Tuesday Tip

Angela Porter 24 April 2018 small watermarked

My #tuesdaytip is to do just this – create every day!

It doesn’t matter for how long – 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, longer.  Just take time to create.

You can create something new.  You can work on practicing, say, your hand lettering. You could re-work or add to something you thought was finished.  You could try a new skill or technique or medium. You could doodle aimlessly.

There’s just so many possibilities, so many ways to be creative – art, crafts, cooking, gardening, wood-turning, sculpting, decorating, sewing, colouring, are just a few of the possibilities.

Just create.  Have fun.  Play. Relax.

Take a break from the worries, stresses and strains of everyday life by focusing on being creative.

I use art to help me find my inner calm and stay there.  My whole body exhales, calms and relaxes when I ‘art’. It’s a daily practice for me that has a similar effect as meditation and mindfulness does. Even if I don’t meditate every day, I ‘art’ every day, just for pleasure (as well as for my work).

When the days are very trying for me, as they have been lately due to a nightmare of a car breakdown and recovery that took 8 hours Saturday night into Sunday morning, I find creating collections of doodles and patterns for my BuJo or hand-writing quotes or words really soothing, especially if they are familiar to me.  That’s what I needed at that time, something I could do automatically, that didn’t cause more stress for me.  The rhythm and flow soothed. Just the process of repeating the drawings and drawing of letters involved practice and improvement of my favourite motifs, patterns, words; and when calm, I could move on to create something new.

Being creative isn’t just about making great works of art or craft, or any thing else.  It’s also about feeding your heart, your soul, your being and finding calm and joy in what you do.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom

Angela Porter 18 April 2018

What does research mean for you?

For me, it’s trying out new materials, new methods, new styles of drawing, colouring, lettering, using my art in different ways, most recently that includes Bullet Journals (BuJo) and these little quote illustrations.

It’s looking at how other artists and illustrators work and letting what I see spark creativity in me, not to copy them, but to inspire myself to broaden my artistic ‘vocabulary’, to try those new things that develop my skills, to still do things in my own way but adding techniques to my toolbox of artistic expression.

This quote is also a work in progress, I’ve yet to work out what to do with the entangled drawing at the bottom – to leave it as it is in plain black, to add shading, to add colour.  At the moment I don’t know what to do with it, but I suspect it will come to me eventually.

Talking of work in progress wednesday, it’s the day the members over at the facebook group ‘Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans’ share their wip’s.  Why not pop along and join in? They’re lovely people, very friendly.

BuJos and Tombows

 

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Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Today, I recieved a full set of the Tombow ABT Dual Brush pens and I’ve managed to swatch them out in my BuJo.

So far, so good.  They ‘stick’ a bit more to the paper in my Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid BuJo than the Zig Art and Graphic Twin pens or my Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens, but I like the colour palette.  I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of them for sure.

BuJo

Talking of my BuJo, I’m going to bravely share some of the ‘spreads’ I’ve done and share some of my thoughts on BuJo and how it’s working for me so far.

Bujo02 There’s a lot of stuff out there about bullet journaling, and a good place to start is bulletjournal.com, the website of Ryder Carroll, credited with starting the bullet journal system.

What attracted me to this system is it’s total flexibility and how you’re encouraged to make it work for you.

Rather than planning my day out, other than appointments or important dates, I use mine more as a journal where I record what I have done that day.

I find lists of things to-do can be counter productive for me; if I don’t tick things off I can be very hard on myself.  However, by recording what I have done, that just feels far more positive to me.

So, I do have a couple of ‘trackers’ in my BuJo for things I would like to do on a daily basis.

Notice I wrote ‘I’d like to do’, not ‘I must’.  That takes a lot of pressure off me, as well as the guilt I can have if I don’t get done what I thought I could get done in a day.  I’m far more ‘productive’ if I just get along with things.  I’m lucky to have the luxury of doing this as I’m self-employed, as well as being an arty, creative person.

So, here are my trackers, as they appear in my BuJo:

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Bujo04

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I’ve noticed I have some colouring to do on some of them.  I decided I’d like my trackers to span a whole year, which seems to be working fine for me now. I also wanted to add some of my favourite quotes to remind me of why I want to keep track of these things and their importance to me.

I decided to add the quotes in boxes, and connect them with strings of little ‘doodles’ called dangles (the book I’m working on – A Dangle A Day – is spilling over into other areas of my creative life!) I like how they’re not all symmetrical in shape and arrangement.

I like how I can use my BuJo for daily practices of all kinds of things from drawing to hand lettering.  I can keep lists and notes on things that grab my attention.  I keep pages where I write down notes and ideas; not to-do lists, just notes to myself, or things I need to ask others about.

I have sections with botanical doodles/sketches, a list of sizes of picture frames and mats, the size of card blanks.  I have examples of hand lettering alphabets, with notes about them.  I have dangle directories too, a result of my work on A Dangle A Day.

The index is invaluable in helping me keep track of the collections, especially when they occur over multiple pages with other stuff in between.

Of course,  I also have weekly ‘diary’ pages, and I’ve been trying out different formats for them, including these:

Bujo05

 

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I’ve changed my monthly view for April, and here it is:

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The one for march didn’t have any room to write appointments or events in.  This one certainly does.  Not sure what I’m going to put on the right hand page yet, though I couldn’t resist drawing part of a mandala there.

I’ve found it is easy to get lost in bullet journaling; especially the creative parts. That’s fine when it doesn’t take me away from things that must be done, such as doing books. But it’s a different way of practicing drawing, hand lettering, organising thoughts/interests/memories/ideas and so on rather than in multiple books (journal, diary, sketchbook, note book) – they can all go in one book.

If you’d like to see any of these, let me know and I may share some, or little tutorials on how I draw stuff.

The flexibility and the ability to change what doesn’t work easily is the biggest draw, as well as the ‘permission’ to do what you need to do, what is right for you.  There’s no shoulds or shouldn’ts about it.

The other thing is not to get hung up on perfection.  I get things wrong in it all the time, or don’t like what I’ve done.  These can be ‘fixed’ by the use of correction tape or sticking a new piece of paper over the mistake if it’s a biggie. I just have to remind myself it’s a work in progress, it’s hand-made (well the content is if not the notebook itself), and it will help me, I hope, to accept that something is ‘good enough’ without it having to be perfect in all ways.

I already really dislike the heading for my Mood Tracker, but it’ll do for now.  I may change it with paper and sticky stuff.  Or I’ll just leave it so I can see how my hand lettering progresses over time.

 

 

Art and my healing journey

 

 

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A page of floral sketches from my sketchbook.

This is a little bit of a different blog post from me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I experience CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which presents itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and a low self-esteem.

I’ve had lots of counselling over the past eight years or so, and for the last two and a half years I’ve had a lovely therapist who specialises in EMDR therapy.  It’s taken a long while for me to get to the point where I believe that such a gentle kind of therapy works, and works for me.  It’s still a slow process…but progress is being made.  A major change in employment nearly a year ago seriously helped with that.

Last week, my counsellor suggested I read a book called ‘Tapping In’ by Laurel Parnell.  In the book, Laurel Parnell describes how the process of bilateral stimulation by means of tapping the knees or outer thighs can be used to reinforce a safe place, helpful guardians and other tools to help during both therapy and everyday life.  My own therapist has successfully used it to reduce anxiety during a dental appointment as well as aiding in sleep.

She suggested I read the book and we do some work on the resources I need before continuing with EMDR as the last few sessions have left me rather upset, fragile, and, unsually for me, unable to find my ‘safe place’ at the end of a session, so that I can leave the fragile and upset state behind.

So,  yesterday we worked on my safe place, with me coming up with a new one and ‘tapping in’ the contentment, peace and safety I feel when I imagine myself there. The bilateral stimulation from alternating taps to the outer knees, helps to reinforce the feeling of the place, and actually helps to intensify it.

I have no problem imagining places I can go to in my imagination; I’ve used guided meditations over the years for various purposes.  When it comes to me coming up with my own imaginary places, it never ceases to surprise me what these places are like!

The other thing that was suggested after I’d verbally described my place, was to spend time over the week drawing/painting/creating images of this place, as well as practicing the process of tapping in my safe place and using it to help me manage my current high anxiety levels.  (My anxiety intensified greatly yesterday, not as a result of counselling, but by the decision to hold a ‘snap general election’ and my worries about what is happening in this country, in the world, which then gets transferred to worrying about finances as I’m now self-employed, and so on and the constant chatter of anxiety winds itself up if I’m not careful).

Me being me, I get to it almost straight away…starting with these mandalas

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Mandalas based on the feelings I get when I’m in my ‘safe place’.

Carl Jung used mandalas to represent/express the current state of the self:

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation. ” – Carl Jung

So, I started with some abstract, intuitive mandalas to try to express the feelings I have when I think of my safe place, when I remember the feelings I have when I’m there.

Next, I wanted to draw some kind of representation of a view from one of the windows of my place.  And this is what I came up with, though the view changes all the time!

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Yes, I know water isn’t yellow, but in my inner world it can be!  It also shimmers with gold and has lots of shining gold and blue ‘dots’ in it.  Lots of happy creatures and colours there, all entertaining me … diverting my attention away from my anxiety.

Yes, I use art to help me manage my mental health.  When anxious, doing art helps me become less so; when depressed, art lifts my mood.  I’m sure the inner critic chatters away even when I’m ‘arting’, but the art takes my attention so the critic’s voice can be ignored.

Oh, before I drew anything, I took time to write a clear description of my safe place, as words are how I build up mind images.

I’m looking forward to ‘tapping in’ help for creativity, amongst other things… I’m also looking to intuitively drawing and creating some more of the living things that I can see from my safe place – all friendly and protective of course, nothing scary allowed there!  Which suits my tendency to rather whimsical, cutesy, artistic style.

So, I’ve shared a little of my ‘safe place’, but I’m keeping a lot of details to myself – no offence, but I don’t want any gate crashers there!

Half-term at last…pheweee!

It’s been a long half-term at school; eight weeks to be precise.  In that time there’s been two training days, a twilight training session. a memorial walk to raise money for school funds and the Senghenydd Mining Disaster Memorial, almost daily incidents of poor behaviour/attitude to deal with, lessons observations, book reviews (as in how well and regularly work is being marked), a consultation with my union representative, a stress-meltdown and hopefully the end of three year period of what feels like persecution/bullying in a particular situation at work (culminating in the union consultation and the stress meltdown).

I still have a pupil to be dealt with who has been making threats to physically attack me because I apparently ‘start on him’ by asking him to do his work.  How shocking is that, that I should request he stop shouting around the class, distracting others and to do his work?

Oh the joys of being a teacher.

Having said that, there are joys.  The shared smiles and laughter with pupils enjoying the lessons.  The ones whose faces light up when they see me and who never exhibit poor behaviour in my class, even though they may do in other lessons), the shared laughter with colleagues, morning breakfast with ‘the girls’, the helpfulness of the lab tech, the enthusiasm and questioning of pupils because they are interested in something, their kindness and thoughtfulness.  And so much more that it’s a shame it can become dominated by the negative things that occur and dominate my ruminating, over-analysing, over-thinking brain.

It’s been really busy for me with having to prepare work for a new course I’m running with my special needs classes, as well as teaching mainstream classes that I’ve not done for years.  It’s meant late nights at work and even bringing work home – something I avoid doing as I do not want to go down the route of being a workaholic as I was in the first decade or so of my teaching career.

This busy-ness has really eaten into my creative time.  Little art has been done, and I’m am doing my best to settle back into it in this half-term, especially as I have two contracts to create artwork for two books, though I have been waiting for direction for what the artwork is to be for a long while now.

I’ve barely stopped in the first four day so of the half-term.  I seem to be running away from time with myself.  I can struggle with being alone, feeling lonely and end up keeping moving, moving, moving to avoid it.  Today I am remaining at home and trying to get things out of the way so that I will settle to some arty pursuits, or de-stressing after the last half-term.

I do seem to be a lot more resilient than I was a year ago.  Though things can get to me (such as loneliness, lack of a sense of belonging, the constant worry I’m doing things wrong that have precipitated the situation at work that led to a stress-meltdown), I often find there’s a content ‘centre’ in me that I can access when I do things of a creative nature or things that focus my mind away from it’s rumination and negative thinking.  It’s a little easier to spot when this is happening, though I don’t always catch it in time to stop the tears, the self-loathing and the comfort eating.

I rejoined a choir I’ve been a member of since I was in school myself.  Sadly, I had to leave again once the stress levels rose as my voice was, and still is, affected by the stress.

Out of all of this, and at odd times during the last couple of months, I have managed to do some arty things.  Here’s two mandalas of mine.

Calmly Does It © Angela Porter 2013

Autumn Splendour ©Angela Porter 2013d

Geometric arty goings on …

 

Both worked in the last 24 hours or so.  Same media for both – Sakura Glaze pens, watercolours and Cosmic Shimmer iridescent/metallic watercolour paints.

Each ‘dot’ on the mandala has a metallic centre or ring around it.

Fun to do! Engaging to create and colour … very meditative.