I always enjoy drawing a mandala. It’s not often that I completely colour one in, but I’ve managed to do so with this one!
I’m not so sure about the colour choices in some places. I haven’t added enough contrast or shade in other areas. However, they’ll have to stay as they are for now. I can feel my ability to focus sliding away again as I type. It’s actually amazing I’ve done this much today.
The problems with focus are a side effect, temporary, of the medication I’m taking for anxiety/depression. This will pass; it did when I was taking them years ago. I still get some wobbly times, and surprisingly, I can still cry this time around with the medication. This is a good thing, as any upset/distress/happiness/wonder/joy still needs to be expressed!
I may have said too much here, but I know that it’s important for others to know they’re not alone when experiencing mental or emotional or physical ill health.
For me, art really helps me. Though when the ability to focus goes, it is time to nap. It’s nearly that time now, it seems.
I’m rapidly filling up an A5 sketchbook with drawings like this. Some have hand lettering in them, while others do not. This style of illustration is familiar to me. It comes naturally, and so is something I can cope with now. The familiarity and repetitive nature of the motifs and patterns are soothing. As I’m working in a sketchbook, there is no pressure on me for things to be perfect. And that is what I need at this time. I just need to create for the sheer enjoyment of creating. Then, there will be enough time to continue exploring other things when I’m back on form.
Mental and Emotional Well-being…
I’m often told that trust is a more positive word than hope when used in conjunction with wanting things to improve. So, I am doing my best to trust that my emotions and thoughts will improve and I won’t feel so darned sleepy and tired all the time.
I suspect I’ve been trying too hard for too long to keep up a mask of contentedness, and all is fine with me when interacting with others. But, unfortunately, it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. It probably contributed to my two intense and lengthy bouts of anxiety and depression, eventually leading to me leaving teaching around 9 or 10 years ago.
After years of EMDR therapy and reflecting on the past, I thought I’d learned my lesson about not letting things get worse and worse and refusing to admit to myself I’m struggling with my mood and thoughts.
It seems that isn’t so.
However, I did reach out for help last week. So now, I have to give myself permission to ease off and give the meds a chance to work.
I had tried so hard to help myself lift my mood and dispel the dark thoughts. They wouldn’t go. Waking up in the night with my mind racing and catastrophising wasn’t good. I couldn’t do this by myself this time.
I know what has led to this state of affairs, and it’s not just one thing.
So, eventually, I worked out I needed help before I ended up in a state similar to how I was all that time ago when my Doctor told me, ‘You’ve nearly broken your mind. It needs a rest. A long rest. And these little pills will help, honestly.’
Those words got through to me. And soon after taking the first dose, my mind was magically quiet, and no longer was I being mean to myself.
There should be no stigma or discrimination about medication to help with mental and emotional ill-health. However, there is none if you need antibiotics for an infection or a plaster-cast to help heal a broken bone.
So, I’m in the process of getting the level of medication to a steady level and the side effects to subside. But, until that happens, I have no choice but to be kind and gentle to myself and not push myself to do more than I’m capable of doing.
I’ve been asked several times if I’d make my visual dictionary, pattern and motif collection, journal or art zibaldone available for others. I’ve shown it a few times in videos. It’s my go-to reference when I need some inspiration for my art.
So, today, I thought I’d take some elements from a current WIP and start to put a page together.
I used a piece of A5 dot grid paper with holes punched in it for a six-ring binder. However, I may use an A5 dot grid notebook. To draw the design, I used an 05 Sakura Pigma Micron Pen. Shade was added with a 2B matt Pitt graphite pencil and paper stump/tortillon.
I enjoyed doing this. It was fun to add alternative ways of approaching various elements. That’s how I like to work in my visual zibaldone. And, of course, the variations are not exhaustive! No doubt more will appear in time, either in the zibaldone or in some artwork.
That is what I love doing. Varying and shifting the pattern or motif into something new and different.
Of course, I have filmed myself drawing this page so far, and you can draw along with me by clicking this YouTube video link.
It took me a long time to summon the oompf and draw. And my creative brain defaulted to this style of art – comfort art. It’s familiar to me and doesn’t need much focus. I trust my intuition. And the last pen stroke determines the next. There’s a flow to this kind of drawing that is soothing, calming, and healing. And I really, REALLY need that today!
It’s been a very people-y week. I’ve been overwrought emotionally and mentally for a few weeks now, at least a few weeks. And venturing into the world where I’ve had to interact with people means putting that smiley, happy mask on. And that is very draining all on its own.
Although time with one friend this week helped to sort out where I was latching the fear and anxiety, my upset and downright glum mood was not where it should be docked.
But, the fear, anxiety, exhaustion and inner gloom have settled in again. I am peopled out. While I’m this emotionally and mentally tired, I can’t trust the thoughts that arise from the emotions. Yes, that anxiety has been there for as long as I can remember. It has been relatively quiet for the past three or four years since I found my touchstone of contentment. However, things are happening that have provoked the beast. I’m trying to remember and re-learn that I can feel anxiety even if there is no reason to. My mind will try to find a logical explanation for it.
So, today has been a day where I need some time to recover. I must remember how to be gentle to myself and give myself the space I need to express my emotions and rest. Drawing entangled art, my default style, was in order. And a hefty dose of Star Wars has definitely been needed! Oh, to be a Jedi!
Ice cream would be most welcome too. However, it’s not good for me, so I’ll decide what to eat later.
Yesterday, I found the oompf at some point to create this small drawing. The colouring looks messier in the photon than it really is, honest! But I don’t mind the grungy messiness at all!
It was an interesting journey with this design. I kept confusing myself about how to draw the main motifs and got in a right dither at some points. Still, I think it worked out fine in the end. I didn’t finish adding colour/shading in the video, but I will do it at some point…probably.
I’m still on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The tiniest perceived rejection or misunderstanding can trigger a sudden tsunami of upset that takes me from quite content to rock bottom in an instant. That touchstone of contentment gets concealed by tenebrous, sharp shards of brokenness, shame, grief, despair, existential dread, loneliness, and more.
It can take me a while to recover from that sudden drop to the depths of emotions. Art helps, or writing, or, surprisingly, a walk around my local cemetery in the sunshine. I try to put a brave, smiley face on for the benefit of others I may meet or talk to. However, I’m afraid some of this inner angst will spill out. The last thing I want to do is create upset in others I care about or come into contact with. I hope those who know me will understand, especially those who know what is happening here.
Oh, all is fine. Really, it is. I’m just having to learn some, well, a lot of things about myself and understand me a bit more. I’ve been hurled a planetary-sized curveball, and it’s knocked me off my balance more than just a tad. I know that at the end of the process, I will have a much better understanding of myself and, hopefully, a better relationship with myself. But it’s going to take some time and a few hoops to jump through yet.
I need soothing, calming art today. One day I may share why I’m so topsy-turvy emotionally and mentally. But not now.
For now, I’m being creative in a way that soothes my inner maelstrom. It’s a mini maelstrom, but still enough to provoke unease, fear, and unsettling emotions. Still, these things pass in time. And I have a lot to experience and learn connected to this unease and fear. I just don’t know the timescale and that kind of makes it worse!
But art is always my solace, though I need to find others too. There’s my illustrated journal – writing and, erm, art! It’s been a long while since I played my flute. Nearly a week since I went out for a walk. I still have an electric folk harp I’ve not learned how to play! And there’s plenty of tea to drink.
Tea! Twice, thrice and twice-twice blessed! Tea is always soothing, especially at that magic temperature where it just feels like every part of you relaxes, and a sigh of relief and pleasure is released!
So, once I’ve finished all my social media stuff, I’ll get another mug of tea and get a YouTube video done. Yes, more art. But I love drawing!
For a long while, I’ve been playing around with hand lettering, using my writing in art, and the idea of marrying together writing and drawing. Today, I started a new sketchbook dedicated to this idea and exploration. I woke up this morning with the concept clear in my head, and so I did!
A sketchbook is a perfect place to experiment and try things out. I’ve already got various notes on this page reflecting on what is working and what isn’t. And there’s some reflective journaling too. My handwriting is a mess. That Distress Ink-ed dot grid paper looks really grubby. The Inktense pencils and the use of a water brush may not have been a good idea on the sketchbook paper. However, it is a sketchbook. It’s not meant to be anything other than a place to explore, experiment, and unearth hidden thoughts and ideas.
The last paragraph had a lot of negatives in it. I do like the border, and this is something I’ll continue to do. The idea of collating notes onto a page intrigues me; even adding pockets and other things from junk journaling could be an idea. Places to store notes about ingredients and so on. I enjoy researching all kinds of things, including foods, ingredients, spices and condiments.
What is new is me drawing food! I don’t know if I’ll ever draw a plate or bowl of food, but the ingredients or various elements interest me. So I’ve written a note to myself to see if I can make patterns or motifs for my more abstract, non-representational work from them.
I also must learn that colours can be imperfect; close enough is good enough! The ginger jam (more correctly, ginger preserve) was troublesome. But it’s good enough for now.
Soothing fraught emotions and thoughts
I’ve been relatively open with my mental and emotional health challenges, to a degree at least. And I thought it would be an excellent idea to combine that with food, and maybe more.
Art and food are two ways I can soothe and comfort myself. On good days, I’ll be adventurous with cooking. It may be a takeaway delivery or something quick and easy on bad days. On the in-between days, comforting food is the go-to, often more traditional recipes.
Cooking is always a challenge as a singleton. However, the motivation to cook and feed me wholesome and healthy food can be a considerable challenge, especially on my fraught and frazzled days.
Where will this lead?
I don’t know. I know it’s a personal project, but a friend and I have talked about collaborating on a project about cooking. So this may be a way of kicking the project off, even though I am still determining where it will go. If nothing else, it will give me a way to draw new and different things, explore various techniques, both in art and cooking, and reflect on all kinds of things. I’ll get to practice my handwriting and hand lettering as well. And perhaps work out how to create a pleasing layout!
This will, I trust, encourage me to take more care of myself in terms of nutrition. In addition, adding daily entries for at least one meal will hold me accountable.
A variety of meals/dishes will be required too and so will stop me from eating the same old things again and again! That’s a rut I can get stuck in. Also, if I find something I enjoy, I will eat it again and again, day after day, until I become sickened by it! That is not good either!
Am I overloading myself with projects?
I have a book to do for Creative Haven by the end of June. There are some self-published colouring books that I’d like to do too. Then there’s my creepy-cute monsters project. YouTube. Writing. And more!
I often can’t see the wood for the trees. Being able to prioritise has never been a strong skill of mine. However, I do need variety and options of what to work on. Otherwise, the work can become stale and uninspiring to me. And I can so easily get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or tasks, to be done. And then there’s the fear of failure, of not being good enough, that results in procrastination.
Also, I know that at the moment, my emotions and, thus, my mental state isn’t the best; new challenges in life outside of art and creativity. But that means that art and creativity are more important to me to help me calm, relax, get in the flow and give my mind and emotions a break!
I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’m not one for schedules of work day by day and hour by hour. That may be something I need to look into.
But not now. Now I need a mega-big mug of good strong tea! I’m British (Welsh), and we think tea will solve everything!
This design was inspired by a Zentangle Tile I did in the Tea and Tangle session organised and run by Tracy Hough CZT.
I wanted to do a design that was simple (ish?) and didn’t use too many patterns. This will form a page in my accordion journal.
The paper is Clay toned paper from Fabriano. The pens I use are an 0.3 Unipin fine liner and a Tombow Fudenosuke. To add colour, I used some Derwent Drawing Pencils in Chinese White, Pale Cedar and Olive Earth. White dots were added with a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen. Gold details added using a gold glitter Unball Signo gel pen.
Another daily creepy cute critter. Well, almost daily. I’ll explain more in a moment, first to this lovely bunch of pals, or not lovely, depending on your interpretation.
I’m not sure what the possible story is or what stories are here. But that’s part of the fun. I suspect we’ll each see what makes sense to us, given where we are at any particular moment. I feel the tall one is having an aww shucks moment, especially as the ears are blushing (not the cheeks!). Is it a celebration? Or surprised someone would think of them, and the little one is rolling their eyes… again! Is tall always blue in colour, or is it a sign of their low mood and the others have thought to cheer them up?
But, of course, that is just one interpretation. It’s fun to muse about what’s going on for sure.
I’ve been missing from blog posts, social media and YouTube for a few days thanks to some computer problems. But all seems to be fine now, and I have a shiny new laptop that will function as a backup for digital art should my main computer have problems again. I have no idea what went wrong, but I went into full flap and panic mode. Or, an enormous flap and panic mode as I was already overwhelmed with a second deadline looming at the end of this week. The only problem with the new one is the pen on the screen is not as good as my main puter. So, I see a drawing tablet in the future, just in case…
I still have a lot of anxiety left over from this flap and panic, which is tiring me out. But that will fade. Tea will definitely help this morning! As will some art just for art’s sake too.