Inktober 2019 – Day 31

Inktober 2019 Day 31 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Happy Hallowe’en to you all and here is my last skully Inktober drawing for 2019.

The skull prompt was ‘duck’, so I just had to draw a duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) skull! I’ve always had a love of dinosaurs and prehistoric critters, so it’s fab I can include one of their skulls.

I wanted to do a woodcut style skull drawing, but I wanted to use white ink as well as black. So, I used some digital craft paper to draw on. I think it’s worked out well, though some areas of highlights look a bit too geometric. I’ve also just realised that I didn’t add highlights/shadows to the teeth. Oh well.

The mushroom prompt was, quite appropriately, Rubroboletus satanus, and you can see outline drawings of the mushroom in the mandala.

The tangle pattern for today was Florz, and that forms the tiled floor pattern.

When I’d completed the mandala on the same kraft paper as the skulls, I realised that I needed a lighter background, so I just added a different kraft paper to the background.

Reflecting on Inktober

I’ve enjoyed Inktober this year for sure. Picking prompt lists that appealed to me helped a lot. I did start off trying out different ways of approaching drawing skulls and the like. However, I settled on combining the skull illustrations with a mandala. I’ve also discovered a great fondness for woodcut-style drawings.

I now need to work out what to do with my Inktober artworks. Some of them will become available as tee-shirts and other products in the days and weeks ahead; I do want to tweak some of them first.

I’m feeling a bit sad at it being over. Having a ‘brief’ to work to certainly helps to focus my sparkly, grasshoppery mind and takes me out of my ‘comfort zone’ (I absolutely hate that phrase!). I’ve certainly found a passion for skulls; so many more to draw, so many different angles too.

It’s the focus that has been the most helpful. This is something I need to sort out, I think. I do have themes for the colouring books I do, but I think I could do with a theme (or series of themes that repeat over a week) that will help focus my creativity outside of the book.

Inktober has taken over my creativity this month. However, I think I needed that to freshen me up.

So, I shall look forward to Inktober 2020, while doing my best to put into practice some of the things I’ve learned from this year’s challenge.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK today, a bit tired and the grey, gloomy, damp weather isn’t helping much. I have used my light therapy lamp this morning; that did lift my mood somewhat, to be fair.

Yesterday was the toughest day, emotionally, I’ve had for a while. I was really feeling rather low. It had been coming, however, for over a week. I’m not entirely over it; I’m still feeling emotionally vulnerable and fragile today, but nowhere near as bad as I felt yesterday.

I do know what has caused the stormy weather; being aware of such things shows I’ve come a long way from the start of therapy for CPTSD. I also know that these storms don’t last forever, and that self-care and self-soothing is needed.

That will be the order of the day today. I do have an errand or two to run as soon as I post Inktober, and I do have something happening this evening. However, the rest of the day will be self-care, starting with making a hot, nutritious meal from scratch. I’m tending towards a veggie bolognaise, the leftovers of which can be turned into a veggie chilli for tomorrow.

So, I’d better get this social media stuff done and get on with my day!

Evening Mandala

Evening Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived home from EMDR therapy feeling very emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Creating art is one of my self-soothing activities, particularly mandalas.

I’d downloaded a pile of new backgrounds in the past couple of days and wanted to make use of a chalkboard background. It was so dark I knew I needed to make the mandala full of light and colour.

This was a somewhat symbolic choice as my long journey to recovery from CPTSD has been about bringing light into the dark places of my trauma damaged psyche. EMDR has helped me turn the dark into light in terms of my mental and emotional health.

I really enjoyed creating this mandala. Usually, I work with black on white; here I started with colour – the abstract ‘flower’ ring close to the centre. I wanted the colours to glow against the darkness, so I chose lighter shades of aqua and violet. I even added some glowing golden seeds or pollen grains, which is also metaphoric for the personal growth I’m going through in my healing journey.

I then used a white, chalky pen ‘brush’ to draw patterns inside this ring and around it. I decided the white was too plain, so, to break up the white, I blended soft colours into it.

Finally, I added the ring of mushrooms. These had to be my favourite colour – purple. I added some dots to the mushroom caps in lime-green, which is kind of a complementary colour to purple. My last step was to add the stylised foliage behind the mystic mushrooms.

This mandala really helped to soothe me, and it was a pleasure to create. It gave me a break from Inktober and other work that’s ongoing too.

Talking of Inktober, I will be getting Day 29 done later today; I have some things that need doing first.

Oh, the mandala was created digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio (the digital analogues of pen and paper).

Inktober 2019 – Day 23

Inktober 2019 Day 23 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Today’s prompts are cockatoo skull, Marasmius (parachute mushrooms) and Pixiose tangle pattern. I’m using Inktober 2019 prompt lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.

I’ve returned to the woodcut style of illustration for the cockatoo skull; the contrast betwixt the bone and beak made it a natural choice for me. Also, I do like drawing in this kind of style.

As my emotional weather is on the drizzly and gloomy side, I opted for the soothing qualities of mandala drawing for today’s illustration. I don’t know why I chose to have four skulls as part of the mandala; it just seemed a good idea at the time. However, it does work out quite nicely. The spacing means I can still draw the skulls fairly large, yet have plenty of space fo the mandala to show through.

Today’s tangle pattern is a filler design, so I thought adding it in panels would work well and this formed the first ring. I also wanted to add in some tropical flowers, so the second ring has stylised flowers forming it. It was then I remembered about the fungi and so added them as the outer ring.

For now, I’ve left the design in black and white with a coloured background. I may return to this mandala at another time and add colour and more line work. For now, it’s good enough.

To create the artwork, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I said that my emotional weather is still gloomy and drizzly. I really don’t feel I have the oompf to do anything much today. All I want to do is sleep, and when I want to sleep all the time, it’s one of my warning signs that something’s not right emotionally. I’ve also had some of the old inner critics and thought patterns rearing their heads once again, causing a lot of tears. It seems I’m not as resilient as I think I am when doing what I can to help others.

I can still sense that contentment within, but the emotional weather seems to be clouding it somewhat today. I have used my light therapy lamp, which helped a little, especially as the weather outside is mirroring my emotions today.

I know what’s caused this change in my inner weather: therapy and a couple of recent events.

I managed to put a smiley face on to go to a meeting last night, but I was so tired after it, even though I’d slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

I do know this is not permanent. I’m processing some recent and less recent traumatic experiences.

So, I will do what I can to get some work done today, work that doesn’t require much in the way of focus. I do believe I have some sketches for my Spectacular Sea Life Designs colouring book scanned in ready to be inked. I think I can manage that today.

Inktober 2019 – Day 23

Inktober 2019 Day 23 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Frog skull, Morchella (morel) fungi and Abundies tangle pattern from Inktober prompt lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.

I decided I’d use the frog skull as a framework for some tangle patterns. It’s not so easy to pick the skull out, but it is there in the centre of today’s illustration.

I felt the need to add some mandala rings around the design, though I’m not sure that was such a good idea. Still, Inktober is about drawing and reflecting on what is created rather than aiming for something complete, polished, perfect. This reflection on artwork is what leads me to improve my art. Inktober also pushes me just a little to try different styles of drawing.

So, I’m not so happy with today’s offering. But it’s good enough.

So, Angela, how are you today?

Tuesdays are often post-therapy self-care days. I certainly need such a day today. I am absolutely exhausted after yesterday’s very emotional session.

I didn’t do any EMDR, but there were discussions about some issues that had arisen for me in the past week. One of which is preparing to leave therapy sometime in the near-ish future. This is both a good thought and a sad thought. Also, it has to be my decision when to leave therapy. Making decisions is not easy for me.

Some of the time was spent talking about the book I’m reading ‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough?’, which is about the daughters of narcissistic mothers. There are some issues from that which will need some working on before I leave therapy.

I came home from the appointment absolutely exhausted. I stopped off at the local Sainsbury’s for some tea before doing some shopping, as well as to wait out the crazy rush-hour traffic. I kept nodding off as I sat in the cafe.

When I did get home, I put my shopping away, got another drink and went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. I managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before the exhaustion overtook me once again, and I retired to bed.

I slept well; however, I am shattered today, as well as being emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Even though I feel like this, that gentle contentment is present within me. Indeed, it was present during the emotionally distressing moments in therapy yesterday.

So, today is a self-care day, starting with my Inktober drawing for today. I’m just about falling asleep as I type, so I suspect I’ll have another mug of tea and then return to bed to sleep some more.

Be gentle with yourself.

Artwork © Angela Porter 2019

About the artwork

This is the same illustration I used for yesterday’s quote, however, after adding some textural lines to the drawing, I’ve coloured the design.

I decided to use flat colours as it brings a feeling of a coloured wood cut or lino cut print to the design. I used a grungy texture overlay to enhance the vintage feel of the coloured design.

The line art was drawn using Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens on paper, but the colouring, textures and text have been added digitally. I used Affinity Publisher to produce the typography. A Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro were used to complete the colouring

It’s always interesting how just small changes can make such a big difference to artwork.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling fairly content and quite optimistic. I am, however, still a little tired to say the least.

My trip to Llandridnod Wells yesterday left me exhausted. I went there to give an antistigma talk as a champion for Time to Change Wales. Telling my story of cPTSD still leaves me emotionally exhausted and vulnerable. This is, however, a small price to pay for giving people food for thought and getting people talking about mental illness.

As I was feeling so emotional after the talk I didn’t take a walk around Llandridnod Wells. When I’m feeling the way I was it’s all too easy for me to panic and enter flight-mode when I’m overwhelmed by noise or an unfamiliar place. The anxiety I feel about getting myself turned-about and lost and not able to find my way back to the car just adds to the vulnerability.

So, I thought I’d drive back and see if I could find the courage to stop at a cafe on the way. I’d passed a nice-looking one called the Wye Knot. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop there. I was still too overwhelmed.

My brain kicked in and I thought I’d head to Honey Cafe in Bronllys. I’ve been there a few times before and it’s a familiar setting to me. However, when I went in there were so many people milling around the counter and others coming in the door and pushing past me that I went into flight-mode and dashed back to the car in tears.

I just drove home then, doing a mental inventory of what I had in the way of food.

I had something quick to eat and a big mug of tea and then I curled up in bed to sleep; a nap is one of my self-care activities. I know that if I can sleep for a while I wake feeling refreshed and more resilient than I was.

The exhaustion comes not just from being emotionally overwhelmed and triggered but from the effort of keeping a happy smiling mask up. Yesterday the mask wasn’t as ‘solid’ as on Monday, but I knew it was still there. Once the talk was over, I let the mask drop and I was suddenly exhausted.

This is, as I mentioned earlier, worth getting the word out about the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness, giving people some advice on what to and what not to do, and starting conversations.

I’m beginning to flag here; tiredness/exhaustion is catching up with me. I have managed to get some work done this morning. However, before I try to do anything else I need some more sleep I think.

So, I’m taking the advice of today’s quote – I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

Heal

Heal - Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com
Heal – Artwork by Angela Porter at Artwyrd.com

About the art.

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.

Entangled Parchment Craft Cards

Entangled Parchment Craft Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Entangled Parchment Craft Cards © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Entangled in blue – a greeting card.

Yesterday, I mentioned some things I’d like to try out after my experience creating a greeting card using vellum and Distress Inks along with some die-cutting.

So, rather than take the nap I’d said I was likely to, I endeavoured to make another card in the same kind of entangled art style. This time, the two Distress Inks I used were Peacock Feathers and Mermaid Lagoon. 

I used these inks to colour the reverse of the vellum and to add colour to the card base – Mermaid Lagoon at the top, Peacock Feathers at the bottom and blending them in the middle.

I used the piece of card I’d cut the frame from as a stencil for the addition of colour, so I was sure it wouldn’t bleed out of the edge of the frame. 

After dry embossing the design on the vellum, I passed it just once through a hot laminator. The vellum became flat without losing too much of the definition given by the dry embossing.

I trimmed the vellum panel so it would fit neatly under the frame. I adhered the vellum to the frame using strong double-sided tape.

I wanted to lift the vellum above the card base. I doubled up some double-sided foam tape, using thin strips. In hindsight, I would’ve been happier with just one thickness of the foam tape. 

By applying the Distress Inks to the card base the colour has been intensified, and the dry embossing stands out better. I’m quite pleased with the result of this card.

I do wish I hadn’t added the gold dots around the frame though; I thought I needed some to complement the gold dots that I added to the entangled design. 

On the whole, I’m much happier with the entangled in blue card. 

I’ve just thought that it could be relatively easy to turn that panel into a shaker card by making sure the space beneath the vellum is completely sealed by the foam tape at the edges and then adding some sequins and/or glass beads — something for me to try another time maybe.

Comfort art.

The drawings in both of these panels are an example of me slipping into ‘comfort art’ mode. I tend to draw this way when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable or fragile. Entangled art like this is familiar to me, like a comfortable pair of old slippers, and it soothes me somewhat.

Entangled art is very much my ‘style’ of art. Digitally, I’m pushing my boundaries with it by not using black outlines or outlines in any colour. When I feel the way I have in the past few weeks, it can be tough for me to settle into art that challenges me even a little bit and digital art has been doing that. That’s why I’ve started many projects and not finished them; I get dissatisfied with what I’m doing and just stop it. That’s a sign that I really am not feeling as balanced as usual. 

In the past, I’ve mentioned that redrawing my favourite patterns and motifs in a zibladone ( a mixture of journal and random notes or interesting things) is comforting, soothing to me. I have only just noticed that drawing in this way is also so.

The challenging thing in these cards is the die-cutting and the use of various adhesives. And scissors. Scissors always cause me problems. Although I’m mostly right-handed, I use scissors in my left hand. I use right-handed scissors, and I find that problematic, but left-handed scissors are even worse for me! Craft knives have their own added issues for me.

A little more of a challenge.

Today I received two die sets in the post, both from Lawn Fawn and from Seven Hills Crafts. They’re the foursquare landscape and portrait backdrop die sets.

I want to try to make a pair of dangle design cards with these for tomorrow. So that’s one of my tasks for this afternoon.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK. I’m tired; I drove for over four hours yesterday, and when I got home, I was not only exhausted but cold as well. I didn’t sleep all that well as I didn’t warm up until around 6 am and I kept waking up shivering.

I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety and even fear about the current state of the world; I feel tearful about this a lot of the time and not very optimistic. 

Other than that, I think my life is settling down into a new kind of ‘normal’ after spending time with my friend and his partner last week. I still have lots of things to sort out that were stirred up from the pandora’s box of trauma within me. But now they’ve been identified they can be processed in EMDR.

Being tired makes me a lot less resilient to all this.