I’ve had a busy day learning new things to do with video and so on. The concentration has taxed my brain just a bit, and I needed some time in an arty happy place.
My first task was to find a quote that appealed to me today. This one is quite apt I think, for many reasons. I’m not entirely sure my typography is right for the quote, but it will do for now.
I then knew I wanted to do a mandala as a background. I find this style of mandala very soothing to draw, and soothing was just what I needed today.
Once I’d finished the mandala, I added colour in greens and teal. Calming, soothing, balancing colours for today. Colours of calm contentment, which is just how I feel at the moment. Also hopeful colours. That green reminds me a lot like the first leaves showing themselves at the tail end of winter, spreading hope that the warmer, lighter days will soon be here.
I don’t know who said these words, but they resonated with me when I stumbled upon them. Not only did they resonate, but they also brought tears to my eyes and my heart too. I have words for one of my goals for recovery from cPTSD. This is why I had to do something with the quote in my own inimitable style.
So, I took the words and chose a pretty font for them, arranged them as I wished and then printed them out onto acid-free paper. I trimmed the paper to approx 21cm x 21cm and added some pencil guidelines for space around the quote and the edge of the paper.
Next, I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens to draw a design. I stuck to just a few motifs that I repeated to fill the space. I also let the design elements to spill over the pencil margins here and there to give a more organic feel to the artwork.
Finally, after erasing the pencil lines, I scanned the drawing in, increased the contrast a little to remove most of the remaining pencil marks. I then added a grungy, colourful, autumnal background.
I’m pleased with this one. I really like the way the Fudenosuke pens work for me now. I love the variation of line and the bolder line that I have used. I also think that using just a few design elements and repeating them to fill the space results in a more cohesive design.
I think I could have left a bit more space around the quote; however, it is good enough.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
And for me to say something is good enough is a sign that I am recovering from a bad day yesterday. I’m still somewhat emotionally fragile and vulnerable, but I’m able to see that my art is good enough.
Yesterday, nothing I did was good enough. I lost faith in my crochet, my digital art, my drawing. Nothing seemed to work out, and I really was doubting my abilities.
EMDR therapy for my cPTSD was rather distressing and left me exhausted. Mind you, I was exhausted to begin with. Monday I wore my protective mask as I had to go somewhere where I’d be with people I didn’t know, doing something I was really anxious about, and I didn’t know the place I was going to. I was exhausted after keeping my mask on for just four or so hours.
How on earth did I find the energy to keep the mask up for all those years?
One good thing has come from this experience – I can see how exhausting it is to keep up a mask for even a short time. I wonder how on earth I managed it for most of my life!
Anyway, after EMDR, I was more exhausted and came home and slept. In the evening, I thought I needed to be creative. It all led to me being hard and overly critical of myself. Little comments made to me just made it worse, even though the comments weren’t negative, my emotionally vulnerable and exhausted state twisted them that way.
Even though I was emotionally vulnerable and caught up in a storm of thoughts and feelings, I was still aware of this contentedness inside me, but I just couldn’t anchor myself fully to it. I was a little bit adrift in the turbulent waters of my emotions and thoughts.
I should know by now that I need to choose what activities I do carefully at times like this. Last night, I didn’t do that. However, I eventually got back to sleep, and I woke this morning feeling more content.
There’s not quite the sunshine within present today; there are still some emotional clouds covering it up. However, I know that they will not persist and will move along as I practice self-soothing and self-care and do creative activities that won’t push me too much and won’t engage the inner critics.
I’m still drained, physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am in a better place today. I think my drawing above shows that too.
The card measures 4½” x 5½” (approx. 10cm x14 cm). The outside of the frame measures 3″ x 3¾” (approx. 7.75cm x 9.5cm).
The vellum panel.
I started with a piece of vellum die cut to the size of the frame. To add colour to the vellum, I applied Twisted Citron and Pine Needles Distress Inks with a foam ink blending tool to what would be the reverse side of the vellum panel.
This was something new to me and a bit of an experiment to boot. The inks blend very smoothly on vellum, though you do have to be extra careful not to bend the vellum. That leaves a noticeable crease in it that can’t be removed or easily disguised. I managed to bend a corner; however, as I was going to trim the vellum down later, I wasn’t at all concerned.
I was surprised at how quickly the inks dried on the vellum, and I was soon able to work on adding my embossed design.
To do this, I used some ball ended embossing tools on the reverse side of the vellum. I drew an entangled art design with them as I would when using a pen on paper.
Once I’d drawn my design, I added some shading using a Pergamano shading tool as well as some dots in the upper part of the image.
Dry embossing on vellum causes the vellum to curl somewhat. So, I passed the piece through a laminator. That corner that I’d creased while ink blending got firmly creased during this process. However, I knew I’d be able to hide it with the frame I’d planned to make.
At this point, I added some gold dots to the ‘sky’ part of the design. To do this, I used a Uniball Signo gold glitter gel pen. I can’t resist adding sparkle when I can.
My last step was to trim the vellum to ¼” (7mm) smaller than the frame.
Making the frame.
To make the frame, I used some stitch edge rectangle dies from Gemini by Crafter’s Companion along with a Sizzix Big Shot machine along with some white card. I cut three frames out, doing my best to centre the inner die to the outer die.
I used some Tombow Mono Liquid Glue to stack the three frames. It was then I noticed I’d not centred the inner die precisely the same on each frame. I can see where they don’t quite perfectly match up.
I decided to use them and learn from the process. I’ve never made a frame like this before, and this card really was, in many ways, an experiment.
Assembling the card.
The next task was to attach the vellum to the frame. I carefully applied a very thin layer of the Tombow glue just inside the inner edge of the frame. I carefully added the flattened vellum to it.
The vellum, though, had started to curl again and try as I might to flatten it out, it just wasn’t going to play ball. In hindsight, it may have been better if I’d trimmed it and run it through the laminator just before attaching it to the frame. Then, to keep the vellum flat on my worktable and apply the frame to the vellum.
The last step was to use glue to attach the frame to the card base.
Thoughts on the card.
Even though I’ve bungled a couple of things, I’m quite pleased with how the card has turned out.
Flattening the vellum through the laminator has decreased the intensity of the white embossed lines. However, I didn’t pass it through once, but a few times to see if I could get the corner to stay down. When the vellum got stuck in the laminator, it took me a while to dig out a pair of tweezers to pull it through. That introduced a bigger curl in the paper than I had to start with! I decided then that the only way to flatten the vellum this way was to use a folded piece of paper to act as a carrier for it.
It was a good idea in principle. In practice, I made mistakes and will learn for the future.
Die-cutting and stacking multiple frames. How to get the inner die centred the same as the others? I don’t know. Maybe I should try washi or craft tape the dies together. I will work it out as I like the look of the frame!
I do like the look of the embossing on the coloured vellum. The white lines are quite soft, though less prominent than I wanted them to be as I reduced them by trying too often to flatten the vellum through the laminator. It’s a rather ethereal looking design, and I like that. Sometimes I find my usual black line-art too stark against colour.
The white background of the card doesn’t help the white to stand out. Maybe I’ll try to add colour to the card base and then apply the coloured vellum over it. That’s an experiment for another day, perhaps. Or maybe soon when my mind is still on it. I think I have time before I need to head off out this afternoon.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m feeling tired and a bit spaced out, yet contented.
Therapy yesterday was emotional and distressing. No EMDR was done as I was too emotional for it, and I needed to talk about somethings that I’ve touched upon in recent blog posts.
My weighted blanket arrived yesterday, and it is rather lovely. I don’t know about making you feel you’re being hugged; I’ve only laid down under it so far. However, it feels so lovely that I just wanted to stay there this morning. I will try wrapping it around my shoulders and so on to see how it makes me feel that way.
I mention this as I slept in the evening under it, and through the night. Although I still feel tired, I know I had a good sleep. I may get in another sleep before I need to head out later today, depending on how lost in art I get. I do have a relatively long drive (around 2 hours) to where I need to be, and another 2 hours home, so a good sleep is perhaps in order.
Despite some good sleep, I’m still quite tired. The emotional rollercoaster of the past two weeks or so is taking it’s toll on me, even though I’m making sure I’m practising self-care and self-soothing.
Doing a short art project this morning – the greetings card – is a self-soothing activity. The style of art I created – my entangled art – is familiar enough to me that it is comforting to do. It’s comfort art, which is healthier for me than comfort eating.
Talking of eating. The emotional upsets of the past few days have taken their toll on my digestive system too. I had a badly upset stomach yesterday, and I’m still feeling quite tender in my abdomen today.
This is not an uncommon side-effect of either therapy or emotional rollercoasters for me. As I feel emotions so much in my abdomen, particularly fear and anxiety, then it’s no surprise I end up with sudden trips to the loo!
As I settle down, so my digestive system does, and things return to normal, eventually.
I’ve said this before, and no doubt I’ll say it again, this is part of the healing journey. Events sometimes seem to conspire to shake up the next layer of trauma from the past so it can be processed and I healed.
A few days or a few weeks of painful emotional turmoil is a small price to pay for the eventual years and years (I hope) of a life untroubled by and not held back by my past. A future where I can form those healthy relationships of all kinds with others that I yearn for, a yearning that has recently been reawakened, along with its attendant traumas.
A black and white mandala today. No colour. No shading. Just black and white and varying line width.
I set up one of my pen brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to vary it’s width with pressure. I’ve only ever used brushes where I’ve had their thickness set at one size as that has usually been my style of drawing in both traditional and digital media.
My favourite pens to draw with on paper are Sakura Pigma Micron, Sakura Pigma Sensei, Uniball Unipin, fountain pens, or technical drawing pens from Rotring or Staedtler. So, it was natural for me to set the digital pen brushes to mimic them and the lines they leave on paper – which are usually rather uniform in thickness, but with a bit of feathering around the edges.
I’ve never had much success or satisfaction in using dip pens or brush pens with drawing. No matter how much I practiced I never got a result I thought was good enough. The only dip pen I like to use is a glass dip pen as it has a very uniform line and writes smoothly too.
Late last night, I thought it was time that I experimented with a pen brush where I could vary the thickness with the pressure of my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Book.
I did set the pen to have a sharp edge and to vary in size from 1px to 9px with pressure, Then off I went with the intention to draw a mandala.
It took me a few attempts to work out how the new kind of pen brush worked for me. It also reminded me of lino prints, so I wanted to get that kind of graphic quality into my drawing.
I like it just as it is. I may try adding colour, even if it’s a subtle background colour, at some point. But I do like it.
What I particularly like is that the brush pen made it possible for me to draw lines that started fine and became thick in a gradual way and with a neat edge, something I struggle with when using my favoured pens or brush pens or flexible nibs.
I feel that this experiment has taken my drawing to a bit of a different level.
What I think I need to consider in future is adding elements of the design in shades of grey to create depth and dimension to the image. Perhaps even using different colours to draw such designs on a coloured background.
I also need to use this pen on drawings other than mandalas, such as the fantasy garden type design I did the other day ago.
I also think playing a little with the pressure sensitivity settings is on the cards, until I get it just right for me!
My mental and emotional wellbeing
I’m feeling more resilient today and I have a soft smile on my lips and in my heart.
The feeling of satisfaction with the mandala, and also completing the edits of the templates for the new book has contributed to this, along with a goodly amount of rest.
Days like this are nice for me. Days where I’m content. Days where my emotional and mental wellbeing are ‘good enough’. And they are today.
I may not feel brave enough to go out into the busy and people-y world today. If I can find a crochet pattern for a pretty shawl I may head out later to get some yarn with which to create that. I’ve almost successfully finished a crochet shopping/market bag for a friend and that has given me the confidence to try a different project. I love pashminas at all times of year. So I’d love to successfully crochet a pashmina/shawl for myself in yarn that changes from one colour to another perhaps. First to find the pattern.
Yes, the success with something I’ve struggled with – two failed attempts at a bag for myself had me feeling really useless, but the perseverance and success has lifted me. In fact, there’s been a lot of perseverance this week, what with EMDR and foiling and now the different kind of pen brush for digital drawing.
I need to make notes of this in my ‘When it’s dark, look for stars’ book as a reminder that things can be surprisingly good and I do do good stuff on my darker days. In fact, I need to start to add patterns/designs around the quotes and so on in this little book, and colour some more pages with Distress and Distress Oxide Inks for future use.
My biggest problem at the moment is feeling overwhelmed with all the ideas I have that involve drawing, foiling, creating digital stamps, a mandala coloring book, another tutorial book, designs for RedBubble, and more. This is part and parcel of cPTSD. So much I could do that it overwhelms so much that I can think and organise myself at all…
Despite that, it’s still a day where I feel what I’ve done recently is good enough, at the least it’s good enough. And for me to recognise and accept that is quite a step forward.
Here’s to getting a ‘good enough’ life and opinion of myself through EMDR and recovery from CPTSD!
A knock at the door, a Fed-Ex delivery driver asking me for a signature before handing over a parcel. I saw it was from Lydia at Quarto so knew it would be a copy of ‘A Dangle A Day’. So excited to open the package and see the book in a solid, tangible form.
I’ve seen the pdf versions of the book as it was put together before going to print. But, it’s never, ever the same as having that book in my hands.
Even more so today as this is my first book with words and art done by myself. I trust it won’t be the last.
About the book
I had a lot of fun creating this book. I’m so excited about helping others to create their own dangle designs and to gain confidence that they, too, can create lovely designs for use in all kinds of ways – BuJo pages and spreads, greetings cards, note cards, framed pictures, scrapbooks, planners, journals, bookmarks, place cards, and more.
I’ve done my best to show you how to create monograms and dangle designs in easy steps both visually and with some supporting words.
Suggestions about how to approach hand lettering is scattered throughout the step by step instructions for the dangle designs.
Examples of dangle designs in use in bullet journals and more are included – with all their imperfections. Remember, work created by each of us will be perfectly imperfect. It’s those imperfections that make it uniquely ‘you’.
There’s lots and lots of examples of designs and dangles and charms that you can use as they are or as inspiration for other designs. There are designs for all seasons and many, many different events throughout the year.
I’ve included suggestions for color palettes, media to use.
A short primer for bullet journals is included; I’m no expert on bullet journaling but I do make use of one and find it very useful not just in organising my tasks for the day but in recording ideas, reflections, memories and more.
This has put a big smile on my face this morning, and that smile will continue for a long while. I never thought I’d write and illustrate an art tutorial book. I’d thought I’d like to, but didn’t have the confidence to think it would be so.
Why I chose to use digital tools
I made great use of my Microsoft Surface Book and Microsoft Surface Studio along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to draw many of the designs. Working digitally made editing designs, breaking the design process down into simple steps so easy.
I used to think, as many do, that digital art is simpler, easier than traditional forms of art.
The skill set required is different. I wanted my digital drawing and coloring to look like I’d done it with traditional media.
Digital drawing is no easier than drawing on paper.
What is easier is correcting mistakes, smudges and removing pencil lines. It removes the frustration I experience in scanning images in and spending a lot of time cleaning the image up for the publishers. Scanning can be a frustration for me too, which would’ve been worse if I’d had to scan in step after step after step. And having to re-draw if I’d missed a step out, or re-scan would’ve driven me nuts.
What I didn’t want was artwork that looked too perfect, too inhuman. I wanted digital drawings that looked like I’d drawn them on paper. So, I worked hard to set up pen ‘brushes’ that would mimic how my favoured drawing pens would look when drawn on paper.
Also, I rarely used any line smoothing tools for any of the work so it has that slightly ‘wobbly’ line appearance that my pen and ink linework has. I also kept the design elements, called charms, imperfect just as they would be if I’d drawn them with pen on paper.
In fact, each and every design started out as either a pen or pen drawing on paper which was scanned in so I could re-create it, step by step, digitally, saving a file for each step to the computer.
There were plenty of revisions/edits required and colour changes. Again, working digitally make this a less onerous task than if I’d had to do everything with pen and ink on paper, scanning in each step all the while worrying I hadn’t missed a step as I got engrossed in the process of drawing.
Working digitally did not make the drawing any easier or simpler, what it did was allow me a different way to draw the steps.
Coloring the designs digitally was no quicker than with traditional media, in fact it took me longer! I learned a lot about this process by doing this book, and I think it was the book that allowed me to become more comfortable with digital art and how to make it look like I’d drawn with pen on paper, in my own style.
Of course, I can print out the line art and colour it with any media I choose. I also can redraw any using traditional media. And of course, adjusting the size is so easy.
Day 23 dawned slowly for me today it has to be said and I’m still trying to get my brain out of the sleepy fugginess that I woke with around 5am. Far too early to be awake.
Still, before I head out for the day – a trip to Worcester with my friend Liz – I wanted to get Inktober done.
The first thing that came into my head when I read the prompt for today (which is muddy) was the buddhist quote about lotus and mud. I had to look it up – thank goodness for the magic of the google!
After hand lettering the quote (hand lettering is a bit better today, but some of the word spacing is a bit iffy) I turned it into a dangle design! (Quick plug – My book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available for preorder should you fancy some guidance and ideas on drawing your own dangle designs).
Had enough time to chuck the scanned image into GiMP to remove the dot grid and any remaining pencil guide lines and then to create a transparent background. This was followed by a quick visit to Autodesk Sketchbook for the image file so I could add a coloured background and my watermark.
I have enough time to write this blog, do the other social media stuff before diving into the shower and heading over to Liz’s to start the day’s jolly journey to Worcester (which no doubt will appear on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops).
The quote speaks to me both of the feeling I get when I meditate, but also about my journey from the mental and emotional ill-health of cptsd towards a healthier state of being.