Monday musings

Angela Porter 28 August 2018

It’s been a little while since I’ve done an illustrated quote. Today, I was drawn to one by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and even though it was written over 200 years ago, it still has relevance in our time.

I printed the words out and then used Ohto Graphic Liner pens to draw the illustration around it. After scanning the image in, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to alter the colour and add my watermark.

A nice way to spend a damp, sometimes drizzly Monday morning here in the UK. The schools return, the teachers at least for their day of training/preparation for the return of their students in the coming day(s), the interminable meetings where so much information is passed on it’s hard to retain it, let along digest it!

I do not miss this one bit. I loved teaching – the actual teaching, helping pupils to grow and develop, not only as little scientists but also as human beings and in confidence and self-belief.

I do not miss the huge number of meetings, the constant change, the challenges of behaviour/attitudes that changes in society have wreaked, the homogenization of teaching strategies…and so much more.

I’m feeling grateful this day that I get to do what I love, to make a new career from it, to continue to help people through my colouring books, and in other ways too.

I was once ignorant of the fact that I could do something else with my life, I thought I’d be a teacher until I reached retirement age, and that I would struggle more and more with my mental health and emotional health over time. I was also ignorant of the fact I had depression, anxiety and more – willfully ignoring the signs, denying that it was a problem, that I was just tired, or it was the result of a verbal attack or poor behaviour or even a physical threat at the end of my time teaching.

I was ignorant as I chose to ignore the facts of what was happening to my mind and emotions.

It must have been a terrible thing for those who truly knew me (not many, one maybe, thanks to the carefully crafted mask of happiness and jollity that I wore all my life when with people, very different behind closed doors with no one around to observe) to see how I was plummeting downward, to have me dismiss their observations with the excuse ‘I’m just tired’ or ‘I’ve had a tough day’ or ‘So and so did such and such yet again today and it got to me. I’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep’.

Eventually I had no choice but to get help, to have months and months away from teaching so that I could recover just enough to return and last another eight months.

I know now my ignorance of my own well being wasn’t out of innocence about mental health issues; instead it was borne out of the messages I had as I grew up from the mother, from society, that to have depression, to be anxious, was a shameful, weak thing and there was something wrong with you if this was you.

I stigmatized myself, and prevented myself from getting the help I needed for a long time.

I was ignorant as I willfully ignored the facts, the evidence that was right in front of me, staring back at me whenever I looked in the mirror. It wasn’t innocence. I knew about mental illness, mental ill-health, depression, anxiety, but I refused to consider that was what was wrong with me.

Ignorance, ignoring the facts, the knowledge or applying it as it didn’t suit what I wanted to believe.

To give myself a bit of a softer time, I’d never known anything but depression and anxiety, ever that I can recall. So, to me, the worsening state of my mental/emotional health was just me being worn out by the day, the week, the term (semester) or academic year.

It took a very skillful and understanding GP to help me see that I needed help, and I took it, and still am with my weekly therapy sessions.

That’s a personal example of why I don’t see innocence and ignorance as the same thing with reference to the quote.

Hello September!

Angela Porter September Template 2018 small

September 2018’s coloring template

A new month begins and a coloring template for September 2018(above) for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group is now available.

If you’d like to access to September 2018’s uncoloured template, which is exclusive to members of the group, just wander over to the group, join and download. Please note, that terms and conditions do apply.

I drew this in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Studio using my Microsoft Surface Pen.

Autumn is a-coming!

With the calendar turning to September, my heart lifts with the expectation of the glory of nature as autumn asserts it’s influence.

It’s my favourite season of the year. I love the bright, vivid colours that replace the darker, duller greens of summer. Nature’s picks out it’s most glorious paintbox and sets the world alight in fiery autumnal hues.

I also luxuriate in the cooler evenings and mornings and look forward to waking up to see dew, or even frost, on Binky, my Smartcar.

The fresh, clean, clear air that the turning season brings blows away the dustiness of the hot, dry summer.

There’s also the return of the pleasure and comfort of snuggling up under a duvet as night time is cooler. Not to mention the relief of sleeping well throughout the night.

There are other things I’m looking forward to this year too.

It’s hard to remember now the fear and trepidation that the return to school as a teacher that would come with the start of this month as the new school year starts.

Now, I look forward to the start of the new school year as the world is calmer, quieter during the school day and I can begin to venture forth from my home without my CPTSD panic kicking in when I hear the sound of teenagers shouting and arguing and swearing and being belligerent, just them being themselves really.

It’s not their fault, I know, but their sounds are triggers for my fear, anxiety, panic and cause me to want to hide in a quiet dark corner of my safe home. So much so, that I find it so difficult to venture out of my front door during daytime during the school holidays.

Through therapy, I will overcome this, but the reaction is so ingrained in me and goes right back to my earliest years; teaching, dealing with the dramas of teens on a daily basis as well as being the focus for some to vent their anger, just reinforced these automatic responses. This means not just unraveling the web of trauma that resulted in the panic response, it means learning a healthy response to such triggers, one that I’ve never, ever had in the first place.

Now, with the start of the school year, and a daytime world that is quieter, I’ll be able to find my courage to venture forth during the day once again. Maybe not often, but from time to time.

With it being my favourite season, with the theme of my next book being forests, to sketch and find inspiration in woods and forests during autumn is something I want to do this year.

It’s all part of my road to recovery from CPTSD. Autumn always feels like a time of new starts, more so than New Year. As nature begins to shed what is unnecessary so survival through winter is possible, so I work on shedding the trauma that has kept me in a metaphorical winter in terms of my mental and emotional health for a very, very long time.

 

 

BuJo for June 2018 and a reflection on May 2018

Angela Porter Bujo June 2018 CoverAngela Porter Bujo June 2018 MonthlyOverviewAngela Porter Bujo June 2018 Mood Habit TrackerIt’s that time again – starting to fill in my bullet journal (BuJo) pages for the upcoming month of June.

I’ve set up part of my bullet journal for June. I decided to go with daises again.  They’re such happy little flowers, bright spots in the green grass. They remind me of innocence and hope. Pale pink, green and flashes of gold will be the colours I use, where I use them, for this month.

May has been a very stressful, upsetting and emotional month, and my bullet journaling, along with lots of other things, went out of the window.

My little smartcar, Smartoo Deetoo, broke down. I had the stress/anxiety/panic of a very long time for the car and I to be recovered and taken home, and then organising recovery of the car to the Mercedes dealership in Cardiff for repairs. Eventually it was diagnosed with a terminally broken gearbox.

Instead of paying to have it replaced, I decided to buy a brand new Smartcar fortwo, which then had the added stress/worry/anxiety/panic of applying for finance.

Very quickly though, Binky was with me – my third Smartcar. Binky is fantastic and I can’t be happier with it.

Just after I signed all the paper work for Binky, I went to check on my cat who had been poorly for a day or two and who had rallied round that morning. I found he’d gone seriously downhill, so to the emergency vets we went.

After a night at the vets, test results and observations of my beautiful boy Cuffs, the diagnosis was brain cancer, so I had to make the decision to let him go, and went to say goodbye to him.

Cuffs was amazing. I had 16 years companionship with him.  He was with me for some of the best and the worst times of my recent life. He always greeted me when I came home and he often tried to stop me leaving for work, especially when teaching had become so very, very hard for me when my mental health was plummeting downwards.

There’s just too much to say about him here. To say I’ve been upset would be a gross understatement. I’ve grieved for him, and it’s knocked me not just for six but for 6 million I think.

I’m beginning to feel better, I still have moments when I miss the purrfurball, when a lumpy bit of the duvet will make my heart leap that he’s under it, only to remember he’s not and to feel that disappointment and sadness.

I am feeling better and getting back into my creative stride.

I’m working on the illustrations for Entangled Butterflies.

I will be working on the June colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group later today.

 

Spring themed dangle design

Angela Porter 2 May 2018 coloured Friday is #dangleday as often as I can create one.

This Fridays design features stylised hawthorn blossom and daisies, along with hearts, leaves and berries. Oh, and a pastel feather.

It would make a charming piece of framed art, or a greetings card, or a cover page for May for a BuJo, planner or journal.  I’m sure there’s many other uses that the design, or parts of it, can be put to.

If you have any ideas for how this design could be used add a comment, or visit my facebook page – Angela Porter Illustrator – and drop me a line there.  You could also try tweeting me @wyrdsmithing if you wish too.

It’s been a nice way to start the day, and to get those #weekendvibes working. I started by doing a quick sketch of the design on paper, scanned in, inked in using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Book using my Microsoft Surface Pen, and then simply coloured with some texture added.

It helps me to calm down a bit; there’s still a lot of anxiety floating around my body after the saga of my car, and I’m waiting for a call back from sales about the possibility of me having a new smartcar. I find it all very stressful, even though there’s a part of me that’s very calm, the surface emotions are all over the place, sometimes overwhelming me like an emotional tsunami. Having poor sleep because of the anxiety isn’t helping too much.

I just remind myself to breathe, that ‘this too shall pass’, and find things to do that help me calm.

Talking of calming down, over on the facebook group ‘Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans it’s #furbabyfriday.  Why not pop over and join in the fun with the lovely group members there?

If you’d like to learn a bit more about creating your own dangle designs, my book A Dangle A Day is available for preorder, just click on the link!

Eerie Entangled Art is also available for pre-order from Amazon and other places.  It’s my next book in the Creative Haven series from Dover Publications.

Saturday Mandala

Angela Porter 28 April 2018

No quote, no lettering, just pure mandala. Drawn using my Microsoft Surface Pen on my Microsoft Surface Book with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.  The background was created using Rangers Tim Holtz’s Distress Inks on mixed media paper then scanned in.

Just a quick one to start the day.  I have some editing to do for A Dangle A Day (available for preorder) before going out to a Lebanese/Moroccan restaurant called Mezza Luna with my sister. For the first time, she gets to drive!

My car is still poorly; the Mercedes garage seems to be having problems working out what has gone wrong with Smartwo Deetoo.  I hope I get her back soon; if not, I’ll have to hire a car for a day or two for some appointments I have later in the week.

I’ve still not calmed down after the drama of last weekends car breakdown.  I’m all of a dither, my mind all over the place, my digestive system is still upset, and I’m so tired all the time.  How I ever managed to function as a teacher when I felt like this all the time is beyond me, but I did until my precarious mental health crashed in on me.

Over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group it’s #supplysaturday.

Abstract and stylised flowers

Angela Porter Spring Flowers Watermarked SmallAngela Porter Bright Flowers Watermarked

I’ve had a couple of busy days, including a Time to Change Wales anti-stigma talk with the South Wales Police.  The talk wiped me out for a day or so, it always does as I get very anxious and emotional in telling my story.

So, I’ve been relatively quiet on the artsy front, but I did get these two abstract, stylised floral images done.

I rather like the bright colours, achieved using Kuretake’s Zig Clean Colour Real Brush Pens and a water pen.  I like both the white and black outlines, though I do prefer the black; they make the image look more like stained glass.

Both of these designs are available on products from both my Vida collection and my Zippi Portfolio.

A nice change of pace and way of creating from my more usual entangled drawings with tiny details done with fine pens and a whimsical quality.

 

14th October 2017 Update

New Book and a Competition!

I’ve spent time working on a few more DoodleWorlds colouring templates for a book I’m going to self-publish, most probably in November 2017.

I’ve gone ‘old school’ on these – pen and paper – simply because drawing on the screen was starting to irritate me just a bit.  Also, a change is as good as a rest for sure!

The coloured artwork on the covers is going to be provided by the winners of a competition running on both the facebook group Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans and the Colorist app.

So, if you fancy having a go at colouring in the template to be found in either the facebook group on on the Colorist app, then head on over there – closing date is midnight on Hallowe’en.

Here’s a sneaky peek at one of the new templates for the book.  I used my Chameleon Pens to colour this one in.

Vida Collection

I’ve added some new items to my Vida Collection, typically ‘Angela’ style abstract art focusing on line and colour.  The collection includes scarves, tops, wraps, leggings, bags, jewellery, cushions/pillows and tapestries.

Later today I’ll be adding new leather products to the collection, including passport holders and baggage tags.

 

 

 

 

Time to Change Wales and World Mental Health Day 2017

Although I didn’t do anything in particular on Tuesday 10th October 2017 for World Mental Health Day (other than re-tweet and re-post relevant articles that is), I did do an anti-stigma talk on Thursday 12th October 2017.

I delivered my talk and story to a group of front-line police officers who were receiving training. It seemed to go well and be received well.  I’ve not read the feedback forms though, nor am I likely to, as even if 99% of them are positive, the 1% that may not be all the positive or says I made no change is the one that I’ll focus on and will end up worrying and fretting and being hard on myself…

What did surprise me was how anxious I was when I woke and on my way to, during and after my talk, far more than I’ve been before.

Gnawing stomach, shaky, hypervigilant, cold sweaty palms, unable to speak in order…

I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be like that, or that was how I lived every day of my life for many, many years while I was still a teacher.

Well, not quite like that – it was worse back then, a lot worse!

Echoes of it reminds me of how far I’ve come, how much better I am now.

Of course, after the talk and driving and getting home, I had the post-anxiety ‘crash’ where I felt shaky, wobbly, my eyesight was still very acute, and a headachy tiredness grew.

A huge mug of tea, a couple of Jaffa Cakes, and an afternoon sleep with cat cuddles saw me a bit better in the evening, but I was still emotionally drained.  So, I too it easy, ordered a take-away, though I didn’t have much of an appetite.

Friday I was still a little wobbly, but today I feel more like myself again.

Art always helps me calm and ground, so that has been my therapy, and will continue to be so I’m sure.