Magical landscape mandala

Magical landscape mandala © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Magical landscape mandala © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

Creating this mandala has had me smiling. Gentle smiles on my face and in my heart. There’s something about the graphic black and white, the grey foliage in the background and the mystical, magical moonlight illuminating the design. I look at it and I feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction with this one. It’s not perfect. There’s things I want to do with it, and working digitally allows me to do that. However, for now, it’s more than good enough. I need more tea and a bit of a break from it.

I have to say that it looks really nice in just black and white. but, the simple gradient background really sets the atmosphere for the design. I did use a gradient fill tool to create the coloured background, but I do want to go back and create one that I can have a bit more control over for sure, maybe using watercolour brushes to do that, and adding spots of glow too.

I’m really pleased with the lighter foliage in the background, adding depth and dimension to the design, adding interest. It’s delicate and ephemeral, misty too.

I want to try not letting the background colour the motifs. That’ll involve me adding white to the white spaces. For some reason I created them with transparent ink.! No great problem to go back and sort that out though.

I also want to try working on a landscape that isn’t a mandala, using the same kind of style of drawing and adding magical, mystical coloured backgrounds.

But overall, I’m pleased with this and I’m pleased with the progress I seem to be making in both digital art and in developing my art ‘voice’.

There’s been quite a few pieces of art I’ve created that have made me smile recently – many of my mandalas and entangled drawings, my cute kitty ‘cartoons’ spring to mind, especially one I did of the pink anti-stigma badger as a Jedi knight!

I can honestly say that this mandala, and my previous one, have made me smile more than most.

Mandala

Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Mandala © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com
Available on a range of quality products from Artwyrd on Redbubble.com

The art…

A black and white mandala today. No colour. No shading. Just black and white and varying line width.

I set up one of my pen brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to vary it’s width with pressure. I’ve only ever used brushes where I’ve had their thickness set at one size as that has usually been my style of drawing in both traditional and digital media.

My favourite pens to draw with on paper are Sakura Pigma Micron, Sakura Pigma Sensei, Uniball Unipin, fountain pens, or technical drawing pens from Rotring or Staedtler. So, it was natural for me to set the digital pen brushes to mimic them and the lines they leave on paper – which are usually rather uniform in thickness, but with a bit of feathering around the edges.

I’ve never had much success or satisfaction in using dip pens or brush pens with drawing. No matter how much I practiced I never got a result I thought was good enough. The only dip pen I like to use is a glass dip pen as it has a very uniform line and writes smoothly too.

Late last night, I thought it was time that I experimented with a pen brush where I could vary the thickness with the pressure of my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Book.

I did set the pen to have a sharp edge and to vary in size from 1px to 9px with pressure, Then off I went with the intention to draw a mandala.

It took me a few attempts to work out how the new kind of pen brush worked for me. It also reminded me of lino prints, so I wanted to get that kind of graphic quality into my drawing.

I like it just as it is. I may try adding colour, even if it’s a subtle background colour, at some point. But I do like it.

What I particularly like is that the brush pen made it possible for me to draw lines that started fine and became thick in a gradual way and with a neat edge, something I struggle with when using my favoured pens or brush pens or flexible nibs.

I feel that this experiment has taken my drawing to a bit of a different level.

What I think I need to consider in future is adding elements of the design in shades of grey to create depth and dimension to the image. Perhaps even using different colours to draw such designs on a coloured background.

I also need to use this pen on drawings other than mandalas, such as the fantasy garden type design I did the other day ago.

I also think playing a little with the pressure sensitivity settings is on the cards, until I get it just right for me!

My mental and emotional wellbeing

I’m feeling more resilient today and I have a soft smile on my lips and in my heart.

The feeling of satisfaction with the mandala, and also completing the edits of the templates for the new book has contributed to this, along with a goodly amount of rest.

Days like this are nice for me. Days where I’m content. Days where my emotional and mental wellbeing are ‘good enough’. And they are today.

I may not feel brave enough to go out into the busy and people-y world today. If I can find a crochet pattern for a pretty shawl I may head out later to get some yarn with which to create that. I’ve almost successfully finished a crochet shopping/market bag for a friend and that has given me the confidence to try a different project. I love pashminas at all times of year. So I’d love to successfully crochet a pashmina/shawl for myself in yarn that changes from one colour to another perhaps. First to find the pattern.

Yes, the success with something I’ve struggled with – two failed attempts at a bag for myself had me feeling really useless, but the perseverance and success has lifted me. In fact, there’s been a lot of perseverance this week, what with EMDR and foiling and now the different kind of pen brush for digital drawing.

I need to make notes of this in my ‘When it’s dark, look for stars’ book as a reminder that things can be surprisingly good and I do do good stuff on my darker days. In fact, I need to start to add patterns/designs around the quotes and so on in this little book, and colour some more pages with Distress and Distress Oxide Inks for future use.

My biggest problem at the moment is feeling overwhelmed with all the ideas I have that involve drawing, foiling, creating digital stamps, a mandala coloring book, another tutorial book, designs for RedBubble, and more. This is part and parcel of cPTSD. So much I could do that it overwhelms so much that I can think and organise myself at all…

Despite that, it’s still a day where I feel what I’ve done recently is good enough, at the least it’s good enough. And for me to recognise and accept that is quite a step forward.

Here’s to getting a ‘good enough’ life and opinion of myself through EMDR and recovery from CPTSD!

More Foiling experiments

More foiling experiments ©Angela Porter 2019
More foiling experiments ©Angela Porter 2019

The death of a laminator…

Another useless photograph, but I think you get some idea of how the foiling appears.

I’ve had a bit of a nightmare with the laminator. This morning it decided to terminally ‘eat’ a ‘foiling sandwich’ and there is no way I can get it out. I tried to put an A4 sheet through the laminator which meant that the folded ‘carrier’ paper had the fold to the side, not going through the laminator first. I think that’s what caused it all to get caught and stuck.

Lesson learned? Hopefully. I think I’m going to have to work on images that are A5 (UK) in size or less. Which is fine now I’m sure about that. However, I really was hoping to foil one of my A4 monogram images.

Ho hum. I shall purchase another laminator later today so I can continue working on it. The instructions with the foil say any home laminating machine will work with this particular foil.

About the foiled works…

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Foiling works best on smooth paper, such as the heavyweight ‘premium’ paper I use in my printer. I do want to try Bristol Board as that is smooth and a bit more weighty again and stands up well to quite a few media.

Coloured cardstock, such as the dark blue example to the bottom left, doesn’t work quite so well as it’s not all that smooth. The foiling ends up a bit uneven and has a kind of ‘brushed’ look to it.

The copper foil I’ve used is amazing! It is like an interference ink or paint in that it’s colour changes from coppery-red to gold as it catches the light in different ways. I’m in love with this one for sure. It looks fab with turquoise blues and greens, a lot like the colours of verdigris.

I tried colouring the top left, top middle and bottom right images with Distress Inks after foiling. This worked brilliantly! It needs to be added after foiling; a little wipe with a dry paper towel removes any excess ink from the foil.

I’m not sure if you can see it, but the centre of the two mandalas at the top left and middle have some colour added to them. I used Staedtler Fineliners for the blue one and Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens for the orange one.

The mandala at the top right I coloured using Chameleon markers and pencils after I’d foiled it. Not my best choice of colours, in my opinion, but it was an experiment. The alcohol inks stained the foil where I couldn’t keep the nib in the tiny spaces. The mandala was designed to be printed on A4 paper so the gaps weren’t quite so tiny, but I printed them at 4″ x 4″ just to try the foiling out.

I need to draw at sizes that it’s possible to foil successfully without killing a laminator off quickly in the future, and that means A5 or less in size. Unless I decide to ’tile’ the image in some way.

Future experiments in foiling…

There are some different papers I want to try. Bristol Board from either Frisk, Daler-Rowney or Winsor and Newton in particular. Strathmore is textured and I suspect it won’t work well, it’ll be more like the coloured card stock.

Coloured, heavyweight paper is a definite, particularly black I think. Just for the line art in foiling.

Hot-pressed, smooth watercolour paper may be worth a try, along with the smoother side of Claire-Fontaine or Daler-Rowney mixed media paper.

Different papers mean I can used different coloring media in different ways.

What else I have learned and what else I need to think about.

I really, really like digital colouring and I’m rather rusty with different traditional media.

I also need to think about what I can do with foiling and any market that I can create for myself with my art.

I’m really not at all good at promoting myself or my art and pricing work is so very difficult for me to do. It really is. I have a bit of a break in contracts at the moment (apart from editing some templates this week) and it’s something I really do need to turn my attention to. I create so much, but do so little with it.

Mandala in succulent colors – version 2

Mandala in Succulent Colors © Angela Porter 2019
Mandala in Succulent Colors © Angela Porter 2019

Yesterday, I had an urge to try colouring my latest mandala design but without black lines, just pure color. This is the result. I’m actually quite pleased with it, and I’ve surprised myself too, in a nice way. I’m quite eager to do more art like this as time goes on.

I chose a similar color palette to the one from yesterday, similar but not the same. I also edited the shapes and lines as I felt I needed to as the design grew out from the centre.

The color palette was of just six colours – two greens, one aqua, two orangey colours and one yellow, all muted, subdued colours. I think I could’ve done with one more colour, or used the darker version of the aqua as the background in the inner and middle ‘circles’ of the design. Of course, I can try that out without ruining this version. That’s the beauty of digital art.

I would never have done this using traditional media. My skills with colours are relatively limited in the physical realms.

The world of digital art is opening up new ways for me to express my creativity, that’s for sure. The skills required are different but equally as complex as traditional media in my opinion.

There’s also a lot of learning and exploring for me to do to get the style of coloring right for ME. The advantage of digital work is that you can try and try again until you get it how you want it to be without having to start over from the beginning. Some see that as ‘cheating’ or ‘making it easy’. I see it as learning and growing and developing in real time. Digital art is very forgiving, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. Far from it in my opinion.

I know my limitations with paints, markers, pencils and so on. I’m kind of competent with markers and pencils I suppose. Working digitally, however, allows me to really work at making sure I get the finish I want in each section of the design, with or without my characteristic black lines. I can try things out and adjust to get them just as I wish them to be.

Each time I do something different like this I learn. With this mandala it’s the use of high contrast to gain the depth and dimension I like, and it’s working out how to get that with the various types of brushes and effects that are available to me.

It’s a huge thing for me to use my line art as just a guide and to lose the lines to create a design such as this. It involves learning how to make the different sections separate from each other using shadow/light as well as color, something I’ve rarely done in my artistic journey.

This is definitely something I’m going to do more of in the future and develop my skills in creating art in this way too. It’s taking me a long while to get my head around it all, but little by little my digital art is developing I think, and I’ll find my own voice with it for sure, or maybe another voice.

I used my usual trifecta of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Mandala in succulent colours

Mandala in succulent colours © Angela Porter 2019
Mandala in succulent colours © Angela Porter 2019

I do struggle with colour schemes at times. I either go crazy overboard with bright, vibrant, rainbow colours or monochrome. For this one, I took the colours from some images of succulents and used small colour palette of just five basic colours, with varying tones of those colours to achieve the depth I like in my artwork.

The colour palette is also a bit different for me, much more muted, subdued. That may reflect my current emotional and mental weather. I’m not as gloomy as I have been over the past few weeks, but it certainly isn’t as bright and sunny as it can be.

I always find creating soothing to my mind and emotions. It’s my main self-care activity. It’s not the only one, but it’s the main one. Others include crochet/knitting, reading, napping. I’d like to add going for a walk to that list, but on days like today that can be difficult for me to do. Weekends tend to be more peopley than I can cope with even on the best of my days.

I have invited my sister over for a meal this evening. However, I’m not up to facing the craziness of a Saturday supermarket to do the shopping, so I’ll take her out for a meal instead. That would do me some good too, a change of scene and someone else cooking for me. It will also allow me to conserve what energy I have at the moment. I’m so tired all the time after a few very draining weeks through EMDR and Time to Change Wales anti-stigma talks.

Mandala

Mandala © Angela Porter 2019
Mandala © Angela Porter 2019

All done! It’s taken a couple of days work on this mandala, but I got there. For some reason the colours are darker and duller here on WordPress than they are in the file…still, the colours are rather rich and vibrant.

My usual tools of Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro were used.

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.