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!

Coloring Book Day 2019

Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

That’s right, there’s an annual day to celebrate coloring books and to indulge yourself in the relaxing, calming, stress-busting activity of coloring, no matter your age or gender!

As you can see if you browse this blog, I do a lot of art. Whether drawing, colouring, or other forms of creativity in art it really does relax, calm and soothe me when I need it.

And there are times when I really do need calming and relaxing. It’s no secret to anyone who has followed my blog for a while that I have complex PTSD (CPTSD) and I am slowly recovering from it with the help of EMDR therapy. On the days where I have low mood or anxiety or I’ve been startled into hyper-vigilance, art really helps to soothe my jarred emotions and calm me until the stress hormones leach from my body returning to their normal level for me. That is still an elevated level, but a level that has always been there in my life.

It’s not just me saying this. Research has shown that spending time colouring has a similar effect on the brain as mindfulness meditation.

One piece of research at the University of West England in Bristol has shown that colouring can reduce stress, boost creativity and increased mindfulness (being aware of what you are doing at that moment, not thinking about the future or past).

The benefits of colouring are listed in an article on the developing good habits blog.

There are so many coloring books available as well as colouring pages, you can find just about anything to suit your tastes. Also, I have many colouring books available (I think it’s around 20 now) – have peek at at my Angela Porter Amazon author page.

If you like to draw your own designs to colour and are looking for something new and a little different, then you may like to take a look at my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show you what dangles are, how to draw them and use them with hand lettered sentiments and monograms. They’re fun to draw, simple, and there are many ways to use them such as in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, journals, scrapbooks, greetingscards, note cards, bookmarks and more.

Also, I gift an exclusive template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group at least once a month. They’re free to members and shouldn’t be available anywhere else, though intellectual theft isn’t unknown in the realms of the internet.

The image above is the August template for the facebook group. I coloured it digitally using gradient tools for some speed. It would take me weeks to do the way I’ve been creating digital art of late!

No matter what you use to colour – digital or traditional media – I’d love to see how you’ve brought my line art to life, whether from one of my books or from one of the templates available in the facebook group. There’s also some templates available on my angela porter illustrator facebook page too.

Here’s the tags you can use to connect with me on the social media platforms that I use:

Be Brave – WIP

Be Brave WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Be Brave WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I thought I’d try out my newest digital art skills on an entangled design of mine. I thought that the ‘Be Brave’ design would be appropriate. I am being brave with my art. I’m also brave through returning to EMDR therapy time and time again even though it’s caused me some considerable distress. The same is true for me telling my story for Time to Change Wales. I’m also being asked to be brave in another area of my life at the moment too.

I’d never describe myself as brave. I tend to hide away from people and avoid situations that I’m scared of in some way. I find it hard to make decisions and ‘adulting’ can be a problem too.

Art is something, however, that I am learning to be a bit more brave with, especially when it’s something new/different for me.

This entangled drawing is causing it’s own problems in re-creating in a similar way to how I did my last mandala. My tools are my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I will persevere. So far I’ve invested around seven hours of work into the coloured portions of this image. I also I’m trying out some ideas but also working with similar ideas/techniques to those I used in the mandala. So, this artwork is likely to end up a bit more of a hodgepodge that usual for me.

However, it’s an opportunity for me to embed the skills I’ve used, to try out new ideas as they come to me, and also to see the progress I’ve made.

I can already see it with the first motif I coloured in (the one that appears to be at the top of the pile) compared to the later ones.

I’m enjoying it, even though it’s slow work for me. There’s no rush to get it done and I think I now need a bit of a break from it.

I’m feeling rather contented today. I finished crocheting a shawl this morning so now I have just two projects on the go – a stash busting blanket made out of hexagons, and a lost souls skull shawl which I’m doing in rather fine yarn and it’s going to take me some time to complete. Again, there’s no rush for the shawl.

I have quite a large collection of crocheted shawls now and I think I need to let some of them go to new homes. I know which ones are really ‘me’ and which ones were part of my learning process. I’ve enjoyed making each one of them, but I don’t need them all that’s for sure!

Amazing Mandala WIP

Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

This mandala is coming along slowly, but surely.

I’m definitely learning new ways to work digitally, but also new ways to express my creativity as well.

I’ve said it before and I’m amazed at what I’m creating. I never, ever thought that I’d be able to create anything like this, but I have and am doing so.

As usual, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to express my creativity.

The colours are bright and bold, which seems to be my signature style. They’re quite psychedelic too – all due to my love of playing with complementary colours.

I am child of the 60s in the respect I was born then and have some early memories of the music and art of that period thanks to my older half-sister who is 10 years my senior.

Perhaps I’m expressing my inner hippy. Or maybe I’m just expressing me, Angela.

I’ve said it before that I like to create things that are pretty, beautiful even. I don’t always get it right, but the more I do, the more I learn. I find my confidence little by little.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m tired but content. My stomach still isn’t right and it’s pulling my energy levels and my ability to concentrate on my art down.

I’ve had my moments of tears in the past day or so when I have been so tired once again. I’m not very resilient to the inner critic when I’m over tired or run down that’s for sure.

When I’m tired the inner critic seems to want to convince me I’m lonely, unloveable and unloved, worthless, useless.

I know when I feel this way to do anything artsy can be a self-defeating task as I’m never satisfied with what what I do and this feeds the inner critic who becomes nastier and nastier.

So, I don’t feed the inner critic and do other things until I find the energy I need to be stronger than the inner critic.

Today I did a little more on this mandala and I’m now doubting it greatly, even though I’m really pleased with it. I can feel the pressure bearing down on me to believe that this is horrible, it’s not as good as I’d like to think it is, that it’s ugly, it doesn’t work, that the black was a huge mistake and I’ll never get it right.

So, instead of sitting and worrying about it I shall go and do something else that the critic could have plenty to say about but it doesn’t bother me all that much. So, I’m working on crocheting a blanket for a friend. I’m not at all sure it’s going to work out; I’m doing a ‘scrap’ blanket to use up yarn from my stash so it’s not going to be planned out and that causes me some concern. However, I shall keep going.

Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Mandala WIP 12 June 2019 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

My current work in progress is a mandala. Also, I’m using my line art as a guide for the coloured areas which is quite different for me to do. No black lines in the finished design. Not a one will there be.

I’m working digitally using my trusty trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I have also chosen a coloured, texture background for the design to sit/float upon.

Just as a guide, it took me an hour or so to draw out the mandala design. So far I’ve spent around 6 hours on adding the colour and so on – and that’s with the help of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I’d had to do each section individually it would’ve taken me eight times as long!

You can see I still have a lot to do, so it’s going to be a long term project for sure.

I’m actually enjoying this one. It’s been rather soothing to do given that I’ve not been feeling too well with some kind of upset tummy. I’m still not fully well today but I am feeling a fair bit better than I did yesterday, thank goodness.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

Other than still feeling not too well physically with some kind of dodgy tummy, I’m quite contented.

Contented is good enough I think. I’m being creative, quietly so. I’m enjoying listening to Audible (currently it’s “Fatal Alliance” the first in the Star Wars Old Republic series of books. This one is authored by Sean Williams) as I’m being artsy. However, as I type I’m listening to the Maroon 5 station on Amazon Music. I can’t write and listen to a book!

To go back to my mental and emotional health, I feel quite content and my anxiety levels are at the manageable background levels, which is barely noticeable unless I focus on them. That is good enough for me, though I do know that it doesn’t take much for them to be triggered.

The CPTSD hair triggers that lead to emotional flashbacks. Not clear memories of a traumatic event, the emotional memories of a series of similar events that tapped into the stored trauma of the first traumatic event, reinforcing the trauma again and again and again.

That’s one way in which CPTSD is different to PTSD.

As I become more aware of my emotions and what can trigger an emotional response I’m more able to manage how I interact (or not) with the world until that trigger no longer affects me.

All part of self care which is so important.

My recovery from CPTSD is a work in progress, something I won’t stop until I’m good enough in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing as well as my relationship with myself.

Happy Birthday Brett – all coloured

Happy Birthday Brett © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Happy Birthday Brett © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I finally got round to finishing colouring the Happy Birthday coloring template I created for Brett, the lovely person who runs the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board using Unipin pens and then I’ve added colour digitally, as well as a rose gold coloured and textured background.

I chose pink as a fairly dominant colour as Brett loves pink so much.

Oh, to colour I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how have you been?

I’ve been quiet on social media over the past few days. I’ve needed some quiet time to myself, which has involved an awful lot of crocheting. I’ve not even done anything much that has been arty either.

The reason for this is that I’ve not been feeling all that well. Nothing serious. just not well. I had a migraine on Sunday that took all day to go and left me exhausted.

Also, I’ve not been feeling right in my digestive system/stomach for a few days. This happens on a fairly regular basis (monthly) but this time it was rather unpleasant.

Last night, it hit new highs as I woke hot, sweaty, nauseous and headachy. Thank goodness it was rather chilly here in the UK and I had the windows open. The cool air was pleasant as I lay uncovered. It all passed eventually without me being sick, however I still feel yeuchy today and very, very tired.

Yesterday I had EMDR and that was an interesting session that left me rather tired later in the day. Another inner child made their presence known and I had help to communicate with them, which was so much easier after last weeks session. This child was all to do with loud voices, arguing voices and being startled and upset by them. So, we did some EMDR work with the emotions that came up from that child. A lot of body work was being done with pains around my body as the trauma was being processed with EMDR. Also, lots of memories of raised voices, harsh voices, argumentative voices…and just noisy environments.

I’ve known for a long while that I can be triggered into startle or panic mode when I hear a sudden loud voice or noise around me. I try to remember to take noise cancelling headphones or earphones with me so I can listen to music and not hear such sounds when I’m out and about, especially when I’m feeling rather fragile.

Saturday I flinched and became a bit panicked as I was talking to someone while waiting for a meeting outside a building in my local town. Sunday evening someone spoke quite harshly to me. I don’t think they realised it, but the response in me was one of upset and to withdraw from the situation, permanently.

So, we work with this in EMDR to heal those traumatised parts of me represented by these children.

Hmm, I wonder if these different aspects of me from times when I’ve been traumatised are coming forward so easily because I have so few concrete memories of events.

Either way, as crazy as it may seem to you, it seems to be helping me, and that is all that matters as far as I’m concerned.

Entangled Inspiration – WIP

Entangled Inspiration 25 May 2019 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Inspiration 25 May 2019 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I’ve been working on this one over the past couple of days, when I’ve felt up to it.

I’m fairly pleased with it, though I’m not sure I should’ve added the upside down mushrooms. I guess if they really don’t work with fresh eyes then I can always remove them using some digital wizardry.

I wanted to use the words ‘The magic of colour’ as a nod towards my coloring books and the people who bring my drawings to life by adding colour; they really do work some magic!

As lovely as the black and white line drawings are, even with shadows added, it is colour that really brings them to life for sure.

But there’s another kind of magic that goes on when people lose themselves in coloring or creating, and that’s the magic of relaxing and giving the brain a break from thinking.

I get that when I draw or colour.

My challenge to myself in this one is again to leave some white space.

The drawing and hand lettering has been done with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board (A4 in size, roughly US letter size).

There’s more to be done with this drawing yet; I particularly want to incorporate some of the patterns and textures I’ve observed and recorded during my visits to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Kilpeck Church near Hereford.

How am I feeling today?

I’m flat. Tired. Lacking oompf. Part of me is content enough but part of me is sad. It’s weird, but that’s how it feels.

I’m still experiencing the ripples/waves from the tsunamis of therapy and the person trying to tell me I don’t need therapy last Sunday. I really don’t want to leave my home today.

If that’s what I need to do to look after myself, then I need to accept it’s ok to stay at home.

I am tired as well as I had an evening out with some friends – a pub meal and chitter chatter until nearly midnight. Even though it was with a small group of people and it was a nice evening I’m absolutely drained today.

So, to take care of my emotions and mental health I need that quiet time again. I may play my flute, crochet, draw, read. I may also nap later on as I’m so tired. I’ll see. Napping may make me be up until the wee small hours.

So that’s how I am this day. A weird mixture of contentedness and sadness. This healing journey from CPTSD is full of weird twists and turns, ups and downs, but on the whole it’s definitely moving forwards and upwards. EMDR is really my panacea for CPTSD.