A bit of a calming time was needed this morning before attending to my business of the day. I thought a mandala in blues, greens and purples would hit the mark.
I enjoy using a flexible ink pen ‘brush’ to achieve the varying line widths. This allows me to build up abstract patterns and textures quite nicely I think. I have a way to go to find my ‘voice’ with this style of art. The more I do, the more will become clear to me I’m sure.
I’m not sure that the design flows as much as in yesterday’s mandala. I wonder if that’s because I only put one rather geometric series of rings in the centre of the design.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I had a tough EMDR session yesterday. Today, I feel content and upbeat but I’m realising just how tired I am mentally, despite 10 hours sleep. Yesterday’s session had a lot of body processing going on. That means stored trauma is processed via physical sensations. Yesterday those included electric shocks in my leg/foot, side, arm, pains like hooks in my shoulders, a blunt pushing/stabbing force from my stomach up towards my heart, pain in my eye. Those are just a few I remember. The pain/sensations weren’t more than I could bear, though some came close to it!
30 or 40 minutes of this is enough in a session I find, and that little amount of time out of my day is worth it for the long term benefits it brings of helping me recover from CPTSD. The tiredness I feel will pass in a day or so.
It’s been a while since I did any whimsical dangle designs, so here’s an A4 sheet full of ideas!
There are six complete dangle designs on this sheet along with lots of ideas for motifs to use. I’ve also done some hand lettering, something I don’t do often enough these days.
I know there are likely to be things associated with autumn missing from the sheet, but it is a collection of some of my favourites. I had a lot of fun filling in some of the space around the dangle designs with the lettering and design elements.
I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens to draw and hand letter on an A4 sheet of dot grid paper by Claire Fontaine.
After scanning in, I decided I’d like to add some colour digitally. I used a different kind of brush setting – natural blend with an airbrush. I’ve not quite worked out how it works, but I like the way it’s turned out here. The colour blends turn out quite soft and gentle, however this brush setting does need some more experimentation by me.
These are lovely, simple designs that would be perfect for using in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, diaries, scrapbooks and journals as well as for greeting cards, bookmarks and more.
My book “A Dangle A Day” is a great resource for dangle designs and design elements (called ‘charms’ in the book), even if I say so myself. It also has easy to follow step by step instructions for beginners to more confident creatives, as well as lots of inspiration – there’s nearly 200 dangle designs in the book!
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m feeling content, fairly upbeat and the exhaustion of the past few days seems to have mostly subsided. There’s still some tiredness there, but I feel more able to cope with the demands of daily life.
I do have to venture forth into the world; in my rather emotionally fragile state the thought of going grocery shopping filled me with, well not horror but trepidation. Fortunately, I keep a fairly well stocked fridge, freezer and cupboard, but now I do need to go get some fresh fruit and veg, which I will do in a short while I expect.
It is good to be back to having the contentedness the dominant feeling – it’s not as strong as it has been which tells me there’s still some emotional distress lingering. However, it is the prevalent emotion.
I’ve weathered another emotional storm. I do try to remind myself that I’ve come through plenty of hurricane force emotional and mental storms in the past and I can come through them again. Nowadays, I know what contentedness feels like and during emotional storms it acts a lighthouse to guide me back to emotionally calm waters.
I was reading ‘Your Soul is a River’ by Nikita Gill this morning and this particular poem struck a chord with me. I thought it would be nice to use it to create some art to frame it.
It’s taken me a few attempts to get this far today; and I’m not entirely happy with what I’ve produced. However, I shall persevere later today; first I need to go out to do some provisions shopping and to have a very late breakfast. Actually it’s more like a very late lunch!
I produced the words with the border in Publisher. I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to do the artwork.
So, Angela, how are you today?
The poem reflects rather well how I’m feeling about myself in the moments when my emotions overwhelm me. I am rather emotionally fragile and vulnerable at the moment.
I am exhausted – emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a heck of an emotional week and yesterday was perhaps the most emotional day of all. No EMDR was done in therapy, but lots of tears were shed as I tried to work my way through what has caused the upsets.
Some of it is very obvious. But some of the triggering events have no apparent link to the past.
No apparent link; there’s something there which I can’t bring up or face at the moment. I’m fearful of it because it is something either unknown or something I have to face the truth of. It’s a difficult truth as I’ve told myself a story to deal with the painful experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Discovering I’ve been lying to myself is not easy, even though it has been a coping strategy, trying to make things more pleasant than they really are.
It’s a common coping strategy amongst survivors of trauma.
It’s a necessary process, for how else can I heal from the past?
It’s another one of those processes that is like surgery, but instead of removing or fixing a physical part of oneself that is damaged or broken it’s all about the mental and emotional processes that are damaged by trauma in the past.
No surgery is without some kind of pain, but the pain is endured as the result will be a better life with less pain.
Therapy is surgery for my damaged emotions and beliefs about myself; this surgery is necessary for me to heal from CPTSD.
Yesterday, I talked about a lot of things with my therapist. One of those things was the recognition that I now have a mental and emotional state that I know I can return to. It’s that state where I feel content and optimisitic, a state of mind and emotions that I’ve not really experienced much in my life.
I know how that feels; even though my emotions are all higgledy-piggledy at the moment I can still sense that inner contentedness and hints of that optimism.
Where do I go from here?
Self-care and self-soothing is the order of the day today. I do need to sleep, but I don’t know if a nap will help or just throw my sleep out tonight.
I know this will pass; it has before, it will again.
It’s all just a bump in the road I’m travelling in my journey to recovery from CPTSD. This is NOT my destination; it’s just the wrong leaves on the tracks.
I am exhausted today. My EMDR session yesterday was extremely powerful and intense. I left feeling light headed, light-bodied and a bit off-with-the-fairies as well as rather tired. This feeling stayed with me all evening.
I woke exhausted but had to get some errands done. I’m now back home still exhausted.
I was hungry while out ( I didn’t have breakfast before leaving home as I had managed to get a cancellation appointment at the doctors’ surgery for an issue unrelated to CPTSD). So, while waiting for a prescription to be filled I went to have breakfast. As hungry as I was I could eat very little before feeling full. It was the same when I arrived home after EMDR yesterday.
I think my therapist has found the ‘magic formula’ for me and EMDR. It involves working with a negative belief I have about myself, imagining myself as a baby or small child and then working with the first image that pops up in my head to give the somatic (body sensations) and emotional feelings to focus on during EMDR.
Yesterday’s session resulted in some very powerful metaphors that resulted in powerful processing of trauma and negative beliefs. It’s not quite finished, there’s still some distress associated, but that level fell from a 9 to 2 during the session.
So, I’m too tired to do anything other than have some tea (Twinings Lady Grey, no milk – it has lemon and orange peel and oils in it and it’s deliciously bright and refreshing) and go back to bed to sleep some more.
Oh, the graphic above is one that I created for my anti-stigma talk presentation for Time To Change Wales. I’m giving a talk tomorrow and needed to revise my presentation.
I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to create the digital art.
Another 6 hours work done on ‘Be Brave’ since I posted yesterday.
I rather like the ‘tubes’ arcing off to the top right. I love geometric patterns. I also love playing with light and shadow.
In my home I have quite a few pieces of artwork from my AS and A level art days, some 15 or so years ago now. Three of them are oil paintings. They’re abstract paintings of patterns taken from rusty worm screws from a steam locomotive, some kind of gear thingy from a diesel locomotive (also rusty) and detail from an angel from the tympanum above the door to Malmesbury Abbey. Each one is done in a simple colour palette – magenta, red, orange and yellow for the locomotive parts and blues and white for the Romanesque angel abstract.
I discovered I hated working with oil paints. They’re slimy and messy. I don’t like slimy nor messy (I think that’s why I’ve fallen in love with digital art!).
However, I remember the exhibition where these were show after the AS exam. I recall being puzzled why people were coming up and touching the paintings. So, I asked a friend who’d attended why she had felt my oil paintings.
She said they looked so three-dimensional she had to touch them to see how I’d achieved it and was amazed they were flat.
I hadn’t seen this 3D property of my artwork until someone pointed it out to me. Then, just like magic, I could see what others could see and why they were touching the paintings.
As I worked on the ‘tubes’ I remembered this experience. I know that I don’t see my work as others see it and it can often appear ‘flat’ to me as I know it really is flat! I don’t always see the illusions of depth that I create in my work, illusions I bring out mostly unconsciously as I add colour.
I think this memory cropped up as, like with the oil paintings, I’m working with pure colour – no black lines to outline the design elements.
As you can see, I am using a drawing of mine as the guide, the map for what I will produce in colour.
This is a difference in the way I usually work, that’s for sure.
The amazing mandala I completed a week or so ago now opened the door for this way of working. I did start with an outline drawing for the mandala, and it really was a basic line mandala. It gave me the basic forms and shapes. I then started to go to town on embellishing that basic design.
I discovered I really enjoyed working this way, not least because I realised my digital art skills had progressed enough for me to succeed.
Mandalas are one thing, but working on a drawing like this is a bit different for me. It’s full of self-doubt and worry it’s not going to work out. Because it’s not so symmetrical it requires thinking about what order I complete each design element.
It is, however, turning out ok. And I’m really learning a lot more about my favourite digital brushes, and new ones, and how I can get the effects I want.
I use a Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create my digital art.
So Angela, how are you today?
I’m feeling content and I can feel a gentle smile inside me and a slight smile on my lips. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it’s the only way I can describe how I feel today. Also, my digestive system has settled down as well.
Yes, there’s still the background ‘noise’ of anxiety, but it’s not as vociferous as it was just a day or so ago, and one heck of a lot quieter than it was last Monday post-EMDR.
I do have EMDR again tomorrow. The same thing may happen in terms of heightened anxiety and upset digestive system.
I have to say to gain days like today – days where I have that contentedness, that inner gentle smile – are more than worth the days of feeling not so well both physically and emotionally.
Even my bad days are nowhere near as bad as they were in the years leading up to my first serious ‘breakdown’. That is an excellent thing. I am progressing along slowly but surely on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.
This morning I’ve done a little more work on this artwork. I’ve spent around 2 hours, so that’s a total of around 13 hours so far.
As usual, I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to complete this work digitally. As always, they’re a pleasure to use.
So, Angela, how are you doing today?
I’m ok today. I slept well last night and woke feeling refreshed. I’m about to get myself sorted to head out for my weekly EMDR therapy session.
I’ve not done the adulting I need to do sooner rather than later. I’ll sneak up on myself to do it soon, just not NOW.
Other than that, I’m quite content and wondering what EMDR will bring today. I know we’re working on a memory from my childhood and the emotions and beliefs about myself from then. It seemed quite an innocuous memory, but it was a lot more distressing than I thought. Not the single memory but the layers and layers of repeated incidences of a similar kind of thing throughout my life.
It’s part of the tangled web entangled around my painful self-conscious ways.
It’s always surprising to me how I’ve minimised how events have affected me and pushed them aside into the big box full of unprocessed traumas.
That box is gradually emptying. As this memory may be the root of many other instances where it’s emotional trauma has been re-experienced and reinforced then processing this one means the rest are as well.
I’ve been working on this one over the past couple of days, when I’ve felt up to it.
I’m fairly pleased with it, though I’m not sure I should’ve added the upside down mushrooms. I guess if they really don’t work with fresh eyes then I can always remove them using some digital wizardry.
I wanted to use the words ‘The magic of colour’ as a nod towards my coloring books and the people who bring my drawings to life by adding colour; they really do work some magic!
As lovely as the black and white line drawings are, even with shadows added, it is colour that really brings them to life for sure.
But there’s another kind of magic that goes on when people lose themselves in coloring or creating, and that’s the magic of relaxing and giving the brain a break from thinking.
I get that when I draw or colour.
My challenge to myself in this one is again to leave some white space.
The drawing and hand lettering has been done with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board (A4 in size, roughly US letter size).
There’s more to be done with this drawing yet; I particularly want to incorporate some of the patterns and textures I’ve observed and recorded during my visits to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Kilpeck Church near Hereford.
How am I feeling today?
I’m flat. Tired. Lacking oompf. Part of me is content enough but part of me is sad. It’s weird, but that’s how it feels.
I’m still experiencing the ripples/waves from the tsunamis of therapy and the person trying to tell me I don’t need therapy last Sunday. I really don’t want to leave my home today.
If that’s what I need to do to look after myself, then I need to accept it’s ok to stay at home.
I am tired as well as I had an evening out with some friends – a pub meal and chitter chatter until nearly midnight. Even though it was with a small group of people and it was a nice evening I’m absolutely drained today.
So, to take care of my emotions and mental health I need that quiet time again. I may play my flute, crochet, draw, read. I may also nap later on as I’m so tired. I’ll see. Napping may make me be up until the wee small hours.
So that’s how I am this day. A weird mixture of contentedness and sadness. This healing journey from CPTSD is full of weird twists and turns, ups and downs, but on the whole it’s definitely moving forwards and upwards. EMDR is really my panacea for CPTSD.