This morning I decided I’d like to use one of my recent reef drawings and re-work it in colour. You can see my progress so far above. The coloured background makes a world of difference to how the design looks as I work it. I also have quite a fondness for teals, turquoises and purples for the background to my artwork. I also favour a darker background that makes the bright colours I like to use in my art ‘pop’ even more.
As it’s digital art, I’m using my favourite trio of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.
I’ve decided not to go with black pen outlines on this one. I’ve still not fully worked out why I shy away from them when I’m doing digital art, yet I’m more than comfortable to use them in my traditional drawings.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m feeling quite upbeat today, if still a bit tired. This week has been a weirdly busy and draining one. Between horrible abdominal cramps and broken nights’ sleeps, being startled while out, and long conversations with various people about problems going on in their lives I am feeling a bit tired too, but surprisingly content and upbeat.
I’ve also had a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come in counselling. How much better my mental health in the form of thoughts and beliefs about myself are. I am closer to being ‘good enough’ or ‘more than good enough’ to live the life I’d like to than ever.
I still have work to be done. There are still some negative beliefs about myself that on the surface don’t seem much of a problem, yet during EMDR they turn out to be much more powerful and distressing than I realised.
I make progress, and that is all that matters. Each step forward is a step towards my goals for myself.
My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.
Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.
I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.
Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.
Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.
The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.
As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.
What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.
I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.
I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.
I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.
Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!
Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.
When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.
I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.
I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.
Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.
I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.
Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.
I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.
I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.
I’m still in self-soothing mode after Monday’s emotionally draining trigger and EMDR session. I’m feeling a lot brighter, content, and not worried, but I’m tired as the stress from Monday is still affecting my sleep. It takes days for the stress hormones to leak away from me, bearing in mind I always have an elevated level thanks to the CPTSD.
Any way, back to art…
My self-soothing arty activity involved adding some patterns and motifs to my visual Zibladone (kind of a journal thingy). Always a soothing kind of experience for me. It also gave me the practice with pen on paper that I’ve discovered I need to do daily.
While drawing these patterns and motifs, I knew I wanted to try to create some of them in colour, with a lot of texture and dimension. So, the best way for me to do this is with a mandala. Well, that’s what I ended up starting work on. Originally I wanted to create a page similar to one in my Zibladone, with examples of motifs and patterns that are drawn/coloured digitally.
I may turn my attention to that after I’ve had some lunch. I’ll see.
Yesterday, I also completed the August template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I’ll post an image of it tomorrow, but it’s up in the group already, along with a colour palette challenge for August. The template is exclusive to members of the group, and new members are always made welcome there. I’m always blown away by the beautiful and unique ways in which the members of the group bring my line art to life with the magic of colour.
I’ve been quietly working at this one over the past day or so. I’ve also found myself at that point of giving up. Not because I’m unhappy with what I’m doing, but because I was/am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the work ahead of me and some confusion about what order I need to work the elements of the design in.
I need to work from the top down; that’s the way my brain works. It also allows me to work with clean overlaps of sections, in the way I know I’d not get if I was trying to work things the other way around.
It’s a lot easier to colour the black and white line art! And a lot quicker too.
However, that doesn’t challenge me in the way this particular kind of art is challenging me. I’m having a lot of fun with using light and shadow to create dimension, as well as working in layers.
I think there’s another reason why I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I’ll talk about that in my ‘So, how are you today Angela?’ section.
I’ve been working on this design for a week already, most days giving a few to several hours to it. As an estimate I’d say I’ve done somewhere between 25 and 30 hours work. You can see how much I have left to do as today I’ve posted the whole design for you to see.
I’ve just realised that spending so much time on one artwork is something new to me. Usually, a drawing takes between one hour and over a day, depending on the intricacy, size and whether it’s a sketch or a finished. inked in piece.
I think previously the longest I’ve spent on an artwork is about two days, and that was for an A3 sized mixed media piece. Oh, I have spent a lot of time on the abstract kind of embroidery/art I used to do.
However, nothing like this particular design.
Of course my tools are the usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m OK. I’ve had a couple of ‘off’ days.
Nowhere near like I used to have, even in the recent past. Just feeling off and a bit ‘meh’ and uninspired.
I had been feeling content, upbeat, happy even for a number of weeks now. How I’m feeling now was how I felt before on my best days I think.
I also think I know what the trigger has been too. I have homework from therapy to do to check in with my inner child. The experience on Friday caused me to feel really sad and tearful. I’m sure that’s what triggered this.
All the same, it’s something that can be worked on. It’s also given me a couple of insights I’d not had previously, if I can remember them for therapy tomorrow. I’m sure I will, if not tomorrow then later on.
It feels like a step backwards, but it isn’t really. It’s all part of the process.
I’ve got some more of this design done today. It’s growing quite nicely I think.
I’ve also managed to save the WIP file as the cropped image, like above. So, I’ll have to try to either combine the original drawing with this one, or just work with the square format. Either way would work I think. Maybe. Perhaps.
For now it’s become too warm, too uncomfortable for me to work in my work area, which is upstairs. Time for me to move downstairs to a cooler room until this one cools off somewhat.
Today is set to be one of the hottest days in the UK on record. Here, my weather app tells me it’s 28ºC (that’s 82.4ºF for those who still measure temperature that way). While not hot for some parts of the world, it’s way too hot for me! I’m starting to wilt…badly.
We have a fifty-fifty chance of thunderstorms forecast for early evening and again later in the night. I hope they arrive, with rain to cool things down so I can sleep! So long as it’s not a little rain which then creates high humidity…
Us Brits are very good at talking about (read complaining about) the weather. We have quite changeable weather here on our little islands thanks to the location on the eastern edge of the Atlantic and right where the Gulf Stream can flow along our western edges. It makes for some interesting weather for sure.
No matter what the weather is doing, we find something to moan about it. It’s a national pastime!
Anyways, it’s too hot for me to continue working, even with a fan on, as the Surface Studio is blowing out hot air. The fan is circulating warm air. And being upstairs in a south facing room, it gets rather warm on days like this.
When it cools, I shall return to art, but for now I’m either going to go crochet or read in the cooler environs of my living room
A bit more done on this work today and yesterday evening. As usual my tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, how are you today Angela?
I’m tired. EMDR yesterday was very, very emotional and draining. The negative thought I started with was that I’m a failure. That went to I’m never good enough for anyone.
I was getting so emotionally upset (distressed) that my therapist voiced quite a bit of concern about me throughout the process and kind of called it to a halt to do something different, but still working with it all.
At the start of the session it was noted how well I was looking, and my therapist has a feeling she’ll be losing me soon … which is signs I really am making good progress. I also know that’s part of the therapy process, preparing the client for therapy coming to an end…
So, all’s good. I’m emotional today, but there’s that contentedness there, and not a lot of anxiety either.
I’ve had weird dreams overnight, and memories cropping up I thought I’d firmly locked away. They’re all connected to the negative belief, however. So, I suspect processing is still going on.
So onwards I go towards healing and being good enough. More importantly believing I am good enough.
Three years ago I spent time with friends from a school I’d taught at for 27 years. As I look back on my time there it mostly seems a distant memory.
My life has changed in so many ways.
Being self-employed as an artist, illustrator and author is a wonderful thing, it barely feels like work as it is something I love to do for pleasure as well as to contracts. I choose my own workload and what I wish to do for the day.
There’s no appalling attitudes or behaviour to deal with (well rarely).
Healing from CPTSD is continuing, and perhaps the source of so many, many positive changes for me.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would ever feel content with a really low level of anxiety. I rarely ever go to sleep wishing I wouldn’t wake up. That was a nearly daily occurrence in the several years marking my leaving teaching for good after two huge ‘breakdowns’ where I had nearly broken my mind and my will through struggling in work and with a sharply declining mental and emotional health.
Looking back on my life, my mental and emotional health were never good; it’s always been degrees of how bad they’ve been. The mask of smiling happiness and competence was constructed at an early age. I bought into the lie of that mask and it took my mind and emotions nearly breaking to make me face up to that fact that I had some serious problems mentally and emotionally.
I lost my ability to read. Rather, I lost my ability to make sense, process, and remember what I was reading. I could hear the words in my mind but they may just as well have been in an alien tongue. It’s only in recent months that my ability to read and take in what I’m reading has been returning. It’s still hard work, but I persevere.
For over two years I couldn’t drive past the school where I talked, even in night time. I now can. A sign of healing and progress I think.
Gradually, I’m finding the strength and courage to leave my home more often by myself, not just for appointments but just because I can. It’s slow progress, but it’s happening. I get startled into hyper-vigilance still fairly easy, and panic attacks can ensue and I go into full flight mode back to the safety of my car or home. They seem to happen less often though, but they’re still there.
There are still many things that need healing or strengthening with me. Such as finding the confidence and belief in myself to sell my art and promote it.
I still carry many negative beliefs about myself; they’re like a many headed monster that when one head is slayed another becomes visible that was hidden in the crowd of faces.
However, eventually there will be no place these faces can hide, no places for the negative beliefs to hide, and the end will be in sight.
I will get there. It just takes some time.
Thanks to my fabulous EMDR therapist, I’m improving all the time. Even when what seems like a backwards step at the time seems to result in more forwards movement given enough time.
Yes, in three years my life has changed noticeably, and for the better, I think.
About the art…
The little bit of art above is my newest work in progress (WIP). I couldn’t find my ‘Be Brave’ art yesterday and thought I’d start a new one. Today, ‘Be Brave’ was very obviously in the folder for July’s artwork. I just couldn’t see it for looking!
The swirly bits will be changed on this one. They’re not working out for me the way I hoped they would. I will work it out though.
Of course, I’m using my trifecta of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.