Friday Dangle Design, anti-stigma talks, CPTSD and emotional hangovers.

Dangle design 15 March 2019 © Angela Porter
Dangle design 15 March 2019 © Angela Porter

I officially have a post-therapy and post trio of antistigma talks emotional hangover/headache.

I’m so tired today. Headachy. Feeling quite sad. Finding focus is difficult.

A big, big mug of strong Yorkshire tea, clementine segments, banana and some French bread with butter and marmalade is being had for breakfast.

I was so tired when I got home yesterday from the last anti-stigma talk of this week that I ordered in pizza and garlic mushrooms. I watched most of Attack of the Clones while beginning to crochet a market bag. And when I felt I could sleep I went to bed.

To find that I couldn’t sleep, not straight away. My mind was still way too busy.

So, I thought I’d sit in bed and do a little drawing, which is the one above.

I knew today would be Friday, so I added some really simple dangles to the bottom of it for dangle day.

I used my R2-D2 Sheaffer fountain pen on some Claire-Fontaine mixed media paper. I have managed to smudge the ink in some places.

However, this did let me settle down to sleep. It was a meditative practice for me, if not mindfulness meditation itself. No matter what, it helped me calm and quieten my mind so I could sleep.

The anti-stigma talks have a part that is about Time to Change Wales, a bit about stigma and discrimination and mental illness, and the main part is my story of mental illness and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.

Self-stigma has always been the worst for me. What others would say to me such as ‘just pull yourself together’ or ‘don’t be such a misery’ or suggesting that I have a lot going for me in my life and I shouldn’t feel the way I was the same as I was telling myself. In fact, I talked to myself worse than what others could say.

I was really resistant to the idea that I had problems with mental and emotional wellbeing.

“It’s been a long, busy term. I’ll be fine after the holidays.”
“We’ve got an inspection coming up, it’s really busy.”
“I had that difficult pupil again today and it just wore me down, I’ll be ok”.
“I’m not crazy.”
“I’m not weak.”
“I’m not mad.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me that a weekend won’t fix.”

That was, and still is me to a lesser extent. Always trying to put a brave face on how I’m feeling. Trying to hide behind a mask of smiles and laughter and competency. Doing my best not to be a bother to anyone, not to worry anyone. Not wanting anyone to think I was lying/attention-seeking/making a fuss over nothing.

Always denying I had a problem. Until I could deny it no more.

That happened in steps.

Being physically confronted by two pupils led to me receiving counselling for the first time and with me finally admitting some things about grooming in my past, not only to the counsellor, but to myself.

Counselling kept me in my job. When it ended, the decline in my mental health resumed and continued until I had to have 8 months off from work, accept anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to give my brain a break from the constant worrying, thinking, panicking it was doing.

One of the hardest things I had to do was to admit to myself I needed help. Not just admit, but accept that help.

Talking about my childhood, where those patterns of thoughts, the very negative, critical thoughts and beliefs I have about myself have come from. Not talking in depth, mind you, just touching the surface of it. This is emotionally draining for me. It awakens emotions in me that are only just surfacing and being recognised through EMDR therapy.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about why I do these talks. Today, I’m writing about the aftermath of the talks.

The aftermath won’t ever stop me from doing the talks. I can cope with it. I need a day or two of self-care (and ice-cream).

Self-care is doing things that are familiar, that calm me and bring me pleasure. So that’s art, crochet, Star Wars, ice-cream with a friend. It’s quiet time for myself, without the pressures of people. It’s sleeping when I need to sleep. My body isn’t tired, but my emotions and mind are. They need time to rest and recuperate.

And that just doesn’t apply to me, a CPTSD survivor on a healing journey towards recovery. It applies to each and every single person.

Me. You. Everyone.

We all have mental health. We all have emotional health. We all need to take care of them as much as we do our physical health.

Just as we seek help if we have a problem with our physical health, such as taking a painkiller for a headache, surgery for appendicitis, dental work for teeth problems, a cast for a broken bone, chemotherapy for cancer, then we also need to seek help if we’re having problems with our emotional and mental health.

There’s no stigma attached to having a physical illness. But there is with mental and emotional illnesses and problems. There should not be.

It’s about being kind to ourselves. Learning how to be kind to ourselves. Taking that time to give our minds and emotions a break. That’s what self-love is. It’s kindness to ourselves.

Something I never learned in childhood. All I learned was that I was unworthy, useless, stupid, ugly, fat, unloveable, a failure, an embarrassment, the reason everything went wrong.

I’ve lived most of my life believing that was so, trying to prove it wasn’t and to earn the love and respect of someone who is incapable of love and respect – a narcissistic mother. Not only her, but so many others in my life.

It’s never too late to do something to help myself have a better relationship with myself in the first instance. That’s what EMDR is helping me with.

If my talks help others recognise some of the same things in themselves, workout that their relationship with themselves, that their mental and emotional health isn’t good, and they determine to seek help when they’re ready, then every day of this emotional tiredness/hangover/headachyness is absolutely worth it.

International Women’s Day 2019

International Women's Day 2019 - ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
International Women’s Day 2019 – ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘If only’, not ‘as long as’. I matter. Full Stop.”Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer.

A balanced world is a better world.
How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

www.internationalwomensday.com

Today is International Women’s Day, Furbaby Friday and Dangle Day so what else could I do but combine them all into one design?

I started by sketching them out on dot grid paper. My favourite sketching tool at the moment is any one of the darker tones in the Koh-I-Noor Magic multicoloured pencils range. The thickness of the lead encourages me to be bold in my hand lettering and drawing. It also encourages me to draw on a larger scale than I usually do.

Something else I’ve noticed is that drawing with such a thick (but fun and coloured) pencil,I can’t put all the small details in that appear in the final image in the sketch. It really is a sketch which I can then use as the skeleton, the framework, the architecture for the final design.

The thickness of the pencil also means that my hand lettering is bigger than usual. I can also deliberately wear the lead down into more of a chisel shape which helps with the thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes.

It’s also a pleasure to write with pencil and my writing always feels neater when I do write with a pencil. I have no idea why that is, but it just is.

Anyways, once the design was sketched out, I scanned the design into the Microsoft Surface Studio and used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface pen to first ink in the outlines and then add colour, details and texture.

For the colours I kept to a fairly simple colour scheme with pink and purple for the flowers and hearts and the Women’s Day symbol. I just had to use a rainbow to fill the hand lettering (apart from the word ‘women’s’). And the pusscat just had to be mainly white, but I thought peachy-pink stripes would be quite nice.

My dangle design tutorial book – A Dangle A Day – is now available from all good booksellers.

Monogram S dangle design

©Angela Porter 2019

Over the last couple of days we’ve had some glorious late winter, sunny, mild weather. The kind of weather that can uplift my spirits.

It’s also lovely to see the late winter flowers bursting into bloom – snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils – and even celandines and daisies showing the heads in the sunshine. I also spotted the first signs of pussy willow about to burst into its furry delightfulness. The cascading catkins always lift my spirits. They’re all signs that winter is coming to an end and spring is waiting ready to burst forth.

I woke this morning with the idea of a simple monogram dangle design in my head. I knew it had to have a pusscat in it along with a snowdrops. It’s been a while since I included a cat in a dangle design, but today is the perfect day for that. Actually, every day is a perfect day to draw a cute, cuddly cat. A white cat to match the white snowdrops. I also included a paw print charm; my beautiful white cat, Cuffs, certainly left very deep paw prints on my heart and though I said goodbye to him last year after over 16 years with him as my companion he lives on in those paw prints and my memories of him.

The monogram had to be an S for snowdrops and spring. The monogram also had to have a spring flower as part of it’s design.

I’ve chosen quite a pastel and simple colour scheme for this dangle design to reflect the more pastel colours of spring. I also included a black and white chequerboard frame for the monogram, to add some contrast and some ‘weight’ to the design, grounding it onto the paper.

A sunny blue background with the cooler sky colours of winter but with the warmth of the sun seemed appropriate. It reminds me of these glorious days we’ve had that are presaging the coming spring.

I started by sketching my design out with pencil on paper. I scanned this sketch in and then re-drew the design with a technical pen ‘brush’ in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio. Then it was time to colour, again working digitally in this instance.

My final job was to choose a square background and I wanted one that spoke of sunshine and the threshold of spring, so I went for a soft yellow watercolour wash.

The whole task has taken me around 2 hours to do. It’s a simple design, with simple colouring.

If you like this dangle design and would like to learn how to draw your own then my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ takes you through the steps and has lots of dangles you can use to create your own designs as well as suggestions for where you could use them.

February dangle design

©Angela Porter 2019

Friday is dangle day here in my arty world, and as it’s the first day of February the dangle needs to relate to that!

I created this design for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group (where today is furbaby friday). If you pop over then, join, then you can download the template to colour yourself.

The world is still in the grip of winter; I woke up this morning to a coverlet of snow covering everything. Yet again, I’m am so grateful that I work at home and don’t have to go out until it clears, even if that takes a day or so.

I wanted the colours in the dangle to reflect winter, but I also made Valentine’s Day a focus for the design, and I used that as an opportunity to include some more bits of hand lettering.

I did sketch the design out on Rhodia dot grid paper then scanned it in. I then re-drew the design digitally using my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

Today, I have a template or two to create for a colouring day at the Welsh Office in Cardiff on Time to Talk Day next Thursday. Time to Talk Day is the day where we’re encouraged to talk to people about mental health and well being. I don’t have anything to do on this day for Time to Change Wales, yet, or at any point in the week. I do have other projects to work on as well.

My own anxiety seems to have slid back to it’s usual constant background level after a stressful time earlier this week. It takes time. Mindfulness meditation helps somewhat, but it does take time for those stress response chemicals/hormones to leach out from my body even when I calm myself down.

Doing art does help too.

My book that takes you through drawing and designing dangles step by step – A Dangle A Day – is now published. Lots of ideas and examples of dangle designs are included in the book.

A Dangle A Day Dangle Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I’m now feeling a little better this evening and I thought I’d create a dangle mandala (dangle-dala?) to mark the publication of ‘A Dangle A Day’ today.

I drew this using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the digital paper that is my Microsoft Surface Studio screen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I then coloured it using the same tools.

I’ve uploaded the black and white line art version of this design to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. 

If you’d like to print and colour this design in, please follow the link and join the group. You’ll find some other coloring templates there too that are only available to members of the group.

Dangle designs are a lot of fun to create. They’re whimsical, cute and a lot simpler to draw than they look! I take you one step at a time through how to draw well over 100 different dangle designs in the book, as well as making suggestions about where you can use dangle designs and with words of encouragement.

If you do have a go at drawing dangle designs, and colouring them of course, I’d love to see what you create and how you use them!

A Dangle A Day

Today’s the day! A Dangle A Day is published in the US. Thursday is the day for the UK. It’s my very first tutorial book and the reviews I’ve seen so far are lovely!

Well over 100 dangle designs in the book with step by step instructions for each. Simple steps leading to even quite complex designs. Whimsical, cute charms. Funky monogram dangles. Plenty for each season and most occasions. I’ve also written encouraging words as everyone can draw dangles and they are perfectly imperfect which is what makes them personal and unique!

I’d love to see what dangles you create and how you use them – in your bujo, planner, journal, diary, scrapbook, or as greeting cards, note cards, book marks, gift bags, envelopes, framed art, or any other way you can think of! Tag me on twitter, instagram or facebook!

Naturally, I have a stinking, streaming cold and I feel rough as anything. I don’t think I’ll get much in the way of art done today. Coughing, sneezing, runny eyes and a thumping headache don’t do much for focus.

A dangle design mandala

A Dangle Design Mandala ©Angela Porter 2019

Today has been a funny kind of day. I have a stinking cold and I had an appointment late morning. When I came home this afternoon, I decided I’d do another mandala made up of dangle designs and design elements from my book ‘A Dangle A Day’.

I just let the design flow from the tip of my Microsoft Surface Pen and onto the virtual paper that is my Microsoft Surface Studio screen. As always, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is the app that lets me draw and colour naturally on the Surface Studio screen.

I incorporated some of my favourite design elements – hearts, stars, sun, moon, flowers, leaves – into the mandala. A big mug of tea and a nicely sweet cake could be most welcome, though I’m not entirely sure the cold would let me enjoy them.

I also included some of those graphic black and white squares that I like so much, as well as a rainbow pattern of little arches. A morning sky and a night sky as backgrounds to the rings in the mandala completes this rather cutely whimsical mandala design.

Although I don’t show how to create dangle-dalas in the book, they are easy enough to do using dangles and design elements from the book.

It goes without saying that I’m all excited about my book being published tomorrow. I’m really hoping some of you will share your dangle designs with me – I really am curious and interested in how you use dangle designs!