The calendar page turns over and we’re into a new month.
August always heralds the end of summer and start of autumn, my favourite season. It is the last full month of summer here in the Valleys of South Wales. The evenings come noticeably earlier, always a sign that the year is continuing on its endless cycle of seasons.
We have a grey, damp and blustery start to the first day of the month. There are shafts of sunlight finding their way through gaps in the clouds, but there’s a deliciously refreshing snap to the cool and fresh air after the night-time rain.
I thought I’d create a really simple mandala design for the start of this month, one that is full of warm colours, but that hint of autumnal tones in the background.
I kept things simply stylised in the design. If nothing else, working on it made me smile, inwardly as well as on my lips.
I woke early-ish today and did some work on one of the typographic portraits I’ve been doing. Then, in my rush to get to the shower, I clicked the wrong button and lost my work. Thankfully, it’ll be easy enough to do it again. I also think that with the version I’m working on, I’m finding my way with the process. I have a lot of the portrait left to do, but I feel less frustrated with it and have a clearer idea of what I’d like to achieve now I’ve taken a few days break from this kind of work.
Before I settle back to the typography, I am going to take a walk in the fresh air of the morning. Well, after I’ve done my social media posts!
I’ve never drawn a hammer before, of any kind. I thought I’d have a go though and try my hand at a fantasy style, possibly dwarfish one.
Not only was designing one a problem for me, adding colour, dimension and texture were some other problems.
I think I’ve left areas a bit bare of line and pattern. Others I could’ve done a better job of creating highlights and shadows. However, overall I’m ok with this, especially as it’s not something I’d usually draw.
Next week’s prompt is ‘dinner’. Sheesh…
I made use of various tools in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to help me design the hammer, some of the them tools I’ve not used before.
I did consider making a drawing of the hammer from a different angle, but this one has taken me so long that I now need to do some other stuff today.
I have a life-long fascination with words and facts that appeal to my curious, squirrel-y mind. I like unusual words. I also like etymology – the origins of words.
Since my first episode of severe mental ill-health due to burnout and cPTSD, I’ve found it difficult to read and retain information as I once used to as well as to recall information that was once on the tips of my neurons.
I’m finding it much easier to read and retain some of what I’ve read, thank goodness! And with that comes a desire to seek out interesting words and facts once again.
Lalochezia comes from the Greek ‘lalia’, meaning speech, and the Latin ‘chezo’, meaning to relieve oneself.
I admit, quite freely, to lalochezia. Not just for physical pain, but emotional pain too. There’s nothing quite like a swear word full of hard consonants to express the pain, frustration or upset verbally.
A friend of mine is constantly amused by my use of swear words even though I sound ‘quite posh’, according to her anyway. I thought of her when I found this particular word and just knew I had to use it for one of my ‘quote’ artworks.
The floral motif is influenced by Art Nouveau. It is highly stylised but there’s also the influence of Celtic knotwork in the way the foliage intertwines and overlaps.
The typography was completed using Affinity Publisher. The artwork was completed in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. In both cases I used a Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.
Today, I have a simple dangle design greeting card along with a coordinating envelope. If you’d like some more ideas, inspiration and step by step instructions for drawing dangle designs then my book, A Dangle A Day, is a good place to start.
Materials and dimensions
4″ x 4″ Strathmore Bristol paper with a vellum finish 5″ x 5″ acid-free white card blank White envelope that card will fit in Distress inks in Tea Dye and Rusty Hinge Small piece of foam and a mini foam blending tool A piece of card with a 1.5″ x 0.75″ window cut in it to use as a stencil. Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens in F, S and XS Ruler and pencil Adhesive Glass pen and coppper ink by J Herbin
Making the card.
Use the card stencil and a small sponge dauber to apply a rectangle of Distress Ink in the top left of the 4″ x 4″ top layer. I used Tea Dye to colour the whole rectangle in, followed by a subtle gradient of Rusty Hinge from the bottom up.
Use a mini foam blending tool to add Tea Dye Distress ink to the edge of the top layer.
Use a pen to draw the rectangles around the colour block. I like to do this free-hand as it gives a more organic, human feel to the design.
Draw the sprigs and add the lines to the border. Dots help to add some interest to the more empty parts of the design.
Use a ruler and pencil to lightly draw a vertical line as a guide for the dangle. Also, draw pencil lines as guides for the position and size of the hand lettering. Sketch in the letters of the greeting.
Draw round and diamond shaped beads to form the dangle. I like to finish my dangles with a ‘heavier’ or larger bead.
Ink the letters in. I did some faux calligraphy where I made the down-strokes thicker. I added some lines and shading to the top line.
Carefully erase the pencil lines.
Attach the top layer to the card blank.
I used a glass pen and copper ink to add copper dots to highlight the dangle design and the hand lettering. I also drew a box just inside the top layer and another just outside it on the card blank. Again, I free-handed the lines, embracing the wobbliness.
Making the envelope
I used Tea Dye Distress Ink and a mini foam blending tool to edge both the front and back of the envelope.
I then used a sponge dauber and the card stencil to add a rectangle of Tea Dye ink in the top left.
I drew the design on the envelope as I had on the card, including adding a line border in copper ink.
Finally, I drew similar sprigs on the envelope flap, using the glass pen and copper ink.
Once I’ve addressed the envelope, I’d apply a thin layer of Distress MicroGlaze to the front and back of the envelope to protect the Distress Ink and drawing from the elements. I’ve done this to other cards and they have traversed the UK and US postal systems with no problems.
Ideas for using the design.
Although I’ve presented this dangle design as a greeting card, which is, I think, a lovely way to share a little bit of artistic loveliness with others, there are many other ways the design could be used, with or without any hand lettering.
In a BuJo, journal, planner or diary it would make a lovely little design to fill in a blank space.
This is a design that would work really well as a bookmark.
I’m sure it would look charming as part of a scrapbook spread.
I also think it would look lovely on a ‘with compliments’ slip or decorating the edge of a hand-written letter.
I’m sure there are many other ways and media that this design would be suited to.
I’m really enjoying drawing these kinds of dangle designs. They’re simple and elegant, to my mind anyway. They’re also quite easy to draw.
I do prefer to free-hand the lines and let the wobbliness be part of my signature style. It gives that human, hand-made, hand-crafted feel to the finished project, and a warmth to the finished project.
I work hard at finding a way of drawing digitally that lets me keep this uniquely ‘Angela’ way of expressing myself through line and pattern. I’m still working on it and sometimes get frustrated that, to my eye, my digital art seems too, well digitally perfect.
It’s all part of the process though – learning, developing, experimenting, trying out new ideas, techniques and methods. That’s what helps me grow as an artist.
I actually drew this one last night. My emotions were overwrought and I needed something that was calming and relaxing.
I used a digital equivalent to scratchboard art. I used my digital brushes to remove areas from the upper black layer to reveal the lower, coloured layer.
To create the more geometric areas I used the digital equivalent of fineliner pens. For the more organic lines, I used a flexible nib digital brush.
There is a kind of magic in revealing the colour hidden by the black darkness. I found myself working in a quite different way to recent mandalas; it’s going to be a technique I return to again and again I’m sure.
Digitally created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
Monday is still EMDR therapy day for me. My emotional and mental health is generally the best it’s ever been. However, I’ve discovered that I’m still a bit too close to the edge of the abyss within which I was trapped for most of my life. I wore a well practiced mask so that few people really knew the inner struggles I had on a daily basis.
It was such a good mask that I mostly fooled myself, until I could no longer do so around ten or twelve years ago.
I thought everybody thought and felt the same way I did; I never knew any different. Now, however, I know what contentment is and what feeling happy is too.
Last week’s EMDR session floored me for around three days. I didn’t expect it to do so. Memories surfaced that I’d pushed away and they distressed me greatly. The emotional exhaustion was intense; all I wanted to do was sleep. That wasn’t possible – as well as having the Spectacular Sea Life colouring book to finish I’m involved in an intense project which requires a lot of focus and concentration of a different kind. It’s also provoking emotional responses in me that are causing me some difficulties. One of those emotional responses resulted in me running away from the internet to watch Star Wars and then to create this mandala.
I have learned how to self-soothe!
The realm of emotions is really tricky for me. For most of my life I numbed my emotions. It was a strategy that helped me to survive as a child and the unhealthy strategy continued into my adult life.
Through EMDR, I’ve discovered that I have emotions, some I never knew existed in me and I had no names for them. Which is odd, as I could always recognise those emotions in others!
Anyway, by becoming more self-aware of my body and emotions and dropping the protective mask I’m having to learn to put boundaries and barriers in place to protect myself. Learning to say no, or the clear equivalent of that little word, is not an easy task. However, I am learning.
Healing from CPTSD is a tricky process, but it really is possible! It takes time though. Well, in my case it has.
It has been so lovely to be able to draw this morning. A mandala is a lovely way to warm up my hand-eye coordination and wake up my creativity.
This is an unusual colour combination for me. The bold red contrasts so well with the white line art of the mandala. I think it creates quite a startling design.
I also like the way the beads and teardrops make the mandala seem to shine. I also like the way the fresh, new white is pushing the darkness away to reveal the brighter, vibrant red.
That’s somewhat symbolic for my challenges in life at the moment it seems. My mental and emotional health is good; the contentedness is there. I have some new challenges in life that are engaging my mind in a different kind of focus and concentration. These challenges are, symbolically, to make the world a brighter, more hopeful place.
Yesterday, my day was taken up with meetings and planning. By the time I’d done that I was too exhausted to do any art.
Today, I had a clear plan of what needed to do so I have most of the day to focus on art, starting with this mandala.
I’ll need to get a big mug of tea before I start to ‘art’!
This cutely whimsical dangle design is from my tutorial book ‘A Dangle A Day’, which has the step-by-step instructions for drawing this design. They really are simple to draw, and the hand lettering is based on your own writing style too.
For this design, I chose spring-time colours, more pastel than bright. Of course Easter eggs and a bunny balloon had to feature, along with all the lovely spring flowers and a sprinkling of hearts. I even snuck a star in, hearts and stars being some of my favourite motifs to include.
This design would make a really cute greetings card or notecard. The dangles can easily be drawn shorter. It would also make a lovely bookmark. As a BuJo page, planner page or an element on a scrapbook page it would be lovely.
Using Nuvo drops or Ranger’s Stickles or similar to make dots where the beads are as well as a sprinkling of them around the top of the design would add some lovely dimension and sparkle for sure.
I do hope you give drawing dangle designs a go. They are so much fun and a lot easier to do than you think they are. They can also be used in many, many ways, especially when it comes to sharing love with others at different times and events throughout the years of our lives.
About the drawing…
When it came to designing the dangle designs and monograms for A Dangle A Day, I started off by sketching the idea out on dot grid paper using either a pencil or a pen. I could then adjust the lines and draw guidelines in to help me with the design quite easily.
When I was happy with the sketch, I scanned it in and then re-drew it in a digital form. For drawing digitally I use a Microsoft surface pen directly on the screen of a Microsoft surface book or surface studio. This is like drawing with pen or pencil on paper, or even painting or colouring.
So, although my designs were created in a digital environment, they were still very much drawn by hand.
I used very little in the way of smoothing lines – only enough to remove the wobbliness that comes from the great sensitivity of the pen and screen position sensoring stuff, and never used the predictive line tools available in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I worked out how to set up pens that would leave a line texture similar to the pens I like to use to draw on paper with. I determined I wouldn’t make everything perfect, that there would be that perfectly imperfect human touch to everything that I created. I also made sure I included examples of dangles drawn and coloured on paper and turned into cards, bookmarks and BuJo pages too.
Working digitally to draw and then colour the designs allowed me to edit, erase, adjust and keep the image free of smudges and blots that would require re-drawing. It also made it a lot easier to make the edits my lovely editors suggested to improve the work.
It certainly saved a lot of time scanning image after image in – something I find extremely tedious.
Although I may have used digital tools to draw with, the techniques I used were the same as if I’d drawn on paper with pen and then coloured with various traditional media.
I also have to say that the year to year and a half ago when I was colouring these I was only just starting to explore the realms of digital colouring and I hadn’t quite worked out exactly how I’d like to do it. They worked out good enough, but now I think I’d approach it a bit differently.
I had such a lot of fun creating the dangle designs season by season, month by month, celebration by celebration and I hope you have the same amount of fun doing this too.