The magic of colour – WIP

The magic of colour WIP 27 May 2019 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
The magic of colour WIP 27 May 2019 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I’ve spent an hour or two this morning adding some colour to this design. I’m using fairly bright and vibrant colours as well as making use of the way complementary colours vibrate against each other. There are some sections that are more pastel and even monochrome, but I’ll see how they blend into the design as I complete more and more of the coloring.

Instead of my usual golden tones for the outlines of arches and swirls I’ve used more coppery tones. Again, I’ll see how that works out as more colour is added.

Just in case you’re wondering, the design was drawn and hand lettered using Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. I then scanned the drawing and am adding colour digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, how are you today Angela?

I’m feeling better today compared to yesterday and a lot better than the previous couple of weeks. I think a meditation session last night really helped.

I’ve not had a regular meditation practice for a long while. The ironic thing is that I meditate regularly when I’m feeling fine, but when the CPTSD crashes in I don’t meditate, even though it can help.

Recently, I think the reticence on my part to meditate has been due to some rather emotional and distressing reactions to loving kindness meditations. Reactions that I’m not resilient enough to work with and resolve, not yet anyways.

I feel I have some more energy today as well, though there’s a lingering tiredness here as well.

It’s taken a week to get to a position where I feel fairly content, not so sad and lacking any oompf.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll have the confidence to go out during the day. Mind you, it’s a bank holiday here in the UK so it’s likely to be busy on the roads and anywhere I may like to go. I’ll see how I get along today.

Blue Mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I have had an artsy kind of day so far. A lot of the gloom, anxiety and troubled thoughts that descended on me have lifted, but not all. Once provoked the beasties that are my cPTSD take a while to settle down again. I also feel tired – mentally, physically and emotionally tired, despite a fairly good nights sleep.

I managed to get some work done on a template for my next book for Creative Haven by Dover. I got to a point, however, where I wasn’t happy with how it was going so I thought a break was in order.

So, for my break I thought I’d work on a mandala, and this is the one I’ve created today.

I didn’t consciously choose the colours or patterns I used in this mandala. However, the blues bring to mind water, rivers, the sea. I love to be near the sea. I find the rhythm of the waves calming, no matter how gentle or wild they are. The salty wind helps to blow away cobwebs in the mind, cobwebs that not so good thoughts have stuck to. I love to look at the patterns in the sand, rocks, pebbles. There’s so much more I love. So perhaps by choosing blue I’ve identified an unconscious need to visit the sea soon.

A lot of the patterns that have found their way into this mandala remind me of waves or shells. They’re all organic and flowing. Though there are some rather architectural arches and patterns there, lending some form to the design.

The ocean is used as metaphor in mindfulness meditations. I am the ocean. The waves are my emotions that ruffle the surface of that deep, calm body of water. Meditation is about finding that calm and being in touch with it in daily life.

Carl Jung believed that drawing a mandala daily helped to reveal what was going on in the subconscious mind, the things we need to bring into awareness and work on in order to heal.

Curious that this one speaks to me of water, the ocean.

Yesterday’s meditation stirred up the waves for sure. A veritable tsunami resulted of emotional, mental and physical pain. It’s freaked me out a little and I’ve been reluctant to meditate today, well not until I’ve done everything I need to do today.

I did draw this mandala digitally. In fact, returning to digital art let me exhale a little and relax a bit more into art. I also didn’t want to revisit my frustration with traditional media that I had yesterday.

I find working digitally wonderfully liberating in many ways. I know that I’m no expert in the use of mechanics of digital art – I use it more like I would traditional media. However, whereas I feel I struggle with colour and techniques with traditional media these days, I feel none of that with digital art.

Now that’s a surprise to me! I never, ever thought I’d feel that way about working digitally.

My digital tools are my Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. The screen of the Surface Studio is my paper, the Surface pen is a multitude of pens, pencils, brushes and colours in one instrument. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is the software that allows me to work so intuitively, so naturally as I would with pen on paper, but with other tools and techniques I can use that I wouldn’t be able to reproduce with traditional media – I don’t have the skills to do that.

So, some insights about myself from the mandala, and also some realisations about myself and my relationship with digital art and how much that relationship has strengthened and deepened – and there’s still a lot more to learn and discover about digital art and myself.

Remembrance Sunday 2018

Angela Porter Remembrance Mandala 2018

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of Armistice – the ending of the First World War. This took place at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The guns fell silent. World War I ended.

But war has not ended.

The Second World War, among many others, followed. Burma. Korea. Vietnam. Falklands. Iraq, first and second. Afghanistan. And so many, many, many other conflicts around the world that barely get a mention in the western news.

Today, we remember all those lost in conflicts/wars around the world, those who have given their lives in the service of others. Those who have selflessly given the most precious thing we have – life – so that others may live in peace and safety.

Not only do we remember the men and women from all walks of life, social backgrounds, countries and beliefs who lost their lives and were injured during conflict/war, we remember the animals who were also killed and injured during conflict as they served and supported the troops.

My grandmother’s first husband, Frank, was gassed in the trenches in WWI and eventually died back in England, nursed by his own wife. It’s said that her hair went pure white overnight when she received the news.

My father took part in WWII. He was at the D-day landings. Amongst other things he witnessed, he saw the piles and piles of bodies at a concentration camp in Poland.

People like Frank and my dad, Robert John Porter, went to war to bring an end to such atrocities, to bring peace to our societies.



IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
In Flanders’ Fields.

Lt Col John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor who lost a friend at Ypres, was inspired by a field of poppies to write this poem in early May 1915

From www.royalbritishlegion.org.uk


Thoughts about my mandala

I knew I wanted to create a mandala that looked like a round stained glass window, but could also be used as a focus for meditation about peace, about remembrance, about the ultimate sacrifice of life in order to bring about a more peaceful world.

I wanted to create something that featured red poppies.

The poppy is not a symbol of war. It is not about glorifying war. It is not a symbol of support for war. It is not a reflection of politics or religion.

The poppy is a symbol of remembrance. It is a symbol of hope. It is a symbol of respect for all those, regardless of nationality, religion, race, who selflessly gave of themselves to return peace. You can find out more about remembrance poppies by following this link.

Eleven poppies to go with the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

I wanted a bright centre to the mandala as the symbol of hope for a better future. A more peaceful future. A brighter future.

I included some hearts as I thought of the words from Martin Luther King Jr:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.

I chose blue as a colour that represents to myself peace and calm. Green as a symbol of growth, balance, harmony, understanding.

As is so often the case with my artwork lately this was created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio.


Closing thoughts

I thank Frank and my dad for their sacrifice.

I thank all the others who through the ages have fought with peace and a free world as their goal.

I wish there was no need for armies and wars. I wish we could all learn to get along. I wish there would be an end to hatred and racism and bigotry. I wish we could get over the fear of the ‘different’ or the ‘other’. I wish we could all work together to find common ground and build upon that.

Idealist? Dreamer? Yes, I’m guilty of that for sure. However, if enough of us believe in this come together we could make a difference.


There Will Be Peace

There will be peace:
when attitudes change;
when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes
are deleted from the account;
when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit
rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
when justice and equality before the law
become the basis of government;
when basic freedoms exist;
when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media
wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
when parents teach their children new ways to think about people.
There will be peace:
when enemies become fellow human beings.

David Roberts 1999.

From Warpoetry.co.uk

 

Inktober 2018 Day 10 ‘Flowing’ and World Mental Health Day 2018 #wmhd

Angela Porter Inktober 2018 Day 10 Flowing watermarked

Today’s #inktober2018 prompt is ‘Flowing’, so I knew I had to incorporate ripples into my art for today. I also wanted a blue-green colour scheme, so I used Distress Inks and an ink blending tool to colour an A4 piece of Bristol Board from Frisk.

After drawing pencil lines to allow me margins, I set to work with a range of Uniball Unipin pens to draw my design.

I started with the wavy lines in the bottom left corner and just let everything flow out from there quite intuitively, as is usual for myself.

It’s taken me quite a while to do; I think I started it around 7:30am and it’s now nearly 3pm. Sheesh, that’s nearly 8 hours!  Here was me at the beginning of Inktober stating I was going to do little drawings and so on.

However, there’s a dual purpose in today’s art.

Although I’m not doing anything specific for World Mental Health Day (#wmhd #worldmentalhealthday #wmhd2018) I am taking care of my own mental and emotional health by creating this drawing.

Yesterday was a tough day for me emotionally. In my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales (#ttcw) I gave an anti-stigma talk to HR people in a college, both of which triggered some quite strong emotional flashbacks for me.

A couple of hours after that talk ended, I had my weekly EMDR therapy session which resulted in some strong and painful releases of trauma stored in my body as well as some emotional flashbacks of trauma in my childhood that I’d dissociated from.

So between the two, I was emotionally exhausted yesterday evening and night and I woke up headachy and tired today.

Part of my self-care for my emotional and mental well-being is being creative and it just so happens that Inktober’s prompt was a perfect one for today, yet again.

When I get lost in my artwork I enter a state called ‘flow’. It’s a kind of meditative state of calm, peacefulness. My self-talk (which is often so very negative) is either quieted or loses it’s power over me. It’s almost like I’m outside of time and space.

So, the approx 8 hours of drawing (well more like 6 or 7 as I had a break to meditate mid-morning and took a short time out to get a veggie bacon sandwich for a late lunch) had just flown by.

I’m still tired, but there’s a peace there within me that wasn’t there when I woke.

Creating a drawing that is rather intricate is something I don’t get to do often when I’m working on coloring books, but it is definitely something that soothes my sore emotions and mind.

Not only is it time that the stigma and discrimination around mental health is brought to an end, it’s time we all looked after our mental and emotional health as much as we do our physical health.

I have a couple of chronic health problems and during my regular checkups I’m asked about my mental and emotional health as it’s known that people can develop mental ill-health when they live day to day with a chronic illness.

I know from personal experience that when I don’t take care of my emotional/mental health I become physically ill, so the state of our mental health, emotional health and physical health interact with one another, of that I’m sure.

So, try everyday to take the time to do something that lets you relax and find joy and peace in doing. There are so many things that people use for this – drawing, coloring, painting, playing music, gardening, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, singing, meditation, mindful activities, taking a relaxing bath by candle light, a massage, a cup of tea somewhere with a beautiful view, a walk in the surf’s edge on a sunset beach, yoga, tai chi….the list goes on!

What do you do for your own mental and emotional self-care? What do you love to do where you can find yourself in ‘flow state’ or a meditative state that gives your mind a rest?

 

Art and my healing journey

 

 

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A page of floral sketches from my sketchbook.

This is a little bit of a different blog post from me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I experience CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which presents itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and a low self-esteem.

I’ve had lots of counselling over the past eight years or so, and for the last two and a half years I’ve had a lovely therapist who specialises in EMDR therapy.  It’s taken a long while for me to get to the point where I believe that such a gentle kind of therapy works, and works for me.  It’s still a slow process…but progress is being made.  A major change in employment nearly a year ago seriously helped with that.

Last week, my counsellor suggested I read a book called ‘Tapping In’ by Laurel Parnell.  In the book, Laurel Parnell describes how the process of bilateral stimulation by means of tapping the knees or outer thighs can be used to reinforce a safe place, helpful guardians and other tools to help during both therapy and everyday life.  My own therapist has successfully used it to reduce anxiety during a dental appointment as well as aiding in sleep.

She suggested I read the book and we do some work on the resources I need before continuing with EMDR as the last few sessions have left me rather upset, fragile, and, unsually for me, unable to find my ‘safe place’ at the end of a session, so that I can leave the fragile and upset state behind.

So,  yesterday we worked on my safe place, with me coming up with a new one and ‘tapping in’ the contentment, peace and safety I feel when I imagine myself there. The bilateral stimulation from alternating taps to the outer knees, helps to reinforce the feeling of the place, and actually helps to intensify it.

I have no problem imagining places I can go to in my imagination; I’ve used guided meditations over the years for various purposes.  When it comes to me coming up with my own imaginary places, it never ceases to surprise me what these places are like!

The other thing that was suggested after I’d verbally described my place, was to spend time over the week drawing/painting/creating images of this place, as well as practicing the process of tapping in my safe place and using it to help me manage my current high anxiety levels.  (My anxiety intensified greatly yesterday, not as a result of counselling, but by the decision to hold a ‘snap general election’ and my worries about what is happening in this country, in the world, which then gets transferred to worrying about finances as I’m now self-employed, and so on and the constant chatter of anxiety winds itself up if I’m not careful).

Me being me, I get to it almost straight away…starting with these mandalas

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Mandalas based on the feelings I get when I’m in my ‘safe place’.

Carl Jung used mandalas to represent/express the current state of the self:

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation. ” – Carl Jung

So, I started with some abstract, intuitive mandalas to try to express the feelings I have when I think of my safe place, when I remember the feelings I have when I’m there.

Next, I wanted to draw some kind of representation of a view from one of the windows of my place.  And this is what I came up with, though the view changes all the time!

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Yes, I know water isn’t yellow, but in my inner world it can be!  It also shimmers with gold and has lots of shining gold and blue ‘dots’ in it.  Lots of happy creatures and colours there, all entertaining me … diverting my attention away from my anxiety.

Yes, I use art to help me manage my mental health.  When anxious, doing art helps me become less so; when depressed, art lifts my mood.  I’m sure the inner critic chatters away even when I’m ‘arting’, but the art takes my attention so the critic’s voice can be ignored.

Oh, before I drew anything, I took time to write a clear description of my safe place, as words are how I build up mind images.

I’m looking forward to ‘tapping in’ help for creativity, amongst other things… I’m also looking to intuitively drawing and creating some more of the living things that I can see from my safe place – all friendly and protective of course, nothing scary allowed there!  Which suits my tendency to rather whimsical, cutesy, artistic style.

So, I’ve shared a little of my ‘safe place’, but I’m keeping a lot of details to myself – no offence, but I don’t want any gate crashers there!

Are there rules to colouring in?

AngelaPorter_Color Me Stress Free_teaser1I have read many times on various facebook groups how people worry that they aren’t colouring in colouring sheets or books correctly, or they are worried that their work won’t be up to scratch compared to what they see as the amazing work done by others in the groups.

I think I may be qualified to comment on this and to offer some advice, especially as I have now created hundreds of colouring templates for Color Me Calm, Color Me Happy, Color Me Stress-free, Entangled, The Can’t Sleep Colouring Book, Japanese Patterns, Scandinavian Folk Patterns, and 60’s Patterns, with more to come!

Firstly, I’d like to ask you why do you want to spend time colouring in?  Is it for relaxation?  Is it for fun?  Is it to combat boredom?  Is it to while away the time while you are poorly?  Is it for some other reason? Is it for enjoyment?  Is it to lift your mood? Is it because you love colour?  Are there other reasons?

Notice, I ask what your reasons are for colouring, not telling you what mine are.  Your reasons can be as private or as public as you wish.

The colouring templates I have created (and continue to create) have been done with relaxation, joy, enjoyment, lifting moods, taking a break from the crazy pace of modern, technology filled life.  They offer an opportunity to take an almost meditative break from every day life, space for some ‘me time’, some self-caring time.  That was, and is, the aim behind the Color Me books.

In none of the books are there a list of explicit do’s and don’ts for the use of the book (apart from the copyright stuff).  And why should there be?  They are there for you to make your own, for you to have pleasure with, for you to find ways of expressing yourself, to go back to a time of childhood innocence where there were few rules and responsibilities.  They are there for an opportunity for you to become as carefree as you wish. Rules, do’s and don’ts, am I doing it right?, and all these other judgmental thoughts or questions have no place in these books, or similar books.

You can do no wrong!  Trust me.  You really can do no wrong! Really, you are invited to do as you wish to with the colouring templates.

Want to use coloured pencils, wax crayons, chalk pastels, oil pastels, acrylic paints, marker pens, watercolours, collage, glitter, sparkly gel pens, scented pens, stickers?  Want to use many different mediums? Go for it!  Enjoy it! Do whatever you feel inspired to do, whatever you’d like to try out.

Want to split larger sections into smaller ones?  Want to join small sections into big ones?  Great!  Do what you feel you’d like to do!  Trust your instincts, trust how the image is speaking to you.

Want to fill sections in with patterns?  Want to add words or phrases?  Want to add little drawings of your own?  By all means do so!

Worried you’re breaking some rules of art, or colour theory?  Don’t worry!  There are no rules here – if it pleases you that is all that matters!  If you’re using the colouring to get some insight into your emotions or inner thoughts, then don’t worry about all that colour theory stuff, express yourself!

Worried that you’re using the media wrongly?  Don’t worry!  If it works for you, it works for you!  If you’re happy with the result and enjoyed the process, does it really matter what one person or another says?  No, it doesn’t!  If it’s not quite working for you, don’t give up, experiment, and enjoy the process of exploration, of discovery.  You do not have to be an instant expert!  It’s ok to be a learner; in fact we all learn for the whole of our lives and what is so bad about that?  Nothing!  Do you think Leonardo da Vinci just painted the Mona Lisa one day, without years of practice and experimentation, of finding out how to express himself artistically?  Of course he didn’t!

I give you permission to play, to use different media, to shade or not shade, to blend or not blend, to simplify, to make more intricate, to break the rules.

Talking of rules, where did you learn all these shoulds/should nots of colouring?  Why do you still think they are so important? Why do you think that plants can only be green, the sky blue, rocks grey, the Sun yellow, the Moon white.

Let me give you permission to make all these things, and more, any colour you want!  I give you permission to break the rules! You want pink trees with bright purple trunks – absolutely!  You want a lilac Moon – not a problem!  You want to put fuchsia pink and lime green next to each other – what a wonderful idea!

I give you permission to express yourself with colours as a child would, with no rules, but with sheer pleasure and enjoyment!

I believe that inside each and every person there is a creative soul seeking an outlet, and colouring is one way of access things, and who knows where it will lead, what new talents you will discover hiding inside yourself, who knows how it will help you heal, to find new solutions to old problems, new insights to what is going on, as you take a break from worrying and all kinds of thoughts whirling around your head.

Now, what’s the worst that can happen?  You end up disliking something, wasting a little bit of felt tip pen, using up one piece of paper with a printed image on it.  Is that a bad thing?  Ask yourself why you dislike it, what is it trying to tell you, what lessons you can learn from it.  Write notes on the image or the reverse of it, use it to explore yourself, use it in a positive way.

Remember, no one ever has to see what you have done, not unless you wish to show them.

Worried that people will be critical of what you have done?  Don’t show them!  This isn’t for other people.  It’s not a competition.  It’s not to see who can colour the smoothest or stay inside the lines (it’s quite all right to go outside the lines or not go right up to the lines too, you do what you think is right).  It’s something that is entirely for you.  If you’re pleased and proud of what you’ve done and want to share it, then please do, but don’t feel you have to.

Remember, the whole point of this is for you to enjoy yourself, to get messy, to play with different media and images and colours the way you feel you want to at any particular time.

Remember, in art there are no mistakes, only happy accidents!  Sometimes the things we think are mistakes are actually something beautiful and wondrous in their own right, something we learn from and incorporate into our future creativity.

The only ‘rules’ there are in this are the ones you impose upon yourself.  There are no colouring-in police.  There are no international laws about how to colour in.

A last note, I would love to see what you do create and the story behind it and yourself, especially if the process is helping you heal or overcome various difficulties in your life.  That is one of the dreams I have for how my art can be used.

Believe©AngelaPorter2013

This design started with the kind of infinity loop towards the top left.  The loops coming from it eventually were seen as a letter ‘B’ and the word believe seemed to be the right one to put on this.  Everything else grew, quite literally in some cases, from this point.

There are golden stars to wish upon and golden seeds and flowers and growth and sun and rain … and hope.

Approx. 6″ x 8″.  The black lines were worked using Uni-Ball UniPin pens.  Colour was applied using watercolours and gold watercolour paint.  The paper is heavyweight cartridge.

As always, I am the owner of this creation and it may not be used, shared, distributed or altered in any kind of way without permission from me.  Thank you.