said.
This was drawn with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol board. I then added colour using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
So, how are you feeling today Angela?
I’m actually feeling quite content, almost happy I think. My mood has been improving over the past week or so, but it’s really headed towards contentedness in the pass couple of days for sure. It’s a welcome place to be in for sure.
I got myself off to Hay On Wye today. It was a quick visit for me. I wanted to go to Bartrums to get a new Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebook and came away with a lovely pastel coloured Lamy fountain pen in Mint. Oh, the Leuchtturm is in Pacific Blue, which is a petrel blue. I also wanted to pop into Satori to look at the crystals, minerals and jewellery there. I did come away with a piece of Atlantisite- a combination of yellowish-green serpentine with inclusions of purple stichtite. I also picked up a piece of sunstone. Why? Because I liked them, a lot!
What surprised me, though, was how I found myself walking tall and proud, looking at the world around me and smiling.
When I’m in a not so good place emotionally/mentally, I tend to hold my head down, try to shrink my nearly 6 foot tall and rather hefty body into a smaller space so I may avoid being noticed. To that end I also avoid eye contact with people.
Today I didn’t do that. I faced the world almost boldly for me.
I really would like this feeling to last, or if I have a dip, for it to return again soon.
I have experienced feeling like this from time to time in the past, but not for a goodly long while, and not in a way that I’ve really paid attention to it.
The anxiety I have on a day to day basis was there, but just a faint background noise. It didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do, though I have to say it was a close call as I was deciding whether to go to Bartrum’s or The Pencil Case in Cowbridge. Bartrums won out because I wanted to visit Satori too.
Anyway, today has been a nice day to have a point of reference as to how I’d like to feel for the rest of my life, mostly. I know that being like this every moment of every day isn’t likely to be realisitic; things happen in life that knock our emotions, we all have emotional weather. However, to be able to return to this place would be a good thing when that weather gets stormy.
What a busy week last week was for me. It’s taken a while for me to add any significant work to this wip, but it’s beginning to become a bit more ‘fleshed’ out. My challenge is to leave some white space in the design. We’ll have to see if I can actually manage that!
This is being drawn with a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. The paper is A4 in size (approx US letter), just so you have an idea of the size of the design.
Mental health awareness week and an example of stigma I’ve experienced
What a week it was. I wasn’t as busy this year as last year, but it still took it out of me. I find looking after stands for Time to Change Wales a lot more stressful than doing the talks about my CPTSD and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.
By Thursday afternoon I was absolutely and totally poleaxed. So tired and exhausted in a way I haven’t been since, most probably, I was teaching! Mind you, I suspect I’ve been that exhausted since, but not for such an extended period of time.
It all started with the lead up to EMDR therapy last Tuesday. EMDR was quite distressing and left me exhausted emotionally and physically. I then had no time to recover before the stands on Weds and Thurs.
Friday I had to prepare for something I was doing on Saturday and that took every little bit of strength I’d recovered to do that. I enjoyed the preparation, but I didn’t take much time out to rest and recuperate from the previous days.
I woke at stupid o’clock (aka 3.30am) on Saturday fretting and worrying about my task for the day. So that had me exhausted yet again. The task worked out well, thankfully, but I was even more exhausted on the way home. I managed to throw some food together, which I didn’t really eat as I was too exhausted to eat. I slept for three hours, woke for a couple of hours (long enough to watch Return of the Sith) and then went back to bed and slept through until nearly 9am.
I did feel a lot better and had it in my mind to visit the National Museum in Cardiff to spend sometime with rocks and fossils in the Evolution of Wales exhibition with my sketchbook. I was all fairly excited about this and made my way there. I had a lovely couple of hours observing and drawing. I then realised how tired I was again. So, I thought a cup of tea and a little something to eat may be needed. I drank the tea but couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. I went back to the galleries, wandering around the natural history galleries. I suddenly started to get all emotional at the sight of animals stuffed and on display, and the gallery where the whale and leatherback turtle are finished me and I thought it was best I went home.
Which I did, cooked myself a relatively healthy meal, which I managed to eat and then just flopped in front of the TV until it was time for me to go out in the evening for a kind of meditation class.
And something happened in the evening that triggered a visceral and emotional response, something totally unexpected. I couldn’t stop crying for a good two hours. I definitely have food for thought. One of the things that got to me was the statement ‘you don’t need therapy, you just need to get out of your head and into your heart’. This from someone who knows nothing of my life story. Then it felt like people I’d known for a long while and who know my story were agreeing with this statement and that person.
Added to that was I was told I should trust to the love of my family.
Really? Just further proof they know nothing of my life and the family I was born into. Love? Well, if you mean destroying someone’s sense of self, their confidence, everything about them is love, well then I guess they were right.
They have no idea that I’ve tried self-help program after self-help program in the past 20 years or so, to very little positive effect. I was told I can do the work by myself. So no, I can’t. I’ve tried again and again and finally I had to accept I needed help in the form of therapy.
I’m actually feeling quite angry about this, I really am.
I got quite vocal when I told the person they knew nothing about me, about the abuse I’d suffered as a child. When I said that they said ‘I knew it, I just didn’t want to say’. Then, they went on to say ‘but you don’t need therapy for that, you just need to trust yourself’.
How? HOW? How the feck can I do that when all my life I’ve been told i’m wrong, I’m thick, I’m stupid, I know nothing, I’m useless, I’m an embarrassment, everyone else is better than me, I’m unloveable, I’m ugly, and everything else.
The whole message of my childhood is that I shouldn’t trust myself, that I’m always wrong and stupid.
Another example of the way mental ill-health is stigmatised by those who think they understand but don’t really. There’s so much prejudice about having therapy or counselling in society, even from people you’d expect not to have that prejudice.
This has shaken me somewhat, but my resolve to continue with EMDR is stronger now, this morning. I realise that people don’t want me to change, for whatever, that they think I’m good enough and ‘lovely’ just as I am.
Maybe that’s the case. But EMDR for me is more about helping me to find that courage and confidence that I want to have to continue to go to museums and abbeys and cathedrals by myself to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds. To be able to walk in nature alone. To not feel that I’m putting my life on hold for someone who will ‘rescue me’ and do these things with me.
I’ve put my life on hold for way, way too long hoping someone will come and ‘rescue me’.
I’m the only one who can do that. But I need help to learn how to do that. If I can’t drive a car, I find someone who can teach me. If I can’t learn how to trust myself, to become confident and so on then I need to find someone who can help me learn. That person is my lovely EMDR therapist.
I’m typing all this with tears in my eyes as it really did upset me, and still does, and I’m a bit angry about it too.
I will continue with EMDR. I will continue healing, little by little, even if part of that process are the days of absolute emotional exhaustion and the pain that comes along with realising how I’ve been hurt in the past. The pain is because I never processed the hurt properly, believing it was all I deserved, that it was ok to be spoken to or dismissed or ignored as that’s all that I knew growing from the earliest days I can remember.
I have to do what is right for me. Not do what other people think I should do for whatever reason they think that. I’ve lived my life through the messages drummed into me by those who were supposed to love and care and nurture and those messages have stopped me from being the person I would now like to be and have led to some severe episodes of deep depression and anxiety so bad I was off work for nearly a year in the first instance, and after several months the second time I never returned, a decision I do not regret as I can focus on recovery from a lifetime’s CPTSD and also focus on art and learning to live the life I’d like.
“I can do this” – reprise
So the message hand written on my artwork is so appropriate given the events of yesterday evening.
It makes me more determined to continue EMDR, which is the only therapy/counselling that really works.
I’ll do my best to push last night aside and continue to move forward now, which I have to do soon as I have therapy this afternoon!
Just like I will show my mother and others that they are wrong about me I will show others the same.
I started drawing this one fairly late last night and completed it just now. The tools I used were a soft Fudenosuke pen by Tombow, a 0.4 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen on white mixed media paper from Claire Fontaine.
I then scanned the drawing into the Surface Studio and used Autodesk Pro and a Surface Pen to clean up the image and then add a few details and some shading to it.
The original drawing is approx. 5″ x 6″ in size.
I’m quite pleased with this one as it’s not my usual ‘lets see how much space we can fill with line and pattern’ kind of drawing. The design has a kind of leaf shape to it in outline, and I’ve let white space exist in the design, which is really unusual for me.
Working in monotone is also unusual for me, but the grey shading certainly adds depth and dimension to the design, brings it to life.
I also have some brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that I can use to mimic graphite pencil shading, which I did here.
I started with the flower motif in the middle and let the design flow out from that point. Of course my design motifs had to include foliage, seedpods and some abstract/geometrical patterns too. Oh and some fungi/mushrooms too. And orbs/spheres.
I really like my circular arches of a pattern inspired by Early Celtic/La Tene art. The shading really helped to define this pattern.
I’m going to make this one available for purchase from my RedBubble shop.
Still emotionally exhausted…
I slept so much yesterday and last night. I’m still emotionally exhausted after my trip out on Thursday. I’m still finding it hard to believe how much something so simple exhausted me so much in terms of emotion particularly. I didn’t think I was any more anxious than usual, or stressed than usual. Seems I was oblivious to my own body.
I do feel a bit better today, but I could just curl up and sleep again now and I’ve only been awake for 4 hours.
I won’t go to sleep this afternoon though. I’m going to keep myself awake somehow. Maybe with art. Maybe with some books I bought on Thursday. Maybe with crochet. Maybe with all of them, but not at the same time!
Even though I’m exhausted I do feel quite content within myself. However, even though it’s a lovely sunny day, if rather windy, here in Welsh Wales, I don’t think I’ll venture out into the realms of peopledom. It’s another Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so the world tends to be more people-y than usual. I think that could overwhelm me again and I’m better off just remaining where I feel safe and calm.
The more aware I am of my emotions and my self, the more aware I am of how much CPTSD has affected me, of how it limits my life, and of how much work I still have to do. Mind you, that self awareness is showing me as well the progress I have made and how I make decisions based around self care too. Like today, knowing the world is too people-y and somethings can be left until the world is a little less people-y.
I’ve really not been myself the past few days. With a couple of busy days this week, the emotional fallout from EMDR on Tuesday finally caught up with me as I slowed down Thursday afternoon. I’m so tired, and my mood isn’t the brightest to say the least.
It’s always a sign that even when I’m tired I can usually draw and create, but not much this week. I haven’t been able to find the inspiration to draw, nor have I found the interest or energy.
Today, around a meeting, I managed to draw this.
It’s a throwback to the more familiar art of earlier days. It has given me a chance to use some new motifs, as well as some favourite ones that crop up often.
The process of drawing was soothing, and I did my very best not to be too judgemental, though I did want to throw it out and restart several times as I wasn’t at all happy with what was coming out of the nib of my fountain pens or Uniball Unipins.
I switched to the Uniballs as the fountain pen ink was smudging lightly. I’ve fixed that, mostly, by digital wizardry. I also added the Distress Ink background digitally.
I know my inspiration and energy to draw will return, I’m just not feeling at all myself at the moment.
I do have a new self-care activity, which is sitting in/on the bed, crocheting shawls and listening to audiobooks – currently working my way through the Harry Potter series.
The rhythmic nature of crocheting is soothing. The familiarity of the Harry Potter story is also soothing. Being upstairs makes me feel safe, secure and it’s also comforting.
The memory being worked on in EMDR certainly has stirred some stuff up. I’ve had some very upsetting insights into how I’ve viewed myself. Releasing the trauma associated with this particular memory will be accompanied by a better view of myself. I may not fully believe it, but if I can believe a little of it then that is good enough for now.
I have to believe that with each memory and its associated traumatic experiences that are processed via EMDR I’ll believe the healthier, more positive statements about myself more and more.
These are some quotes I’ve found recently that are helpful to me in understanding me, helping me through this.
Trauma creates changes you don’t chose. Healing is about creating change that you do choose.
What happened to you was not your fault. The struggles you have today, like your cPTSD symptoms, are a normal response to abnormal events. So, please be kind to yourself.
The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.