I finally managed to finish coloring this design in yesterday. I’m quite pleased with it. I’m more pleased with the lessons I learned on using different kinds of brushes as well as the need to use higher contrasts in tones. But that is something I can practice on later along
My focus in the next fortnight has to be the book I need to finish by the end of the month. I will get it done.
I’m still feeling very, very tired emotionally and mentally today. I do intend to get at least one coloring template done today. If I can get one done an day, two on some days, I’ll have the book all done before the deadline.
One a day is more than achievable, and allows me some days for self-care, something that I realise is important on days like today. It’s going to take me a while to recover from all the therapy and anti-stigma talks of the past week. As the adrenaline and other stress chemicals leave my body, the exhaustion settles in more and more for a while.
I know I will be just fine and dandy. I just need to take it as easy as I can and take time for myself too.
I can do that.
One or two templates a day is absolutely do-able, even on days where I feel as I do today. When the template’s done, I can then take the selfcare time and not feel guilty about it.
This morning, I wanted to do a small drawing (the bristol board is approx. 10cm x 21cm) and try not to get overly fussy and trying to fill every space in. I used fountain pens to draw the line work, and I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to add colour to the design.
I’ve often said it on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group that the members work some fantastic magic in using colour to bring my drawings to life. And they do.
So, I’m working a little of my own magic here!
I don’t often colour my own art in – time constraints can limit me in this. Also, I love drawing so much and it takes me a lot less time to draw a design than it does to colour it. I can safely say I’m quite prolific when it comes to drawing, not so when it comes to colouring.
I’m also colouring this relatively small and less detailed design to fathom out the mysteries of the synthetic brush setting. I think I may be getting the hang of it and how I can make it work for me.
I actually like the less than perfect finish I’ve achieved, which has surprised me for sure. I actually really like the slightly battered feel to the orange pods in the artwork.
I’m usually obsessed with perfectly smooth colour gradients, whether achieved by digital tools or by more traditional methods of blending (whether working with traditional or digital media).
A good friend of mine (yes, you know who you are if you read this) did tell me when I bought my first Microsoft Surface a couple of years ago that it would open ways for me to create art and develop my artistic skills. It certainly has, and continues, to do that for sure.
I am aware that it’s quite a slow process where I’m concerned. Yes, I could go and watch and read tutorials on how to use the various brushes and settings.
I’ve tried that. The information given totally overwhelms me.
Being easily overwhelmed by information or sensations is something that is part of my cPTSD. If I get too overwhelmed, I tend to either walk away, end up in a panic or become fearful to face something again.
However, I do get a sense of satisfaction out of working out or discovering something for myself, when I actually need that something. Once I’ve become confident and comfortable with a particular skill, I’m then ready to discover more add more skills to my personal skill/tool box.
I never stop learning, discovering, and finding new ways to express myself creatively. I may no longer try to use a huge range of different media – my default these days is definitely digital. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. No doubt I will dabble with new kinds of media or creative skills from time to time (such as my toe-dipping into paper quilling; it’s not at all my kind of thing, but I had to try it to find out).
I still love drawing with pen on paper, but being able to scan that in and add colour digitally means I can make the best of both worlds. I can also keep all the little imperfections and smudges that result from drawing with pen and ink on paper, that add that more human touch to them, if I wish. Or I can draw digitally, keeping things clean and a bit more perfect. Either way works for me.
And so I finally overcome my own personal stigma concerning digital art vs traditional.
It’s Monday so it’s EMDR day for me. I have no idea what the session will bring for me.
What I can say, though, is that though last week’s session was rather emotional and distressing, I seemed to recover quite quickly from it. By Wednesday I’d returned to a state of some contentment and that has mostly stayed with me since then.
I do know I have a busy week with anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales being given tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, and then a double talk next Monday. As well as working on templates for the newest coloring book for Dover Publications Inc, I need to make sure I have time to look after myself and not avoid the feelings I may have after EMDR today.
I also know I have a busy week with other commitments too…
At least there’s some sunshine today, even though there are some big, puffy, grey and white clouds mostly covering the sky. There’s plenty of breaks in the clouds.
I drew this one with Uniball Unipin pens using both black and dark grey pens, though the difference betwixt them hasn’t shown up all that well in the scan and the digital wizardry that followed to add colour, texture and watermarks!
The glyph in the box is the Zibu symbol for ‘self-care’. Most appropriate for me today as I’m reeling more than a tad from yesterday’s EMDR session. I keep thinking I’m ok, then I get overwhelmed by a wave of sadness, despair and such like. The wave eventually passes and I feel ok, but a tad light headed. Then, the wave returns …
I had some appointments this morning and after a quick lunch I thought I’d draw something small and found this blank postcard template in my pile of stuff, with the symbol already drawn upon it.
I’m not entirely sure I’ve done a good job with this one. The overall design has a feeling that it is disjointed, that the parts of it don’t flow from one to another at all easily. It feels stilted and stiff.
Perhaps that is just how I’m feeling at the moment and I’m just projecting it onto my artwork.
As I said the EMDR yesterday had me reeling both yesterday and today. My therapist took up the role of ‘blind therapist’ where I chose a memory that is too difficult for me to speak about, and we just went with the emotions, feelings and thoughts about myself as the EMDR session progressed.
There were some observations made yesterday that were quite upsetting, okay very upsetting to me. They’re not something I can talk about at the moment.
Even though it’s upsetting, I still think progress is being made. That is all that really matters at the moment, I think.
This morning I started my day with some warm-up drawing. I drew this one with Sakura Pigma Micron pens on Daler-Rowney Bristol Board that measures approx. 7cm x 30cm. I added the coloured background digitally, along with the watermarks.
You may be curious why I use a square of coloured and textured paper behind my art work. Well, for Instagram, a square image fits perfectly without being cropped weirdly, and as many of my pieces of art are not square…well, you get the idea! So, for consistency across my social media, I use the same image.
I enjoyed drawing ths one. There’s some new patterns and motifs in it. I spent yesterday looking at ‘Art Forms in Nature’ by Ernst Haeckel for inspiration to add new patterns and motifs to my visual reference book. This little A5 dot grid notebook from Claire Fontaine is becoming rather useful. I add my favourite patterns, new patterns, motifs, doodles to it as I need to. I make use of the idea of ‘threading’ used in Bullet Journals to help link sections together.
What a brilliant idea ‘threading’ is. I used to get so frustrated with either folders with drawings in or having sections scattered in a book with a clumsy index to help find them. Now, I just follow the page numbers to direct me to where the particular collection continues. The index then lists just the first occurrence of that particular collection. My collections include abstract botanicals, foliage, floral, fungi, trees, feathers, crystals, Christmas, favourite patterns, dangles and charms.
I’m sure that when I start a new book, there’ll be a way to thread to the new book!
Why am I doing this? Well, as well as keeping track of patterns and motifs I like and organising them roughly into collections it’s also a source book of inspiration for art when I feel I’m lacking in inspiration or I feel my work is getting more than a bit samey.
It’s also something that is part of my self-care on days where it’s too much of a challenge to do something completely new and different. Sometimes this means adding familiar patterns and motifs. At other times it means researching new ones.
Yesterday I was really tired and feeling quite low after a very tiring day on Saturday followed by a poor nights sleep. Last night my sleep was even worse. I woke from disturbing dreams with my mind busy, busy, busy. Not sure why this is, or why I just feel more anxious than usual. There’s no reason at all for me to feel this way. Just some stormy emotional weather in advance of EMDR today and starting to process something new to EMDR but old to me. The CPTSD recovery journey continues…
I stumbled across this quote from Albert Einstein yesterday. It sums up how I feel about my art and how I create art. I work very intuitively, generally. I choose one place to start, with one motif and I just let everything else flow from that point. If I am thinking about what I’m doing, I’m not aware of those thoughts. In this way, drawing is, for me, a rather mindful activity where I can lose myself in the flow.
My art tends to go wrong if I over-think or try to over-plan it, as I’ve found out recently as I did the first sketches for the coloring book I’m working on.
For this drawing, I printed out the quote and borders on an A4 sheet of Bristol Board. I then used various sizes of Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs in. If you’re interested, I started at the top left corner of the quote box and it is from this point that the rest of the design flowed out from, sort of.
I’m actually quite pleased with this one. I actually like use of thicker lines to delineate the individual motifs and to give a more structured, layered feel.
I also dug into my visual reference libraries to revisit patterns and motifs I’ve not used in a while, as well as using some of my most favourite ones.
I like the stark, graphic nature of the pure black and white, but I may very well add colour to this one in a way similar to yesterday’s quote. I haven’t finished colouring that one yet, but it is something I will return to later today, though I may not finish it today.
Francine Shapiro is the person who developed EMDR therapy and this quote from her exemplifies what I’ve becoming more and more aware of through my three and a half years of EMDR.
Today, I am really ‘not with it’ and feeling quite spacey and vague and very tired. I had a broken night’s sleep with very, very weird and disturbing dreams. This often happens after EMDR.
I know that I need some self-care time today, and maybe tomorrow given how I’m presently feeling. I’m also in need of a walk outside, but I’m awaiting a delivery from Amazon. I hope it arrives soon so I can get a walk in early this afternoon.
There were two particularly significant moments during my session yesterday.
The first one was a result of a suggestion by my therapist that I’m keeping secrets about things that have happened to me, particularly in my adult life. There are things I’m too, too ashamed and embarrassed about to talk about even with her. My throat closes up and becomes painful. I feel burning in my cheeks. There’s terror and huge anxiety in the pit of my stomach. She went on to say that in the article she had read it was suggested that clients write about these experiences. She suggested I do that. She added she did not need to read them or be told about them, that she can act as a ‘blind therapist’ where we just assign a code to the particular traumatic event and work with it that way. She even suggested I can burn the things I write after writing them so no one else can ever read them.
The relief I felt with this suggestion and discussion was immense. The discussion that ensued was enlightening in another way. That I’ve never ever really spoken to anyone about my feelings, especially when I was the one upset, hurt, abused in some way. I always put a smiley, brave face on and brushed all the emotions to one side, defaulting to the happy, funny, quick to laugh, person who chatters about faff and fluff.
By pushing away all that hurt and upset and so on I’ve also tried to tell myself that it’s ok, I can cope with this, that I’m incredibly caring about other people and their feelings and want them to be happy. Scared that if I spoke truly about how I was feeling that I would be rejected or that the other person(s) would become angry and would hate me and think badly of me.
So, instead, I brushed it all aside and swallowed it down, often with food, using the food to fill the emptiness within me, to hide the feelings of shame and fear and more. I’ve done this so much in my past that I’m having to learn what emotions feel like and what they are called as they crop up during EMDR.
I was with my older sister and younger brother visiting the British Museum and we stumbled upon the Sutton Hoo treasures. I was entranced by them, only having seem them previously in books. It was hard work to drag me away from the to go visit the mummies in the Egyptology section. My older sister said she’d never seen me so emotional and excited about something; she actually called me an ice maiden as I rarely showed any emotion at all, other than the happy, smiley, funny persona I put across. I was in my twenties then. No idea of emotions or how to express them, swallowing them down all the time.
So, writing about these experiences now, from a position where I understand more about myself, am more aware of emotions and feelings will mean that they are no longer secret, it doesn’t matter that others don’t know about them, but it’s important that I don’t keep secrets from myself and face up to the traumas and feelings I have suppressed from these events.
The second insight was during EMDR when I had a vision of myself looking into one of those mirrors that reflects things to infinity, but in this case it was like the reflections went around and around in a circle. The insight was that this is what has happened to me. I’ve got caught in a cycle of the same kind of things happening again and again – different but the same effects on me, the trauma they’ve caused me and continue to cause me as instead of knowing how to process them in a healthy manner I learned from a very young age to suppress anything I needed to talk about or needed help with because I was upset as no one wanted to know. I was bothersome. A whiner. An attention seeker. A liar. When I was upset the people supposed to care got angry with me. Or just ignored me. Or sent me away.
I am unaware of much of my past, particularly my childhood. I have few memories at all. That bothers me, but my therapist tells me I need to let it just be. People like me, who’ve had quite traumatic lives, often forget what has happened to them as a way of protecting themselves from that particular trauma, especially when there is no one they can talk to about it to help them work through it.
My past really does affect my present. However, I’m becoming more aware of the ways in which it has affected me, more aware that I do have emotions, and I’m trying to believe I deserve to think better of myself, that maybe I didn’t deserve any of this, and that although I’ve allowed things to happen to me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself as I need to understand why, what brought me to that point, why I can’t say ‘no’ easily.
So the quote is very appropriate.
About the art
This is very much a work in progress at the moment.
I printed out the quote and borders on Bristol Board. The design is a little less than A5 in size (4.5″ x 7.25″ approx). Then, I added the patterns around it using two Pilot Kakuno fountain pens – one with a medium nib and one with a broad pen.
After scanning the design in, I wanted to add colour to it, so I used my trusty trio – Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I think the dark stars at the top could symbolise those parts of me I’d like to ignite after they were extinguished a long, long time ago – confidence, self esteem, the ability to say no, valuing myself, being a good friend to myself, and more …
The tangled nature of the design, with many parts seeming to blend one into another, sometimes not in a very comfortable manner, is like all the trauma and experiences I have had – a tangled mess where I pull on one thing in EMDR and a whole host of others come along with it, all linked by a common effect or effects they had on me.
Flowers blooming, leaves all signs of growth though, even if some are hidden at the moment.
I’m sure there’s more that could be said about it in terms of my journey of recovery from cPTSD along with developing mental and emotional wellbeing. However, not today as the chap from Amazon has delivered the parcels to me. In them are some basic things for me to try my hand at paper quilling.
I’ve been fascinated with some youtube videos on paper quilling, particularly the more modern forms and I was also struck at how some of them seem to be similar to my kind of drawing that has lots of spirals and swirls in it. So, I thought I’d have a go and see what I can do with it!
But first, it’s time for a walk … to see if that can help clear my head a little. I think a little trip to Barry Sidings is in order.