Tomorrow is Time to Talk Day

©Angela Porter 2019

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time To Talk Day, which is tomorrow, and the art above was created using one of them, but more about that later in this wittering.

Time to Change Day and mental health

The whole idea of the day is to get people talking about mental health. Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. There’s still a huge stigma surrounding mental ill-health and that leads to discrimination of those experiencing mental illness.

I’m one of the 1 in 4. My cPTSD means that I am constantly anxious and it’ doesn’t take much of a trigger to get me into a full state of panic. I can have bouts of depression, nowadays not as deep or dark as they have been in the fairly recent past. I get emotional flashbacks to times of trauma. I don’t remember many traumatic experiences, but my body remembers the feelings associated with that trauma and I experience them yet again, retraumatising me.

Thanks to EMDR, however, these emotional flashbacks are less common and sometimes aren’t quite as intense, sometimes just as intense.

I have a whole host of other issues related to cPTSD and a quick google will bring back lots of information if you’re interested.

Tomorrow I will have my champions hat on for Time to Change Wales as I go to give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers in Ton Pentre and then on to man (woman?) a stand in Port Talbot after that. That means I won’t be parking in the police station car park again after my last experience there!

The anti-stigma talk has me telling people a little about Time To Change Wales, the statistics for mental illness, what stigma and discrimination there are and then I tell my story of my mental illness.

The talks wipe me out emotionally. I end up exhausted and often with what I call an emotional ‘hangover’ – I feel headachy and spaced out, sometimes quite upset too.

However, I consider that a small price to pay if my talks (and my blogs) help one person to recognise their mental health isn’t what it should be, or to find the courage to seek help as they know they are struggling.

It’s also important as meeting champions who have experienced or are experiencing mental health problems helps to break the stereotypes of what people with mental illnesses look like and behave.

I’m well on my path to recovery. I don’t know if that will be a full recovery from cPTSD or whether it will be a good enough recovery that I’m resilient to lifes ups and downs, that I’ll be able to form meaningful relationships, trust people, be able to travel by myself, be able to go places because I can go there not because I have to have some reason…and more.

I know that crowded, noisy places are always likely to be a no no – I don’t appear it, but I am an introvert. I learned to wear a mask of extroversion (among other masks) when I was very young and that mask kind of protects what is beneath it. Wearing that mask is exhausting.

So, back to the art.

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time to Talk Day 2019. Originally they were for the colouring day being run as part of Time to Talk Day at the Welsh Office! I’ve also made the templates available to Time to Change Wales and Mind have copies of them too, so they’ll be available over social media.

I’ll also be adding them to my facebook page – Angela Porter Illustrator as well as on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group too.

To create the art above I used one of the templates as a basis for the art. I think you’ll agree that this is a very different piece of art from me. It’s rather graphic and quite 1960s psychedelic too!

I had a lot of fun doing this artwork and I’m surprisingly happy with the result.

It is digital art; I used my usual trio of Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create it, along with my creativity.

Shades of pinky-red mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I created this mandala after I returned home from EMDR therapy yesterday. I knew that my time today would be limited, so thought a bit of chill-time would be good for me before heading out for another commitment in the evening.

As is my way, I sat down with a blank concentric circle grid for mandala drawing on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio, Surface Pen in hand, and chose a colour to draw with. I had no idea how this mandala would unfold as I started to draw the first shape at the centre of the mandala.

As always, the lines and shapes just flowed from the centre out, one by one. In this case interlocking in a way that is a first for me.

I drew the whole design in one colour, before adding lighter and darker shades and blending them out to give some interest and dimension to the design.

As I worked, as the lines and colours flowed, even where I had to make adjustments or erase and start again, I could feel myself relax and my whole body started to breathe.

The whole mandala took a little less than 2 hours to complete, thanks to the magic of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro which does the work of repeating my motifs around the circle and makes it so easy for me to fluidly, organically develop and adapt the design elements as I go.

I firmly believe that digital art is allowing me to create art I wouldn’t have created for a very long time, if ever, if I were still using pen and paper. I’ve said it before, I say it now and no doubt I will say it again – digital art is opening doors to my creative expression I never thought would be possible, especially with the styles of mandalas I’ve been creating of late.

Drawing really does help me to relax, except when I’ve become overwrought as last Saturday and then nothing I do seems good enough to me and just serves to compound the unsettled nature. Finally, I’m aware of this part of my cPTSD and in future I can, hopefully, manage it better by doing something other than art to help to shift the mood.

Therapy yesterday was a combination of a loving-kindness meditation so my therapist could see what happens to me during one and then we used the physical pain I experienced to do an EMDR session. Lots of body stuff went on during that session – lots of pain and sensation. But by the end of the session I wore a gentle smile – not just on my face but throughout the whole of my being.

I felt content, at ease, for the first time in a few days.

I still feel that way this morning.

I had recommendations from my therapist for some loving kindness meditation cds to try by Tara Brach. So, two are downloaded into Audible for me to use later today!

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.

Mandala – 7 Jan 2019

©Angela Porter 2019
©Angela Porter 2019

This evening, I needed a bit of quiet, therapeutic arty-creative time. I had quite an emotional time in EMDR therapy (or not EMDR this week, a lot to talk about in preparation for the next phase of EMDR) and felt very much the need for some self-soothing and self-care.

I thought I’d spend some time drawing in colour again, using my digital toolbox of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro paired with Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio.

I’m really quite pleased with how this little experiment has turned out. I like the way the colours play against each other – teal and coral being almost complementary colours. I like my La Tene/Celtic kind of swirls and motifs. I like the way I’ve put areas of background colour behind some of them to help them stand out from the background ‘paper’ more.

I’m getting more and more of a ‘feel’ as to how this style of art works for me, and I’m really enjoying creating these mandalas as a way of exploration.

People have asked if I’d turn these mandalas into a coloring book. The answer is probably yes. However it may take a little while to get to doing it.

Carl Jung is credited with introducing the Eastern concept of the mandala to Western thought and he believed it is symbolic of the inner process by which individuals grow toward fulfilling their potential for wholeness.

I’m sure Carl Jung would have a lot to say about my mandala and how it reflects what is going on inside me on an unconscious level, even though I’m not quite capable of making sense of it myself at this time of night!

Inspire – 28 November 2018

Today’s hand-lettering is just a variation on the one I posted on Monday.

For this one, I’ve used simple patterns to fill the white space in the letters and added a ‘line shadow’ to left and below the letters. To do this I used a Uniball Unipin 0.5 pen.

I like the graphic nature of just black and white as well as the intricacy of the patterns.That intricacy is something that warms the cockles of my artistic heart.

I didn’t only add details to the letters – I’ve added details to the dangle too! Simple additions but add a feeling of complexity.

I feel at the moment I’m in a position both in terms of demands on my time but also in how I feel about myself and my artistic nature to explore hand-lettering so it’s an ‘Angela’ thing that I’m comfortable with.

Not just comfortable, confident in my skills too. So, re-working a fairly open hand lettered word like this in different ways. 

So, it’s possible you’ll see variations on a word appearing on this blog, my Instagram, deviantART, Twitter and facebook accounts as time goes on.

We’re rapidly approaching December so it’s time for a number of personal artistic pursuits :

  • my christmas/winter cards for 2018 need to be designed and printed
  • ‘freebie’ templates need to be designed for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.
  • BuJo spreads and design elements

I’m sure there’s some other things that need doing, but this morning they escape me. Of course I’m going to note these things in my BuJo.

I’ll also be starting work on a new book for Creative Haven by Dover Publications.

So a nicely ‘busy enough’ time ahead. 

Yesterday, I had a lovely day out to Aberglasney Gardens for lunch with my pal Liz. It was hammering down with rain during our journey there, but the rain cleared up by the time we’d finished a leisurely lunch. 

It had been many years since I’ve visited Aberglasney and I’d forgotten how interesting it is. I’ll return sometime soon with sketchbook in hand for sure!

My evening and night until well past midnight were taken up designing a birthday card for someone. The design was finally uploaded to Moonpig ready for posting today near midnight. To say I was, and still am, shattered could be an understatement today! Still, I can have a semi ‘self-care’ day today to recover.

Perfectly Imperfect and an Abstract Botanical 21 August 2018

Angela Porter 21 August 2018

My latest design. It took nearly 2 days work to complete, though I may add some metallic highlights here.

I used Inktense pencils and blocks with water brushes, Uniball Unipin pens and Daler-Rowney Aquafine smooth watercolour paper.

Black line definitely keeps my need for that high contrast work happy, but the ability to add layers of colour or create gradations in colour with the Inktense also keeps me happy. Together, they work for me.

I did start off the central area with shapes of colour, but then I started to draw in the designs around the edge and then add colour. Both ways work for me for sure. Also, there’s a kind of randomness to the colour and some over-spill outside the lines, and that is something I’m learning to live with and like.

Perfectly imperfect.

Just like me. Just like us all. We are all perfectly imperfect and that is OK. In fact, it’s more than ok, it’s just perfect and I think we should all embrace it. The imperfections are what contribute to our uniqueness, our individuality as much as anything else (perhaps even more). Society sends a message we all need to be perfect as people with perfect lives and perfect homes and perfect bodies and perfect smiles, hair and so on.

The reality is, however, that we aren’t.

We are all imperfect. Life is imperfect. Nature is imperfect.

But all is perfectly imperfect.

And that is good. It is. At any moment in our lives we are all doing the best we can.  Sometimes things work out perfectly. Sometimes they go wrong. The balance of it all is that it is all perfectly imperfect.

My artwork is perfectly imperfect. I do my best with digital art, but I’m not really happy with what I do often. I learn each time I do some, and move forward, improving. The same is true when I use traditional media.

The same is true of life. Of my life. Of all our lives, our perfectly imperfect lives from which we can learn and grow as people.

 

 

Angela Porter 18 August 2019

Here’s today’s drawing, design, artwork; yesterday’s ‘just colour’ design.

I did try a small design using coloured pens to add lines, but it just doesn’t feel or look right.

I’m happy with this one, like I was with the one yesterday.

These last couple of artworks have been a bit of a change in the way I usually work. Perhaps more of quite a change.

Usually, I start by drawing my design and then adding colour. Over the past couple of days I’ve been drawing the basic shapes/design with colour from a brush, starting with the broad structure of the design. Then, I add the architecture of the design in pen.

The laying down of colour first means there is, for me, not a lot of control over the gradation of colour/tome and the precise shapes. Using watercolours means that colours can bleed from one shape into another if I forget to move to another area and let each shape dry before adding another next to it.

The resultant colour design, the variations as mentioned, is then the basis for my drawing. I work with the shapes as they are, trying not to be overly concerned if my pen lines done precisely match the edge of each shape. I try to work with the variations in colour/saturation/tone as I add the patterns.

I have tried doing something like this digitally, but so far haven’t been all that happy with the results. I will keep trying though. I know eventually I’ll work out how this will work for me.

It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday, no matter what I do precisely.