After a walk and lunch yesterday, I eventually settled to working with my aha moment. This sketchbook page is the result, though I have work left to do with it.
The designs are inked in with Pitt Artist Pens and I’ve used watercolours and Inktense paint pans and pencils to colour the motifs. Well, most of them. I’ve left some parts in black and white to show the difference that colour makes.
I used a Daler-Rowney artist’s sketchbook. The paper is acid free, but is not specifically for watercolours. It held up surprisingly well to multiple layers and glazes of colour, though it does grab the colour and it’s difficult to move it around as on watercolour paper.
I also found the wet brush lifted some of the pigment from the Pitt Artist Pens. That surprised me as they were totally waterproof on watercolour paper.
Having an ‘aha moment’ and working with that realisation can be quite different. It’s nice to try different ways of using line and stippling to add shadow and volume to the drawings.
The half-beetle was an interesting one to work with. On the lower wing I could’ve used lines to add the illusion of curves, but for some sections I just used colour. I also used the beetle to practice adding lines and stippling.
I tried drawing the beetle digitally, but it just didn’t feel ‘right’. I didn’t get the same satisfaction as I did drawing it with pens on paper. I’m sure that’s due to me having my brushes set up incorrectly. That’s something I’m going to have to work on. I ended up with a drawing that was too perfect. That surprised me too, as I love to work digitally. Perhaps that was a function of my current mood and energy levels.
I do tend to switch between digital and traditional media, sometimes mixing the two. That is certainly an option moving forward – drawing the line art on paper, then colouring digitally.
I do like the earthy tones I’ve used to add colour to many of the design elements on this page. That still continues to surprise me, as much of my work has been brightly coloured, often with ‘in your face’ colour palettes used.
The smaller designs I’ve drawn here also have their own sense of satisfaction and enjoyment for me. Usually, I draw full page designs for colouring books. But here, I’ve drawn small compositions, and that is not so overwhelming for me at this time.
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:
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.
I created a really simple mandala for Valentine’s day. A day that is about love. A mandala that doesn’t have a single black line in it! That’s rather unusual for me!
Soft greens and pinks really speak to me about self-care – which is about taking care of oneself, treating yourself and speaking to yourself kindly and with compassion.
Compassion to oneself, that’s what ‘loving oneself’ is all about. Being your own best friend, speaking to yourself as you would a best friend in need.
This is one of the hardest things I have to learn as part of my cPTSD recovery.
I say learn, as it’s something I’ve never done or knew how to do, ever. Being kind to myself in words and deeds.
The inner critic is never kind, caring or patient and never ever has good advice. I think I’m a good friend to others, I try to be kind, caring and patient and if I’m asked I try to give good advice, even if that is ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that but lets see if we can find it together’.
I’m very, very rarely, if ever, kind to myself in that way. If anything, the emotional neglect and abuse I experienced from the earliest time I can remember taught me to hate myself, that I wasn’t worth anything. It’s hard to overturn beliefs from the past, beliefs about myself fostered by the attitudes and behaviours of others towards me when I have no point of reference to when I didn’t think about myself in this way. The inertia of the past, the power of the inner critic constantly wants to drag me back to how things always have been in terms of how I think and feel about myself.
However, every single time I manage to show myself some caring, some kindness, some patience, some compassion it’s a victory over the inner critic. And each little victory is vital as it is teaching me that I can learn to be that friend to myself that I so desperately need.
So, Valentine’s day is about love, we tell others we love them, but let’s make today also a day where we show ourselves some kindness, compassion, patience and caring, for the sake of our mental and emotional wellbeing. And lets not just do that on this one day, lets make it a part of every day of our lives. Lets learn how to befriend ourselves.
Just a quick post today; I have a busy day with media training for Time to Change Wales at the Mind offices in Cardiff.
Feeling a bit panicked about parking somewhere I’m not familiar with and then walking to another place I’m not familiar with and doing something with people I don’t know.
It will be fine I’m sure.
Yesterday was very much a day of being kind to myself and taking care of myself. Therapy on Monday really caused some fall out and I was emotionally exhausted yesterday (and I think that is lingering today).
So, one way I take care of myself is to draw. This time, however, I lost myself in drawing detailed, abstract entangled art, like this one above. I do have another on the go which I’ll be hoping to complete tonight as part of my self-care after the training today.
I drew this using Sakura micron pens on dotgrid paper. After scanning into the ‘puter I used GiMP to remove the dot grid. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro was used for the finals steps of adding the background and watermarks, as well as placing the artwork on a black square so the image fits nicely in Instagram posts.
I started drawing this yesterday when I was feeling emotional. I was even more so during and after EMDR therapy and woke this morning with an emotional ‘hangover’. Some painkillers for this headache and a couple of hours later and I finished this off with a quote about kindness from the Dalai Lama when I found out today is World Kindness Day.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
I think it needs to be World Kindness Day every single day. I can’t find the words to express myself why I think this, I just know if everyone on this planet was kinder and had more empathy not just for friends and family, but for others, no matter of their social status or religious, ethnic, cultural background or nationality it could help to bring a better understanding which could lead to a kinder world for us all.
And of course there’s the animals and plants that we share this planet with, along with the ecosystems they co-inhabit with us. There’s too much animal cruelty, damage to the environment going on, and we are dependent on a healthy global ecosystem and need to be a lot kinder to the world around us.
There’s feelings and thoughts drifting around my head here that just can’t find their way out of the maze of the lingering pain and fuzziness from the headache that characterises my emotional ‘hangover’. Still, some words did appear.
I used Pigma micron pens, some circle stencils to draw the design on dot grid paper. That meant I needed to scan it into my Microsoft Surface Studio so I could use GiMP to remove the dot grid and create a transparent background.
My next step was to add the hand lettered quote. I used my Microsoft Surface Pen in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to do this.
The final step was to add the watermarks and a gentle pink gradient background colour.
I can see how I could add some shading to intensify the 3D illusion of the design elements, as well as adding some more pen details. However, it will do as it is…for now.