I have, finally, finished this particular drawing. I managed to keep to my challenge of leaving some white space in the design. I did let the design spill over the pencil guidelines I’d drawn for the size of artwork. I then digitally trimmed it within those lines before applying the black and white borders. I do like to define the space within which my drawings and designs reside, that’s for sure. It’s like a window into my imagination, my mind, my intuitive creativity, how all the little things I have observed and imagine just blend and meld into a crazily layered, intricately pattern and yet flowing design that is always quite pretty.
You can’t have too much pretty patterns in this world I think.
I think it’s too detailed and fussy as a coloring template, though I may add some colour to it at some point in time. Before I think about doing that, though, I have an idea for another drawing with some hand lettering on it.
The drawing is a little less than A4 in size (US letter). It has been drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
My mental and emotional health
Monday I spent mostly in tears after the busy week and the emotional upsets of Sunday. In therapy we just talked about what happened and how I was feeling and thinking about myself and that I need to be a lot kinder to and caring of myself. It was also suggested I need to be a lot more accepting of where I am on my healing journey and not beat myself up for not being able to get out and about much by myself, even when I may want to.
I came home and slept until 2am, then went back to sleep a couple of hours later and slept through until mid morning yesterday, which was then followed by a very quiet day at home crocheting and drawing before yet another nap in the afternoon.
I slept for many hours last night too, and I’m still feeling exhausted. With exhaustion I am emotionally fragile and vulnerable too.
So, much of today will be spent quietly. I do have to head up to Hereford this evening, however. I’m debating whether to go a little early so I can spend a little time at Kilpeck church – my favourite church in the whole wide world. A tiny two celled Romanesque church, almost untouched by time. I’ll see how I feel as the day progresses and whether I manage to find a little oompf. After all, the church has been there for nearly one thousand years, I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere soon!
I woke up this morning with an idea, which was to use a dangle design of a flower along with some words about that flower. I chose to start with Daisy and you can see what I’ve come up with so far.
I’ve included a fair bit of etymology concerning the word Daisy; I find etymology (the origins and evolution of words) fascinating.
I drew the dangle design on paper and then scanned it into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Surface Studio.
Next, I re-drew the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen just like pen on paper. I set the brush to have a width that varied with pressure.
My plan was then to hand letter the title and the words about the daisy.
I tried again and again and again and I was never happy with what my pen put on paper (or screen). So, in frustration with myself and the knowledge I have other things that I really need to get done today, I decided to foray into the realms of Microsoft Publisher.
I did choose a font that is very similar to my own basic hand lettering style. I think I may need to look at how I can convert my hand lettering into custom fonts to use in the near future for days like today.
I do quite like the simplicity of the layout, but I do think I could’ve done a bit better with the text. I’m quite happy with the dangle design – the simplicity suits the simplicity and innocence of lovely daisy itself.
If you’d like to learn how to draw dangle designs, step by step, then my book “A Dangle A Day” is now published.
My Emotional well being
I am emotionally exhausted. I’ve not had much of a chance to recover from my EMDR session on Tuesday which left me absolutely poleaxed.
Wednesday and Thursday I took care of a stand for Time to Change Wales, and though they didn’t take up all the day it still drained me.
I’d said to myself on Wednesday I’d not put the happy smiley mask on over my exhaustion and emotional ‘flatness’ as I had little energy to spare for the effort it takes to keep that mask in place.
I had no choice about the mask; it appeared automatically, draining me further on Wednesday and very much so yesterday.
What didn’t help was that I had a commitment on Wednesday evening which I couldn’t cancel. So I had very little time between the stand and dashing out again to have some self-care time.
The result of all this is that when I got home after the stand and then running a couple of important errands that couldn’t be put off was that I was absolutely running on empty. I had something to eat and ended up sleeping for a couple of hours.
This has all taken it’s toll on my digestive system which has been upset since EMDR on Tuesday. It’s still not right today even though I went to bed early and woke up later this morning than I usually would.
I know I have a busy day tomorrow, one I can’t cancel on and I have lots of things to get ready for that today. All I want to do is sleep. My mind doesn’t want to work but it has to work.
You may be wondering why I do all this to myself. Well, Time to Change Wales (TTCW) with it’s goal to end stigma and discrimination around mental health by getting people to talk about it to gain more understanding and compassion is very important to me. I’ve faced that stigma, discrimination and total lack of understanding by so many people.
Mental Health Awareness Week happens but once a year (though it should be mental health awareness week every week!) and TTCW are so busy everyone who can help does to make sure the message gets out.
Also, I had no idea that EMDR would floor me this week, but it did.
I knew about my commitment for tomorrow, but didn’t think that everything else in the run up to Saturday would drain me.
You may think I’ve let myself down by not taking care of myself.
Perhaps that is true. However, I think it’s worth it for just this one week. I’ll recover, most probably just in time for EMDR on Monday!
Even though I do have a fair amount of stuff to do in preparation for tomorrow, I can stay at home and take a nap if I need to. I also don’t have to answer the door – I already ignored a knock from someone who seemed to be trying to sell double glazing; I saw him and his mate walking down the street with a handful of leaflets each.
Even though I am very tired, emotionally and mentally, it was important to me I took time to do some art and I’m quite pleased with my drawing, and disappointed in myself that I just couldn’t hand letter it myself.
So, as much self-care as I can do in the next couple of days is absolutely essential for me, and art is part of my self-care toolbox.
This morning all I want to do is stay in bed. I’ve had to get up though; I’m looking after a stand for Time to Change Wales at the Engineering Department in Swansea University later today. All part of World Mental Health Awareness Week, you know.
I’m absolutely shattered. Drained. Emotionally whacked out. Emotionally fragile. So tired. So very, very tired.
I want to curl up in bed and either draw or read or crochet or just watch faff on YouTube or sleep.
However, I won’t let anyone down and I will wend my way to Swansea to take care of the stand for a while today.
Yesterday’s EMDR session focused on the content of my blog post yesterday about my own body image and how I think and feel about myself. I had a particularly distressing time of it, so much so my therapist said ‘enough for today, I’m bringing this session to an end’ when we’d barely started the EMDR part of it.
The lump in my throat that was stopping me breathing, talking was painful, as was the literal pain in my heart. I get a lot of somatic responses during EMDR. Often quite painful, but bearable in order to release the stored trauma.
Yesterday, though, the pain was almost unbearable, probably unbearable.
Leaving the session, though, after some work on grounding and spending time in my safe place I felt ok.
When I got home though, I just wanted to curl up in bed as I was exhausted. And that exhaustion intensified through the evening.
Along with that I got a seriously upset stomach, which can happen after EMDR where I quite literally am expelling the faeces of my life after expelling some of the emotional and mental trauma during EMDR.
I had a really poor nights sleep even though I was shattered.
My tummy/digestive system is still tender and unsettled this morning.
All this occurred as a result of one memory I have as a toddler.
So, I’m fair reeling from it all and so sad about so much. So, so much.
I know this is all part of the process to release and heal the traumas I’ve had that have led to CPTSD. I know it won’t last for ever now and these feelings will pass in the hours and days that follow.
I know a day of self-soothing, self-care would be ideal, but I have a commitment to Time to Change Wales today and I don’t break commitments lightly. Indeed, it may do me some good as it looks like a sunny day and out and about in the sunshine does help my mood for sure.
‘I Can Do This’ WIP
I started this one late last night when I was tired but couldn’t settle down at all. I did a bit more when I woke this morning.
I hand lettered (not very well) the words ‘I can do this’ to remind myself that I can do this work in EMDR, that I can release trauma and face things that I’ve avoided much of my life, or not told hardly anyone about how I feel about myself, my body, always trying to put a brave face on things.
It’s tiring to wear that brave face and I’m not sure I can today, I’m already way too exhausted. Time to let the mask down again perhaps.
Anyways, the WIP has the hand lettering on it as a message to me that I am capable of doing the work in EMDR, but also as a message to any one of you who may read my words that each and every one of you is also capable of doing what you need to do to find mental and emotional well-being, a well-being that is at least good enough.
I’m drawing this on A4 (approx US letter size) bristol board using a mixture of Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Sensei and Uniball Unipin pens. Unusually for myself I’m actually pencilling in the basic outlines of shapes! How strange…
However, that pencilling in the scaffolding for my drawing may be symbolic that I also need some scaffolding and support in terms of my mental and emotional well-being at this time.
I have no idea how this will turn out yet – both the art and the EMDR – but I will persevere as and when I have the energy and time to do so. I don’t know if I’ll pack it up to take with me to the event today or whether I’ll take my crochet. Either drawing or crochet does help soothe me.
Another drawing today. Approx 6″ x 6″ (15cm x 15cm) drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens.
Therapy day today
I’ve been struggling a little the past couple of days. I’m feeling quite emotional and I’m rather anxious about being out where there are people.
It’s World Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is body image. That theme is provoking some emotional upset with me.
Or maybe it’s that we started working on a situation when I was visiting somewhere and I ended up in full flight mode.
It was late lunch-time and I was really hungry. So, I went to cafe I’ve been to in the past. When I got there I couldn’t go in the door. I was convinced I was so fat that I’d not fit and if I did I’d not manage to anywhere in there.
I turned tail and dashed back to my car and drove nearly 100 miles home without stopping for a drink or food. Luckily I had a bottle of water in the car as I was really thirsty.
Since I was six years old and I broke my leg I’ve been overweight ever since. I’m the best part of 6″ tall and I’m uncertain of my dress size as I tend to buy clothes that are a bit too big for me in the belief they’d hide me. I’m probably somewhere between a UK size 18 and 22 – it depends on the style of clothes and the type of clothing.
Any ways, I was horribly bullied as a child – about my weight, about my appearance, about me being me. I was an easy target for bullies, they sniff out a victim and it matters not how old you are. I’ve been bullied throughout my adult life by people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
These people included my mother, her father and other family members. I grew up believing I was stupid, fat, ugly and that no one loves me or would love me, that I’d never have friends and I was never as good as anyone else, just to name a few of the negative beliefs I still carry about myself, even if there is evidence to the contrary.
So, it was quite natural that I developed a lot of social anxiety and would hide myself away even as a child.
There were times when I was put on diets. My mother forced me to go to weight watchers when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Every fad diet that came along, she put me on it. I remember one which involved an inch of cucumber and one hard boiled egg three times a day. I was handed these things, told to eat them and then go up to my bedroom while everyone else had a proper meal.
It felt like a punishment not love. I was excluded, yet again, from the family, and when the diets didn’t work or I ‘cheated’ due to gnawing hunger and the need to emotionally feed myself something, I was yet again a failure, useless, good for nothing, and embarrassment.
At the same time, everyone else in the family was praised for having good appetites and eating huge meals, and I was given completely the opposite message.
I have always been an emotional eater. There was never love and affection for me, only loathing and ridicule and scapegoating and negative messages. Food would help me swallow down the emotions so I could keep a happy smile on my face, even though inside I was crying and screaming and wishing myself dead.
I grew up believing I was ugly. I grew up hating my body. I grew up unable to do anything about my emotional eating, my weight as whenever I did I felt like I was punishing myself again and again and again. I tried diet after diet after diet. About the only thing that has worked was finishing with the long ago ex! Without him my weight plummeted quite naturally and I eventually was at the thinnest I ever have been in my adult life, around a UK size 16 to 18.
I am often ashamed of myself, of being overweight that I avoid leaving my home, going out where there are people, scared of what people might think or say to me.
I’m embarrassed to eat in public when I’m by myself often. Even if I’m hungry I can find it really hard to go into a cafe that is really familiar to me. I may be brave enough to pick up something I can eat while sat in my car or driving.
The odd thing is that if I’m with a friend or my sister I can manage to go out and eat, even somewhere that’s not familiar. I find some bravery.
But when I’m by myself the story can be very different. At it’s best I’m able to venture into a new cafe in a new place and have something to eat. At it’s worst I end up in full flight mode and cut my visit short to head back to my car and then home – both safe places for me.
I rarely have ever spoken about this to anyone. In this day of ‘fat shaming’ and the hyper-judgemental face of society projected in the tabloid press, TV, the media in general and social media in particular it is very difficult to speak out,, especially seeing the way people who do speak out against the stereotypes and stigma and discrimination that abounds.
You see, there’s a story behind each person. You have no idea why they are overweight. It’s rarely as simple as eating too much and not being active enough. You have no idea what inner battles that person is having with themselves, what they believe about themselves, why they’re unable to change things because are other more painful things that are being buried by literally swallowing them down with food.
Perhaps this is why it’s so important to speak out. To try to change the tendency to make a sweeping judgement about someone and to try to see past that and try to understand that they are fighting battles you know nothing about, how hard it is to put a brave face on and step out into the world and act with confidence even though, in my case, I just want to run back to my safe home.
It tires me out everytime I go out into the world, even when I’m with people I love, as I battle to keep my smiling face, to hold back the tears and the anxiety, to do the things that so many people take for granted.
It’s only in the last week or so I’ve recognised a bit of the depth of my issues with my body and how I see myself. It’s the focus of EMDR therapy at the moment, and it’s not likely to be an easy one to do. I was shocked last week at the number of memories that have come back relating to the one episode of flight mode that cover not just recent times but right back to my early years.
My goals for this phase of EMDR are that I can view myself a bit more kindly, with some more compassion and understanding for myself. I can show other people this, always have done. However, showing the same for myself is a whole different kettle of fish.
I don’t judge other people by their appearance, but self-judgement is sometimes crippling. An internal struggle, battle that is invisible to others.
I’ve only touched the surface here of how I’m affected by this. I have a lot more to uncover and release and to change how I think and feel about myself. I think I can do enough so I think I’m good enough as a person.
Good enough. That’s my main goal. To view myself as a good enough human being and to have a good enough life full of rich experience, whether that is being able to leave my home to have a cuppa in a familiar cafe or to travel to further afield places that are new to me and to be able to leave my car and explore them.
To undo some if not most or even all of the damage to my mental and emotional health throughout my life that has led to me developing CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder).
This morning, I’ve spent a pleasant four hours or so drawing this A5 design for the month of May.
It combines some hand lettering along with my signature style of entangled art. I’ve included plenty of floral motifs as here in the Northern Hemisphere the world is filled with flowers, especially on the trees.
Of course I’ve included more abstract motifs that are inspired by seedpods and patterns found in nature and architecture and so on.
I drew the design on white Bristol Board by Winsor and Newton. My pens of choice today were Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and 0.1 Unball Unipin. Also, I’ve used some digital wizardry to add coloured paper as the background, along with my watermarks.
This would be lovely in a BuJo I think. I think it would be lovely in a planner, a journal or diary.
It’s perfect for colouring, as long as you’d be happy to colour across sections that have fine lines in them.
I think if I was more confident with metallic inks and either dip nib pens or fine brushes I’d’ve liked to do the lettering in metallic gold or copper. Of course, I could’ve done the lettering, scanned, laser printed it and then added the patterns around the lettering. I didn’t think of that until now though! Duh!
I’m fairly happy with adding ‘auras’ around the lettering to separate it from the entangled design around/below it.
I’m not sure I’m happy with the design spilling out over the edge as it has done; it doesn’t feel balanced to me, but other than that I’m quite happy with the design. Of course I could edit the image to even up the edges, but it is what it is for now.
EMDR was quite gentle yesterday but lots of body work occurring. During EMDR stored trauma is released through pains and other sensations in the body. Yesterday I had eyes that hurt, part of my head, my throat, my thumbs and wrists. I had a lot of pain where I broke my leg when I was six. Lots of prickling as well as electric shocks in various parts of my body.
I actually felt quite upbeat, if a little tired, when I left the session. But by late evening I was really tired and feeling a bit teary and lonely.
I’m tired today. I didn’t sleep too well last night. I had hoped to go out for the day today, but I really wanted to stay home and draw and I think I’ll be back in bed before too much longer. I really am tired.
One thing that I was asked about, without me mentioning it first, was what I was going to do about getting out and about a bit more! I’m sure my therapist must read my blog. Just joking, I know she doesn’t!
I need to make a list of places I’d like to visit. Familiar places to revisit to ease me back into getting out and about by myself. Then ones not so familiar that could involve some time away from home too.
I will be going out later this week. I have something to do this evening and tomorrow, however. Another reason I am having a quiet day today. I’m not just tired; I know that I’m also emotionally fragile still.
I am determined to heal as much as I can from the CPTSD and to do the things I’d like to do that the inner critic sabotages way too often.
One of the things that is really nice about being between contracts is the opportunity to create art just for the fun of creating art and not having to stay within the limits of the contract. Not that drawing to fulfil contracts isn’t fun, it is. It’s just that I have to work within the remit of the contract.
Yesterday evening and this morning I’ve been having a contented time creating some entangled monograms. I’ve cut some Winsor and Newton Bristol Board down to approx 15cm x 15cm (approx 5.75″ x 5.75″).
I penciled in some guidelines for the edges of the artwork and for the position of the monogram.
First job was to hand letter the monogram. I did start with pencil guidelines for each letter, then used a hard Tombow Fudenosuke pen to ink them in.
Then, the real fun begins, which is the entangling of the space around the monogram. I used the Fudenosuke pen along with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and Uniball Unipin 0.2 and 0.1 pens.
All done in plain black and white, with just the weight and concentration of lines adding depth and dimension to the finished design.
I do want to add colour to these at some point. I love pure black and white artwork, but colour can bring them to life as well. Digital colouring is my favourite way of adding colour these days, but I may print copies out on to marker friendly paper and then use Chameleon Duotones and Color Tops to add colour. I’ll see how I feel about that.
As is my wont, I had no preconceptions of how the entangling would unfold. I just let it flow. Some of my favourite motifs and patterns have been used. I did refer to my visual BuJo for ideas/inspiration from time to time too.
Yes, a visual BuJo (bullet journal). Or, rather, it’s a collection of motifs and patterns that are being organised using ideas from the Bullet Journal system of keeping a journal. It works for me. I have a way to help me find continuations of collections, or to start a new one, and not worry about a collection being on consecutive pages.
My visual BuJo is an A5 sized, dot grid notebook from Claire Fontaine. It’s a soft back one so isn’t quite as weighty as Leuchtturms and the like. It is also a little less bulky in size, which helps when I want to travel light on a day out.
Mind you, when fill this present visual BuJo I may use a Leuchtturm for my next one. We’ll see…
It is also something that encourages me to seek out new patterns and motifs to add to it, as if I didn’t have enough already! Doing this is a good way to just practice my drawing skills and observation skills, as well as analysing a motif or pattern, breaking it down into simple shapes and steps to draw a stylised version.
I do tend to favour more stylised motifs and patterns in my art, that’s for sure.
So, I now no longer feel the need to try new ideas out for keeping my reference material, constantly redrawing them again and again. The visual BuJo is working for me for sure.
When I’m having a tough time emotionally/mentally with my CPTSD and/or EMDR it can be soothing, comforting for me to use the familiar, and of course I can still do that. I just don’t need to spend a lot of time drawing and redrawing and redrawing again the same things in my search for a perfect record keeping system for patterns and motifs.
The BuJo inspired system may not be perfect, but it works for me.
One other positive that has come from me using a BuJo is that I’ve had to learn to let mistakes go and just leave them in the notebook. The mistakes are what I need to make in order to understand how to draw a pattern or motif. Sometimes, though, a new pattern or motif arises from the mistakes.
Something else I’m starting to do is to make notes alongside the patterns with where to start, the order in which to draw the parts of the pattern or motif, and ideas for varying it.
Yesterday I took a quiet day at home, apart from a quick trip out to do a little shopping for vittles. I lost myself in drawing and this image is the result.
It took me around 10 hours to complete, using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.4 pen along with a couple of 0.1 and 0.2 Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
The drawing harks back in time where my love of Romanesque and Gothic arches and architecture showed in amongst entangled, rambling organic motifs.
However, I think the passage of time, increase in skill and/or refining of technique shows through. Perhaps even a bit more polish to the design.
Although drawn in black and white, I’ve added a background colour gradient and texture digitally (along with the rather over the top watermarks).
Talking of watermarks…
I had a response from Teespring.com concerning my copyright infringement complaint against ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ on facebook.
The agreed with me and have removed the offending listing.
I am most grateful for their speed and professionalism in dealing with this.
It may be a drop in the ocean, but if we all took care of just one drop at a time we’d definitely reduce the number of copyright infringements out there.
My mental and emotional wellbeing
It’s been over a week since my last EMDR session. In the UK we’ve had a bank holiday weekend, so no therapy this week.
Last weeks session was really draining emotionally. I expected it’s effects to linger long beyond Monday. However, although I was still a bit tired on Tuesday I’ve mostly been quite content with that gentle smile both on my lips and in my heart.
That doesn’t mean to say I’ve not had my moments, ‘cos I have.
However, the drama of stolen artwork didn’t affect me as much as it would’ve in the past. I did what I could about it. I spoke up rather than letting it slide. It also has given me a little bit of a mission as I go forward – to raise awareness of how to spot an ethical company that supports artists by properly licencing work and properly crediting the artists they work with. Compare this with an unethical company that doesn’t support artists, doesn’t even mention who the artists are, and is only in it to make money for themselves.
Copyright infringement is rife. The myth that things on the internet are copyright free and in the public domain has to be dispelled.
Back to the point. I’m doing ok in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing.