D is for … A monogram dangle design

It’s Friday, so it’s also #dangleday.

Today, I’ve continued with my series of kitty monograms with the letter D – die, domino, daffodil, doughnut are the design elements I chose.

I started by sketching the design on paper, scanning it in, drawing it digitally then colouring it all in using a marker ‘brush’ and a blending tool.

So, I made use of my Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Oh, my tutorial book about drawing and creating dangle designs – A Dangle A Day – is available for pre-order.

Oh, it’s also #furbabyfriday over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. We’d love to see your furbabies there.

A busy couple of days

It’s been a nice way to spend a couple of hours this morning. A relatively easy and relaxing couple of hours too. I really need a day of self-care after a couple of crazy days for me.

Wednesday I had a very anxious kind of day. Anxious in a good way but it was also very emotionally draining. I spent the day on a media training course with Sarah Hibbert at the Mind Cymru offices in Cardiff. The day was all about learning how to be effectively interviewed by the media in reference to Time to Change Wales and it’s campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health. A large part of the day was spent being interviewed and recorded on video camera then watching ourselves back and having feedback about how well we did and how we could improve.

It’s horrible seeing myself on video. I cringe so much. It provokes the inner critic so it rises up and attacks me, noticing every little flaw, mark, error, how the camera exaggerates features and so on.

It was a good day, the training was really excellent and gave lots of things to consider going forward.

I came home exhausted, barely able to string two words together. Having to travel in the rush hour so it took me nearly an hour and a half to get home, a journey that is usually less than half an hour, didn’t help at all.

I then tried to get to sleep early as I had to be up and into the shower at 5:15am so I could be dressed and ready to leave home around 6:10am to head out to Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest for around 8:30am, picking the lovely Russell up on my way.

The staff at the college had a wellbeing day and Russell and I were both involved for Time to Change Wales, with me giving two anti-stigma talks in the morning.

The day was lovely, the people were friendly and welcoming and some told me my talk was inspirational and I was brave for telling my story. The receptionist was an absolute darling; when I handed in my visitors badge she handed me a roll of papers saying ‘This is for you’. I had no idea what it was, thinking it may be a certificate for taking part in the day. When we had a look she’d gone online and found and printed loads of memes with wonderful words on that she thought would help me. I was really, really touched by her gesture.

The journey there and back again, a 200 mile round trip, went quickly as Russell and I chattered about all kinds of things. Russell did amazingly during the day as well, as he always does.

When I got home, I managed to empty the remains of the mocha in my travel mug over my handbag, and inside it. There’s no way I can salvage/clean the bag. It also went over my bullet journal, so I’ve ordered a new one as this one is wrecked. So today is a bujo-less day for me as the new one won’t arrive until tomorrow.

I had a very quiet evening, retired to bed earlier than usual and had a good 8 or 9 hours or so sleep. This is unusual for me, and I must’ve needed it.

I missed doing art over the last couple of days, but it’s been nice meeting new people, even though it does exhaust me, me being an introvert.

Digital or traditional art? My perspective.

Today, as I’ve said, it’s a self-care day, so art is definitely on the cards, as well as some flute practice I think.

I also have to think about, and ask for opinions on, digital drawing vs traditional drawing.

I love doing both. They both have their pros and cons.

I use a Surface Pen on the Surface Studio screen in just the same way I would use a pen or pencil on paper. I hold the pen the same way, I make lines and marks the same way. The only difference is that the paper is virtual and doesn’t exist unless I print it out.

With digital drawing I can make use of tools such as mirror and symmetry to help me with some elements of my art, particularly mandalas.

I rarely use tools like line smoothing and predictive lines (if anything predictive lines annoy me, they never end up as I want them). I do use line smoothing if I’m drawing a long straight-ish or curved line, but I still end up with wibbly bits.

I like to have the wibby bits, and I’ve carefully set up the pen ‘brushes’ I use so that they mimic Sakura Pigma Micron pens or Uniball Unipin pens in how the edge of the line is uneven due to ink bleeding.

Depending on what I’m doing, I do make sketches in pencil or pen on paper, scan that in and use it as a guide for my digital drawing.

The big advantage to working digitally, however, is the ease with which corrections and adjustments can be made.

I have, on very, very, very rare occasions, ‘copied and pasted’ a design element to create a design; so rare that I think I’ve done that once, maybe twice in the three years or so that I’ve been working digitally.

I love to draw traditionally too, with pen on paper. It’s a different kind of sensory experience, no better or worse than digital drawing. Just different.

It can be frustrating when an error is made or ink is smudged or the pencil line won’t erase properly. I then can use my digital tools to clean up the scanned in image, sometimes seamlessly erasing and re-drawing the area that needs correcting. No one notices when I do this as I’ve honed my skills and my pen ‘brushes’ so that they are as near the drawing pens I use on paper.

What can cause me problems digitally is that I lose sense of the scale of the patterns/designs I’m drawing and I can get way too intricate for traditional colorists to add colour to them. That’s why I often sketch at least an outline of the design out and scan it in draw the finished line work digitally. This is all because of the ability to zoom in to the area I’m working on. So, I often need that pencil/pen on paper guide to keep my drawing at the right kind of complexity.

Before I worked digitally, I thought that it would be easier, simpler than working traditionally, that the skill level would be lower, that anyone could achieve fantastic results.

However, I’ve found that opinion is completely false.

Yes, digital tools make certain aspects of drawing a bit easier, such as symmetry. However, it’s just as difficult to draw digitally as it is traditionally. It’s taken me a long time to get my pen ‘brushes’ set up so they mimic my traditional pens. It’s taken me a long time to be able to draw on the screen with the same precision and smoothness of lines as I can on paper. It’s been like learning to write and draw again.

I’ve had to learn, and continue to learn, a whole new skill set that you don’t need with traditional pen and paper.

I can do things digitally that I could never do with traditional media.

Digital drawing, digital art is NOT traditional art’s poor cousin. Drawing digitally, as well as coloring digitally, does not mean I’ve gone over to the dark side at all.

I’ve had comments made about mandalas I’ve drawn digitally, taking as much time over them as if I’d drawn them traditionally, that it’s a pity that they’re digital, as if my skill, my creativity is less because I use the digital tools. That made me feel pretty worthless at the time, to be honest, and comments like that say a lot either about the tastes or prejudices of the person making the comment.

They liked the mandala until they saw it was digitally created, which meant they no longer liked it.

More recently someone showed me a comment about one of my coloring books where the person didn’t like it because I’d drawn the images digitally so I’d sold out and gone to the dark side. There was none of the human touches or faint lines where pencil had been erased (erm, there’s never any of that in my work as I’m asked to clean it all up!), that the lines are too perfect, too much copying and pasting was used (never – except in one template) and so on.

Again, this said a lot about their prejudices. I work hard to keep the human touches in my art work – the wibbly lines, the imperfect circles and so on. The pens that have the irregular edges.

It’s almost like those who choose to do digital art are somehow less than traditional artists – less skilled, less hardworking, less human, less creative, less talented.

I don’t think I am. I think I do a fairly good job with digital and traditional media, often mixing the two together such as when I digitally color a traditionally drawn design.

I don’t think I’m lazy by drawing digitally – it takes me longer, even when I use the symmetry tool for mandalas, to create a mandala as I’m able to add more details.

I like to think I have a good level of skill in traditional art and that I’m getting better with the digital art.

I’m sure I don’t take full advantage of the digital medium as I seem to try to work in it as I would as a traditional artist! I just treat it as a different brand of pen, a different kind of paper, and a different kind of coloring medium, with the ability to layer and use a huge color palette.

I work hard to keep my style of drawing quintessentially ‘Angela Porter’ no matter whether I draw traditionally or digitally.

In my next book for Creative Haven, Entangled Forests (available for pre-order), I actually have a mixture of digitally drawn and traditionally drawn templates in there.

That’s a reflection of me, how I like to work, and how I can get the effects that I want in the drawing.

However, even with the traditionally drawn images there’s some digital ‘art’ going on as I have to scan them in, clean up smudges and errors and make corrections based on suggestions from the editorial team at Dover Publications Inc, and you’d be hard pressed to find these corrections and clean ups, though you may work out which is drawn digitally and which is drawn traditionally if you look hard.

One of the things on my list of things to do is to start a YouTube channel where I can show how I create my art. Perhaps that will help to end the stigma and discrimination that exists around digital artists, so that I, and others don’t get comments such as ‘ I liked it until I saw it was digital’ or ‘I used to like them until they sold out and gone to the dark side of digital drawing’.

A couple of years ago this would get to me. I’d lose my confidence in myself, I’d doubt myself, I’d want to give up. But not now. I take it in my stride. You can’t please all people all the time, especially as art is such a personal kind of thing.

However, comments such these say far more about the person making them and their likes/dislikes than they do about my art. On the back of a comment about me having sold out, it turns out that my newest book ‘Entangled Butterflies’ was fully stocked in a Walmart on Monday; by Thursday it had sold out, and one of the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group had let me know they’d had the last copy.

That puts it all into perspective I think.

Inktober 2018 Day 10 ‘Flowing’ and World Mental Health Day 2018 #wmhd

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 10 Flowing watermarked

Today’s #inktober2018 prompt is ‘Flowing’, so I knew I had to incorporate ripples into my art for today. I also wanted a blue-green colour scheme, so I used Distress Inks and an ink blending tool to colour an A4 piece of Bristol Board from Frisk.

After drawing pencil lines to allow me margins, I set to work with a range of Uniball Unipin pens to draw my design.

I started with the wavy lines in the bottom left corner and just let everything flow out from there quite intuitively, as is usual for myself.

It’s taken me quite a while to do; I think I started it around 7:30am and it’s now nearly 3pm. Sheesh, that’s nearly 8 hours!  Here was me at the beginning of Inktober stating I was going to do little drawings and so on.

However, there’s a dual purpose in today’s art.

Although I’m not doing anything specific for World Mental Health Day (#wmhd #worldmentalhealthday #wmhd2018) I am taking care of my own mental and emotional health by creating this drawing.

Yesterday was a tough day for me emotionally. In my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales (#ttcw) I gave an anti-stigma talk to HR people in a college, both of which triggered some quite strong emotional flashbacks for me.

A couple of hours after that talk ended, I had my weekly EMDR therapy session which resulted in some strong and painful releases of trauma stored in my body as well as some emotional flashbacks of trauma in my childhood that I’d dissociated from.

So between the two, I was emotionally exhausted yesterday evening and night and I woke up headachy and tired today.

Part of my self-care for my emotional and mental well-being is being creative and it just so happens that Inktober’s prompt was a perfect one for today, yet again.

When I get lost in my artwork I enter a state called ‘flow’. It’s a kind of meditative state of calm, peacefulness. My self-talk (which is often so very negative) is either quieted or loses it’s power over me. It’s almost like I’m outside of time and space.

So, the approx 8 hours of drawing (well more like 6 or 7 as I had a break to meditate mid-morning and took a short time out to get a veggie bacon sandwich for a late lunch) had just flown by.

I’m still tired, but there’s a peace there within me that wasn’t there when I woke.

Creating a drawing that is rather intricate is something I don’t get to do often when I’m working on coloring books, but it is definitely something that soothes my sore emotions and mind.

Not only is it time that the stigma and discrimination around mental health is brought to an end, it’s time we all looked after our mental and emotional health as much as we do our physical health.

I have a couple of chronic health problems and during my regular checkups I’m asked about my mental and emotional health as it’s known that people can develop mental ill-health when they live day to day with a chronic illness.

I know from personal experience that when I don’t take care of my emotional/mental health I become physically ill, so the state of our mental health, emotional health and physical health interact with one another, of that I’m sure.

So, try everyday to take the time to do something that lets you relax and find joy and peace in doing. There are so many things that people use for this – drawing, coloring, painting, playing music, gardening, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, singing, meditation, mindful activities, taking a relaxing bath by candle light, a massage, a cup of tea somewhere with a beautiful view, a walk in the surf’s edge on a sunset beach, yoga, tai chi….the list goes on!

What do you do for your own mental and emotional self-care? What do you love to do where you can find yourself in ‘flow state’ or a meditative state that gives your mind a rest?

 

mhaw18

Angela Porter mhaw18 17 May 2018

Today I’m feeling tickettyboo, a little tired, but definitely only a teeny tiny bit emotionally drained.  I think that some lovely icecream on a toasted waffle after my talk yesterday, in the company of a lovely friend, seriously helped, as did time with other friends in the evening and a serious dose of meditation.

Of course, my morning drawing helps me, and today it’s a mandala.

The perfect kind of relaxation to do before I head out later to do my fourth anti-stigma talk of the week, this time at Companies House.

This morning it’s time for some self-care, and for learning how to create amigurumi critters.  Crocheting is always a challenge for me, but I had an overwhelming desire to create a cuddly cuttlefish, all rainbow colours.  However, I think I bit off more than I could chew by starting on something so big without practicing and figuring out how amigurumi works and how to avoid increasing the number of stitches when they’re supposed to remain the same number, and how to know when the next ‘row’ starts when you’re essentially working in a spiral, and and and …

So, I finished the body and ears of a simple bear yesterday and started on a little mouse. I’ve still not figured out fully how it works, but I may be getting there, and smaller projects are definitely the way to go to learn and understand the techniques needed.

mhaw2018

Angela Porter mhaw18 16 May 2018Today sees me do my third anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) 2018.

I am tired this morning.  Each talk I do is emotionally draining. It also takes a lot of energy for me to keep up a happy, smiley and laughing mask when in public and not to get overwhelmed by my story and allowing aspects of it to re-traumatise me.

I put myself through this for some good reasons, and one of them is NOT attention seeking (which is what my narcissistic mother would say).

I really do believe it’s time for the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness comes to an end.  I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but little by little.  I tell my story to give people an insight into what it’s like to experience depression, anxiety, hyperperfectionism, hypervigilance, emotional flashbacks, being overwhelmed by choices in a supermarket, not being able to get out of my car when I go to somewhere I want to visit, being in fear of going to do a job I used to love when I was a teacher, and more, CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) is so complex.

I also want people to know that little changes in the work place can help people remain in work.

I want people to know that the social stereotypes of depression, anxiety and so many other mental illnesses are incorrect and that they lead to be people being stigmatised/prejudged and treated differently/discriminated against as a result of the urban myths that exist.

The more we can have conversations, the more people open up about what it’s like to experience mental illness, the more people will, hopefully, have a better understanding and the urban myths will lose their power.

Not only that, the self-stigmatisation that results in people not seeking help, acknowledging they are not thinking well of themselves, will result in people seeking that help and advice they need earlier.

On a more personal level, telling my story is helping me ‘own’ it, and though I still minimise the traumas I’ve experienced from a very young age, it’s helping me understand that they are not small little things that everyone goes through, as well as me understanding that it’s profound effect they’ve had on me that is the important thing as well as having counselling/therapy to help me heal from my past and have a healthier way of thinking about myself and living my life without avoiding all kinds of things for fear the same things will happen again and again.

I come home from a talk emotionally drained and tired; I either want to nap or just draw, or both, but not at the same time!

When I draw I like to just draw intuitively, drawing on my visual vocabulary of favourite shapes and patterns, and just let them flow onto the page. I can lose myself in that flow, I’m able to enjoy drawing familiar motifs and patterns and the intricacy of my work. Just letting things flow, drawing for the pleasure and contentment it brings me, the calmness that results, lets me put to oneside the anxiety I can feel when I’m creating for a particular contract, to put aside my hyperperfectionism and just go with the flow in a way that can be difficult when I’m drawing for a publisher and can add anxiety and frustration when I need to draw for peace and calm.

And that’s what this drawing helped me to do. Today, I hope I’ll be able to draw again, however after the talk today I’m taking a friend out for ice-cream and I think I have something occurring this evening too.

MHAW18

Angela Porter20180515

Today I give the second of my anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales.  Today, it’s just a couple of miles down the road from me.

I was tired yesterday after my talk; not physically tired, emotionally tired, and I still feel a little so this morning.

I started drawing this before I went off yesterday, did some more work on it last night and finished it this morning.

Art really helps soothe my emotions and helps me find that place of calm, contentment and balance.

That’s my #tuesdaytip.  Find something you can lose yourself in, that brings you peace and calm and contentment and a break from the stresses, worries, problems of life. It’s all about self-care. For me it’s art or making music, sometimes taking a walk, and mindfulness meditation. For others it could be gardening, baking, woodturning, swimming, cycling, or any one of a myriad activities that bring peace and contentment.

Christmas mandala

AngelaPorter_ChristmasMandala2_2017

I enjoyed drawing and colouring the previous mandala so much, I thought I’d do another.  This was particularly helpful for me as I was rather emotionally drained yet emotional yesterday after doing a couple of anti-stigma talks in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales, a campaign that aims to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.

I started this yesterday, but it’s taken me much of today to complete it.

 

Abstract and stylised flowers

Angela Porter Spring Flowers Watermarked SmallAngela Porter Bright Flowers Watermarked

I’ve had a couple of busy days, including a Time to Change Wales anti-stigma talk with the South Wales Police.  The talk wiped me out for a day or so, it always does as I get very anxious and emotional in telling my story.

So, I’ve been relatively quiet on the artsy front, but I did get these two abstract, stylised floral images done.

I rather like the bright colours, achieved using Kuretake’s Zig Clean Colour Real Brush Pens and a water pen.  I like both the white and black outlines, though I do prefer the black; they make the image look more like stained glass.

Both of these designs are available on products from both my Vida collection and my Zippi Portfolio.

A nice change of pace and way of creating from my more usual entangled drawings with tiny details done with fine pens and a whimsical quality.