Mail Art – sneak peek

Mail art – sneak peek © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Making the mail art

I woke this morning and had a fancy to make a card along with a coordinating envelope. I’m going to be sending these to someone, so I didn’t want to show the whole design, so a sneak peek it is. I don’t think it gives much away about the mail art. I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient.

I used a pre-made card blank and envelope. The card is nearly 8½” x 4¼” in size and is plain white.

I cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 3½” x 7½”. I added some score lines ⅛” in from each edge and let them overlap to form little squares at the corners. To do this I used a score board and bone folder. I’ve never done this before, but it actually adds a nice touch. It also gives me an even border to work within, which is always useful.

My next step was to add colour to the top layer and the envelope. I decided to do some ink blending with Distress Inks. Here’s a list of the colours I used:

  • scattered straw
  • wild honey
  • crushed olive
  • candied apple
  • evergreen bough

Once I was happy with the colour gradient, I broke out my Uniball Unpin pens and started to draw the design. As I had a coloured background, I made use of lines and patterns to add texture and dimension.

When I was happy with the design, it was missing something. It needed some colour or shading. I decided to add some colour with Copic markers, being mindful of using colours that would work harmoniously with the background.

My final step was to add some dots of gold glitter to add some ‘bling’ to the card.

My attention then turned to the envelope.

First, I added some pencil lines to help me keep my hand lettering level and neat. I then used a black Tombow Fudenosuke pen to brush letter the recipient’s name. I then used a grey Tombow Fudenosuke pen to add shadow to the letters.

I then used a Uniball Unipin 08 pen to add the address. For this, I used simple capital letters for the hand-lettering.

My next task was to draw the design on the envelope. I used some elements from the card for this, plus a couple of extra ones. I also added texture and shadow with lines.

My final task, after I’d written my name and address on the back of the envelope, was to seal the envelope art with a thin layer of Distress Micro Glaze, carefully avoiding the area where stamps will be affixed. The Micro Glaze creates a waterproof layer so the Distress and Tombow inks shouldn’t run if they get wet.

Once the recipient has the card, I’ll post a full image of the mail art, carefully obscuring their information.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok today. I’m a tad tired, but I don’t seem as emotionally fragile as I have been. There’s still a bit of ‘flatness’ or ‘heaviness’ inside me, but the contentedness is of equal or greater intensity.

Today I need a quiet day at home; the last week or so has been crazy busy with either emotional upsets occurring or commitments I have to keep. The next commitment I have is on Thursday evening, so I’m going to make the most of the time I have to myself. Creating mail art was one activity in self-soothing.

I doubted that I would find this more settled state any time soon. That it’s appeared today is a real bonus. How long it stays for I don’t know as I know what is in my diary.

I’m not going to worry about that, well not much. I’m going to enjoy the contentedness and Use my quiet time to soothe my still fragile emotions.

Yes, I feel mostly content, but I also know that it won’t take much to provoke me to tears and some emotional distress.

One thing we talked about in therapy on Monday was the need for me to protect myself in situations where I’m emotionally vulnerable. I’ve had a lot of time interacting with people over the past few days. I now need time to relax, breathe, re-energise.

I enjoy being with people, but it also drains me. That’s one of the consequences of being an introvert. When I’m socially exhausted, it makes me more emotionally vulnerable than I usually am. So, I need time to recover from this.

I will recover. Nowadays, I always do given enough self-care and self-soothing time.

I also am self-aware enough to know that to start important projects is not a good idea at this time. It becomes all too easy for me to find fault with everything I do and for me to end up spiralling downwards into a mood where I am harsh to myself.

It is still hard to be kind to myself on days like this. There’s a nagging voice that I should be doing this or doing that and not indulging myself in activities that help me to heal. Other inner critics join in, telling me I’m worthless, useless, a failure, unloveable then join in, sensing the vulnerability in me. So, I’m learning to ignore that voice, even if I still feel a little guilty. As I feel better, refreshed and re-energised and more emotionally resilient, the inner critics become inaudible once again.

So, as hard as it is to accept that I need to be kind and to spend today doing what will help me heal, this is precisely what I am going to do. And that starts with me writing a letter to accompany the mail art. I also want to create some designs that I can print to colour and use to create greeting cards.

Monday Mandala

Or, mandala Monday?

Monday Mandala 19 August 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve spent a little time this morning working on this rather sunshiny mandala. It’s not finished yet and I’ll think I’ll keep the sunrise (or sunset) colour theme for the rest of it.

Digital art using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I am feeling tired today. I woke with a headache and tried to sleep it off and woke again with it still there. I’ve taken some Anadin extra, but it’s still faintly there.

I’m feeling tired emotionally too. I’ve had a couple of things happen this past week that have caused some quite visceral emotional reactions. Some of these events I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, others I’m not at all comfortable to share, not even with my therapist, not yet that is.

I constantly feel on the point of tears, and I know what has been the trigger for that. I also thought I’d got past it, but obviously not. That disheartens me a little. It may be there are different facets to this particular collection of relatively recent events.

Oh, the joys of living with CPTSD. It’s not described as complex for no reason at all.

Despite the tearfulness and some fearful anxiety, I can still touch that inner contentedness that I have cultivated. The contentedness is the ocean; the tears, anxiety, fear, the stupidity I feel, as well as other emotions I can’t label yet, are the waves on the surface.

Waves come and go. Sometimes the ocean surface is as calm as a millpond on a still day. Sometimes it’s as turbulent as tsunami rising onto a beach.

The surface of my ocean of contentedness is somewhat choppy, perhaps verging on stormy, but far away from being at the level of a tsunami.

I do have EMDR therapy soon; there’s a very good chance it’s going to be a rather emotional session. I just hope it doesn’t add energy to the waves that are currently forming upon my inner ocean. Given how emotionally fragile and vulnerable I feel at this time, I won’t hold my breath!

Mandala – 18 Aug 2019

Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I enjoyed creating this simple, for me, mandala; I am pleased with the result.

It’s not been without the need for editing along the way and changing some of the design elements. That’s the beauty of working digitally; being able to change the design when I realise that some parts just aren’t working.

Of course, it helps if my mood is in the right place too. Last night and today I’ve found my balance once again and the oompf to create. This mandala is a reflection of that.

I also reset the colour palette I’d been using in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and created one with a limited palette.

Even though I’d limited my colour choices to twelve colours plus greyscale, I think that may still have been too many. So, the next mandala I create will have a smaller palette.

I particularly like how I’ve created texture and dimension in the ‘rings’ and also the central circle. It’s subtle but effective, I think.

One thing I would, perhaps, change if I was super-critical, are the leaves and the background to them. These seem brighter than the rest of the design. However, part of me likes that contrast.

I’m pleased with myself for persevering with this and changing colours that didn’t work as the design unfolded. I think I’m achieving a more coherent design as a result of using a limited palette.

Every time I create digital art, I learn new things and develop accordingly. Today, I have found it a satisfying experience. Even swapping colours hasn’t been the frustrating experience it often is.

So, onwards I travel on my journey of discovery and development as an artist working with digital media. If I look back, I can see how far I have come in the past three years since I bought my Surface Book. Acquiring a Surface Studio and its large screen has allowed me to explore and develop my art even more.

Hello – A dangle design card with coordinating envelope.

Hell - A Dangle Design card with coordinating envelope © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Hell – A Dangle Design card with coordinating envelope © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Yesterday I decided to make a second card with a coordinating envelope. I wanted to try out using the Chameleon fine-liners to add colour in the form of lines and cross-hatching. Finally, I added some gold dots to the points of the petals on the flower design.

To draw the design and execute the hand-lettering, I used a Uniball Unipin pen. I then used various pairs of Chameleon fineliners to add the colour.

I prefer this way of adding colour with the Chameleon fine-liners, though I’m not entirely happy about it either. Looking at it now, in the clear light of dawn, I think I could have added a flat colour below the coloured lines. I may go and add that colour in a little while. After all, it’s just a card, an experiment, and if I mess it up, I can always make another one! A lesson learned, an experience gained is worth the few pennies worth of materials and the time it took just as long as I remember the lesson in the future.

I’m also not happy with my hand-lettering; I like the idea of the letter layout, but it’s not centred between the arcs.

I do like the ‘banner’ I’ve used to enclose the hand-lettering. However, there’s something about the rectangular ribbons and the patterns within that I don’t particularly like. I’ll work out what it is in time.

For now, I’ll try adding flat colour to the coloured sections to see how that works out and not worry about messing up the card. I’ll use it as a learning experience.

And that reminds me, I’ve still not set up my One Note journal for my private critiques and what kinds of methods and techniques I use in my art.

Materials

A piece of yellow card cut to 4″ x 11″, scored and folded in half to make a top-fold card measuring 4″ x 5½”.

A piece of white card approx. 4″ x 5″ for the top layer.

A We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch board and an piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞” or a blank envelope that will fit a 4″ x 5½” card.

A pencil and ruler for the guide-lines and a good eraser to remove them.

A black fineliner pen for drawing and hand-lettering; I used a Uniball Unipin pen.

Pens to colour the design; I used Chameleon fineliner pens.

A gold gel pen for the dot embellishments; I used a Uniball Signo gold gel pen.

If you’d like to learn more about dangle designs or are looking for some more inspiration for them and how they can be used in cards, BuJos, scrapbooks, bookmarks, journals, and more then my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. It takes you through how to draw monograms and dangle designs for all kinds of occasions around the year in simple steps.

Thinking of you – dangle design card and envelope

Thinking of you © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Dangle designs

Today, I have a dangle design card along with a coordinating envelope for you. I’ve kept the construction of the card simple with just one layer on the card blank. The dangle design and hand lettering are also quite simple as well as whimsical in character.

If you’d like to find out more about drawing dangle designs, then
A Dangle A Day is my book about dangle designs with plenty of inspiration and suggestions.

Materials and dimensions of the card and envelope

The yellow card blank is 5½” x 4″ in size with a top fold. So, I started with a piece of card measuring 11″ x 4″.

I also cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 5″ x 3½” for the top panel.

Next, I used some thick printer paper to make an envelope. I used the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board. The size of paper needed and the position of the first score line are printed on the board. This tool from WRMK makes it so easy to create custom envelopes.

To make an envelope to fit a 5½” x 4″ card I needed to cut a piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞”. I used 120gsm white printer paper for the envelope.

Pencil guide-lines

Before I started, I used a ruler and pencil to draw in some faint guide-lines for the banner ribbon and the hand lettering on the top layer. I also pencilled in the hand lettering.

On the envelope, I added some guide-lines on the left and bottom to give me a border.

Hand-lettering and drawing the design

I started by hand-lettering the sentiment, then I drew the ribbon banner around it.

My next task was to draw the dangle comprising of beads and hearts.

Finally, for the top layer, I drew in the arrangement of plants and added some shells and butterflies.

I didn’t use a pencil to sketch the design before I drew it in ink simply because I’m confident in drawing these kinds of designs. However, it is a good idea to do so if you’re less than confident. I started with the central flower pot and let the design grow out from there.

I then took my attention to the envelope. I started by drawing in the ledge on the bottom. Next, I added the plants, flowers, shells and butterflies. I then drew a black border around the envelope, just inside the edge. This line gave me something to hang the dangle from; I added a dangle similar to the one on the card.

Adding colour

With all the drawing complete, it was time to add some colour.

I’d received my Chameleon fineliners yesterday, so I thought I’d try them out as there are lots of small areas in this design. I love my Chameleon markers, but using them to add colour to tiny spaces can be a little tricksy.

I did try the Chameleon fineliners out yesterday for drawing lines and hand lettering. I found that they give a very long gradient, even with the shortest of touches of the cap to the pen. I thought this might work well in colouring the flowers in. I achieved a pleasing change of colour of the petals on each bloom from just one blending process. This blending also worked well for the butterflies.

What I did notice is that the fineliners moved some of the black pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens that I used to draw the design with. That was a bit disappointing. It may be that in the future I will need to draw, scan and then laser print the design out. That’s a bit of a faff, but it’s doable.

I’ve never been a fan of fineliners for colouring; I find they leave lines and tend to pill the paper. This is just a personal gripe about all fineliners.

The Chameleon fineliners are pleasant and comfortable to write with – comparable to other fineliners. So, unless I want to add colour using lines and cross-hatching, writing is going to be my primary use for these pens.

To colour the pots, banner, leaves, cacti, shells and ledge, I used some of my Copic Ciao markers. I chose to use these as the brush nib lets me colour tiny areas. Also, I wanted to use pastel-ish colours to tone in with the colouring from the Chameleon fineliners.

I did add some very simple Copic shading to the design.

The Chameleon fineliners had spread the black dots I’d added to the flower centres. So, I broke out a gold Uniball Signo pen to colour in the centres of all the flowers. I also used it to add a sprinkling of little dots around the design.

Reflections

I enjoyed creating this card and envelope. It was a quick, simple project. I also do enjoy drawing whimsical designs.

I like the sunshiny yellow card blank; it makes me smile, especially as it is currenty a grey and rainy day here in the valleys of Welsh Wales.

I think the card may benefit from the use of a bit of Wink of Stella to add some shimmer and shine to the wings of the butterflies and maybe the hearts.

I could’ve ink blended a background to the design using Distress Inks. I also could’ve added a drop shadow around the design to give it some dimension. Today, I chose not to do these things to keep the card relatively simple.

I also only added one layer to the card. I could’ve cut a piece of contrasting colour to go beneath the top layer to give a bit more of a layer. Alternatively, I could’ve used amarker to colour the edge of the layer to give a border, or ink blended some distress ink around the edge. Again, I chose not to do so; I wanted to keep the card simple and easy to do.

I think the result is cute and whimsical. I now have to find someone to send it to! I think that I’ll use some Distress Micro Glaze to protect the artwork on the envelope before posting it though.

Hand writing matters!

In a blog post called “Handwriting matters!” by Marie Celine she discusses why she thinks handwriting still matters in this age of digital communication.

I agree that handwriting does matter. Handwriting is as unique and individual as the person creating it. It’s also a much more personal way to communicate with others. It takes longer to handwrite a letter, note or memo and then deliver it either to the person or the post office.

It’s always nice to receive chatty, friendly emails from friends, and of course this is a quick and instant communication. However, there’s something to be said about the slower nature of communication by traditional post and that personal touch that handwriting gives.

I make these cards but rarely send them to another person, let alone include a handwritten note or letter. The cards sit around my home and never get shared with another person.

I think that needs to change, don’t you?

Not sure how to go about it, but if anyone who reads this would like to receive one of my cards and maybe a letter then leave a comment or contact me via social media or email.

I actually do love to hand-write; I always have and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my handwriting. I remember making a huge effort to change it when I realised it was looking like my mother’s writing.

My preferred way of learning was to write and re-write my notes, condensing them into just a few lines of ‘memory joggers’. If my notes in lessons or lectures were messy, I would make it my task to tidy them up as soon as I could, which was also a way for me to review, consolidate and learn.

I have the facilities to hand-write digitally. I could keep a journal by writing on the screen. However, such activities frustrate me as I can’t turn the writing area to the angle I like to write at!

Also, as much as I love working digitally in so many artistic pursuits, there’s nothing quite like the feel of pen on paper, and I do love pens! I have a bit of an obsession with stationery, even though much of my work is digital these days.

Handwriting and therapy

Nowadays most of my handwriting is in my journals. It’s not as neat as I’d like it to be. I make mistakes. I like to hand-write my journals as the process of putting pen to paper slows my mind down. It gives me a chance to reflect and review what’s been going on in my life and also with my emotions.

Of course, reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, catching them in action is important to me as I continue with my journey to recovery from CPTSD. It also helps me to record events, emotions and thoughts that need to be discussed in EMDR therapy.

Handwriting vs Hand Lettering

Handwriting is that almost unconscious way we write things down – thoughts, notes, memos, to-do lists etc, as well as our signatures.

Hand lettering is a much more deliberate activity. It is like drawing the shapes of letters, not writing the whole word in one go. It’s consciously deciding what the shape, size and embellishments of a letter should be.

I enjoy hand lettering and I do tend to use the shapes of letters that I use in my handwriting. But that’s where the similarities end for me.

Do you still hand-write? How do you make use of handwriting? Do you think it’s still an important skill?

Leave a comment, I’d be really interested to hear what you think?

Mandala 15 August 2019

Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This is definitely a ‘not sure about it’ verging on the ‘I hate it’ work.

It was doing great until I added that grey area, and it all went to pot I think. I do struggle with colours at times that’s for sure, and it’s gone downhill from there.

I’m kicking myself for combining all the layers at that point. I’m working digitally, as is my preference for mandalas. I could leave the various ‘rings’ as separate layers until I’m finished. Or I could just save versions of the work as I go along. However, I didn’t. Maybe I’ll remember to do this in the future. Mind you, I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

I don’t want to go and change the grey areas; I really don’t have the motivation to do so. Also, to edit that digitally would be really fiddly and awkward and I know I’ll just get myself into a bit of a state. I’m frustrated with myself for being a twit and not saving the mandala in layers.

On reflection, I now know that my emotional state last night affected my work.

The bright purple, pink, yellow and green central section really reflected my contented, optimistic mood rather well. Then, I went out to visit friends in the evening, and something happened that triggered me into full flight mode. I almost ran (and I don’t do running, ever), straight to the safety of my car and I drove away.

One of them phoned me as I was driving home and persuaded me to return. I had to sit in my car for a long while, just crying until I was ready to return. When I did return to them, floods of tears happened again.

I’m self-aware enough that I now understand what my flight was all about. Also, I’ve gained an insight into what I’m processing in EMDR, which is going to be of value in next week’s session.

I can’t believe how suddenly I flew away. I had no chance to ground, breathe, think through things logically. It was a very visceral reaction.

An hour or so later and I was laughing and smiling once more. However, I can see from this mandala that my mood was severely affected as I worked on those grey areas last night before bed.

I don’t think I can save this mandala now.

Whatever I have added to it just doesn’t work. I’ve tried changing the background colour and darkness/lightness with no luck as well. So, it’ll be one of my rare pieces of art that won’t be finished.

Working on the mandala did help to soothe my emotions before I retired to bed, so it’s not all negative. I think that’s why I can now leave this as it is. It’s served its purpose for me.

Actually, thinking about it I have quite a few pieces that I’ve not finished and am now not likely to do so for various reasons. This particular mandala, however, is one that shows me just how much my art can reflect my emotional state.

That is something new for me; it’s not often, if ever, my emotional state is reflected in my art. Looks like that’s changed! Or, at the very least, I’m just aware of it now.

So, I’ll start with a clean state, metaphorically speaking. I also think I’ll create a limited palette to use with the next mandala. That may help me with my colour issue at the moment.

Also, I’m awaiting delivery of my Chameleon Fineliner pens in a couple of hours. So, I know I’ll want to ‘play’ with them. I suspect some art with pen and paper will be appearing on the blog tomorrow, even if it’s just a sheet of experiments with the fine-liners both in drawing and hand-lettering and handwriting. Maybe there’ll be a dangle design too. At the moment I don’t really know myself.

So, I’m going to get myself another mug of tea and ponder what I want to do artistically/creatively for the rest of the day. I also need to write about last night’s flight and process it as best as I can.

Oh, I used my favourite digital art tools for this – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Reef WIP

Reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a busy day today. It started with therapy late this morning. Then, I took myself off to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne for a walk and to look at, photo and draw some flora and foliage. I must admit I took more photos than I made sketches.

If you’d like to read more about my trip then please visit Curious Stops and Tea Shops, my other blog which is all about my trips out and about.

I have been working on this artwork where I’m working on a dark background with a soft pastel type effect upon it.

The colours are a lot brighter on my monitor than on wordpress. However, I’m sure you’ll get the idea. I like the floaty, fuzzy, ethereal feel the soft edged ‘pastels’ give the art. I also like the way I can get colours to glow against each other – very coral reef I think.

I’m still finding my way through this way of working. I’m not sure that it really is ‘me’; part of me thinks that it’s quite childish. I will persevere though and see where it leads me.