I’ve had a few days of periods of intense anxiety/stress. The come down from each of these has left me exhausted and my mind unfocused. I’m much better now that all the appointments related to the anxiety are over, and all is well. I knew it would be, but my mind and emotions have other ideas about that at times!
Anyhoo, as I had a bit of focus yesterday afternoon/evening, I decided to draw a few buttons for Sketchtember Day 17. A few turned into a whole page full of pen drawings! And some really not good hand-lettering, ho hum.
So, I thought I’d spend some chilled out time this morning starting to add colour to some of the buttons.
Ecoline and an insight..
Ecoline Brush Pens were my medium of choice this morning. A lot of the details on the drawings were just a bit too small for marker pens to cope with. Also, I thought a change of medium could be good for me, and it was!
To start with, I scribbled some colour onto a palette and then picked it up with a damp brush and worked with it like watercolour. However, as the areas dried, the intensity of colour faded.
So, I decided to brave trying to directly add colour to the page and then spread it out with a damp brush. It worked! I suddenly realised that I have a much more illustrative way of adding colour, rather than realistic. It’s about time I accepted that and embraced it too!
A page full of different objects, rather than a single illustration, has helped me to realise this, as well as put it into practice.
Now, I just have to remember this insight, which isn’t as easy as you may think!
Perhaps I should write a list of Angela’s Artwork Insights to refer to before I do any work, as well as while I’m working.
Bright and cheerful!
The other thing I really loved was working with these really bright, vibrant colours. I’ve been using a lot of more muted and vintage colours of late, and I love them. But these bright colours were just what I need during a post-anxiety funk.
I took a 6″ square Strathmore artist’s tile and coloured it with Distress Inks. Next, I used Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and Pigma Micron 01 pens to draw the design. Finally I added some graphite shadows.
This zentangle inspired drawing contains the Zibu symbol for ‘nurture’. Nurture is all about growth and expansion which involves encouraging, nourishing, protecting and caring.
I certainly need to care for myself today. For the past few days anxiety gradually increased as I got closer to meeting my accountant to hand over my paperwork. I was left exhausted after the essential business trip to meet her in a car park to do this. I’m still feeling exhausted, fuzzy headed, and not with it today.
Nurturing myself was an important lesson to learn through EMDR therapy. It’s not an easy lesson for any of us to learn, but it is essential. It’s not just about taking care of the basic needs, it’s about the whole of your being.
Yesterday, this involved quiet time with art, or just sitting and being, and some comforting, as well as nourishing, food. An early night was in order.
My nights sleep was broken and I’m still feeling the effects of the post-stress come-down. But these will pass as the cortisol and other stress hormones gradually leave my body.
On the good side, I was up to creating the cover for the next colouring book after Entangled Starry Skies. So, if the sketch is approved, I can get to inking and colouring it over the next couple of days.
The blue one I drew while trying to settle to sleep in the first place. I was still stressed and wound up after a meeting earlier in the evening. I used light and dark ball point pens as well as a light blue metallic Sakura Gelly Roll pen. It’s an odd kind of drawing for me, but it helped to settle me so I could sleep.
The other one was done between 4:30am and 6:30am when I woke up ruminating about what I said, could’ve said and what others said at the meeting. A sure sign that anxiety reigned, even if I didn’t already recognise it at the time with flushed face, cold sweaty hands and that feeling of being a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Anyway, I picked up the same A5 sketchbook and a kind of pinky-red metallic Sakura Gelly roll pen and just drew. A bit more like my usual kind of abstract art – swirls, curves, circles and teardrop shapes.
Eventually, I got back to sleep for another hour or so. This is nowhere enough for me, so I suspect I’ll want to sleep this afternoon. I’ll try to resist the urge so that I’m really tired when I go to bed tonight.
Even though I’m feeling the knock on effects of the anxiety at the meeting, and the introvert hangover from being with people (yes, it even happens when it’s done via Zoom!), it was worth it.
A fun, quirky, cute Hallowe’en themed mandala was what was needed on Monday morning.
I started with the skull, without any clue as to what I was going to do with it. Then I thought about adding a mandala around it, and I wanted it in eerie, almost glowing colours.
As I drew the skull without any outlines, I thought I’d do the same for the rest of the mandala. I also kept a pretty simple colour palette – violets, teals and blues.
It’s worked out OK. It certainly is a bit different. The most important thing is that I enjoyed drawing it, and that is most probably the most important thing of all.
Sunshine and mood
Today, there’s some sunshine and that helps to keep my mood up. I did feel a bit better yesterday – sleep and Star Wars really helped! I may have felt better, but settling to art just didn’t happen yesterday.
I’m still so tired. I think it’s all to do with some anxiety at this time. There’s nothing specific for it, just general anxiety. I think it was triggered by my boiler breakdown and then the engineer fixing it, and the increasing cases of Covid combined with a national lockdown in Wales.
I’m not sure I can drive less than a mile to the cemetery I like to walk around. I feel safe there in a way I don’t walking around the streets and town I live in at this time.
Of course, worrying about whether I’ll be breaking the rules to take a walk adds to my anxiety.
What a pickle!
It may be that I baulk and just stay home, and check the rules carefully before I do venture forth for a walk.
Knitting pumpkins while watching Star Wars. Guaranteed to reduce my anxiety. And knitting, unlike crochet, is something I can do without having to look at my fingers.
Also, I’ve found it really relaxing and the feel of the knitted fabric in my fingers is soothing and pleasurable. As I’ve been kintting in stocking stitch, it’s a very smooth fabric. Crochet tends to have more texture to it. I think I’ll be doing more knitting and less crochet for a while.
I’ve been working on this drawing for a few days now and I finally managed to finish it this morning. That means I scan the drawing in, tidy it up digitally and then start to add highlight and shadow to bring out the design against a fairly dark background.
Today, I chose a lovely purple-magenta colour for the background. It seems to go with my mood today. I’m tired. I had a stressed-out day yesterday as my cental heating boiler was repaired and serviced. That meant letting someone into my home, something I’ve not done for months and months.
My ever present social anxiety has been ramped up during the pandemic, and yesterday it was given a huge boost. I know what the repercussions of this are for me – tiredness, upset digestive system and heightened startle response. These symptoms can persist for days, depending on the intensity of the experience.
So, today will be more of a self-care day than anything else. I’m now flagging after four or so hours focus on art.
I want to get my focus and oompf back. I am expecting a delivery of Sculpey polymer clay along with tools and accessories.
I’ve been watching videos on YouTube of makers using polymer clay to cover books. The videos have remined me of how much I liked to work with clay when I was doing my AS/A level art many years ago. So, I thought I’d give it a go, using polymer clay to sculpt my style of drawings in 3D and then paint them.
I don’t know if it’ll work out for me, but there’s no harm in trying it out that’s for sure. I have used polymer clay in the past for making jewellery and it wasn’t all that successful in many ways. Perhaps working on a bit larger scale and being able to add plenty of detail and texture will make it a better experience for me. As well as using a polymer clay that is softer than the Fimo I used way back then. Conditioning that stuff was murder on my joints!
It’s #TemplateThursday when I create and post a colouring template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. The template is free to members, though there are a few terms and conditions associated with it’s use. It’s also free to join the group!
This week, I decided to draw some cute and whimsical bugs, each having their very own portrait. Lots of small, individual pictures that a perfect for quick, mindful colouring.
I know I often get overwhelmed by a huge artwork I’m working on and that is most likely to happen when I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety, and I seem to have waves of anxiety the like I haven’t seen for a long time, most related to the pandemic.
When I need to take time out, to do art that will soothe me, calm me, let me relax and find that mindful, content space within myself, I turn to creating small artworks.
I drew this template with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pen on ClaireFontaine dot grid paper. Colouring has been done digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
Last weekend, I made a small sketchbook that would hold approx 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that was held together by book binding rings. I thought this would be a good idea as I like to work on small pieces of paper.
Then, last night I tried taking some prints from alcohol ink designs on A5 paper. I really didn’t want to cut them up to fit into the smaller custom sketchbook. I also didn’t want to use the metal binding rings again.
I woke this morning with the idea to use a disc binding system to create a custom sketchbook-come-art-journal.
I have been using an A5 Arteza mixed-media sketchbook for this, but it has rapidly become very, very wedge-shaped. I also realised that I want something where I can add a variety of sizes and types of paper, as well as move them around to suit my needs. A disc bound system seems to be the best way for me to do this.
I’ve yet to work out a way to make a hard cover for the sketchbook. For now, I made each cover from two sheets of A4 pearlescent card glued together. They’ll be sturdy enough until I work out how to reinforce them in some way.
I decided to place the disc binding on the landscape edge, just for a bit of a change, no other reason. I’ll be able to take the paper out of the binding to work on. This actually suits me just fine as the spines of sketchbooks really irk me when I work in them, be they sewn or spiral bound.
What I also like about the disc binding system compared to the book binding ring is that the holes in the paper are much closer to the edge. It’ll be much easier to leave a ‘margin’ on the paper.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of times when I’ll work in a commercially produced sketchbook still, especially as I’ve now rediscovered the joy of using one again. However, the ability to colour paper, use different kinds of paper and sizes of paper really appeals to me as a variation on the sketchbook theme.
The different sizes of papers also add a bit of intrigue to the sketchbook. There are glimpses of other designs and backgrounds further on that add to curiosity.
I can choose to add notes either to the back of the work or on sheets of dot-grid or squared paper I’ve added.
Nor am I precluded from adding journaling elements such as envelopes and pages with pockets, for instance.
The top page is an abstract drawing I completed this morning. The colour and pattern on the paper (a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper) was added by taking a print from alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
I spent some time yesterday evening experimenting with alcohol inks on Yupo paper (a synthetic paper). Once I was happy with what I’d made, I added some Alcohol Lift-Ink and used a brayer to spread it over the design. Quickly, I placed a sheet of mixed-media paper on top and allowed the alcohol inks to be transferred. If you’d like to know more about this technique, pop over to the Lavinia Stamps YouTube channel; they have lots of videos showing how this is done.
The inks lose their vibrance and become more muted when this is done, but it means it’s much easier to draw on the design without wrecking pens in the process.
I used Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell to draw the abstract design on the paper. Once I was happy with the design, I added some metallic/pearlescent paints in shades of orange and yellow to some of the white/pale circles in the design. Sadly, the photograph hasn’t picked this up.
I decided to not to cover the whole paper with the drawn design. I wanted to leave some areas of the background as they were.
I really enjoy working like this – creating a colourful, textured background which I then use as inspiration for the line-work. It is, for me, a very meditative process. Of course, patterns and forms appear that I can then use in future artwork.
Of course, I could choose to intensify the colours in select places using any variety of media. Today, I have chosen to leave this as it is. I may scan it in and try this out digitally at another time.
Digital or Traditional Art?
Both! For me anyway. I do love working in both ways, and using them in concert too.
I love the portability and smaller scale of paper and pen/pencil, as well as using other traditional art and craft media.
I also love creating art digitally, sometimes using backgrounds I’ve created using traditional media or pen and ink drawings.
Each has their pros and cons. Each allows me to do things that the other can’t.
One thing I do know, however, is it takes time to become skillful in each and also to find your own artistic voice (or voices) for each medium used.
Which I use at any given time depends on the style of art I need to do, what kind of ‘finish’ I want with it, and also what my arty heart and soul requires at the time to be content and happy.
No matter which I use, I’m constantly trying new things out, or revisiting old techniques with fresh eyes and ideas. Of course, changing media and methods also freshens up my art and recharges my motivation when it’s in ebb rather than flow.
Stress, motivation and inspiration
This week has been dominated by stress from venturing forth from my home for the first time since March. When I’m anxious/stressed it can be incredibly difficult to settle to anything. Also, I can easily feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks. Activities that usually soothe me can irritate me. My ability to focus on anything approaches a vanishing point rather rapidly.
Working in a sketchbook has helped; there is then no pressure to create a finished piece of work, or even to finish any sketch or artwork. It’s just about doing and enjoying and exploring. I let go of my expectations of artistic success and replace them with expectations of finding some peace and contentment in the whirl of emotions I experience at times like this.
I find it hard to be motivated to create, and even more difficult to find inspiration. I tend to slip back into old, familiar and self-comforting styles of creating art.
Hence this style of abstract art.
Even when I do slip into a familiar style, the art produced may be familiar, but it’s moved along, altered either subtly or more noticeably showing the progress I’m making artistically. It also reflects the current variations in the particular fugue that my artistic voice wants to sing to satisfy it. My artistic voice, song, doesn’t have one tune, it has many, plenty of which are yet to be discovered.
It’s free to join the group, and the template is a freebie for members of the group.
This week, I created a mandala design with a background of geometric, repeating patterns.
I’m still recovering from the stress of my first trip out since March 2020. Drawing (and colouring) mandalas is an incredibly peaceful, relaxing and mindful activity. So, it was natural that I drew one.
The mandala design is based on some of the abstract art I’ve been doing of late. It’s a bit unusual for my mandalas, but I really do like the organic flow of the lines.
Even though the design is abstract, the repeating symmetry of a mandala bring some structure to the design. I am looking forward to seeing how members of the group add colour to the design.
The geometric patterns in the background also result in a soothing, repetitive rhythm for colouring; a rhythm that results in soothing and calming ones mind and emotions.
I have been totally shaken by the level of anxiety/stress that resulted from my trip out on Tuesday. I am beginning to feel more my contented and calm self. However, I find I’m still irritable and grumpy and have withdrawn from social media and the like for most of the day.
It was a sobering thought when I realised I’d lived most of my life constantly at elevated stress levels, often as higher than what I experienced in the past couple of days.
It’s also a wonderful realisation that I can recognise this now, and I also am able to allow myself self-care time to let all the stress hormones leach from my body. It’s been a long time since they peaked in this way.
It makes me extremely grateful to my therapist for her years of patient work with me. Experiences like the Tuesday Trip remind me of how I used to be and show me how far I have come in recovery from cPTSD.
Yesterday, after my social media post, I binged watched the Harry Potter films from The Order of the Phoenix. I found I was irritated by crochet. I tried cross-stitch, which irritated me too. Eventually, I settled on knitting, which, oddly, soothed me. I think it’s because I could knit and watch the film. Knitting allowed me to channel my irritability into something creative. As I can knit without looking at the knitting, I could also watch and immerse myself in the films at the same time.
My fingers are itching to knit again, now I’ve thought about it.
Even though I slept well last night, I’m still feeling really tired today. This happens as part of the post-stress come-down. It can last a few days. I’ll not be rushing to nap, however. Napping has a knock-on effect on my ability to sleep at night when I’m like this. My naps tend to end up as periods of deep sleep, so I try not to take them unless it’s absolutely necessary.
It was a morning for some simple art. Art just for fun, relaxation and self-soothing. So, I thought that small watercolour gradient panels with really simple drawings on them and metallic and pearlescent paint highlights would be perfect.
For the first time ever I managed to create smooth colour gradients with watercolour. The secret, for me, was using a mix of water and gum arabic to wet the paper before applying the colour. Of course, working on such small pieces of watercolour paper helped. Still, it’s a personal achievement!
Once the panels were all done, itseemed a good idea to mount the little panels on some 4″ x 4″ blank cards. So I did just that and added a few more cards to my stash.
Stress and self-care
I had a really poor night’s sleep after the stress of my trip out to the pharmacy yesterday. I woke around 2:30am with a splitting headache and found it hard to get back to sleep. When I did, my alarm went off and woke me with quite a jolt.
I’d set my alarm last night as Wednesday is my delivery day with Able & Cole, and I like to get the deliver in and stored asap.
Once the delivery had come, around 6:30am. I had breakfast and then went back to bed to sleep.
I’m feeling a bit more centred and content now, but I’m still exhausted. So, today will be a quiet, self-care kind of day for me. I’ll be doing my best not to give in to the temptation to take a nap this afternoon so that I can sleep myself our properly tonight.
I needed a quiet morning, again, today. So, I thought I’d dig out my Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft watercolour pencils and try some stuff with them.
I wanted to use them to draw a flower, or two, and then use water to create a watercolour effect. The result you can see on the left-hand side card. I’ve left loads of white space on this card, which is unusual for me. I couldn’t resist, however, adding some gold dots around the flowers. The colour of the petals was so delicate that I used a 2H 3mm pencil to outline them and the leaves. Just for info, the piece of watercolour paper measures 4″ x 4″.
For the other cards, I just wanted to work with the pencils to create gradients and abstract patterns in colour. I drew on the little panels using a 0.25 Copic Multiliner SP pen and added some lines and details with metallic gold watercolour. These cards are approx 3″ x 4″ in size.
Watercolor pencils are nice to use when it comes to drawing in colour with them, then activiating the colour with water. They really glow on 100% cotton rag paper (bottom right) compared to the other cellulose papers.
Cute and whimsical cards, some very detailed, one not quite so. But a nice way to spend my morning.
Self-care time, again.
There’s a situation going on around me that is draining my emotions greatly at this time. I’m doing my best to not become overly emotionally involved in it, but it’s difficult when it’s to do with people you care about.
It all has a knock on effect with me. I’m anxious, tired verging on exhausted, really grumpy, irritable, and lacking patience at this time. I’m also not able to concentrate too well. These are all behaviours I could do without in dealing with this situation. Yet I’m exhausted by it.
I have been meditating, making sure I take time to do self-calming and self-soothing activities, such as my morning art, Though I have work to do for contracts, I need to take a day away from everything, if I can.
I know there are lessons for me to learn about myself in how I’m reacting ot the situation, stuff from my past that wasn’t processed during my EMDR therapy. If I can work out what it is, I can work through it myself now. Organising EMDR therapy isn’t possible at this time, with lockdown still very much in operation and me being very nervous of going out into the world as well.
So, I’m going to make time today to drink tea, meditate, journal and try to get to the bottom of my own issues and start doing what I can to work through them and heal the past traumas that are causing my reactions at this time.
I think I’ll also take time to crochet (I started a mosaic blanket earlier this week) and watch films or crafting shows on the TV. Eat healthily – I have a yearning for brussel sprouts, of all things! And take time away from social media and news. I may even pick up my flute and play it, for the first time in months and months.