Tomorrow is Time to Talk Day

©Angela Porter 2019

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time To Talk Day, which is tomorrow, and the art above was created using one of them, but more about that later in this wittering.

Time to Change Day and mental health

The whole idea of the day is to get people talking about mental health. Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. There’s still a huge stigma surrounding mental ill-health and that leads to discrimination of those experiencing mental illness.

I’m one of the 1 in 4. My cPTSD means that I am constantly anxious and it’ doesn’t take much of a trigger to get me into a full state of panic. I can have bouts of depression, nowadays not as deep or dark as they have been in the fairly recent past. I get emotional flashbacks to times of trauma. I don’t remember many traumatic experiences, but my body remembers the feelings associated with that trauma and I experience them yet again, retraumatising me.

Thanks to EMDR, however, these emotional flashbacks are less common and sometimes aren’t quite as intense, sometimes just as intense.

I have a whole host of other issues related to cPTSD and a quick google will bring back lots of information if you’re interested.

Tomorrow I will have my champions hat on for Time to Change Wales as I go to give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers in Ton Pentre and then on to man (woman?) a stand in Port Talbot after that. That means I won’t be parking in the police station car park again after my last experience there!

The anti-stigma talk has me telling people a little about Time To Change Wales, the statistics for mental illness, what stigma and discrimination there are and then I tell my story of my mental illness.

The talks wipe me out emotionally. I end up exhausted and often with what I call an emotional ‘hangover’ – I feel headachy and spaced out, sometimes quite upset too.

However, I consider that a small price to pay if my talks (and my blogs) help one person to recognise their mental health isn’t what it should be, or to find the courage to seek help as they know they are struggling.

It’s also important as meeting champions who have experienced or are experiencing mental health problems helps to break the stereotypes of what people with mental illnesses look like and behave.

I’m well on my path to recovery. I don’t know if that will be a full recovery from cPTSD or whether it will be a good enough recovery that I’m resilient to lifes ups and downs, that I’ll be able to form meaningful relationships, trust people, be able to travel by myself, be able to go places because I can go there not because I have to have some reason…and more.

I know that crowded, noisy places are always likely to be a no no – I don’t appear it, but I am an introvert. I learned to wear a mask of extroversion (among other masks) when I was very young and that mask kind of protects what is beneath it. Wearing that mask is exhausting.

So, back to the art.

I’ve created two coloring templates for Time to Talk Day 2019. Originally they were for the colouring day being run as part of Time to Talk Day at the Welsh Office! I’ve also made the templates available to Time to Change Wales and Mind have copies of them too, so they’ll be available over social media.

I’ll also be adding them to my facebook page – Angela Porter Illustrator as well as on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group too.

To create the art above I used one of the templates as a basis for the art. I think you’ll agree that this is a very different piece of art from me. It’s rather graphic and quite 1960s psychedelic too!

I had a lot of fun doing this artwork and I’m surprisingly happy with the result.

It is digital art; I used my usual trio of Microsoft Surface Studio, Microsoft Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create it, along with my creativity.

‘A Dangle A Day’ Dangle Design Mandala

‘A Dangle A Day’ Dangle Design Mandala © Angela Porter 2019

Dangles can be turned into mandalas! And ‘dangle-dalas’ satisfy my love of symmetry in an unusual way.

In this one, I have two rings to which dangles are attached. In the centre ring, they point towards the centre of the mandala. On the outer ring, they point out into space.

Then, there’s two central rings. One, I coloured in a pastel rainbow and added ‘A Dangle A Day’ in my weird take on hand-lettered uncials. The lettering isn’t perfect, but then neither am I, and neither were celtic/anglo-saxon/medieval manuscripts.

Ok, the manuscripts are more perfect than my hand lettering, but it’ll do. It’s perfectly imperfect. That is an idea I’m becoming to embrace more and more easily as time goes on, and an idea that I encourage you to adopt in my book ‘A Dangle A Day’.

I used rather graphic black and white geometric designs to separate the three main rings of the design. This contrasts nicely with the brightly colourful design elements.

I felt the need to draw cacti, flowers and some weird seeds today, so that’s what I did. Of course it goes without saying that I’d have to include stars and hearts in my design! There’s some beads in there too, particularly those teardrop shaped ones that remind me so much of medieval jewellery.

Mind you, medieval in character this design is not. It is rather cute and whimsical, which is one of my signature styles – the other is intricacy.

For this design, I hand drew and coloured it digitally using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio. As always, my chosen art software was Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Yes, I really do draw on my Surface Studio with the Surface Pen as if I’m drawing with, say, a fountain pen on paper. Colouring I often do as if I’m colouring with traditional media, though sometimes I do use gradient fills. It just depends on the feel I want in the final artwork.

Being able to work in layers means I can do things that would be very difficult or time-consuming working traditionally. It also means that I can play with colour combinations – I love colour, but I don’t always make good choices of colour palettes, see yesterday’s Q monograms for evidence of that!

Of course, there’s so much more to digital art than this, and I’ve not discovered everything yet. But over time my experience is that I discover, workout or learn how to do what I need to do at that time when I’m ready to do that.

One dangle design, four colourways

One dangle design, four colourways © Angela Porter 2019

In my book, ‘A Dangle A Day’, I mention that just by changing the colour scheme you can easily change the appearance of a dangle design for an occasion or to match someone’s favourite colours. So, I thought it would be nice to show an example of this.

I chose a simple monogram dangle design from the book; you can see it in the top left corner. This dangle design has a very spring-like feel to it with the lovely bright pinks and greens of the new, fresh flowers and leaves that blossom and bloom at this time of year.

Taking my cue from this, I coloured in three versions of this design in the seasonal colours.

At the top right is a summery version, with a lovely warm sunrise as the background to the letter, blue summer skies, warm golden sun, and the bright and warm colours of the flowers. A golden summer glow could be achieved by using a hint of gold Wink of Stella brush pen from Kuretake, or by adding dots of gold glittery wonderfulness.

Autumn tones were used in the bottom left version. Fiery oranges, reds and yellows and clear autumnal sky blues were used. Enamel dots, glitter pens or stickles would add sparks of autumnal glory to this design.

The final design has a definitely cool wintry colour scheme – icy blues, cool purple and the blue-green tones of evergreens, along with silver. To this I could add white snowflakes or stars with a gel pen, or dots of silver glitter with Stickles from Ranger or Nuvo Drops or a glitter gel pen. Using a Wink of Stella brush pen from Kuretake to colour over the design would result in a lovely, sparkly, frosty finish.

Of course, there are many, many ways that the designs could be embellished to suit your taste, supplies or the recipient. So much fun can be had adding embellishments which also personalise the design even more.

I hand drew the original design on paper and then digitally for the book. My tools were Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, which I also used for the colour variations above. I set the ‘brush’ pens up for the book so they mimicked the shapes/patterns pens on paper create and left lines a little wobbly and imperfect, just as I would when drawing on paper. Indeed, I very much treat my Surface Pen and Surface Studio screen as if they’re pen and paper in the way that I draw (and colour).

I do hope you’ll give dangle designs a go, and that you’ll show me the results of your work. You can find me online here:

Snowflake Mandala – WIP

This one is very much a work in progress. Drawn using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio, I made good use of the symmetry tools in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

When ice crystals form they have a symmetry based on hexagonal shapes, so my mandala is separated into 12 sections, though I’m choosing to bring out the six-pointed patterns in different colour schemes.

I’m not sure if that makes sense – I know what I mean!

Of course, there’s only so much pointy-ness I can have in anything I draw, so curves have to make an appearance. And this is very much apparent in the fine detailed patterns within each section. Here I’ve used simple line patterns to more complex pattern fills using spirals and swirls. I’ve played around with adding a drop shadow and a highlight to these patterns to add a sense of dimension, not that it’s easy to see in a low-resolution image for the web.

I do like my colour choices of cool purples, blues and aquas so far. I think I’ll go with a more blue-purple to complement the purple in the design so far.

I do have an idea or two as to what I can do about the black lines as well, though they may not work out. As I’ve said often before, I do like black lines in my art; I like the way they define spaces and patterns and often give that feel of ‘stained glass’ to my work. However, sometimes I think they look a tad childish too, but that’s mostly on days where I doubt myself an awful lot, rather than the usual little to a lot.

The design isn’t quite as open as perhaps a snowflake is considered to be, but I rather like filling spaces in, though I may leave some of these spaces open so the background, when I add one, can shine through. That means I may end up erasing some of the colour I’ve added already to created a more open feel to the design.

It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning, especially now I’ve finished downloading all the Amazon invoiced for the last financial year in preparation to getting my accounts to my lovely accountant, Leah.

B is for … a dangle design

Angela Porter 7 Nov 2018 B is for

B is for birthday balloons, birthday cupcakes, birthday gifts…baking … beads …beautiful cats, beautiful flowers…bullet journal (BuJo)…

It’s Friday and it’s taken me a couple or three days to get this monogram dangle design finished, mainly because yesterday was another jolly jaunty day with Liz (more of that on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops – when I get to write it, that is).

Today’s dangle design features some cute kitties, as is the theme of my current series of monogram dangle designs.

I started by sketching out my ideas in pencil on dot grid paper then scanning it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The next step was digitally inking in and adjusting the design. Finally, colour and texture was added to the design before adding my watermarks. My digital tools were my trusty Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I like the design, not so sure about the colour choices though. I also got a bit heavy handed with the added textures in some places.

After I’ve got my other tasks done today, I think I may print this design out and colour it with my Chameleon markers and see the difference. It looks like we’re going to have some heavy rain and some strong winds here today, so cwtching up indoors with some nice arty stuff to do could be the way to spend some of the day.

Friday means it’s #dangleday. My tutorial book about designing dangles, called ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available to preorder. In it I take you step by step through simple hand lettering, monogram dangle designs, and other kinds of dangle designs, showing how you too can draw and design your own. There’s lots and lots of examples in the book as well as suggestions of how to use them as greeting cards, notecards, bookmarks and framed pictures, as well as in BuJos, planners, diaries, scrapbooks…how to use them is limited only by your creativity!

 

Autumn mandala 6 November 2018

Angela Porter Mandala 4 Nov 2018

This has taken me a couple of days to complete, mainly because of appointments but also a big need for some self-care.

Autumn Mandala

I don’t get to create many mandalas at times. So, On Sunday, after creating the cute angel kitty dangle design, I put my creative energy into drawing and starting to colour a mandala.

I worked directly on my Surface Studio screen with the Surface pen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and it’s fab symmetry tool to outline the the design in black ink.

Next, I used a marker brush and a blender brush to colour the design.

It’s the colouring that takes a lot of time.

I wanted to keep the colour scheme fairly simple, so I chose some vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Finally, I added a beautiful blue background and texture to the finished artwork.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with it. The bright colours have been needed today as it’s a rather grey and damp day here in the Valleys of South Wales. Someone has a bonfire burning on the hillside opposite my home and the smoke is floating down the valley. There’s a temperature inversion that’s trapping the smoke quite low.

Add to that all the smoke and particulates from the plethora of fireworks that have been set off in the past few days and the air is rather fuggy, hazy.

However, the golden hues of the autumn trees glow all the more brightly against the grey skies, especially with a dusting of rain on them.

What I absolutely love to see are the dark trunks and branches becoming more visible as the leaves fall from the trees. The architectural contrast fascinates me; it’s being able to clearly see the skeleton that gives the tree form.

I didn’t have autumn in my mind when I was drawing or coloring this mandala, even though autumn is my favourite season. However, the jewel tones and the gradual predominance of the autumnal golds, oranges and reds on the outside of the mandala give it that kind of autumnal feel. The greens gradually change from blue-greens to more yellow-greens from the centre out, adding to that sense of a seasonal progression.

The coloured mandala also has a feeling of stained glass. I love stained glass windows and this one would make a very interesting ‘rose’ window! That I adhere to using black lines to delineate my design only reinforces the suggestion of stained glass.

What I haven’t done is add detailed patterns to the mandala. I don’t think this one needs it, though the leaves may need a bit of shadow and highlight to make them feel less ‘flat’.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with this one. I think I’ve manged to get enough contrast from dark to light in each section to give that sense of dimension – something else I like to incorporate into my artwork.

The need for self-care

I’ve been rather emotional over the past few days. The post about remembrance and my Dad tapped into some grief, a door that had never opened before I had to say goodbye to my beautiful white cat Cuffs back in May.

I took time out of things to watch some Harry Potter films. I do get emotional when I watch them (or read the books) even though I know what’s going to happen. However, this weekend I was more emotional than I’ve been before.

Yesterday, was EMDR therapy day, and various memories had cropped up and one we worked with yesterday. That left me absolutely pole-axed, emotionally that is.

Part of my mental health – the CPTSD – is that I avoid emotions and when I get emotional I have shoved it aside and locked the emotions in a box, symbolically. I also shove the memories away, something referred to as dissociation.

I have very few memories of my childhood, adolescence or even adulthood. That’s because many of them are painful in some way or another and they have been locked away.

Locking them away means I have never worked through, processed, them and the trauma or emotions that go with them. The trauma is still there and is still hurting my emotional and mental health.

EMDR is helping to unlock memories, sometimes very painful memories I don’t want to believe happened or believe certain  things about people. I always want to see the best and believe the best in people, except when it comes to myself; then, it’s always the worst possible.

I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance and some very uncomfortable times as I try to come to terms with various realisations.

Add into the mix a busy week or so with appointments and events and I’m emotionally tired. Oh, not to mention the constant jumpiness with all the fireworks going off.

So, self-care is important. I watch films. Knit. Drink lots of tea. Snuggle up under a cosy throw. Nap if I need to. Eat healthily, when I can. Create art that I want to create rather than any that I feel I have to to meet a contract or some deadline or other, either real or self-imposed. Have some alone time – being an introvert beneath the face I present to the world I need alone time to recharge.

I know I’m on a jolly tomorrow with my pal Liz, so it’s even more important I recharge before that day out.

So, that’s why I’ve needed some self-care time.

 

Inktober 2018 Day 12 ‘Whale’

Angela Porter Inktober Day 12 Whale

Today’s Inktober drawing has turned out differently, a lot differently, to how I thought it would while sketching in Hay on Wye yesterday.

I woke up this morning and had some fond memories both of my white pusscat Cuffs and a sweet, large, cuddly (read overweight) ginger and white cat called William who was also known as ‘Willie the Whale’. He was a huge cat, even without his extra weight, but he had this sweet, high-pitched purr that was totally incongruous with his size.

So, today’s drawing had to be about Willie the Whale, who also loved to sniff flowers and definitely enjoyed his food.

As it’s Friday, it’s also #dangleday, so the drawing also needed to be a dangle design. And that’s what’s above.

This time, I sketched the design out on Rhodia Dot Grid paper, scanned it in, then did the inking digitally, as well as the colouring. My digital tools are a Microsoft Surface Pen along with a Microsoft Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Regardless of any skill or not skill in the design, it makes me smile, lots, even if there are still tears and heartache, with memories of William, Cuffs my beautiful furrpurrball who passed away last May and who I still miss terribly, and other cats who have chosen to spend their lives with me – Gormless, Spotty Baby Girl, Tabitha, Whiskey and Toby. Quite apt as it’s furbaby friday across the interwebs, including on the facebook group ‘Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans’.

Just a little reminder that my book ‘A Dangle A Day‘ is available to preorder. In the book I show you how to draw and design dangle designs for yourself for use as greetings cards, notecards, bookmarks and framed pictures, as well as spreads for bullet journals, planners, scrapbooks and more!