Something a bit different from me today. It took me a lot of fiddling and faffing around to decide on the blue colour scheme for the intricate drawing that envelopes the crocodile skull.
My natural instinct is to use black for such drawings. However, black looked a bit too stark and dominant; the skull felt lost amongst the drawing. So, I tried out shades of blue and white, making the fill colours transparent so that they faded into the background a little and giving the ‘feel’ of water plants.
Overall I’m pleased with this, though I’m not sure I’ve got the colours for the line art right. Still, I’ve not really done anything quite like this before and it is something I want to do again in the future. Maybe with tomorrows Inktober prompts.
Today’s prompts were a crocodile skull and slime mould from Inktober lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist and @nyan_sun respective.
Can you believe that September is nearly over? I swear that the older I get the faster time seems to go.
Anyway, a new month on the horizon means a new colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. There just has to be a Hallowe’en theme for October’s page, and you can see a sneak peek of it above. I couldn’t resist colouring some of it in as a way of trying out some new digital brushes and some ideas too.
I put some of my favourite All Hallows’ Eve motifs into the drawing, including a raven, skulls, fungi and a vampire cat! I always enjoy drawing stuff to do with Hallowe’en; it’s my favourite time of year because I don’t have any past traumas associated with it.
I used a combination of fountain pens and fine-line pens to draw the design on dot grid paper. I then scanned the drawing in and cleaned up smudges and smears digitally.
Then, I set about adding colour digitally using my usual tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I also added a background and surface texture that I had purchased via Creative Market.
I am really quite pleased with how the colour is bringing the illustration to life, especially the skull in a jar. I hope to be able to continue to add colour as the month progresses, though I do know I have quite a bit of work to do and focus on.
To Inktober or not Inktober, that is the question.
Last year, I really enjoyed taking part in Inktober. Inktober has become a really popular social media event where artists and creatives use a daily prompt to draw (or create) something based on that prompt and share it on social media.
There is an official prompt list, but people do create alternative lists and I may look at some of them as there may be variations that might be less time intensive than last years’ was!
I shall see what I find and go from there I think.
So, Angela, how are you today?
Tired. However, I’m am quite content, my mood is good enough today. I do have EMDR later on, and I often feel ‘flat’ before my therapy session. I think my unconscious mind starts to bring stuff up in preparation for EMDR.
I know that the likelihood of me being exhausted later is rather high, so I’m not planning to do loads of stuff later on. Self care will be the order of the late afternoon and evening.
I’ve spent an hour or so creating this small design; the paper is 4″ (10cm) square. It’s been an enjoyable time. I needed to spend some time warming up my pen skills before returning to drawing the October colouring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.
My first step was to use a Tombow fudenosuke pen to hand letter ‘believe’. I wanted to make sure that the word stood out from the rest of the design, so I used a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen to draw two ‘auras’ around the word.
The rest of the design flowed onto the page, starting with the flowers to the top right of the word. I used a variety of nib thicknesses in the drawing. I used quite a few of my favourite patterns and motifs in this design; this makes the drawing quite soothing for me as I don’t really have to think and concentrate on constructing the design elements.
Once I was happy with the design, I decided to add some shadows with some grey-coloured pencils. I’m not satisfied with this at all. The pencil ‘leads’ were too hard to get a soft line. In future I need to remember to use a 2B or softer graphite pencil and some kind of blending tool.
I am happy with the design though, apart from the bit I let spill out to the edge of the paper. I also need to note that I’m happy with my hand lettering here too! Using fudenosuke pens with flexible tips for drawing has allowed me to develop the pressure control I need to complete the brush lettering. The brush nibs on the pens are quite small, so the contrast betwixt thick down-strokes and thin upstrokes isn’t as noticeable as with a broader nib, but all the same, I’m still quite happy with it.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this little panel. It could become the top layer of a greeting card, or frame it and hang it. Perhaps I may add it to my BuJo. It could, of course, end up amongst the piles of artwork I have stored away.
Why did I choose the word ‘believe’?
It’s something that I’m working on – believing in myself. Believing that I deserve better in life than what I grew up with and unconsciously seek to replicate to try to get a different outcome (one of the features of CPTSD). I am beginning to believe that I can turn the negative beliefs I was taught as a child into positive beliefs about myself.
Part of this is believing in my art, believing in my self-expression and not looking to others for approval and validation of what I’ve created. I want to believe that it’s enough to create art that makes me smile, and hopefully other people too. There are plenty of artists in the world who make social statements, political statements and thought-provoking images with their art. I’m not one of them. I just want to add some prettiness and smiles to the world.
Sometimes, part of my art may have quotes that are thought-provoking in them, but the art is, I think, pretty.
To believe that I am the opposite of what I was brought up to believe myself to be (which wasn’t very nice).
There’s so much more I could add here, but I’d need to explain it, and I’m not up to doing that in public. Maybe in the future I will, once I’ve overcome those negative beliefs about myself.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I believe I’m feeling quite content, though that tiredness has sneaked up on me once again. However, there is that contentment there, and that’s a good thing.
I believe I’m feeling quite content, though that tiredness has sneaked up on me once again. However, there is that contentment there and that’s a good thing.
I wanted to try to create a series of templates that could be used as frames for quotes. This is my first one. I remembered to save it as tiff file in layers so that I can easily change the background.
I didn’t start with the intention of creating waves filled with zentangle-type patterns, but that’s how it intuitively flowed from the tip of my Surface Pen onto the screen of my Surface Studio. So, I went with it.
It’s a very comfortable kind of art to create, whether you call it zentangle, zentangle inspired, entangled artwork, line art, doodled art. It’s just about filling space with patterns and lines, using them to add depth and dimension.
It was an enjoyable process that I could complete in a few sessions in-between a hectic few days.
The saga of the keyboard.
Saturday my Bluetooth keyboard decided to not connect to the Surface Studio. It had been finicky for a few days. I changed batteries, I tried disconnecting it and reconnecting it and following all the trouble-shooting processes I could find. All to no avail. This is why I’ve not done any blogs and been quiet around social media, along with life being a bit busy too.
It also worked out that the warranty on my Surface Studio and all it’s attendant bits and bobs had run out just over three weeks ago. Yes, I do have software I can use the Surface Pen with or a keyboard that pops up on the screen that I can tap with my fingers or mouse or pen, but they are so slow and frustrating to use in comparison to the speed at which I can type. I do love to handwrite, even on the screen. However, as I can’t turn the ‘paper’ or ‘writing window’ to an angle that makes it comfortable for me to write at I don’t do as much as I could.
Of course, I’d forgotten I still have, and use my Surface Book. However, when something goes wrong, my mind goes into instant ‘oh my gosh, I’ve got to sort that out as there’s no other way to get things done’ overwhelmed and panic mode. It’s only after I have solved the problem and calm down that I can see that I had alternatives open to me.
So, my brain told me my only option was to buy a new keyboard. Then I had a decision to make. Should I go for a wireless one or a wired one?
I decided on a wired one as that should always connect to the ‘puter. I also was beguiled by a keyboard that has pretty rainbow lights beneath the keys. Sparkly and colourful always attracts me.
So, I now have a keyboard and can email and write and do everything else that requires words from me quickly once again.
World Suicide Prevention Day 2019
Warning – this may contain emotional and mental health triggers.
The World Health Organisation says that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
In the UK, two people take their own lives every day.
In the UK, men account for approximately 75% of all suicides.
In the UK, suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 to 49.
They also say that one of the biggest obstacles to overcome in suicide prevention is the stigma and taboo that surrounds suicide and mental health problems.
The stigma and taboos that surround talking openly about suicide leads to a lack of awareness about suicide, and also about mental illness.
I am a champion for Time To Change Wales, a campaign whose aim is to get people talking about mental illness to break down the stigma that surrounds it. This also includes suicide.
As a champion, one of the things I do is to go to organisations and other groups to talk about my experience of mental illness and the stigma and discrimination I have faced. This includes self-stigma.
Thanks to self-stigma, I was in denial that I was experiencing mental and emotional ill-health for many years. It led to me not seeking help until I had nearly broken my mind. I ended up being off work as a teacher for almost a year. I went back to work for just eight months before I had another ‘breakdown’ for want of another word.
What I don’t often mention, and what I think also needs to be discussed here, is suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts. These are thoughts about wishing to die, wanting life to stop, hoping that one would not wake up in the morning. Not actively planning suicide, but wishing that life would end to bring the mental and emotional pain to an end.
For a long as I can remember, right back to being young, I can remember wishing this upon myself. I often wanted to die in my sleep and not have to face another day like the one I just had. I didn’t feel loved or valued in any way, and the constant bullying, name-calling, being ignored and neglected. I felt a burden, a bother, a nuisance, an irritation, a problem to my family. I thought they would be happier without me. That the world would be a better place without me. I never thought of actively taking my own life, but I certainly wished to die.
That belief about myself has followed me throughout my life. Sometimes it would be quiet, at other times it would be shouting through a megaphone in my head.
I remember driving to work most days in the last few years of my teaching career wanting to just keep driving and never come back to my life as it had become so very, very painful for me and I could see no way out of the pain.
I never did drive off towards the horizon as I didn’t actually know what I would do. Also, the thought of my cat and how he’d not cope without me would pop into my head. And so I would get myself to work so I could look after my cat.
At the time, it felt my cat was the only living thing that was consistently and unconditionally there for me, sharing love and affection with me. I still miss him now, a bit more than a year when I had to say goodbye to him.
I owe my life to my cat, and to the one friend (now my brother of the heart/choice) who kept nagging me about getting help, and the GP who knew the right words to say to me to get me to understand I needed help and a break from work and also from my mind. Now, I am also so grateful to my EMDR therapist for persisting with me.
I have tears flowing down my face as I write about this. The tears represent the sadness that I feel that I was ignorant of what good mental and emotional health is and of the stigma I held about it in regards to myself. Oddly, I never had those thoughts about others who were experiencing mental illness, having helped others during their own crises. I feel sad that I have lived most of my life with poor mental and emotional health, thinking that was how everyone else was. I feel sad that only now am I learning what it is like to have a touchstone of contentment and optimism to hold onto when times get tough.
The tears are also ones of gratitude that I’m still here. I have come through the darkest days of my life. My career has changed, and my life is gradually changing for the better, as is my mental and emotional health.
I rarely have suicidal thoughts now. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did. That says something about how far along my healing journey I have come.
If someone had told me in my darkest days that my life would be as it is now, with that contentment within me, an optimism for my future, I might not have believed them. In fact, I most probably wouldn’t have.
However, I am here to say that I made it through it all. Through my childhood and adulthood and now into middle age.
I wish I’d known what I know now as a child. Maybe I would’ve sought help sooner in my life.
What I wish for everyone is that every person on this planet is given the information about what good mental and emotional health is. I want mental and emotional health to be seen as important as physical health with the links between them fully recognised, and support is available to all who need it.
No matter how bad life seems, there are always options to improve it. This is something I’ve had to learn. In fact, I’m still learning about it. When I get overwhelmed, or something goes wrong, I tend to slip into the black and white thinking mode.
That’s what the black and white borders to today’s art is about. The complexity shows just how crazily my mind was working during the darkest days.
For the space between them, the background on which the quote sits, I chose colours that remind me of a sunrise. A new day, with a fresh mind and eyes always comes with new options, if only we can see them.
My story has not ended. It will not end until my life is naturally completed. For the first time in my life, I have a feeling of optimism for my future. It may have taken me two severe episodes of mental ill-health and several years of EMDR therapy and counselling to get to this point. But I’ve got there.
No matter how much of my life I have left, it will be lived with some contentment, peace and hope for my future. I wish the same for each and every person.
Yesterday evening I had a pleasant hour or so using Distress Oxide and Distress inks to make some backgrounds for future card projects.
I used a soft rubber Brayer roller to add distress oxides to a small Gelli Plate. I then spritzed the Gelli plate with water containing either pearl, copper or gold Perfect Pearls before lifting the print with some Claire Fontaine Mixed Media paper. The water in the spray reacts with the inks to give an oxidised look. The Perfect Pearls in the spray add some subtle shimmer to the finished background.
Once the Distress Oxide background layers were dry, I used a rectangular die to cut a section from them.
To create backgrounds with Distress Inks, I used a mini foam blending tool to cover the card with colour. I then sprayed the card with some water containing pearl, copper or gold Perfect Pearls. Again, the water reacts with the Distress Inks, but this time creating small watermarks. The Perfect Pearls again add shimmer.
Making the card.
I chose a background coloured with Wild Honey, Tea Dye, Old Linen and Walnut Stain Distress Inks which were then spritzed with pearl Perfect Pearls infused water.
I wanted to create a dangle design card. From experience, I know that drawing on backgrounds with added Perfect pearls that my fine-liner Uniball Unipin pens can become clogged by the tiny flakes of mica that comprise Perfect Pearls.
So, I tried using a Uniball Vision Elite rollerball pen. The ink in it is supposed to be water-resistant, tamper-proof, fade-proof. It’s also very black, which suits me just fine.
I was surprised at how well the pen wrote on the background – not just because of the Perfect Pearls and Distress Ink, but also because the mixed media paper is lightly textured.
Once I’d completed the design, I used a needle=tip Pentel Energel Liquid Ink Gel pen to add smaller details.
While the plain black line on the coloured background looked OK, I thought it needed some colour to help lift it from the background.
I launched myself into using Copic markers, using somewhat darker colours than I usually would. That meant it wasn’t until I was adding some colour to the ribbon banner that I discovered that the Copic reacts with the inks in the pens and smears them. I was so disappointed in myself for not checking the pens were Copic safe. Oh well, you live and learn!
Rather than start again, I carried on with the card. I wanted to add some clear embossing powder to help the colours of the Copic markers stand out even more. So, I used a Versamark pen to colour over the designs, and then I sprinkled on the clear Wow Embossing Powder. I used a heat tool to melt the Embossing powder and achieve a glossy, dimensional finish on the dangle design.
The final step was to adhere the dangle design to a card blank, after adding some gold dots with a Uniball Signo glitter gel pen.
Fancy having a go at drawing your own dangle designs and not sure where to start? Well, you could start with my book “A Dangle A Day” where I lead you through the process. I have over 100 designs in the book where I take you step by step through drawing them. I have also included ideas for where you can use them including as cards, bookmarks, in BuJos, journals, scrapbooks and more.
Making the envelope.
I used the pre-made envelope that came with the card blank. I decided to keep the envelope white and add a border using some of the motifs from the dangle design.
I did use the Uniball Vision Elite gel pen and Pentel needlepoint pen to draw the design. This time, I coloured the design with some Mitsubishi Uni coloured pencils.
The low quality of the paper envelope wasn’t conducive to really amazing colouring, but it worked well enough.
Reflecting on the card and envelope.
I could’ve kicked myself for not testing the pens to see if they were Copic friendly. I don’t think I could send this card to anyone as it just isn’t up to scratch. I need to remember this in future projects.
Also, the Versamark pen smeared the ink a little too, but nowhere as much as the Copics did.
I used much darker Copic colours than I usually would without thinking that heat embossing them would intensify the colours even more. The colours aren’t as dark as in the photo, but they are still darker than I would like.
The coloured pencils colouring worked much better and perhaps I would’ve been better off using them on the card panel. Again, something to remember for the future.
I also noticed that the anti-static powder I used before using the Versamark and embossing powder has either removed or covered the Perfect pearls. I used the anti-static powder so prevent the embossing powder sticking to places it didn’t belong. This is always a possibility, especially when using Distress Inks to colour the background.
In hindsight, I may have been better drawing, colouring and heat embossing the design before colouring the background. However, I do like to have pre-coloured backgrounds to use for arty projects.
So, Angela, how are you?
I’m OK, still tired from a busy few days at the weekend and start of the week. I also have a flare-up of an ovarian cyst which is rather painful and achy. I’m feeling content and optimistic otherwise, though still tired even though I slept well last night. The exhaustion that comes with interacting with people, therapy and not enough me-time can linger for a good while — the joys of having CPTSD and being an introvert.
Yesterday, I was fatigued, and the flare-up ramped up in intensity as the day progressed. I wasn’t in the right place to create art or focus on work. I needed to practice self-care.
I chose to do some crochet after hearing about Crochyay, the online presence of a young woman called Olivia who makes flowers and leaves them with a little message tag for people to find and keep – random acts of kindness. She uses crochet to help manage her anxiety and depression as well.
I thought it was a beautiful idea and I thought flowers or little amigurumi hearts or similar would be lovely to make. Small, quick to finish projects that I feel I could manage. I’ve lost the oompf to do larger crochet projects such as shawls and blankets, but some little ones would be lovely to do.
I do find crochet and other crafts quite soothing and calming. I also feel I’m doing something, and they can stop me from just sleeping my day away. Little projects like flowers are fab for me when the thought of anything bigger fills me with procrastination and disinterest. Also, I find it much more motivating to do projects for other people than for myself, even if I don’t know those people.
So I managed to make quite a few flowers yesterday. I now need to make leaves and assemble them into little posies. Then, there are tags to make.
I’m also looking forward to making the tags as I can draw and decorate them too! So, little projects in their own right.
Finally, I’ll need to overcome my self-consciousness and anxiety about leaving them for people to find them.
I need some quietly creative, self-care, self-comforting time today. What is more perfect for doing this than creating a mandala?
I turned to my digital tools to do this – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I also wanted to work with just colour – no black outlines and no sketches to start me off. I just wanted to let the design flow and unfold as it needed to. And it did.
This mandala isn’t finished, it is a work in progress. The outer ring may disappear as I work on it more; it seems to help to create a finished mandala at this point in time.
I knew the mandala needed to titled ‘Hope is rekindled’. That seems to be quite apt for me at the moment.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’ve had a heck of a busy couple of days. Monday I popped in to see Russell at the Time to Change Wales offices to pick up some resources for an upcoming stand. Then, I had therapy followed by an extremely late lunch and a slightly late tea before going to something in the evening. I eventually got home less than an hour before midnight feeling exhausted.
Tuesday was an early start to get myself to Llantrisant Leisure Centre by 9:30am to set up a Time to Change Wales stand at Rhondda Cynon Taff Council’s corporate induction day. That lasted until nearly 4pm, so it was a mad dash home to get something to eat and to warm up. I was cold and chilly. I was also feeling quite low – mental exhaustion does not help with my emotional resilience. I’d not had time to recover from therapy on Monday nor the rest of the busy day.
I was glad to look after the stand, but interacting with strangers, as lovely as that was, took it’s toll on me emotionally and energetically. Not only do I have CPTSD but I’m also an introvert so a double whammy! My protective mask of jolly, happy, extrovert Angela during the stand; keeping that mask in place is exhausting. Yesterday I got a glimpse of just how exhausting it is to keep the mask raised.
Yesterday, I also realised how I don’t raise that mask too often nowadays.
After something to eat and a hot drink, I had a meeting to go. The meeting had some parts that had me quite fraught. I was glad to come home, deal with bits and bobs of emails and then go to bed, snuggled up under the comforting weight of my weighted blanket.
I’m tired today. However, later this afternoon I’m on the go yet again. My sister has asked me to accompany her to an appointment. I then have something on this evening too, if I have the energy to go there!
Time to get another big mug of tea and start to get myself ready for this afternoons outings.
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.
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.