Experimenting digitally…

Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Experimenting digitally ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

My experiment laying down areas of colour with Chameleon markers then adding colour inspired me to try the same idea out with my digital art tools.

Here is the result of several hours trying the idea out.

I’m not at all sure about lots of parts of it. I’m not happy with it at the moment. I have some things to think about going forward.

Firstly, the way I have my pen brushes set up is giving a black line that seems to be way too stark against the colour. Black ink in fine line pens isn’t quite so opaque. So, I need to play around adjusting this.

Also, I have the edge of the pen brushes set up as ‘sharp’, so I do get that very sharp edge to the line. I need to play around with adjusting this as well. It’s not enough to have an uneven line edge; if anything, the sharpness of the rough edge jars my senses.

The background colour is quite OK if perhaps a tad complex. Again, I need to spend time playing around with various brush types, properties and textures to work out the best way for me to create such backgrounds if this is a route I’m going to go down in digital art.

As always, by taking time to do experimental art (not that all art is experimental I think) I explore the tools, effects, settings, and so on that are available to me in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Of course, I use my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio to create my digital art.

What’s important is that I make the time to do this regularly. It’s the only way I can learn and develop my digital art ‘voice’ as well as understanding how the different brushes and settings work.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m OK. Tired, but much better than earlier this week.

I’m tired from not enough sleep last night, but also from dealing with some difficult issues around a member of my family. I don’t mind myself becoming drained when it’s about helping another person. I know how to take care of myself now so that I recover and don’t stay stuck in this emotionally exhausted state. That’s what self-care is all about.

I did go out yesterday with my younger sister. We visited the Roman baths in Caerleon and ended up at the Honey Cafe in Bronllys for a late lunch.

I popped to the toilet at the cafe, and I got stressed out there. Children loudly screaming with a very loud hand-drier caused me to become anxious, stressed, hypervigilant. The children weren’t distressed at all, just screaming with the noise of the hand-drier for fun. Their mother was with them, so they were safe. So, I have no idea what my reaction was all about. All I know it’s grist for the EMDR therapy wheel.

Oh! The joy of the CPTSD triggers that hide from me. Well, this one has now come out into the light of a startle, so it can’t hide any longer!

Still, the startling left me twitchy, jumpy, on-edge and on the point of tears for quite a long while after this. Any slightly loud noise, someone walking past me in the cafe and I’d jump and catch my breath.

When I got home, I felt exhausted and collapsed into bed and slept for a couple of hours.

I did sleep well through the night, even though I went to bed a bit later than usual. However, I still feel tired, exhausted today.

I know it will pass. Self-care is required. I have some ginger chai that I’m sipping as I write this blog. I know that art, crochet, naps, music all help to soothe me. I’m not sure a walk in a people-y world would be a good idea today, well not if my by myself. I think I’m still on edge. It does take a good while for the stress hormones to leave my system so that I return to a less aroused emotional state.

Hmm, thinking about that, I do have this sense of anxiety today. There’s nothing I’m stressing about, nothing that is worrying me, so it’s just those hormones flooding my system still.

I think I deserve some gold stars for noticing that! Becoming self-aware, aware of my emotions and thoughts, is part of the healing process. It still amazes me when I see something that in the past that I would either ignore or bury deep inside me and put a happy smiley face on and carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Mostly gone are those days. I say mostly; there are times when I still return to the default setting of ignoring my emotions and needs to make sure whoever I am with is happy, even if it causes me great pain or a feeling of vulnerability and feeling unsafe.

I still find it very difficult to voice my own needs if I think someone is going to dismiss them or ignore them. Admitting I have needs make me feel even more vulnerable.

I am aware of this now, so that is a step forward. Progress is made through a series of small, manageable steps. In therapy, the first steps to change are recognising something that needs to change for healing and a healthier relationship with myself to occur.

Some More Reef Illustrations

More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
More Reef Illustrations ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

Reef Illustrations

Yesterday, I had an interesting day. I did manage to get these two illustrations done in between listening to a friend in need and taking care of a very upset tummy along with quite painful cramps.

I used 5″ x 7″ pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol board along with some Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs. This time, I didn’t add any grey shading. I will scan then print if I decide to colour them with traditional media.

The drawings turned out well, I think. I chose the size of paper for a reason, which I’m not about to divulge! It’s just an idea rattling around my noggin.

It’s Monday, so that means it’s EMDR therapy day.

I know on a Monday that my day can be broken up with a 3 hour or so trip to Neath and back for EMDR.

Today, I’m feeling more like I did last Monday before I received some post that threw me a curveball. I am tired as rather painful tummy cramps woke me from time to time through the night. I’m still getting them now, but a couple of Anadin Extra has taken the edge off them. I must leave early enough to pick up some more painkillers on my way to therapy.

I’ve had some flashbacks this week to events I thought I’d put to bed via EMDR. It seems that these events have several facets to them. Each of these facets relates to a negative belief I hold about myself, so each will need to be processed separately.

I’ve been trying to keep a record of the insights I gain from these flashbacks, and also any other negative beliefs that crop up from them. However, they often happen when I don’t have my BuJo to hand, and by the time I do, they’ve evaporated from my mind.

Hmm. Not really evaporated, the flashbacks have just been automatically shut away in their box once again.

I’ve learned not to try to second-guess what is going to happen in therapy each week. Whatever I have thought may happen rarely if ever happens. So I try to go with an open mind unless something has cropped up in the week that needs discussing.

A colourful, small reef illustration

Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Reef Illustration ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A little reef illustration.

Yesterday, I got round to colouring my little reef drawing. And it is a little drawing – the paper is just 4″ square (10cm square).

To colour it, I used my Chameleon pens – both the Color Tones and Color Tops. I finished the illustration off with some small dots from a white Uniball Signo gel pen.

What I didn’t expect was that the pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens bled somewhat. I don’t remember that happening before. Mind you, I usually scan and print my black and white line art and colour the print. I didn’t do that today — something to remember for future reference. This is why some of the colours look a little dirty.

All the same, it’s a colourful, happy little illustration. I also like the thickness of the main lines with the variation in line thickness in the details. Diversity in line weight is something I need to remember when I draw digitally. Looking at my latest colouring templates, I think I may have used a line that was too fine. Again, this is something that I need to consider in the future.

It’s always lovely to do artwork like this, using traditional media and working in a familiar, comfortable style. It gives me a chance to reflect on what I’m doing elsewhere and to adapt and change what I’m doing to improve it.

Creating this artwork has given me ideas for some projects in the future. More on that when they come to fruition.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing OK. I’m feeling a lot brighter as the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell fades.

I’m aware I really don’t get out of the house and move my body around much. I either get engrossed in art and the day slips past me quite quickly. Or, my anxiety rears up and try as I might to overcome it, I just can’t seem to make it out of the house.

After a conversation with a friend the night before, I remembered that I like to walk around cemeteries and that my local cemetery might be the perfect place to go for a stroll.

And I did. Go for a stroll.

My love affair with cemeteries started when I used to walk to and from school when I was 11 and 12 years old. Walking to school was always a bit of a dash. However, I could take my time on the walk home to wander and explore the cemetery.

Even on the gloomiest, darkest winter afternoons, I never got freaked out by the cemetery. The dead have never scared me. The living, however, are an entirely different matter. The living people around me were the source of my traumas and CPTSD. The dead could do nothing to me that was any worse than the living.

I found the variation in headstone styles fascinating. I found I could chart the change in fashions over time. I also found reading them fascinating as some of them could tell me about the deceased and their families. It was history related to real people and brought them back to life. It wasn’t the dusty, dry, uninteresting facts in the history lessons I had to endure in school.

And so began my love of wandering around cemeteries.

I find them soothing, calm places to be. They’re quiet, not many people visit them. And there’s plenty of wildlife in them if you’re quiet and take the time to look.

Perfect places for me to walk and explore. Even on the days when anxiety stops me going to more people-y places like towns or parks, a cemetery can offer me that quiet space I need to take a walk.

If you’d like to see some photos and read some words about my walk and the cemetery, then please visit my other blog, Curious Stops and Tea Shops.

A little reef tangle

A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A little reef tangle ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a quietly arty morning today. I’ve been adding to my visual zibladone (journal, reference book).

Then, I had the urge to create a little tangled, entangled drawing. So I did.

I cut up some Winsor and Newton Bristol Board into 4″ squares (approx. 10cm squares) and used some Uniball Unipin pens to do the drawing and shading.

I’m quite happy with the result. I may add some colour, perhaps with my Chameleon pens and pencils; I may need the sharp point of a pencil to get into some of the small spaces to add some shadow.

I do need to get out for a walk today. I’ve been letting myself stay in the safety of my home. Mind you, and I think that’s what I’ve needed this week as part of my self-care.

However, I now am feeling a lot less anxious than at the start of the week. So, it’s time to venture forth for more than just a quick trip out for vittles.

Maybe. I do need to have breakfast first. Oh, I’ve just seen the time. I need lunch first!

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve been quietly working at this one over the past day or so. I’ve also found myself at that point of giving up. Not because I’m unhappy with what I’m doing, but because I was/am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the work ahead of me and some confusion about what order I need to work the elements of the design in.

I need to work from the top down; that’s the way my brain works. It also allows me to work with clean overlaps of sections, in the way I know I’d not get if I was trying to work things the other way around.

It’s a lot easier to colour the black and white line art! And a lot quicker too.

However, that doesn’t challenge me in the way this particular kind of art is challenging me. I’m having a lot of fun with using light and shadow to create dimension, as well as working in layers.

I think there’s another reason why I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I’ll talk about that in my ‘So, how are you today Angela?’ section.

I’ve been working on this design for a week already, most days giving a few to several hours to it. As an estimate I’d say I’ve done somewhere between 25 and 30 hours work. You can see how much I have left to do as today I’ve posted the whole design for you to see.

I’ve just realised that spending so much time on one artwork is something new to me. Usually, a drawing takes between one hour and over a day, depending on the intricacy, size and whether it’s a sketch or a finished. inked in piece.

I think previously the longest I’ve spent on an artwork is about two days, and that was for an A3 sized mixed media piece. Oh, I have spent a lot of time on the abstract kind of embroidery/art I used to do.

However, nothing like this particular design.

Of course my tools are the usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Book.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m OK. I’ve had a couple of ‘off’ days.

Nowhere near like I used to have, even in the recent past. Just feeling off and a bit ‘meh’ and uninspired.

I had been feeling content, upbeat, happy even for a number of weeks now. How I’m feeling now was how I felt before on my best days I think.

I also think I know what the trigger has been too. I have homework from therapy to do to check in with my inner child. The experience on Friday caused me to feel really sad and tearful. I’m sure that’s what triggered this.

All the same, it’s something that can be worked on. It’s also given me a couple of insights I’d not had previously, if I can remember them for therapy tomorrow. I’m sure I will, if not tomorrow then later on.

It feels like a step backwards, but it isn’t really. It’s all part of the process.

Inspiration – WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve got some more of this design done today. It’s growing quite nicely I think.

I’ve also managed to save the WIP file as the cropped image, like above. So, I’ll have to try to either combine the original drawing with this one, or just work with the square format. Either way would work I think. Maybe. Perhaps.

For now it’s become too warm, too uncomfortable for me to work in my work area, which is upstairs. Time for me to move downstairs to a cooler room until this one cools off somewhat.

Today is set to be one of the hottest days in the UK on record. Here, my weather app tells me it’s 28ºC (that’s 82.4ºF for those who still measure temperature that way). While not hot for some parts of the world, it’s way too hot for me! I’m starting to wilt…badly.

We have a fifty-fifty chance of thunderstorms forecast for early evening and again later in the night. I hope they arrive, with rain to cool things down so I can sleep! So long as it’s not a little rain which then creates high humidity…

Us Brits are very good at talking about (read complaining about) the weather. We have quite changeable weather here on our little islands thanks to the location on the eastern edge of the Atlantic and right where the Gulf Stream can flow along our western edges. It makes for some interesting weather for sure.

No matter what the weather is doing, we find something to moan about it. It’s a national pastime!

Anyways, it’s too hot for me to continue working, even with a fan on, as the Surface Studio is blowing out hot air. The fan is circulating warm air. And being upstairs in a south facing room, it gets rather warm on days like this.

When it cools, I shall return to art, but for now I’m either going to go crochet or read in the cooler environs of my living room

Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

A bit more done on this work today and yesterday evening. As usual my tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m tired. EMDR yesterday was very, very emotional and draining. The negative thought I started with was that I’m a failure. That went to I’m never good enough for anyone.

I was getting so emotionally upset (distressed) that my therapist voiced quite a bit of concern about me throughout the process and kind of called it to a halt to do something different, but still working with it all.

At the start of the session it was noted how well I was looking, and my therapist has a feeling she’ll be losing me soon … which is signs I really am making good progress. I also know that’s part of the therapy process, preparing the client for therapy coming to an end…

So, all’s good. I’m emotional today, but there’s that contentedness there, and not a lot of anxiety either.

I’ve had weird dreams overnight, and memories cropping up I thought I’d firmly locked away. They’re all connected to the negative belief, however. So, I suspect processing is still going on.

So onwards I go towards healing and being good enough. More importantly believing I am good enough.