Weekend WIP

This drawing is very much a work in progress. It’s being worked with black Unipin and Sakura Micron pens. When it’s complete, I will scan it in again, add a background, along with shading and highlights.

There’s some motifs in here inspired by fossils, others by flora and nature, and others that are purely abstract in nature.

Art is one of my self-care activities that help me manage my mental and emotional wellbeing. I mention this as it is World Mental Health Day #WMHD #WMHD2020 and, ironically, I need to do a fair amount of self-care today.

There’s plenty of information and advice out there on the internet. If you are struggling with your mental or emotional wellbeing, or if you just want to learn more about good mental and emotional health, ideas for how to look after it, then I’d encourage you to do a google and/or seek professional help.

We all have physical health and if something goes wrong with us physically, we don’t think twice about seeking out medical help and advice.

We all have mental and emotional health too. Yet too few of us will seek out help and advice when we need it due to the stigma and/or discrimination that cloud mental and emotional health.

It is high time that seeking help and advice for mental and emotional ill health was as natural and normal as seeking help for physical ill-health.

Meh. Just meh.

Sunday morning art

I wasn’t in the mood to continue with the watercolour work in my sketchbook, soI made some Distress Oxide backgrounds on some Bristol board (5.5″ x 4″). I thought I’d do some intuitive drawing on them using metallic gold ink. So much for what I thought I’d do.

Brush and FW pearlescent Mazuma gold liquid acrylic and a brush didn’t work for me. I was getting frustrated with it. So, I tried a gold metallic Gelly Roll pen, which also didn’t feel right. I followed this by a white Gelly Roll pen, a gold glitter Signo gel pen, and finally a black Pitt Artist pen, none of which allowed me to feel I could settle into some art.

Whatever I did I just wasn’t happy with. It seems that this morning I’m not meant to be doing any art.

Feeling Meh

I am feeling meh this morning, meh meaning a lack of enthusiasm, interest and lacking in inspiration. I feel flat, fed up and still emotionally exhausted. This is finally expressing itself in my art today.

So, today is a day to do something different I think. I’ll most probably do some crochet and read.

I started reading a book yesterday by Rupert Sheldrake – “Science and Spiritual Practices”. I’ve long enjoyed reading Sheldrake’s books, after discovering his theory of Morphic Resonance (thanks to the ‘It’s morphic, innit?’ statements in the Discworld books of Terry Pratchett). I also have an interest in what consciousness is, where it resides, and so I find books that tie science into spirituality and a non-mechanistic approach to consciousness and life quite interesting.

For a number of years, I’ve found it difficult to read and focus on reading for any length of time. I experienced burnout, and with it the depression and anxiety related to CPTSD all my life, had become almost unbearable. With these, my ability to read and process written information mostly vanished. That happened nearly seven years ago now. Slowly, my ability to read and understand and retain what has recovered to where I can now enjoy reading, though it’s not always a natural activity to return to.

Today, however, may be the perfect day to snuggle down with a good book, decent mugs of tea, as it’s grey and damp outside. Nice music on would be good too.

Feeling uninspired

This happens to me on a fairly regular basis. I need a break from art and to do something different. I may do some quick, easy, familiar and comforting types of art just to keep my hand and eye in. I do, however, give myself a break from trying to work at any challenging projects. It’s like a short holiday from art. In time my energy, enthusiasm and inspiration returns anew and off I go again.

Learning to be kind to myself, giving myself permission to take a break, hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a long time. On days like this, though. Days when I feel flat, sad, exhausted, it’s easy to beat myself up about being ‘lazy’.

It’s not being lazy at all; I’m busy taking care of myself. I have to work hard at reminding myself of this. And busy taking care of myself means slowing right down and doing activities that soothe, calm, relax and allow my energy to recharge. Today that means rediscovering the joy of reading, something I used to take for granted, and now it’s something that I will appreciate so much more.

That Friday feeling …

Mandala

Today’s art is a simple mandala. A cool grey, black and white colour scheme on a soft, calming green background.

Drawn in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Slim Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Confusion

I am emotionally drained, confused and overwhelmed again today. I don’t have much in the way of focus. I was surprised I could complete even this quick and simple mandala.

I don’t have the focus or energy to reflect on the choices of colours and symbols in the mandala and how they relate to messages bubbling up from my unconscious mind.

I feel trapped, caught between a rock and a hard place. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. The stress of it all is giving me a migraine, upset digestive system and is dragging my mood downwards.

Heck, even the mandala looks like it is either sinking down, pulling itself up or hanging on by the chains of teardrops. That is how I feel, and I had no idea that was how the mandala would appear when finished.

Art for heart’s sake.

Experiment in watercolour

It’s WIP Wednesday, so here’s a work in progress I started this morning.

I woke thinking it was about time I tackled rendering one of my abstract, stylised, imaginary botanical designs in watercolour.

I think I’ve gained a bit of experience with watercolours, kind of have a feel for them and how I like to work with them. Or so I thought.

Anyways, I started by drawing the design lightly in pencil. I used a 0.5mm mechanical pencil by mistaked; I had intended to use a 0.3 mm one instead. No matter, this is an experiment, a trial in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook.

Once I was happy with the drawing, knowing I can always add more to it or alter it before painting it, I started to add colour.

I started with the bottom right blue seed-poddy/stylised flower motif. I thought I’d use two different shades of blue alternately around it, adding shadow and depth. That didn’t work out too well. I tried dry brushing on the ‘spokes’ of the motif. My reaction was ‘yeuch! Angela what were you thinking???’.

I didn’t give up at this point, though it would’ve been easy to do so. I continued on, reminding me this is an experiment, I’m trying something out that I’ve not had much success with in the past; just keep going.

So I did. And I know I have work to do to recognise when the wet paint has dried enough for a different wet colour to spread nicely, but not too much, when dotted into the first colour.

As time was going on, I was becoming more comfortable with how I was adding colour. I was working out that adding glazes was a way to darken areas, and that I could gently blend the edges out while the glaze layer was still damp so I didn’t get harsh lines.

Slowly but surely I coloured in different motifs, careful not to do wet next to wet.

All in all, I’ve worked on this painting for around three hours. There’s a lot more to do, but I can pick at it from time to time.

What I have noticed is, however, how much I want to add colour in the same way I do when working digitally. An interesting observation, the implications of which I have not even started to unpack yet.

Therapeutic art once again…

Once again, I turn to art to help me manage my unsettled emotions and thoughts. I am so tired, again. The stress of the past week or so has taken it’s toll. However, like the heavy rain and rather windy weather we’re experiencing here in the Valleys of South Wales, these will eventually blow over and I’ll be able to focus on my contracted work.

I’ve learned that when I’m all out of balance, it’s best for me to focus on art that is soothing, that no one expects anything from me, that I don’t have to worry about messing up. If I try to do art that others need to be happy with too, then I get frustrated and negative about myself, doubt myself.

So, for today at least, I will be creative in ways that will give me the time and space to heal my frazzled emotions and gradually work my way back to mental and emotional well-being once again.

After a life-time of putting everyone else’s needs and happiness first, I’m gradually learning to take care of my own needs first.

I felt guilty and selfish to say ‘my own needs first’. But it isn’t selfish to look after myself. It’s a recognition of being responsible for myself and my own needs and well-being.

And so, today I art, for art’s and heart’s sake.

I just wish it wasn’t so darned rainy and blowy. The rain alone I’d be happy to go and walk in, or the wind alone. But not both together. It is forecast to ease off in a couple of hours, so maybe I’ll get a walk this afternoon, with brolly and waterproof jacket. I’d like that. But for now, I’m going to go and drink tea, draw the design for Template Thursday, and have the quiet time I need to heal, recharge and refresh.

Watercolour Art Therapy

Art to calm and soothe

More art therapy was required yesterday and today. This time I messed around with watercolours and botanical motifs.

Some I like, some are hideous, but all resulted in me finding some calm amidst a maelstrom of emotional and mental pressures being exerted against me.

Although I’ve not yet tried to express my emotions via colour and pattern today, working with motifs from nature is soothing in it’s own way.

Perhaps there’s more of me expressing my needs in creating botanical art. I do feel the need to be out walking where there is nature. With Covid19 still doing the rounds, my places of choice are cemeteries; so few people visit them and I feel safe there in a way I don’t feel safe in nature when I’m by myself.

So, as it’s fairly overcast and there’s a good breeze, I’ll head out as soon as I’ve completed my social media stuff for the day.

Materials and method

I used mostly watercolours, but I did try out the Inktense paint palette I received yesterday for one motif. For some of the motifs I used a faint pencil outline. On others I darkened that outline once I’d painted the motif. And I tried black outlines using a Signo DX 0.38 pen on some others. I also used white Signo gel pens to add highlights. Finally, I splattered some gold watercolour over the page, and added some bigger dots of gold.

Oh, I worked on one of the smooth textured pages in my A4 Arteza watercolour journal.

Template Thursday

It’s #TemplateThursday when I create and post a colouring template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. The template is free to members, though there are a few terms and conditions associated with it’s use. It’s also free to join the group!

This week, I decided to draw some cute and whimsical bugs, each having their very own portrait. Lots of small, individual pictures that a perfect for quick, mindful colouring.

I know I often get overwhelmed by a huge artwork I’m working on and that is most likely to happen when I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety, and I seem to have waves of anxiety the like I haven’t seen for a long time, most related to the pandemic.

When I need to take time out, to do art that will soothe me, calm me, let me relax and find that mindful, content space within myself, I turn to creating small artworks.

I drew this template with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pen on ClaireFontaine dot grid paper. Colouring has been done digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Coloring Page / Template

Colouring page / template

It’s Thursday. The pandemic is still in action. That means it’s time for a new coloring page or template for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

It’s free to join the group, and the template is a freebie for members of the group.

This week, I created a mandala design with a background of geometric, repeating patterns.

I’m still recovering from the stress of my first trip out since March 2020. Drawing (and colouring) mandalas is an incredibly peaceful, relaxing and mindful activity. So, it was natural that I drew one.

The mandala design is based on some of the abstract art I’ve been doing of late. It’s a bit unusual for my mandalas, but I really do like the organic flow of the lines.

Even though the design is abstract, the repeating symmetry of a mandala bring some structure to the design. I am looking forward to seeing how members of the group add colour to the design.

The geometric patterns in the background also result in a soothing, repetitive rhythm for colouring; a rhythm that results in soothing and calming ones mind and emotions.

De-stressing

I have been totally shaken by the level of anxiety/stress that resulted from my trip out on Tuesday. I am beginning to feel more my contented and calm self. However, I find I’m still irritable and grumpy and have withdrawn from social media and the like for most of the day.

It was a sobering thought when I realised I’d lived most of my life constantly at elevated stress levels, often as higher than what I experienced in the past couple of days.

It’s also a wonderful realisation that I can recognise this now, and I also am able to allow myself self-care time to let all the stress hormones leach from my body. It’s been a long time since they peaked in this way.

It makes me extremely grateful to my therapist for her years of patient work with me. Experiences like the Tuesday Trip remind me of how I used to be and show me how far I have come in recovery from cPTSD.

Yesterday, after my social media post, I binged watched the Harry Potter films from The Order of the Phoenix. I found I was irritated by crochet. I tried cross-stitch, which irritated me too. Eventually, I settled on knitting, which, oddly, soothed me. I think it’s because I could knit and watch the film. Knitting allowed me to channel my irritability into something creative. As I can knit without looking at the knitting, I could also watch and immerse myself in the films at the same time.

My fingers are itching to knit again, now I’ve thought about it.

Even though I slept well last night, I’m still feeling really tired today. This happens as part of the post-stress come-down. It can last a few days. I’ll not be rushing to nap, however. Napping has a knock-on effect on my ability to sleep at night when I’m like this. My naps tend to end up as periods of deep sleep, so I try not to take them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Summer Solstice 2020

Tonight, at 10:43 BST, the Sun appears to enter Cancer, as viewed from the Earth. Of course, it’s the Earth that is moving around the Sun. Today, marks the official start of summer, but it also marks the time when we have the days of most light here in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’ll soon notice there’s not quite so much daylight at the end of our days.

This year, English Heritage are live-streaming the solstice sunrise tomorrow morning on their facebook page. You’ll have to be up early (or just not go to bed!) as they start streaming from 04:07BST, with sunrise at 04:52BST. I’m certainly going to do my best to watch it. This is one of the good things to come out of the pandemic. The live stream hasn’t been done before. I would never go to Stonehenge on either Solstice as there would be too many people and far too much noise and bustle for me, but this is a nice way to see it as it happens, not recorded and shown after the fact.

I’ve always felt an affinity with the cycle of the seasons and marking the solstices and equinoxes has felt far more natural to me than any religious celebrations. The scientist in me appreciates the facts around these dates in the calendar, my heart and soul appreciate them in different ways that are personal to me.

I found this quote about the solstices, and it sums up a little bit about how I feel about them.

The artwork shows a lot more about how I’m feeling today – not quite with it, spaced out, emotional and well out of sorts. I had an idea in mind, but I just couldn’t execute it to my satisfaction today. It looks like I need another self-care day. Which is fine. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to go slow in order to go fast. By taking time out from commitments, I return to them in a better frame of mind and emotional state and I’m more able to fulfil them to my satisfaction for sure.

Watercolor Greeting Cards

About the artwork

I needed a quiet morning, again, today. So, I thought I’d dig out my Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft watercolour pencils and try some stuff with them.

I wanted to use them to draw a flower, or two, and then use water to create a watercolour effect. The result you can see on the left-hand side card. I’ve left loads of white space on this card, which is unusual for me. I couldn’t resist, however, adding some gold dots around the flowers. The colour of the petals was so delicate that I used a 2H 3mm pencil to outline them and the leaves. Just for info, the piece of watercolour paper measures 4″ x 4″.

For the other cards, I just wanted to work with the pencils to create gradients and abstract patterns in colour. I drew on the little panels using a 0.25 Copic Multiliner SP pen and added some lines and details with metallic gold watercolour. These cards are approx 3″ x 4″ in size.

Watercolor pencils are nice to use when it comes to drawing in colour with them, then activiating the colour with water. They really glow on 100% cotton rag paper (bottom right) compared to the other cellulose papers.

Cute and whimsical cards, some very detailed, one not quite so. But a nice way to spend my morning.

Self-care time, again.

There’s a situation going on around me that is draining my emotions greatly at this time. I’m doing my best to not become overly emotionally involved in it, but it’s difficult when it’s to do with people you care about.

It all has a knock on effect with me. I’m anxious, tired verging on exhausted, really grumpy, irritable, and lacking patience at this time. I’m also not able to concentrate too well. These are all behaviours I could do without in dealing with this situation. Yet I’m exhausted by it.

I have been meditating, making sure I take time to do self-calming and self-soothing activities, such as my morning art, Though I have work to do for contracts, I need to take a day away from everything, if I can.

I know there are lessons for me to learn about myself in how I’m reacting ot the situation, stuff from my past that wasn’t processed during my EMDR therapy. If I can work out what it is, I can work through it myself now. Organising EMDR therapy isn’t possible at this time, with lockdown still very much in operation and me being very nervous of going out into the world as well.

So, I’m going to make time today to drink tea, meditate, journal and try to get to the bottom of my own issues and start doing what I can to work through them and heal the past traumas that are causing my reactions at this time.

I think I’ll also take time to crochet (I started a mosaic blanket earlier this week) and watch films or crafting shows on the TV. Eat healthily – I have a yearning for brussel sprouts, of all things! And take time away from social media and news. I may even pick up my flute and play it, for the first time in months and months.

Template Thursday

Another week has gone by, so it’s time for a new template for members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

This week, it’s another of my collections of little windows. Yesterday was a day where I needed to draw a template that wouldn’t overwhelm me, and a collection of tiny drawings and patterns is a way to break the task down into bite-size, cute, whimsical pieces. As I result, I enjoyed the process and found some contentment and peace too.

In fact, some of the colorists in the group have told me that the really like the way the page is broken down into pieces that can be finished quickly if they are limited for time. The different sizes allow them to choose something that can be coloured in the time they have available. That part can then be left finished, freeing them of the worry of leaving something unfinished.

Coloring, like any creative activity, can help calm, relax, soothe and give a break from negative self-talk, to name a few of the benefits. I know that scientific studies have shown this to be the case and that losing yourself in coloring has a similar effect on brain activity as mindfulness meditation.

I use art to help me with times when my emotional weather is stormy, dull, unsettled. As I said earlier, drawing a collection of small designs was far less overwhelming than drawing a full page illustration yesterday. Yet, I still end up with a full page of mini-templates to colour.

I feel I struggle with colours. I tend to try to put all colours available to me into one template. Every now and then I do work with a limited palette, which also has it’s own problems. My window templates take away any pressure I put on myself regarding colour. Each window is a unique image in it’s own right and I can use whatever colours I wish in it without worrying about the overall cohesiveness of the project.

These window templates are also great fun for trying out different colour combinations, for blending colours, and even for trying out new techniques. You could make notes on the template, or cut out the pictures you want to keep and start an art journal where you note down the media, colours and techniques used to get the effects/blends you like. No longer any need to remember what they are, just refer to the journal!

Talking of cutting the designs out, that is a perfect way to make use of a finished coloring page like this one. The individual images, or groups of them, can be used to make greeting cards, bookmarks or to embellish art journals, journals, scrapbooks, diaries, planners and bullet journals!

As always, I love to see what people create using my templates – share with and/or tag me on social media :
f: @artwyrd
t: @artwyrd
i: @artwyrd