I’ve made some more progress on this mandala. It took me a good couple of hours to settle on the colour way for the black portion of the mandala. Whatever colour I tried it just seemed to be ‘too much’ against the bright motifs already in place. Black seems a little stark at the moment, maybe.
As I’m creating this digitally, I can always alter the black section. However, I think that as I ‘sit’ with the design the black will make some kind of sense.
As I put the simple shapes of the ‘shells’ or ‘flowers’ beyond the black section, I worried that they wouldn’t work. it was only by adding the details that I have become pleased with these motifs. They’re very textural in nature. I’ve even worked out how to have the ‘pearls’ or ‘pollen grains’ floating above the sections.
What I’m really pleased with, though, is the addition of some simple but effective details to the lighter parts of these motifs, including a couple of spirals that are in the same colour scheme. Sutble, but I think they’re lovely details.
It’s taken me a good five to six hours to complete these two sections You can also see I still have quite a bit left to do. I’m going to take a break from it for a while now. I didn’t realise how long I’ve been hunched over the Surface Studio working on this. Oh, I’ve been using my Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with the Surface Studio and it is a pleasure to do so.
My trio of tools are allowing me to create my own bit of personal artistic magic. Well, I think that’s what I’m doing. Something rather pretty, beautiful even, and colourful too.
Gosh, what am I saying? Me, recognising that something I’ve created is pretty even beautiful? Blimey! That doesn’t happen often I can tell you. But I really am rather proud of this mandala and the style in which I am working at the moment.
So, how are you today Angela?
I’m ok today. Quite content really. I also have the sense of satisfaction that I’m doing a good job with this mandala.
Yes, a sense of satisfaction and the recognition I’m doing a good job. These are emotions that I’m only just becoming aware of in myself.
Another small sign of progress being made on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.
I have to say I am really, really pleased with how this mandala is working out. It’s not at all what I expected in the first instance, but I am so chuffed with myself.
I also think I am really getting the hang of this digital art malarkey too. I can also say that there is no way I would have been able to create this using traditional media – I’ve tried similar things in the past and it all ends up such a mess with me.
Digital art is the media I think I may have been waiting for. It’s taken me three years to get to this artistic level with digital art. Even in this mandala you can see how I have learned and developed ideas as I’ve worked from the centre out.
I absolutely love my Microsoft products – Surface Pen, Surface Book and Surface Studio. I cut my digital art teeth on the Surface Book (not literally!) and found I enjoyed digital art and when I felt I could I got a Surface Studio as the smaller size of the Surface Book screen was frustrating me a little.
The change to the Surface Studio is what has enabled me to really take to digital art. The size of the screen, the ease at which I can change the angles at which I work with the Surface Studio, the speed of the processors, the sensitivity of the pen on the screen…
I just love it! So much so I’m on the point of destashing nearly all my traditional art media and gifting them to a worthy cause.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to draw with pen on paper, that won’t ever change so my pen collection won’t be going anywhere. But the way I can use colour and texture digitally is an absolute dream. It’s also mess-free!
I hope you noticed that I said I’m really pleased with this mandala. It’s not often I’m able to say that about my art. But today I can and I am. I am actually smiling when I look at this mandala.
My only problem now is that I’ve changed the design of the mandala in the latest ‘ring’. Oh well, I can adjust accordingly or just create a new design around this one. I’ll see how I go with that.
I also quite like the ‘ghostly’ outline mandala design as a background, though silly me managed to leave the outline above the coloured design. One of the wonderful things about working in layers is that things like this aren’t a problem!
I think I may celebrate my progress with this mandala and also my digital art skills with a nice mug of tea!
My current work in progress is a mandala. Also, I’m using my line art as a guide for the coloured areas which is quite different for me to do. No black lines in the finished design. Not a one will there be.
I’m working digitally using my trusty trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I have also chosen a coloured, texture background for the design to sit/float upon.
Just as a guide, it took me an hour or so to draw out the mandala design. So far I’ve spent around 6 hours on adding the colour and so on – and that’s with the help of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I’d had to do each section individually it would’ve taken me eight times as long!
You can see I still have a lot to do, so it’s going to be a long term project for sure.
I’m actually enjoying this one. It’s been rather soothing to do given that I’ve not been feeling too well with some kind of upset tummy. I’m still not fully well today but I am feeling a fair bit better than I did yesterday, thank goodness.
So, how are you feeling today Angela?
Other than still feeling not too well physically with some kind of dodgy tummy, I’m quite contented.
Contented is good enough I think. I’m being creative, quietly so. I’m enjoying listening to Audible (currently it’s “Fatal Alliance” the first in the Star Wars Old Republic series of books. This one is authored by Sean Williams) as I’m being artsy. However, as I type I’m listening to the Maroon 5 station on Amazon Music. I can’t write and listen to a book!
To go back to my mental and emotional health, I feel quite content and my anxiety levels are at the manageable background levels, which is barely noticeable unless I focus on them. That is good enough for me, though I do know that it doesn’t take much for them to be triggered.
The CPTSD hair triggers that lead to emotional flashbacks. Not clear memories of a traumatic event, the emotional memories of a series of similar events that tapped into the stored trauma of the first traumatic event, reinforcing the trauma again and again and again.
That’s one way in which CPTSD is different to PTSD.
As I become more aware of my emotions and what can trigger an emotional response I’m more able to manage how I interact (or not) with the world until that trigger no longer affects me.
All part of self care which is so important.
My recovery from CPTSD is a work in progress, something I won’t stop until I’m good enough in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing as well as my relationship with myself.
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.
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!
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.
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.