Letter mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

This mandala grew from a letter A, and just a letter A. I extended the letter ends to create an interesting shape that filled much of the space. Then, I spent a lot of time removing parts of the shape and adding patterns and so on. When I was happy with the result, I added shades of the teal colour I’d used for the letter.

I’m fairly happy with this, though there are things I’d want to look at doing again or changing. Luckily, I thought to save the very basic letter A before starting to mess around with it.

Now I’ve done one, however, I wonder if I’ll manage to create a mandala for each letter of the alphabet…maybe, maybe.

Very soon I’ll be heading off to Ton Pentre to give an anti-stigma talk to a group of South Wales Police officers in my role as a Time to Change Wales Champion.

Time to Change Wales is all about ending the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. My talk covers some aspects of stigma and discrimination and the main part is me telling my story of my mental illness and the stigma and discrimination I’ve faced.

I have cPTSD and it’s taken me a long time to recognised I have problems with my mental health as cPTSD is all I’ve ever known.

I never know how I’ll feel after one of these talks. Often I’m emotionally exhausted and in need of self-care, which often involves a good nap. So, I wanted to make my daily blog post before the talk, just in case I’m out for the rest of the day.

Being self-employed means I can schedule a quiet day so I can look after myself should I need to.

And on that note I’d better get this posted and get myself sorted to head up to Ton Pentre.

Monday Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

Monday morning.

I am so grateful that I work at home and don’t have to face the rush hour traffic any more. Rush hour traffic? That’s an oxymoron if ever there was one! Anyways, I digress.

Working at home means that I can take my time to come around, organise my days as I need to in order to satisfy the needs of contracts, appointments and self-care for myself. Including taking my time to fully wake up in the morning. I do wonder when was that point when I no longer woke totally alert and dashing to the shower was replaced by a slow, gradual ascent from sleep to awake enough to find my way to the bathroom. I

Today is one of those days where my day is peppered with things – my weekly therapy appointment, a commitment this evening, a prescription to pick up and have filled – that the day seems broken.

On days like this there are some things I do to help me balance myself. I sort out my BuJo for the day. I catch up in my journal. I do some art for the sake of doing art, for pleasure, for relaxation, for peace and calm.

Over the past week I’ve been doing loving kindness meditations at 11am. However, given the way I reacted to the last couple and how they affected my mood for the whole day I’m going to try scheduling them at the end of my day when all I need to do without being affected by any triggering of the cPTSD inner beasties is done and I have time to sit with the results of the meditation rather than try to fight them so I get done what needs to be done.

Talking of cPTSD, my mood is ok this morning, though I do have my EMDR therapy in a little while. That can unsettle me so I’ve decided to put off the loving kindness meditation until later today.

Art really can help me manage my mental health. Art can soothe me when I’m having a troublesome day. When it doesn’t, like on Saturday, I know that there’s stuff there that needs to be worked with. And that’s difficult because it’s difficult for me to even think about these things let along talk about them. However, I do know I can do ‘blind’ processing where my therapist doesn’t need to know what has triggered me, just what I’m noticing during the therapy.

So, that’s ahead of me in a little while.

This morning I felt I needed to create a mandala. So I did. Soft purples, lilacs, lavenders and a grey-ish blue. Not sure the colours work, but I enjoyed the process of creating this one, as I do all my mandalas.

Mandalas do seem to be one of my ‘things’ when it comes to creating stuff.

Of course, my Microsoft Surface Studio screen as my paper, Microsoft Surface Pen as my drawing tool and Autodesk Sketchboook Pro as my source of colour and texture media are more of my ‘things’ that help me to express my creativity. And they were used to help me create this mandala.

Doodly Saturday

©Angela Porter 2019

It’s been a weird kind of day today for me. I’m quite open about my mental health, and today has been one where it’s not been completely tickettyboo. I’m out of sorts. Unsettled. Nothing I’ve done seems good enough to me. I’m quite teary and that really set in during a loving kindness meditation this morning.

Loving kindness meditations are always difficult for me. It’s easy for me to send out love and good wishes to all people. It’s not easy for me to accept the same for myself. Today, it was more difficult than usual, including some physical pain along with it. Traumas from my past kept rising up. Things I didn’t think were traumas, just stupid decisions made by myself. Seems I have work to do on those too in EMDR therapy.

I did colour some mixed media paper with distress inks and quite small pieces at that. I drew on two of them, as above. I’m really not happy with either of them. I really don’t know why I put the words on the left hand one. Growth is a funny word there.

I’ll just put it all down to me being out of sorts. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day for me to focus on art.

This is odd for me as drawing or creating usually helps me to feel better. Today it hasn’t.

I received a book in the post today – “The Wild Remedy’ by Emma Mitchell. It’s a diary she’s written over a year of how she finds being in nature and drawing and painting helps her with her low moods. She’s subtitled the book ‘How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’. I’ve read the introduction and the first month in the diary, which is October. Both interesting reads.

I almost was inspired to go out for a walk, but I just couldn’t pull myself together to do this during the daylight hours. The Sun has just set here in South Wales in the UK. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll manage to get out for a walk at some point.

I know my moods don’t linger for long. I do have low days which can linger for a couple or few days. Nowhere near as bad as they used to be, but enough to result in me being unsettled and out of sorts and hypercritical of myself and anything I do. I’ve become aware enough that it’s best to do other things that draw for publishers on days like today as I’ll just get more and more frustrated with myself and my efforts.

On other days, whatever I draw I may consider good enough. But on days like today …

Still, the sun will rise again in the morning and it’ll be a new day. My mood may be better then and I’ll accomplish work I consider to be good enough. Now all I need to do is try to find something that I can settle down to do today. I’ve been back and forth all day between drawing, reading, knitting, fussing around. The only creative thing I’ve enjoyed today has been colouring paper with distress inks. Not sure I want to spend the evening doing that though.

Maybe I need to go out for a drive. Sometimes driving with upbeat music on can shift my mood, especially when I feel anxious and restless as I do now, for no reason either.

Dangle Design Card and Envelope

© Angela Porter 2019

Here’s a pretty pair of whimsical and cute dangle designs card and envelope.

For the focal point of the card I used a butterfly from a pack of Ephemera from Tim Holtz called Botanical. I added some metallic gold ink highlights to the butterfly as I knew I’d be adding gold to the design. I also edged the butterfly with some Peeled Paint Distress Ink using a sponge ink applicator.

I then cut my paper to fit the card blank I wanted to use; I learned my lesson from the the last card I made! The card blank measured 8½” by 4¼”. So, I cut a piece of Claire Fontaine Mixed Media paper 7¾” by 3¾” to create the dangle design on.

I used the butterfly as a guide as to where I wanted to add some flowers upon which it could alight. I also drew pencil guidelines in for the centre of the design and the sentiment banner.

Then it was drawing the design. I used a 05 Unipin pen from Uniball.

I started by drawing the flowers at the top of the design.

Next, it was the hand lettering for the sentiment ‘Just for you’.

Flowers, hearts, stars and spherical and teardrop shaped beads are my goto choices for dangles. I did add a charm that was based on some jewellery, as well as a square charm with a geometric pattern inside it.

When I’d drawn the main dangle I realised I wanted to add a bit of width to it. So, I added two bars stretching out from the side of the square charm and used the ends to hang dangles made up of hearts and beads.

Colouring was the next task. I used Tombow Dual Brush pens to colour the design in. The colour gradients weren’t strong enough for me, so I used Chameleon Duotone Pencils to add depth to the colours.

Then, it was time to attach the butterfly using some foam squares.

I then used a dip ink pen to add some dots of gold FW Pearlescent ink around the design. I also used gold to fill in the lettering of the sentiment and various elements of the dangle design.

Next, I added white dots highlights to some of the design elements using a Sakura Souffle pen.

I also used a blue-grey Chameleon pencil to add shadows to the design at this point.

Before affixing the design to the card blank I used a sponge ink applicator and Peeled Paint Distress Ink to edge the design. That was the card done.

I then thought it would be fun to create an example of an addressed envelope using a dangle design as a monogram. I used some of the charms from the card for this design. I also drew some simple, whimsical butterflies above the monogram. I used Chameleon Duotone Pencils to colour the dangle design and to add a shadow to the dangle.

Pencil guidelines helped me to keep my lettering evenly spaced and of a consistent size. In this case I just guesstimated them, but in future I think I will need to measure the spacing of the lines!

Finally, I added some glittery golden stars with a gold glitter Uniball Gel pen as well as some white dot highlights using a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen.

One thing I realise I didn’t do was to make the colours in the dangle more harmonious with the butterfly. The color tones of the butterfly are quite antique and grungy and I used rather bright, clean colours to colour the design with. I also am not happy with the monogram on the envelope; it’s too small and the lettering style doesn’t seem sympathetic to the rest of the lettering.

I’m going to put these down to me still suffering the lingering effects of the stinking cold I’ve had for the past three days. It’s definitely broken now, but I’m still not 100%.

It’s also a learning experience. I’m not a wonderful card maker; I do dabble in it from time to time, however dangle cards are fun to make and with the decorated envelopes it’s double the fun! I think I need to start sending happy mail to people! I’d be happy to receive this card with a letter inside – how would you feel about it?

‘A Dangle A Day’ was published on 15 Jan 2019 and many of the dangle design elements can be found in this book.

‘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.

Mandala – 7 Jan 2019

©Angela Porter 2019
©Angela Porter 2019

This evening, I needed a bit of quiet, therapeutic arty-creative time. I had quite an emotional time in EMDR therapy (or not EMDR this week, a lot to talk about in preparation for the next phase of EMDR) and felt very much the need for some self-soothing and self-care.

I thought I’d spend some time drawing in colour again, using my digital toolbox of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro paired with Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio.

I’m really quite pleased with how this little experiment has turned out. I like the way the colours play against each other – teal and coral being almost complementary colours. I like my La Tene/Celtic kind of swirls and motifs. I like the way I’ve put areas of background colour behind some of them to help them stand out from the background ‘paper’ more.

I’m getting more and more of a ‘feel’ as to how this style of art works for me, and I’m really enjoying creating these mandalas as a way of exploration.

People have asked if I’d turn these mandalas into a coloring book. The answer is probably yes. However it may take a little while to get to doing it.

Carl Jung is credited with introducing the Eastern concept of the mandala to Western thought and he believed it is symbolic of the inner process by which individuals grow toward fulfilling their potential for wholeness.

I’m sure Carl Jung would have a lot to say about my mandala and how it reflects what is going on inside me on an unconscious level, even though I’m not quite capable of making sense of it myself at this time of night!

Hand lettering practice

©Angela Porter 2018

Today has been a bit of a busy day. I woke still drained from yesterday’s EMDR therapy session. No EMDR though as I was just too emotional and ‘raw’ to go through it, so it was a lot of talking around how one trigger event had caused several trauma ‘streams’ to rise and flood and confluence. I was stuck at that confluence where white water rapids had formed and I was being buffeted about in the eddies and currents and waves.

So, it was self-care last night when I got home, which involved a bag of chips from a local chippy, with curry sauce, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and starting to crochet an amigurumi ‘dumpling cat’ from a new book that was delivered yesterday. Then, there was the journal writing before I went to bed.

This morning I had to be up early to go give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers. That drained me emotionally once again. However, it was a good thing to do as they all found my talk really interesting and useful. My Time To Change Wales champions hat was polished up a little bit once again.

I came home and finally had some breakfast and ended up in bed to sleep. That’s one of my coping strategies when I’m so emotionally drained. I still feel dazed and dazzled by it all, but am on a bit of a more even keel now.

I didn’t want to let the day pass without doing something with pen and paper or screen. Hand lettering seems to be my thing at the moment so I thought I’d have a go at hand lettering some of the days of the week.

For reference I used the Lombardic Capitals set in ‘Decorated Lettering’ by Jan Pickett. 

They appeal to me partly because the space inside the letters lends itself so much to adding patterns, but because of their oldy-worldy nature. I love Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Medieval illuminated manuscripts and this style of lettering, in a slightly more modern form, appeals to me.

I discovered it’s a lot easier to form the letters when you draw them big – hence why their size increased from Monday to Wednesday.

Dot grid paper is a godsend as it helps with the consistency of size of the letters, though I suspect that as I become more comfortable with my skills that I may experiment more with that.

A nice way to spend an hour or so this afternoon, and I have the rest of the days to look forward to doing, along with adding patterns to the open letters.

Mind you, the letters without patterns would look lovely just coloured with colour  gradients, and I’d love to add metallic highlights/accents too.

First, I need to get a bit more proficient at hand lettering and working on plain paper.

Of course, I can always scan my lettering in and remove the background and dotgrid so I can print it out on paper suitable for a colouring medium such as watercolours and metallic paints.

Cheating? No. I don’t think so. I would’ve already done the work in the first place. Printing and colouring is, to me, perfectly acceptable.

But that’s for another day. For now, I had to get myself sorted to pop out for the evening.

I’m also musing about adding some dangles to the letters – dangles with charms that are reminiscent of medieval ornament or jewellery, for example.