Nurture

The artwork

I took a 6″ square Strathmore artist’s tile and coloured it with Distress Inks. Next, I used Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and Pigma Micron 01 pens to draw the design. Finally I added some graphite shadows.

Nuturing

This zentangle inspired drawing contains the Zibu symbol for ‘nurture’. Nurture is all about growth and expansion which involves encouraging, nourishing, protecting and caring.

I certainly need to care for myself today. For the past few days anxiety gradually increased as I got closer to meeting my accountant to hand over my paperwork. I was left exhausted after the essential business trip to meet her in a car park to do this. I’m still feeling exhausted, fuzzy headed, and not with it today.

Nurturing myself was an important lesson to learn through EMDR therapy. It’s not an easy lesson for any of us to learn, but it is essential. It’s not just about taking care of the basic needs, it’s about the whole of your being.

Yesterday, this involved quiet time with art, or just sitting and being, and some comforting, as well as nourishing, food. An early night was in order.

My nights sleep was broken and I’m still feeling the effects of the post-stress come-down. But these will pass as the cortisol and other stress hormones gradually leave my body.

On the good side, I was up to creating the cover for the next colouring book after Entangled Starry Skies. So, if the sketch is approved, I can get to inking and colouring it over the next couple of days.

Abstract Art 9 Jan 2021

I spent yesterday colouring yesterday’s drawing in. That was an interesting experience!

I started out with graphite and coloured drawing pencils. But, as I coloured more and more I got frustrated with them

So, I switched to Inktense pencils and paints and a water brush. That was better, but the results were rather chalky and obscured the black lines a little. So I tried some watercolour paints. Better, but still weren’t feeling right.

Finally, I dug out my set of the Kuretake Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens, and they hit the spot!

With each type of media I did my best to remain true to the limited colour palette of earth tones, but the more organic parts really did need that muted olive green for some variety. That decision really has helped to tie everything together in this design.

Surprisingly, The whole variety of media seems to work well together. I expected a whole hot mess from my messing around with media. Whatever I did, it’s brought the drawing to life, and there’s a lot of interest in the variations of intensity and vibrancy of colour throughout it.

I’d expected the mixed media paper to be a bit difficult to work with Inktense, watercolours and the brush pens. It wasn’t, it worked really well! Perhaps because I didn’t do much in the way of working in colour layers.

I still have some work to do to this. I want to add some gold accents in places, as well as using a white Gelly Roll pen to add dots of bright white here and there. Oh, I need to remove the margin guidelines, as well as that pesky bit of dirt that is on my scanner!

I really am smiling when I look at this piece of artwork. There’s lots of open space, yet it works. I think it’s done, though I may add some ‘ruins’ peeking above the froth of vegetation. I’ll see what happens over time.

More insomniac art…

I had a couple of relatively good night’s sleep. But last night was a broken night’s sleep, waking around 3am and drawing until I was ready to sleep again – around 6am. No point tossing and turning as it just makes matters worse for me.

I’d started this drawing yesterday afternoon, after I’d completed the coloured templates for Entangled Starry Skies. I got a fair amount of it done when I woke in the night. I completed it this morning, after I woke around 8:30am, with a threatening migraine-type headache. I’ll be back to bed soon once the headache pills have kicked in; I often feel very tired with this kind of headache.

I think that fuzzy headed, weird-mind-set shows in some of the drawing. The weird texture on the bottom right face. The very organised, block-like areas of organic textures at the top.

As I’ve now scanned this in, I may take some time to add shading and highlights, perhaps some subtle colour, to the drawing in the sketchbook. If I do use colour, I’m going to keep it monochrome, maybe with a complementary colour for some little pops here and there. If I use too many colours I feel it loses cohesiveness and… some elegance, I think that’s the word I’m hunting around in my headache addled brain for.

I may try printing it out on some coloured paper. Not sure how the laser printer will cope with that, but if I don’t try, I’ll never know!

Oh, I used 05 and 01 Unipin pens in an A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook to create this art.

Template Thursday!

It’s the first Thursday of 2021 and so it’s time for a template for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

This week, it’s a bold, entangled design. Lots of botanical motifs and some geometric patterns in there. I chose to fill the image with flat colours this week. The color palette I’ve used reminds me of the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau.

It’s both unusual of me to use flat colour, or colours that are also muted. Some shadow and highlight would serve to add dimension to the design, but there’s something quite nice about it as it is. Something that I can’t put my finger on.

If you’d like to print and colour it, you do need to be a member of the facebook group. Membership is free, as are the templates to members. There’s just a few reasonable terms and conditions that need to be followed to use them.

I’ve been creating one template a month for the group since it was started. Since the first lockdown here in the UK (March 2020), I’ve created one template a week for the group. Coloring is an activity that can help alleviate stress and anxiety, induce relaxation, and gives the mind a break from overthinking. It’s been shown in scientific studies to affect the brain in much the same way that mindfulness meditation does.

Sketchbook flip-through

I’ve been busy indulging myself in comfort art over the past couple of weeks. So, I thought I’d share some of the pages in one of my A4 sketchbooks that relate to zentangle.

I’m no photographer, just saying!

I used a whole host of different media to complete the drawings
-pens, including Pigma Micron, Unipin, Uni Emott, Chameleon Fineliners, Pitt Artist Pens, Staedtler Triplus fineliners, Tombow Fudenosuke and a Zebra fudenosuke
-a range of pencils including Prisma Ebony graphite, Daler-Rowney sketching pencils, white graphite pencil, Derwent coloured drawing pencils and ordinary drawing pencils and a ruler to give guidelines for dividing the pages up
– tortillons and paper stumps, along with sandpaper to clean the tips!
– Inktense, Tombow Dualbrush pens, Faber Castell Pitt artist pens and a waterbrush for the more intensely coloured patterns

Some of the work has been done on days where I just needed to lose myself in something familiar, comforting. The rest of it during my nights of broken sleep.

The newest stuff are the pages of ’embedded’ letters – the monograms. Definitely a tad on the weird side as I’ve not found my way with this idea. But I will persevere over time.

Abstract WIP 5 Jan 2021

The drawing

I’ve been working on this drawing for the past three days. I’m not sure if it is finished yet; I’m undecided about all the open spaces to the right. I’m beginning to understand the need for some space for the eyes to rest on, but my inner inclination is still to fill my drawing with pattern and complexity.

This one has been drawn with a black Uni Emott pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The Emott pen has a hard plastic tip and although it has become worn during the work of drawing, I’ve found the uneven, patchy, varying line widths that result most useful in achieving different weight and character of line in the drawing. Not that this shows up well in the reduced size and resolution image of the work. Neither does the texture of the colour applied digitally.

I’m quite heavy handed with pens and tend to wreck the more delicate Unipin and Pigma Micron pens (and others of a similar ilk) rather rapidly. The Pigma Micron PN pens weather my heavy-hand better as well. I don’t favour one over the other. I just choose what pen I feel like drawing with at the time – be it Unipins, Microns, Micron PN, Rotring Rapidograph, Tombow Fudenosuke, or traditional fountain pens.

Digital drawing is a challenge for me, even though I love the Surface Slim Pen and the way it glides on the screen of the Surface Studio. The challenge for me is the sense of scale, proportion and perspective. A sheet of paper gives me a well defined shape and size and as I can’t zoom in, there’s a limit to the tiny details I can add.

Sleeplessness

Saturday night into Sunday was another very broken nights sleep and it left me wiped out yesterday. I had various meetings to attend online during the day and evening as well. In between them, I had to sleep. I was overtired and that makes me emotional and teary. Sleep is the only cure for tiredness. Hence no blog entry yesterday.

So, this meant little time for art and stuff yesterday.

I did have a better night’s sleep last night, though I woke part way through. These night ‘sweats’ (I just get incredibly hot, no sweating as such…yet) are no fun! I wake up absolutely blisteringly hot, and it takes me ages to cool down, even though my bedroom is really cold. If these carry on into the warm/hot months when sleep is difficult anyway, I don’t know what I’m going to do! It seems perimenopause is moving along with me; age doesn’t come by itself. As well as the hot flushes during the night and day I’m finding more periods of fuzzy headedness and difficulty concentrating.

As I let the house go cold during the night in an effort to better cope with these night sweats, and I don’t know when I’m going to wake up in the morning if I do get back to sleep, I don’t have my heating turn on at a specific time. So I wake up to a cold house. Which is great if I’m in the throes of a hot flash. So, on these cold mornings, my habit is to go put the heating on, make breakfast, and take breakfast back to bed. That way I can keep warm while sitting in bed, having breakfast and faffing around with email and so on as well as my personal drawing projects.

What I’m realising is that I’m going to have to change my approach to working hours as perimenopause affects how my mind and body functions. I have no idea how long it will last; a year to many years apparently. I hope this will settle down into a pattern that I can work with, or that I can be more flexible with myself about when I work and when I don’t, and recognised when I need to take self-care time.

It won’t last forever, thank goodness. One of the plus sides of it is that I don’t feel the cold as much as I used to, at certain times of day anyway.

Sketchbook Page – First of 2021

About the sketchbook page

My sketchbooks have been the focus of my attention during the waning days of 2020 and the start of 2021. I’ve done pages of zentangle-type patterns, borders and ‘fragments. I’ve been trying out monograms, and I’ve been drawing in more of my signature style, as above.

This page shows some experiment with colour and texture in the sketchbook. I used fineliner pens for the textures and Pitt Artist Brush Pens, both ‘neat’ and with a waterbrush.

I had to work hard with myself to do this. I didn’t want to mess up the drawing, which I quite like, with colour and so on. But then I told myself I can always re-draw it, along with losing the elements I’m not keen on. I really like the bird-like design at the top of this coloured image.

The others were drawings done for the sheer joy and comfort of drawing. All intuitive, though I did pay attention to a reference photo of a meso-American pot for the face in the right-hand drawing.

All drawings were done with an 05 Unipin pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The 05 pen nib has become worn, and usually I’d bin it, but I’m working with it and seeing how I can vary the width and intensity of line. I’m trying to allow myself to embrace the perfectly imperfect quality of the line and the character it brings to my drawings. I find that I like it, which surprises me. Now, all I need to do is to work to replicate this digitally; maybe not a perfect replication but something that is similar enough.

Sketchbooks

I have three sketchbooks on the go at the moment.

The A4 and A5 Enviros are for drawings and designs, as above. Fairly polished and starting points for further work. I can try different things out – such as colour and texture – knowing that I can either scan the drawings in before I try these experiments out, or I can always re-draw the design, altering the parts I’m not happy with.

The third is an A4 SeaWhite all-media sketchbook. Although I have done some drawings in there, it’s been repurposed into a zentangle/pattern experimentation and record book. I use colour and shading with the drawings as they are purely for reference and the pleasure of drawing them. Not surprisingly, many of the pages are aesthetically pleasing in the way that needlework or cross-stitch samplers are. You can look at the page again and again and still find designs or sections of designs that surprise you.

Comfort Art

The past few days I’ve needed to find an activity that comforts me. I find this time of year emotionally difficult as I’m triggered by Christmas and New Year and all the hoo-haa around it. The short days and lack of sunshine doesn’t help much. My daylight therapy lamp helps somewhat, but it isn’t as good as working at my desk or taking a walk bathed in winter sunlight. I also find myself bone-weary a lot. Mind you, not sleeping properly at night isn’t helping me either.

As an introvert, I tend to retreat into a world of my own at these times, or to immerse myself in other worlds through films and books. And of course art. I limit my social media activity to the absolute necessary. This way, the societal pressures I feel fade away, and before long the world is back to the way it is for the vast majority of the year.

This year, my main haven of peace and contentment has been in my sketchbooks. I’ve found particular comfort and delight indulging myself in zentangle patterns. The patterns are familiar, but working on them to create unique variations that are my own has been something new and different for me. As has allowing myself to draw them in my own way.

As well as comforting me, I’ve discovered that I find it hard to be uniquely me in my artistic expression. Accepting that the way I draw something is just fine as long as I’m happy with it. The videos from the Zentangle family have been incredibly useful in helping me see this, as well as making me determined to change it too. Not just with zentangle type stuff, but with my art in general. Also, I realised that I do this for other people, but never for myself. Time to change that, methinks!

I’m still in ‘comfort art’ mode for the next couple of days. I’m still not ‘right’ emotionally, and I’d like to be before I turn my attention to the example coloured templates for Entangled Starry Skies and sketches for the cover of the next colouring book.

Happy 2021 to you all!

Happy new year to each and every one of you. May the year ahead be filled with peace, compassion, good health, the opportunities to create good memories and all that you need in life.

I had created a scheduled post for midnight, but WordPress seems to have disapparated it! Ho hum.

This is the coloring template that I created for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group, all coloured in now.

Drawing Practice

Every time I draw it’s practice, even if the result is a finished and fairly polished artwork.

This page from my new A5 landscape Enviro sketchbook from Artway, is definitely practice. Practice of pen drawing, geometric pattern creation, colour and using pencils and a tortillon to add shadow.

It was also a chance for me to practice creating iterations of a square ‘fragment’ used to create the surface patterns and border patterns.

This isn’t something I’ve done often when delving into the Zentangle realms. I’ve never really taken the time to try out different permutations to do with rotating and mirroring the unit square. Nor have I really spent time altering the unit square ways that it’s the same but different.

Using a different colour to add interest and depth to the patterns is also something I’ve not really done, but I found it interesting to do.

How did this come about? Well, I’ve been watching lots of Zentangle videos on YouTube while cwtched up all snug and warm.

The idea to work with the basic pattern unit, or ‘fragment’ as the Zentangle creators term it, and try all these different things out.

It becomes addictive, especially as it seems almost impossible to do something truly horrible! But if something doesn’t work, it’s learning about why it doesn’t, and can you make it work.

I’ve ended up with a page filled with variations on a ‘fragment’ that I can refer to for inspiration as I need to.

I also have ended up surprised at how much I like this page. It’s not my usual kind of thing, and while working on it I had many moments of ‘What the feck am I doing? This really isn’t going to work out nicely at all’. I persevered and am quite happy with the end result. It may not be my usual style of art, but it gave my pen skills a nice work out!

Zentangle is a particular method of drawing abstract patterns, step by step, with a focus on meditation and gratitude. It is something anyone can do with the most basic of equipment – pen, pencil and paper. There are lots of fab videos on Youtube from the Zentangle creators, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, along with others. They also have a website – Zentangle.com – full of resources. Another great online resource is TanglePatterns.com, run by Linda Farmer, a Certified Zentangle Teacher.

These kinds of patterns and abstraction have been a feature of my art long before Zentangle was a thing. It’s nice, however, to dip into the Zentangle resources from time to time for new inspiration and challenges, or just to practice my drawing skills.

Template Thursday (on a Tuesday!)

We’re rapidly approaching the end of 2020 and it’s my custom to create a coloring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group to mark the calendar changeover day.

In the past few years, there’s been a flurry of coloured templates appearing on the page throughout New Year’s Day, always something beautiful and wonderful to behold. Many members post their templates close to midnight when the year changes.

I’ve not coloured the template yet. I hope my focus continues over the next couple of days so I can get it done to join in.

I had a right ‘mare of a time getting the image above done. I think I tried four times in total, with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro crashing before I could save it. Sketchbook pro has always been very, very stable, so I guess the gremlins of 2020 got to it today. But I finally got it done. That could be a very perfect metaphor for 2020, perhaps.

Drawn with a fine Uniball Eye pen on acid-free cartdridge paper. Backgrounds added digitally.