Mandala and musings

I love being by myself, having solitude, not having the pressure to be ‘social’. That part is natural for me.

Oddly, I miss the option of just popping out for a short while unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will need some time in nature soon, with my camera, unless we’re denied that bit of freedom.

The freedom to choose what to do without feeling guilty or worrying about my choice is what I’m missing.

The artist/creative in me will always have things to do – drawing, digital art, crochet, needle felting, cross stitching and more.

As well as being an artist, I am also a scientist. So having reliable facts can help me understand this disease and its effects.

I’m also curious, so I will always find things to read or watch that satisfy my curiosity.

The part of me that still has cPTSD tends towards anxiety and depression is much smaller and has less of a hold on me and most of the time, I am content.

Today, for the first time in this crisis, I’ve felt weepy, sad, worried for the various layers of society, occupations and the world itself. For those who are scared of how people are reacting. For those who are scared of contracting CoViD-19, and scared that their loved ones may. For those who are suffering the illness, struggling to live, and for those who are losing that fight. For those who are scared because there’s no clear direction being given by our leaders. For those who are scared that because they are vulnerable or old they may just be allowed to die as if their lives, their presence in the lives of others, is of no value.

I can’t even find the words to express my feelings and abstract thoughts/images that I have about this. I want to be eloquent, expressive, and can’t find a way to do so with words. The curse of one with introverted feelings, as well as feelings and thoughts that can be very abstract too.

I feel so sorry that there is so little I can do personally, other than not be a panic buyer, to avoid social contact, to be responsible, so I don’t put a strain on resources and services.

I am but one person and one counted as ‘vulnerable’; I have underlying chronic health conditions. So, I feel helpless to help more, and that increases my sense of guilt and helplessness.

One thing I do know that helps me manage my emotions, my thoughts is art. So, I will try to help others through my art. Through creating pretty things to bring a smile and warmth to people’s hearts. Through finding ways to encourage their own creativity. By producing more frequent coloring templates for people to download and color via a Facebook group for ‘fans’ of my coloring books.

Perhaps this is a bit more than very little, I don’t know. Maybe by us all doing a little to help, it adds up collectively to a lot to help those who have more significant roles to play in this crisis – doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, shop workers, delivery drivers, farmers, emergency services, and so many more – and I thank each and every one of you more than you will ever know.

World Introvert Day 2020

World Introvert Day 2020 | Artwork ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

Introversion and me

Yes, we introverts have a world introvert day, every year, on 2 January. A quite appropriate date as it falls right after the hustle and bustle of a busy Christmas/New Year/Holiday season.

In a society that values extroversion, introverts are often misunderstood and their own set of personality traits overlooked. We’re judged as shy, anti-social, aloof, even arrogant, and just plain weird.

Introversion is not the same as shyness, social anxiety nor depression, though both introverts and extroverts can experience these conditions.

If you’d like to know more about introverts, here are links to two good articles:
IntrovertDear.com – What is an Introvert?
VeryWellMind.com – How you can tell you’re an introvert.

I was brought up in a family of rampant extroverts, where extrovert traits were very much valued. So, to try to fit in, I developed an extrovert mask. This mask still slips on when I’m in situations and circumstances that require me to interact with people I don’t know, or where I feel vulnerable emotionally. People often think I’m an extrovert because of this mask.

However, the real me, the vulnerable me, is quite introverted.

I like people, but in small numbers. I much prefer spending time with just one or two people where the conversation can be less social fluff and more meaningful.

Yes, I do tend to sit at the back or at the edge of meeting or gathering. I like to observe and listen and become comfortable before I engage (if I ever do). Even with regular meetings with people I become familiar with it can still take me a long time to interact. It can take me even longer to drop the extrovert mask so they can glimpse the real me.

After social interaction, especially with large groups of people, I can be completely drained of energy and need plenty of alone time to recharge my batteries.

Indeed, if I have a lot of social interaction in a short space of time I can end up with an ‘introvert hangover’ – deeply tired, headachy, emotionally drained. If that happens, I need an extended period of time to recover, which often includes copious naps and binge watching Star Wars, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings/Hobbit! In serious cases a healthy dose of Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra is required!

You see, interaction with my own inner life, my creativity, with books and music energises me. Social events, particularly noisy and crowded ones, will drain me of energy and become torture for me.

One-to-one interaction, or being with a small group of people in a calm environment can, however, be energising as well as tiring, especially when the conversation is about life, the universe and everything.

Us introverts do need, and value, people in our lives, just not all at once! Social interaction is just as important for us as for the extroverts, though our preferences for social interaction are different – less small chat, more meaningful conversations. And those of us who are self-aware recognise the need for the right balance between social interaction and alone time.

Extroversion-introversion is a continuum, a spectrum, and we all show aspects of each archetype. However, I know my introvert traits outweigh my extrovert traits fairly considerably.

Just as a fun-fact, it’s estimated that extroverts outweigh introverts by six or seven to one across the world.

About the artwork

Yesterday, I had a lovely time drawing entangled borders to use for quote projects, just like this one. Today, I kept the drawing in black and white and added a pretty background to the drawing and typography.

I used Uniball Unipin pens and ClaireFontaine dot grid paper to draw the designs. To put the artwork together I used Affinity Publisher to do the typography, and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to put the artwork, typography and background together.

Just because – Autumnal Dangle design mail art

Just because - Autumn dangle design greeting card © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Just because – Autumnal Dangle Design mail art © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Making coloured backgrounds.

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.

Hope is rekindled – mandala WIP

Hope is rekindled Mandala WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Hope is rekindled Mandala WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

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.

Mail Art – sneak peek

Mail art – sneak peek © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Making the mail art

I woke this morning and had a fancy to make a card along with a coordinating envelope. I’m going to be sending these to someone, so I didn’t want to show the whole design, so a sneak peek it is. I don’t think it gives much away about the mail art. I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient.

I used a pre-made card blank and envelope. The card is nearly 8½” x 4¼” in size and is plain white.

I cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 3½” x 7½”. I added some score lines ⅛” in from each edge and let them overlap to form little squares at the corners. To do this I used a score board and bone folder. I’ve never done this before, but it actually adds a nice touch. It also gives me an even border to work within, which is always useful.

My next step was to add colour to the top layer and the envelope. I decided to do some ink blending with Distress Inks. Here’s a list of the colours I used:

  • scattered straw
  • wild honey
  • crushed olive
  • candied apple
  • evergreen bough

Once I was happy with the colour gradient, I broke out my Uniball Unpin pens and started to draw the design. As I had a coloured background, I made use of lines and patterns to add texture and dimension.

When I was happy with the design, it was missing something. It needed some colour or shading. I decided to add some colour with Copic markers, being mindful of using colours that would work harmoniously with the background.

My final step was to add some dots of gold glitter to add some ‘bling’ to the card.

My attention then turned to the envelope.

First, I added some pencil lines to help me keep my hand lettering level and neat. I then used a black Tombow Fudenosuke pen to brush letter the recipient’s name. I then used a grey Tombow Fudenosuke pen to add shadow to the letters.

I then used a Uniball Unipin 08 pen to add the address. For this, I used simple capital letters for the hand-lettering.

My next task was to draw the design on the envelope. I used some elements from the card for this, plus a couple of extra ones. I also added texture and shadow with lines.

My final task, after I’d written my name and address on the back of the envelope, was to seal the envelope art with a thin layer of Distress Micro Glaze, carefully avoiding the area where stamps will be affixed. The Micro Glaze creates a waterproof layer so the Distress and Tombow inks shouldn’t run if they get wet.

Once the recipient has the card, I’ll post a full image of the mail art, carefully obscuring their information.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok today. I’m a tad tired, but I don’t seem as emotionally fragile as I have been. There’s still a bit of ‘flatness’ or ‘heaviness’ inside me, but the contentedness is of equal or greater intensity.

Today I need a quiet day at home; the last week or so has been crazy busy with either emotional upsets occurring or commitments I have to keep. The next commitment I have is on Thursday evening, so I’m going to make the most of the time I have to myself. Creating mail art was one activity in self-soothing.

I doubted that I would find this more settled state any time soon. That it’s appeared today is a real bonus. How long it stays for I don’t know as I know what is in my diary.

I’m not going to worry about that, well not much. I’m going to enjoy the contentedness and Use my quiet time to soothe my still fragile emotions.

Yes, I feel mostly content, but I also know that it won’t take much to provoke me to tears and some emotional distress.

One thing we talked about in therapy on Monday was the need for me to protect myself in situations where I’m emotionally vulnerable. I’ve had a lot of time interacting with people over the past few days. I now need time to relax, breathe, re-energise.

I enjoy being with people, but it also drains me. That’s one of the consequences of being an introvert. When I’m socially exhausted, it makes me more emotionally vulnerable than I usually am. So, I need time to recover from this.

I will recover. Nowadays, I always do given enough self-care and self-soothing time.

I also am self-aware enough to know that to start important projects is not a good idea at this time. It becomes all too easy for me to find fault with everything I do and for me to end up spiralling downwards into a mood where I am harsh to myself.

It is still hard to be kind to myself on days like this. There’s a nagging voice that I should be doing this or doing that and not indulging myself in activities that help me to heal. Other inner critics join in, telling me I’m worthless, useless, a failure, unloveable then join in, sensing the vulnerability in me. So, I’m learning to ignore that voice, even if I still feel a little guilty. As I feel better, refreshed and re-energised and more emotionally resilient, the inner critics become inaudible once again.

So, as hard as it is to accept that I need to be kind and to spend today doing what will help me heal, this is precisely what I am going to do. And that starts with me writing a letter to accompany the mail art. I also want to create some designs that I can print to colour and use to create greeting cards.

Autumn mandala 6 November 2018

Angela Porter Mandala 4 Nov 2018

This has taken me a couple of days to complete, mainly because of appointments but also a big need for some self-care.

Autumn Mandala

I don’t get to create many mandalas at times. So, On Sunday, after creating the cute angel kitty dangle design, I put my creative energy into drawing and starting to colour a mandala.

I worked directly on my Surface Studio screen with the Surface pen using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and it’s fab symmetry tool to outline the the design in black ink.

Next, I used a marker brush and a blender brush to colour the design.

It’s the colouring that takes a lot of time.

I wanted to keep the colour scheme fairly simple, so I chose some vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Finally, I added a beautiful blue background and texture to the finished artwork.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with it. The bright colours have been needed today as it’s a rather grey and damp day here in the Valleys of South Wales. Someone has a bonfire burning on the hillside opposite my home and the smoke is floating down the valley. There’s a temperature inversion that’s trapping the smoke quite low.

Add to that all the smoke and particulates from the plethora of fireworks that have been set off in the past few days and the air is rather fuggy, hazy.

However, the golden hues of the autumn trees glow all the more brightly against the grey skies, especially with a dusting of rain on them.

What I absolutely love to see are the dark trunks and branches becoming more visible as the leaves fall from the trees. The architectural contrast fascinates me; it’s being able to clearly see the skeleton that gives the tree form.

I didn’t have autumn in my mind when I was drawing or coloring this mandala, even though autumn is my favourite season. However, the jewel tones and the gradual predominance of the autumnal golds, oranges and reds on the outside of the mandala give it that kind of autumnal feel. The greens gradually change from blue-greens to more yellow-greens from the centre out, adding to that sense of a seasonal progression.

The coloured mandala also has a feeling of stained glass. I love stained glass windows and this one would make a very interesting ‘rose’ window! That I adhere to using black lines to delineate my design only reinforces the suggestion of stained glass.

What I haven’t done is add detailed patterns to the mandala. I don’t think this one needs it, though the leaves may need a bit of shadow and highlight to make them feel less ‘flat’.

On the whole, I’m quite pleased with this one. I think I’ve manged to get enough contrast from dark to light in each section to give that sense of dimension – something else I like to incorporate into my artwork.

The need for self-care

I’ve been rather emotional over the past few days. The post about remembrance and my Dad tapped into some grief, a door that had never opened before I had to say goodbye to my beautiful white cat Cuffs back in May.

I took time out of things to watch some Harry Potter films. I do get emotional when I watch them (or read the books) even though I know what’s going to happen. However, this weekend I was more emotional than I’ve been before.

Yesterday, was EMDR therapy day, and various memories had cropped up and one we worked with yesterday. That left me absolutely pole-axed, emotionally that is.

Part of my mental health – the CPTSD – is that I avoid emotions and when I get emotional I have shoved it aside and locked the emotions in a box, symbolically. I also shove the memories away, something referred to as dissociation.

I have very few memories of my childhood, adolescence or even adulthood. That’s because many of them are painful in some way or another and they have been locked away.

Locking them away means I have never worked through, processed, them and the trauma or emotions that go with them. The trauma is still there and is still hurting my emotional and mental health.

EMDR is helping to unlock memories, sometimes very painful memories I don’t want to believe happened or believe certain  things about people. I always want to see the best and believe the best in people, except when it comes to myself; then, it’s always the worst possible.

I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance and some very uncomfortable times as I try to come to terms with various realisations.

Add into the mix a busy week or so with appointments and events and I’m emotionally tired. Oh, not to mention the constant jumpiness with all the fireworks going off.

So, self-care is important. I watch films. Knit. Drink lots of tea. Snuggle up under a cosy throw. Nap if I need to. Eat healthily, when I can. Create art that I want to create rather than any that I feel I have to to meet a contract or some deadline or other, either real or self-imposed. Have some alone time – being an introvert beneath the face I present to the world I need alone time to recharge.

I know I’m on a jolly tomorrow with my pal Liz, so it’s even more important I recharge before that day out.

So, that’s why I’ve needed some self-care time.

 

Inktober 2018 Day 28 ‘Gift’

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 28 Gift small

Day 28 of the Inktober challenge and I’ve done another kitty dangle design, with a rather surprised looking kitty in a gift box with a party hat on.

How cute would this be as a greetings card for the human of a kitty?

I sketched the design in pencil on dot grid paper then scanned it into my Surface Studio. I then drew the design using a pen brush and the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. After drawing, I added colour and texture as well as a bit of a drop shadow.

This image makes me smile just a bit. It was a nice thing to do this morning. I’m tired today.

Yesterday, I was absolutely shattered after the Hallowe’en Coffee Morning and being in charge of the craft corner. The little monsters (read little darlings dressed up in their Hallowe’en finery) kept me nicely busy and they seemed to have a lot of fun making pumpkins on glow sticks and paper pumpkins and other things. I had a lot of fun too.

At the end of the morning, it was lovely to have some help to clear up; thankfully my plans on using glue dots and double sided sticky tape and paper fasteners and staples rather than glue sticks helped greatly with this. As did the washable marker pens and the like.

I came home and had some lunch and then slept. On waking I had time to have more tea, shower and get ready to pop out in the evening.

As lovely as my couple of hours out were, I was glad to get home. It was really chilly last night here in South Wales. The cold got into me even in my short journeys; I chilled right off in the morning too. So, today my hands and feet are a tad achy and stiff with arthritis.

Using the Microsoft Surface Pen on the Surface Studio certainly helps my finger joints – so little pressure is needed. The pen is a tad weighty, but it’s rather well balanced so I can cope. On days like today I could do with a slightly thicker barrel, so I need to find some grippy things that I could slide on my pen for days like this.

I do want to work on my sketch of the viking kitty that I did for yesterdays’ Inktober prompt. I need a quiet day of self-care today. Not only was yesterday a busy one for me in terms of interacting with people it was also the end of British Summer Time and the clocks went back by an hour some time during the night. This means we got an extra hour of sleep, in theory. In practice I slept the same amount of time! The change in the clocks will cause confusion for a while I think.

I am an introvert, though people seem to assume I’m an extrovert. I learned at a young age that I had to be loud and seemingly outward going like my very loud brothers to have even a chance of being noticed or listened to (that didn’t happen often). I have a fairly extrovert mask I wear when out and about and with people, until I get to know them and then the introvert can relax and come out. I like people, but I also recognise that I need alone time to recharge my batteries. Being with people both lifts me and drains me. So, today is a day for some quiet time, before I have to head out this evening for a couple of hours to be with people again.