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.

A bit of whimsy – ice cream mandala

A bit of whimsy - an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A bit of whimsy – an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve mostly been away from social media, and art, this weekend. Sometimes one just has to have a break from it.

This morning I discovered that July is ice-cream month, so I thought I’d do something quick, fun, and whimsical with an ice cream mandala.

Not happy with much of the mandala. I can’t put my fingers on why;maybe it’s the seemingly childish nature of the art, the lack of complexity, the colour choices, or something else.

It did seem like a good idea at the time, and even though I wasn’t happy with it, I was determined to work with it until it was finished.

It was, however, mainly a practice in using layers and different digital brushes. It also helped me get back to digital art after a weekend of mostly crocheting.

As usual, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

Just like the previous days, including Saturday and Sunday, I’m feeling content. I’m tired after not a good night’s sleep with weird dreams I can’t now remember.

I needed a break from social media this weekend; too much doom and gloom in the goings on around the world. I also felt I needed a bit of a break from art. I wasn’t happy with whatever it was I was doing (colouring the design for the cover of a colouring book I’m working on). So, I spent much of the weekend crocheting the big scrapbusting blanket I’ve been working on.

Well done me for recognising I needed to do some self-care!

The blanket is nearly finished, and my wrists and fingers are aching from the weight of the blanket as I join pieces in. However, I do think it’s working out just fine.

Crocheting is soothing for me – its repetitive nature is calming. Mind you, I also watched a few films while doing it. That was soothing too.

Today is EMDR day and I’ll soon have to sort myself out to head out for my weekly session. I know we need to finish off what was being worked on in the last two sessions. I then think I know what needs to be worked on next.

I do have to say that despite my tiredness, I think I’ve had a week of contentment and positivity and few moments of upset in one way or another. I can’t remember a whole week like this, with the level of contentment that I’m aware of and what I think is a reduction in the background level of anxiety.

Progress is progress. Sometimes it comes in tiny amounts. Occasionally, progress comes in larger, more noticeable amounts. At other times it’s noticed only when enough tiny amounts have accumulated for me to see progress has been made.

I’m not sure which of those applies at the moment, maybe all of them. But it’s still most welcome, and also a sign that I’m increasingly self-aware compared to the person who would ignore emotions, distress, dangerous situations all to keep other people happy to my own detriment, even though I wasn’t aware of that at the time.

I am now aware of it and I feel embarrassment and shame. I feel stupid for allowing myself to do such things.

I am, however, determined to heal and move on to become a person who considers my own feelings, emotions and safety is as important and to learn to feel safe in this world, in my body.

Sending Love – A Dangle Design

Sending Love - A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Sending Love – A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

For today’s whimsical and cute dangle design, I used one of the designs from my tutorial book “A Dangle A Day”, altered the hand lettered sentiment and changed the colour scheme.

I used just five colour schemes in the design itself – blues, yellow-orange, pinks, peachy-orange and yellow-greens. I used a blue and green from the design to create the background colour gradient.

By using the same colour gradients throughout the design it brings the design together.

I added a simple drop shadow to the whole design to give it a little dimension. I could have added drop shadows to the lettering and the flowers in the rectangular charm, but I chose to keep it quite simple today.

I think this would make a lovely note card or greetings card. I also think, perhaps with a different sentiment, make a lovely page for a BuJo, journal, diary, planner, and it would be lovely as part of the design of a scrapbook page.

How would you use a design like this?

I drew, handlettered and coloured the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio as if I was working with pens on paper. My preferred art software is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m content with that background level of anxiety. I feel motivated to work even though I’m really tired again. This time it was from a late night conversation with a friend in need. I can nap later if I need to. The tiredness is actually giving me a headache.

My Nikita Gill books of poetry arrived yesterday and I spent some time reading one, “Wild Embers” from cover to cover.

I cried at some poems as they really touched something inside me, when she describes in words things I’m only beginning to recognise within me.

With other poems it was like a light bulb came on as understanding was ignited within me.

Yet others highlighted the difference between how girls and women are viewed to boys and men, and treated differently, and brought up to believe different things about themselves.

You can tell in her writing she has survived some serious trauma; she writes not just from her heart and soul, but from experience.

I can recommend her work to anyone who has experienced abuse, trauma and who, like me, struggles to describe what is emerging from the Pandora’s box of the past as the healing progresses.

It helps to show I am not alone. It helps to show other survivors of abuse that they are not alone.

I felt alone as I had no one to turn to when I needed someone most. I withdrew within myself, isolating myself, being lonely even when surrounded by a loud, extrovert-filled family. Desperate to join in, to be part of it, but scared to be noticed as that left me open to being the one who was made fun of, blamed for anything and everything. It was horrible to be ignored too when I’d spoken; that happened often. I never learned to speak up for myself, to ask for help, to say what I needed. I suffered long in silence.

I make no apologies for speaking up now. For talking about what happened to me, not in any great detail as I don’t have that myself.

I make no apologies for trying to raise awareness about the damage that emotional neglect does, how worthless being ignored and uncared for made me feel, and has made and does make others feel. How it grinds a person down day after day after day…

I make no apologies for doing what I can to help others to not minimise the effect these things have had on them. To stop telling themselves, like I did, that I was weak, an attention seeker, a whiner, a whinger, a liar when I was in need of help or support.

Someone made me believe that was what I was as children are not born believing that of themselves.

I make no apologies for writing about these things if it helps people understand that someone made them believe these things about themselves and they can unlearn them and replace them with more positive beliefs.

A thought just came to me then. As I teacher I focused on teaching students with additional learning needs. My first focus was to build their self-esteem and self-belief, always. I was shocked at how little so many of them thought of themselves and I found that incredibly sad.

I could see that in them and I could see how I helped them believe in themselves more, one tiny step at a time.

I can see now how I knew I too felt the same way about myself but believed myself too damaged to be healed or not worth thinking better of myself.

Now, with the help of EMDR, I am changing those beliefs about myself little by little.

That inner critic is mostly silent these days, I think. I still suspect it is still creating a very quiet susurrus deep in the depths of my conscious mind. However, it’s malignant murmuration becomes louder when I’m overly tired, emotionally drained, or my anxiety is increased by some trigger.

However, I have to say it’s power over me seems to have diminished.

That’s not to say I’m healed enough yet. I still have those negative beliefs about myself – ugly, unloveable, self-loathing of myself and my body – and of course there’s the inability to feel safe a lot of the time, sometimes even in my own home.

Of course there may be other things that arise during EMDR.

However I do think I have made a lot of progress over the years. Slow and steady for sure, but progress all the same.

Anyway, back to Nikita Gill.

I can recommend her work to those who are friends, partners, family members of those who have been abused to help to understand what someone is going through.

I can recommend her work to all, for her words are thought provoking in a gentle but descriptive manner.

I think I may be lending this book to my therapist…that’s how valuable I think it is.

Exhausted I am…

©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I am exhausted today. My EMDR session yesterday was extremely powerful and intense. I left feeling light headed, light-bodied and a bit off-with-the-fairies as well as rather tired. This feeling stayed with me all evening.

I woke exhausted but had to get some errands done. I’m now back home still exhausted.

I was hungry while out ( I didn’t have breakfast before leaving home as I had managed to get a cancellation appointment at the doctors’ surgery for an issue unrelated to CPTSD). So, while waiting for a prescription to be filled I went to have breakfast. As hungry as I was I could eat very little before feeling full. It was the same when I arrived home after EMDR yesterday.

I think my therapist has found the ‘magic formula’ for me and EMDR. It involves working with a negative belief I have about myself, imagining myself as a baby or small child and then working with the first image that pops up in my head to give the somatic (body sensations) and emotional feelings to focus on during EMDR.

Yesterday’s session resulted in some very powerful metaphors that resulted in powerful processing of trauma and negative beliefs. It’s not quite finished, there’s still some distress associated, but that level fell from a 9 to 2 during the session.

So, I’m too tired to do anything other than have some tea (Twinings Lady Grey, no milk – it has lemon and orange peel and oils in it and it’s deliciously bright and refreshing) and go back to bed to sleep some more.

Oh, the graphic above is one that I created for my anti-stigma talk presentation for Time To Change Wales. I’m giving a talk tomorrow and needed to revise my presentation.

I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to create the digital art.

Be Brave WIP

Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Be Brave

A few more hours work on this entangled art. In the past day or two I’ve done an additional 6 hours, so I think that takes me to around 21 hours or so in total. It’s a long job, a big job, but an enjoyable one.

I’m definitely getting my head around working in layers, though I need to work on one motif at a time before combining the layers into one image and carrying on.

Now I know that you can have many, many layers open at once, but my brain just can’t cope with that. I can do one thing at a time, and that suits me just fine.

It does make it a bit more awkward if I want to go back and alter the colour, shape, pattern or something else on a particular design element. However that’s not an impossibility, just a tad more awkward.

I am, however, quite pleased with how it’s working out.

There are some colour choices I’m not all that happy with at the moment. However, I will let them be until more of the art is done. Also, I think they represent how I’m feeling on that day, and as this is along term project that’s likely to happen quite a bit.

Last night I was feeling a bit subdued, so some subdued, vintage-ish colours crept into the design. As doing art, being creative, soothed my not quite right emotions, the colours brightened. The elements I’ve added this morning are much brighter in colour, which reflect my current quite content emotional state.

Well done me for spotting this. I’d not really noticed how my emotions influence my colour choices before!

My tools for digital art are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Be Brave Angela Porter

Finding that bravery to live my life as I’d like to and to know who I am without the effects of trauma is one of my goals.

I have enough courage to go to each EMDR appointment, even though I know how it could affect me for a few days afterwards. The effects pass and are part of the healing process.

This is a small price to pay to be able to what I’d like to do, such as go out drawing, walking, having lunch in a cafe.

I find these things hard to do as nowhere is safe for me except home. Rather, that’s what the CPTSD caused by repeated trauma has me believing.

Processing that processing the trauma, replacing the negative beliefs about myself with more positive ones will allow this to happen.

I’m trusting that there’s a watershed in my healing journey where I’ve processed enough trauma that I can overcome what anxiety remains.

I think I’ve had one watershed in my journey – the one where I now feel content on most days. That’s progress!

Mandala wip

©Angela Porter 2019
©Angela Porter 2019

Some self-soothing drawing and coloring is being done and this mandala is the work in progress. Digital art using Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I’m exhausted. Emotionally fragile. Feeling very sad too. Instead of EMDR yesterday, the session was talking about and around the emotionally fragile week I’d had after the previous session. I came home absolutely shattered and soon crawled into bed.

Today, I had a Time to Change Wales anti-stigma talk to do at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend to a group of well-being champions.

For the first time I can remember I’ve had trouble putting a smiley, happy face on in public. Even my neighbour Anne asked if I was ok as I was looking sad. And I do feel sad.

I feel so sad about a life I never had. About the fact that it took 50 years of life and a serious burnout/breakdown/episode of deep anxiety/depression to learn about what mental and emotional wellbeing isn’t. About the desire to change the life I have in terms of what I’m able to do. And other things too.

After the chat in therapy yesterday I do know this is part of the healing process. Stored trauma/emotions are being released. Yes, it’s painful, but it’s necessary. I want to heal. I want to feel safe in this world. I want to feel that I belong. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want the inner critic to be silenced. There’s more than this, so much more.

I will get there. I’ve come a fair distance on this journey to heal the damage my past has done to my emotional and mental wellbeing. I will continue with it.

Even when I’m emotionally exhausted, I still can create and creating and arting soothes the fragile emotions and mind. My go-to self-care activity.

Entangled Art – Transition

Transition © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Transition © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

Yesterday I had some fun drawing some postcard sized pieces of Entangled art. Especially fun as I stumbled across a book I’d bought some years ago and had forgotten about. The book is “Zibu – The power of angelic symbology” by Debbie Zylstra Almstedt.

As it says, the book contains loads of symbols with different meanings and I think that’s what drew me to the book in the first place. It was nice to stumble upon it and it seemed to be a moment of synchronicity as I was thinking about what I could put on the postcards, so this was perfect!

Transition was the first symbol I turned to, particularly symbolic for me as I’m going through a transition via my CPTSD healing journey. And in the book, the author suggests aquamarine and green are colours that go with this particular symbol, so that’s the choice of my colour scheme.

I drew the design on an A6 sized piece of Bristol Board using Sheaffer and Pilot medium point pens. After scanning the design in I coloured it digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio.

I found both the drawing and colouring rather peaceful processes, the colouring made more so as I wanted to stick to the green and aquamarine colour scheme, though I did sneak in some greyish blue and greenish yellow.

It won’t be long before I head off to Neath for my weekly EMDR session. The day is gloriously sunny and is due to be rather warm for a late winter day. I’ve a window or two open to let the fresh but cool air into my home. This weather certainly does lift my spirits somewhat. I plan to go early so I can have a walk around before my appointment later this afternoon, as well as a leisurely lunch with some journaling and drawing too.