I woke this morning with a dreadful migraine. Two emotionally draining days – therapy on Monday, an anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales yesterday – can cause such a reaction in me. It’s my body’s way of saying ‘Woah there Angela! Enough! Time out is needed! Self-care! Nothing else stressful for today at least, please!’.
So I’m heeding my body’s message. I was due to take all my accounts stuff to my accountant, but my vision and concentration is impaired enough that for now I don’t feel safe to drive. I know that with a quiet day and a nap later on I’ll recover.
Even though my eyesight is affected a bit, doing art actually seems to help with the headache. I think it’s a mindful activity that lets my mind and emotions relax.
So, I wanted to complete my days of the week in a Lombardic style script, and here’s my work in progress. You can see my pencil lines, both as a guide for letter heights and for the shape and spacing of letters. By drawing the outlines in pencil first it means I can easily make adjustments as I ink them in.
Next steps, when my head has cleared a fair bit more, will be to add the patterns in the letters. This really does help to define the letter shapes I think.
I definitely want to try some of these letters with dangles on them. Perhaps that’s what I’ll do while I’m waiting for this migraine headache to shift somewhat.
Today has been a bit of a busy day. I woke still drained from yesterday’s EMDR therapy session. No EMDR though as I was just too emotional and ‘raw’ to go through it, so it was a lot of talking around how one trigger event had caused several trauma ‘streams’ to rise and flood and confluence. I was stuck at that confluence where white water rapids had formed and I was being buffeted about in the eddies and currents and waves.
So, it was self-care last night when I got home, which involved a bag of chips from a local chippy, with curry sauce, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and starting to crochet an amigurumi ‘dumpling cat’ from a new book that was delivered yesterday. Then, there was the journal writing before I went to bed.
This morning I had to be up early to go give an anti-stigma talk to a group of police officers. That drained me emotionally once again. However, it was a good thing to do as they all found my talk really interesting and useful. My Time To Change Wales champions hat was polished up a little bit once again.
I came home and finally had some breakfast and ended up in bed to sleep. That’s one of my coping strategies when I’m so emotionally drained. I still feel dazed and dazzled by it all, but am on a bit of a more even keel now.
I didn’t want to let the day pass without doing something with pen and paper or screen. Hand lettering seems to be my thing at the moment so I thought I’d have a go at hand lettering some of the days of the week.
For reference I used the Lombardic Capitals set in ‘Decorated Lettering’ by Jan Pickett.
They appeal to me partly because the space inside the letters lends itself so much to adding patterns, but because of their oldy-worldy nature. I love Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Medieval illuminated manuscripts and this style of lettering, in a slightly more modern form, appeals to me.
I discovered it’s a lot easier to form the letters when you draw them big – hence why their size increased from Monday to Wednesday.
Dot grid paper is a godsend as it helps with the consistency of size of the letters, though I suspect that as I become more comfortable with my skills that I may experiment more with that.
A nice way to spend an hour or so this afternoon, and I have the rest of the days to look forward to doing, along with adding patterns to the open letters.
Mind you, the letters without patterns would look lovely just coloured with colour gradients, and I’d love to add metallic highlights/accents too.
First, I need to get a bit more proficient at hand lettering and working on plain paper.
Of course, I can always scan my lettering in and remove the background and dotgrid so I can print it out on paper suitable for a colouring medium such as watercolours and metallic paints.
Cheating? No. I don’t think so. I would’ve already done the work in the first place. Printing and colouring is, to me, perfectly acceptable.
But that’s for another day. For now, I had to get myself sorted to pop out for the evening.
I’m also musing about adding some dangles to the letters – dangles with charms that are reminiscent of medieval ornament or jewellery, for example.
Oh, it’s also #furbabyfriday over on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. We’d love to see your furbabies there.
A busy couple of days
It’s been a nice way to spend a couple of hours this morning. A relatively easy and relaxing couple of hours too. I really need a day of self-care after a couple of crazy days for me.
Wednesday I had a very anxious kind of day. Anxious in a good way but it was also very emotionally draining. I spent the day on a media training course with Sarah Hibbert at the Mind Cymru offices in Cardiff. The day was all about learning how to be effectively interviewed by the media in reference to Time to Change Wales and it’s campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health. A large part of the day was spent being interviewed and recorded on video camera then watching ourselves back and having feedback about how well we did and how we could improve.
It’s horrible seeing myself on video. I cringe so much. It provokes the inner critic so it rises up and attacks me, noticing every little flaw, mark, error, how the camera exaggerates features and so on.
It was a good day, the training was really excellent and gave lots of things to consider going forward.
I came home exhausted, barely able to string two words together. Having to travel in the rush hour so it took me nearly an hour and a half to get home, a journey that is usually less than half an hour, didn’t help at all.
I then tried to get to sleep early as I had to be up and into the shower at 5:15am so I could be dressed and ready to leave home around 6:10am to head out to Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest for around 8:30am, picking the lovely Russell up on my way.
The staff at the college had a wellbeing day and Russell and I were both involved for Time to Change Wales, with me giving two anti-stigma talks in the morning.
The day was lovely, the people were friendly and welcoming and some told me my talk was inspirational and I was brave for telling my story. The receptionist was an absolute darling; when I handed in my visitors badge she handed me a roll of papers saying ‘This is for you’. I had no idea what it was, thinking it may be a certificate for taking part in the day. When we had a look she’d gone online and found and printed loads of memes with wonderful words on that she thought would help me. I was really, really touched by her gesture.
The journey there and back again, a 200 mile round trip, went quickly as Russell and I chattered about all kinds of things. Russell did amazingly during the day as well, as he always does.
When I got home, I managed to empty the remains of the mocha in my travel mug over my handbag, and inside it. There’s no way I can salvage/clean the bag. It also went over my bullet journal, so I’ve ordered a new one as this one is wrecked. So today is a bujo-less day for me as the new one won’t arrive until tomorrow.
I had a very quiet evening, retired to bed earlier than usual and had a good 8 or 9 hours or so sleep. This is unusual for me, and I must’ve needed it.
I missed doing art over the last couple of days, but it’s been nice meeting new people, even though it does exhaust me, me being an introvert.
Digital or traditional art? My perspective.
Today, as I’ve said, it’s a self-care day, so art is definitely on the cards, as well as some flute practice I think.
I also have to think about, and ask for opinions on, digital drawing vs traditional drawing.
I love doing both. They both have their pros and cons.
I use a Surface Pen on the Surface Studio screen in just the same way I would use a pen or pencil on paper. I hold the pen the same way, I make lines and marks the same way. The only difference is that the paper is virtual and doesn’t exist unless I print it out.
With digital drawing I can make use of tools such as mirror and symmetry to help me with some elements of my art, particularly mandalas.
I rarely use tools like line smoothing and predictive lines (if anything predictive lines annoy me, they never end up as I want them). I do use line smoothing if I’m drawing a long straight-ish or curved line, but I still end up with wibbly bits.
I like to have the wibby bits, and I’ve carefully set up the pen ‘brushes’ I use so that they mimic Sakura Pigma Micron pens or Uniball Unipin pens in how the edge of the line is uneven due to ink bleeding.
Depending on what I’m doing, I do make sketches in pencil or pen on paper, scan that in and use it as a guide for my digital drawing.
The big advantage to working digitally, however, is the ease with which corrections and adjustments can be made.
I have, on very, very, very rare occasions, ‘copied and pasted’ a design element to create a design; so rare that I think I’ve done that once, maybe twice in the three years or so that I’ve been working digitally.
I love to draw traditionally too, with pen on paper. It’s a different kind of sensory experience, no better or worse than digital drawing. Just different.
It can be frustrating when an error is made or ink is smudged or the pencil line won’t erase properly. I then can use my digital tools to clean up the scanned in image, sometimes seamlessly erasing and re-drawing the area that needs correcting. No one notices when I do this as I’ve honed my skills and my pen ‘brushes’ so that they are as near the drawing pens I use on paper.
What can cause me problems digitally is that I lose sense of the scale of the patterns/designs I’m drawing and I can get way too intricate for traditional colorists to add colour to them. That’s why I often sketch at least an outline of the design out and scan it in draw the finished line work digitally. This is all because of the ability to zoom in to the area I’m working on. So, I often need that pencil/pen on paper guide to keep my drawing at the right kind of complexity.
Before I worked digitally, I thought that it would be easier, simpler than working traditionally, that the skill level would be lower, that anyone could achieve fantastic results.
However, I’ve found that opinion is completely false.
Yes, digital tools make certain aspects of drawing a bit easier, such as symmetry. However, it’s just as difficult to draw digitally as it is traditionally. It’s taken me a long time to get my pen ‘brushes’ set up so they mimic my traditional pens. It’s taken me a long time to be able to draw on the screen with the same precision and smoothness of lines as I can on paper. It’s been like learning to write and draw again.
I’ve had to learn, and continue to learn, a whole new skill set that you don’t need with traditional pen and paper.
I can do things digitally that I could never do with traditional media.
Digital drawing, digital art is NOT traditional art’s poor cousin. Drawing digitally, as well as coloring digitally, does not mean I’ve gone over to the dark side at all.
I’ve had comments made about mandalas I’ve drawn digitally, taking as much time over them as if I’d drawn them traditionally, that it’s a pity that they’re digital, as if my skill, my creativity is less because I use the digital tools. That made me feel pretty worthless at the time, to be honest, and comments like that say a lot either about the tastes or prejudices of the person making the comment.
They liked the mandala until they saw it was digitally created, which meant they no longer liked it.
More recently someone showed me a comment about one of my coloring books where the person didn’t like it because I’d drawn the images digitally so I’d sold out and gone to the dark side. There was none of the human touches or faint lines where pencil had been erased (erm, there’s never any of that in my work as I’m asked to clean it all up!), that the lines are too perfect, too much copying and pasting was used (never – except in one template) and so on.
Again, this said a lot about their prejudices. I work hard to keep the human touches in my art work – the wibbly lines, the imperfect circles and so on. The pens that have the irregular edges.
It’s almost like those who choose to do digital art are somehow less than traditional artists – less skilled, less hardworking, less human, less creative, less talented.
I don’t think I am. I think I do a fairly good job with digital and traditional media, often mixing the two together such as when I digitally color a traditionally drawn design.
I don’t think I’m lazy by drawing digitally – it takes me longer, even when I use the symmetry tool for mandalas, to create a mandala as I’m able to add more details.
I like to think I have a good level of skill in traditional art and that I’m getting better with the digital art.
I’m sure I don’t take full advantage of the digital medium as I seem to try to work in it as I would as a traditional artist! I just treat it as a different brand of pen, a different kind of paper, and a different kind of coloring medium, with the ability to layer and use a huge color palette.
I work hard to keep my style of drawing quintessentially ‘Angela Porter’ no matter whether I draw traditionally or digitally.
In my next book for Creative Haven, Entangled Forests (available for pre-order), I actually have a mixture of digitally drawn and traditionally drawn templates in there.
That’s a reflection of me, how I like to work, and how I can get the effects that I want in the drawing.
However, even with the traditionally drawn images there’s some digital ‘art’ going on as I have to scan them in, clean up smudges and errors and make corrections based on suggestions from the editorial team at Dover Publications Inc, and you’d be hard pressed to find these corrections and clean ups, though you may work out which is drawn digitally and which is drawn traditionally if you look hard.
One of the things on my list of things to do is to start a YouTube channel where I can show how I create my art. Perhaps that will help to end the stigma and discrimination that exists around digital artists, so that I, and others don’t get comments such as ‘ I liked it until I saw it was digital’ or ‘I used to like them until they sold out and gone to the dark side of digital drawing’.
A couple of years ago this would get to me. I’d lose my confidence in myself, I’d doubt myself, I’d want to give up. But not now. I take it in my stride. You can’t please all people all the time, especially as art is such a personal kind of thing.
However, comments such these say far more about the person making them and their likes/dislikes than they do about my art. On the back of a comment about me having sold out, it turns out that my newest book ‘Entangled Butterflies’ was fully stocked in a Walmart on Monday; by Thursday it had sold out, and one of the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group had let me know they’d had the last copy.
I don’t know what’s occurring with WordPress, but the colours of this particular dangle design aren’t quite so grey and dull. I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when I upload an image the colours change. Never used to do that…
Anyways, today’s dangle design was fun to draw and I chose to use a different color palette than is usually for me. It’s not more pastel, it’s more subdued perhaps. I actually quite like it, which has surprised me!
I do tend towards bright colour palettes, bright and vibrant. For me to choose a more subdued one is very unusual, but it’s something I think I may work with more now as I rather like this one.
Also, I’ve chosen just 7 colors that I’ve used tones/shades of – cool grey, cool violet, antique pink, a blue-green, a yellow-green, soft blue-grey and old gold tones.
Again, using just a few base colors rather than a whole host of different colours is not my usual way of working. What I’m beginning to realise about this is that it gives a much more cohesive look to the finished design. With the colours being more subtle, it also gives a much more grown-up even, dare I say it, more sophisticated look to what is a rather simple and whimsical kind of design. It particularly works well with the monogram ‘C’.
In fact, the cute kitty is really the only whimsical element of this design. The others are simple, yes, but not quite so cute and whimsical. However, I wouldn’t remove the kitty-cat as cats are the theme of this series of monogram dangle designs.
I’ve said it before that I really struggle with seeing my art as others see it. I often think my art, like this, is rather childish, simple, unsophisticated, naive with no real artistic value at all.
This is part of how I think of myself and it’s part of my CPTSD. I’m working on it. For me to recognise that I’ve done nice things, things I feel proud of is a step or two forwards. However, there’s that nasty inner critic that does its best to derail any positive thoughts I may have about myself or the things I do.
Anyways, onto the nitty gritty of how I created this dangle design.
The steps I took were:
sketched out the design on dot grid paper
scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
used a technical pen ‘brush’ to ink in the design
worked out the color palette I wanted to use
coloured the design, in this case using gradient fills for speed
added shadows to the design
created a drop shadow
created a coloured background
added texture to both the design and background
I sketched the design out last night, and it took me between 2 and 3 hours to complete the steps above as this is a relatively small design.
If you’d like to learn how to create your own dangle designs, then my upcoming book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is a good place to start. You can pre-orderit so it’s arrives on it’s release date in January 2019.
This has taken me a couple of days to complete, mainly because of appointments but also a big need for some self-care.
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.
A very quick one today. No finesse, No refining. Just Thor the thunder kittie…
Why very quick? I have a busy day. Soon to head to shower to dash out to run a craft corner at a Hallowe’en Coffee morning. I’m really nervous about it and scared that what I’ve chosen to do in terms of crafts won’t be good enough. I’ve most probably bought way too much in the way of materials and so on..but I hope it will be good enough.
Then it’ll be home for a bit before heading out this evening to do a talk.
I’m also feeling really tired – that’s down to the stress involved in the craft corner. I’ve not done anything like this since I was a teacher and that was over 3 years ago now. As well as worrying about not being good enough, I’m worrying about being overwhelmed, finding it all too noisy, having too many demands made on me by too many kids or adults at the same time.
I want to do this. It’s for a good cause. But I also worry that I may have volunteered too quickly without thinking through things taking into account my introvert nature and the CPTSD.
I suspect this afternoon will involve a long, long nap.
Anyways, I drew a Kitty Thor as it was just what popped into my head when I saw the prompt ‘Thunder’. It’s following on in the theme of whimsical kitties. It’s also a bit of a dangle design with an Angela ‘take’ on the design of Thor’s hammer, with another nestling behind the kitty sparking madly!
I did sketch quickly in pencil and inked in with a Faber-Castell broadpen.
Day 23 dawned slowly for me today it has to be said and I’m still trying to get my brain out of the sleepy fugginess that I woke with around 5am. Far too early to be awake.
Still, before I head out for the day – a trip to Worcester with my friend Liz – I wanted to get Inktober done.
The first thing that came into my head when I read the prompt for today (which is muddy) was the buddhist quote about lotus and mud. I had to look it up – thank goodness for the magic of the google!
After hand lettering the quote (hand lettering is a bit better today, but some of the word spacing is a bit iffy) I turned it into a dangle design! (Quick plug – My book ‘A Dangle A Day’ is available for preorder should you fancy some guidance and ideas on drawing your own dangle designs).
Had enough time to chuck the scanned image into GiMP to remove the dot grid and any remaining pencil guide lines and then to create a transparent background. This was followed by a quick visit to Autodesk Sketchbook for the image file so I could add a coloured background and my watermark.
I have enough time to write this blog, do the other social media stuff before diving into the shower and heading over to Liz’s to start the day’s jolly journey to Worcester (which no doubt will appear on my other blog – Curious Stops and Tea Shops).
The quote speaks to me both of the feeling I get when I meditate, but also about my journey from the mental and emotional ill-health of cptsd towards a healthier state of being.