I love Halloween; it’s one of the few celebrations in the year that don’t fill me with deep sadness and cause emotional distraught. And, of course, when it comes to me, cute and whimsical, smiley and pretty is my preferred style of illustration.
I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this design earlier today. My whimsical heart was filled with joy as I just a few of my favourite things. I’m sure there’s a song there…
“Hats upon skull-ies and batwings on potions, mushrooms on bottles and bright orange pumpkins, Some stripy tentacles with round eyeballs, These are a few of my favourite things.”
Well, it doesn’t rhyme, but it’s a start!
So whatever you are doing today, however you are celebrating, or not, I wish you the very best!
Over the past two or so days, I’ve not been feeling quite right. I’ve spent a lot of time cwtched up in bed, and about the only art I’ve felt like doing is small projects that I don’t feel overwhelmed by.
I saw the idea of zentangle cartouches on the Zentangle YouTube channel a little while back and wanted to give them a go. I’d done one a little while ago where I’d used some vintage rose ephemera from a set of Tim Holtz’s Field Notes ephemera on a piece of natural coloured mixed media paper. I wasn’t at all sure with what I’d ended up with. However, I did want to revisit this idea once again.
So, I decided to explore the idea of cartouches once again. This time, I used smaller pieces of creamy Fabriano Medioevalis paper, which comes sized to 3.3″ x 5.2″ (85mm x 132mm), with lovely rough edges. This is really soft paper, the surface is easily damaged by using a tortillon too roughly.
I added the focal points, again from the Field Notes ephemera by Tim Holtz, along with some little quotes. The quotes are from the sets of ‘chit chat’ stickers, again by Tim Holtz. These items are in my stash from the days I messed around with mixed media, before I realised it really wasn’t quite for me. I admire what people can do with mixed media, but I just never seem to have found my way with it in a way that I’m happy with. I’m much happier wielding a pen (on paper or digitally) with love and a creative heart, than getting rather messy and frustrated with mixed media.
My Reflections on these Cartouches
Anyways, I’ve had mixed results with these experiments in cartouches. My favourite is ‘trust your crazy ideas’, closely followed by ‘be you, bravely’, then ‘treasure. ‘stay curious’ and ‘don’t forget to fly’ are very close to these in how much I like them.
‘trust your crazy ideas’ just seems to have colours and patterns that work harmoniously both with each other and with the mushrooms. Perhaps I got a little close to the motif with the pen work, something for me to consider with future projects of this ilk.
‘trust your crazy ideas and ‘be you, bravely’ are both designs that have a small number of different patterns on them.
‘treasure’ is similar in that respect, but it feels unbalanced. I think I need to consider where I put the central motif; more centrally may work in my favour. ‘stay curious’ is a much more balanced design than ‘treasure’, because I consciously decided to mirror the patterns used, even though the motif was not placed centrally.
‘don’t forget to fly’ is just not a coherent design at all. I like the borders and the seed pods around the motif, but then it all goes weird.
However, I’m really not at all pleased with ‘live gently upon this earth’. It’s incoherent, too many colours, and the words and motif are just not balanced at all. I would’ve been better with not adding the words to this one in the first place.
Actually. It may be that I don’t add the words until the design is finished, at the bottom as a kind of plaque or border, or floating over an area of the cartouche with a border around them, or just not use them at all. I need to experiment with these.
My own ephemera designs?
I also know I’m quite capable, I think, of drawing my own ‘epehemera’ to add as focal points. However, as I tend to draw at a much bigger scale, I’d either need to scan my drawing in, or draw digitally, and reduce the scale before printing them out. At this time, I have a laser printer, which is great for printing documents and so on but not so much for artwork. It changes the surface properties of the paper used. Also, I can’t use specialist art paper with the printer. If I’m going to go down this route of arty expression I think I need to consider changing this printer for an inkjet printer again, especially one that has waterproof, or at least water resistant, ink.
What to do with my artwork?
My home is increasingly becoming filled with my artwork. Most of it I have digital versions of them – either scans or photographs. I do need to decide what to do with my artwork as I really do need to let it go to new homes. Any suggestions, drop me a comment!
Also, I have a problem with putting a price on my artwork, if I were to sell it. I have absolutely no idea of what it’s value could be to other people, or even if anyone would want to purchase it. Again, any suggestions, drop me a comment! Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
Over the past week or so I’ve been gradually adding to this sketchbook page. It is entirely what a sketchbook should be, in my opinion. Pages full of ideas, sketches, unfinished drawings, practice of techniques, written notes… a visual zibladone for the creative soul!
It is a reflection of what is catching my attention in my world. That world encompasses the inner worlds of imagination and emotion, as well as the outer world of books, nature, architecture, photographs, and so on.
This page includes inspiration from Mayan glyphs/sculpture, rocks, nature, mushrooms, magic wands/staves/sceptres, pen textures and some inspiration from Hundertwasser.
Everything on the page is a bit wonky (not perpendicular), and I’m OK about that – it’s a sketchbook! But then wonky art, particularly colouring pages, seems to be part of my signature style. Perfectly straight lines just don’t look right to me, nor do sharp corners. Perhaps that’s why I like Hundertwasser so much.
The English gardener William Kent said, “Nature abhors a straight line”. Hundertwasser said, ” The straight line is godless and immoral.”
A sketchbook is always a work in progress (WIP), even when every page is full, it’s full of incomplete drawings and ideas, sketches and notes, jottings and doodlings. Nothing has to be perfect. Not a single thing.
A sketchbook is a place to try things out, experiment, just see what happens. With that comes an acceptance that not everything will work out, and where surprising things happen and discoveries are made that may otherwise never happen.
Sometimes the gems of ideas and colour combinations and ways of using media remain hidden until much later. A sketchbook is a place to practice and learn, to note down what is of interest at this time, what needs to be expressed, without any pressure to produce a finished, polished artwork.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a sketchbook can’t be something interesting to look at, even with it’s own kind of beauty. They are a reflection of the artist that creates them and so is a window into their arty heart and feelings. They are very personal things.
A sketchbook encourages me to use media that are gathering dust because I do so much art digitally. In a physical sketchbook, if I want any colour, then I have to use some of these media.
On this one page I’ve used Pilot Hi-Tec C4, Pilot Maica, Rotring Rapidograph and Uniball Unipin pens. To add colour, watercolours, Tombow Dual Brush pens, Derwent ColorSoft pencils, Derwent Procolour pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils have been used.
Just a little something I wanted to try out – using hand-drawn typography to create illustrations. I chose a mushroom, for no other reason than I like mushrooms.
It’s more about practising the hand-drawn typography or hand lettering than anything else.
What I realised, when I completed the black and white version, is that I could’ve varied the weight of the letters to produce highlights. That’s for another day, I think.
I also had to try adding colour, and in that way adding highlight and shadow.
I like both versions, but I think I like the coloured one a bit more.
I mentioned I’m following the Sarah King Domestika course – Hand-Drawn Typographic Portraits. I have started work on my first portrait, but it’s going to take me a while to do. In the meantime, little projects, like the mushroom, will give me plenty of practice as well as a chance to work out my process and way of working, as well as how I’d like to use it so it adds a note of harmony to my artistic song.
I started with a pencil sketch of the mushroom. Then, I added the words in rough with pencil. I scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I then used my Microsoft Surface Slim Pen, to hand-draw the typography. Even though I’m using digital media. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is a lot like working on paper, but it streamlines the process and allows me to skip a lot of the tedious steps. It also lets me take a black and white drawing and add colour quite easily.
I’ve done this while I’m waiting for a migraine-type headache to subside enough that I can return to bed and sleep the dregs of it away. I’m nearly at that point now as I’m beginning to feel tired and sleepy. So, I’ll get the rest of the social media postings done, and then crawl back into bed to sleep.
It’s a sunny day here in South Wales, a much-needed one for me as sunshine helps to lift my mood. It’s also day 16 of Inktober – halfway through the challenge to draw something each day using a prompt list.
I’m using three lists from three Instagrammers:
Animal Skulls by @book_polygamist
Mushrooms by @nyan_sun
Tangle Patterns by @havepen_willdraw
So, my Inktober art for today features a kangaroo skull, Lactarius torminosus fungi and the Trentwith tangle pattern.
After drawing the skull, I added colour to make it feel more dimensional. I used a monochrome colour palette based on the Lactarius torminosus mushrooms. I also needed to draw something calming for me, and that means a mandala. So, I included the circular Trentwith tangle pattern in the mandala along with very stylised Lactarius t. fungi. Again, I used the same colour palette as for the skull to make the overall design more cohesive.
I like the way the colours work and the way they bring the design together. I’m also glad I left the black line art on the skull; it helps the skull to stand out against the mandala.
To complete today’s Inktober challenge, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
Another sketchbook style of page from me. The prompts for today were rabbit skull, Macrolepiota excoriata fungus and Yin-cut tangle pattern (Instagram lists from @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw respectively).
Simple, fun, with space for more additions if I should choose to do so in the future.
As I’m typing this, I realise that I could have added some patterns etc. from the skull in boxes. Duh go me!
On this skull I have increased the contrast between highlighted/shadowed areas. I’ve forgotten to sort the teeth out, however, and they do look a tad flat.
To draw the mushrooms, texture panels and the tangle pattern I used a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen with Rhodia dotgrid paper.
I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to draw the skull and also to add colour/shading to the skull, some of the fungi drawings and the colour swatches and gradient. I also added a vintage, aged, grungy textured paper as the background.
I’m a day late posting this Inktober drawing. My plans for yesterday went somewhat awry as I went to help out a friend in need. So, no beating myself up for the tardiness!
The prompts of the day were a snake skull, the Schizophyllum commune fungus and the Floo tangle pattern (from Instagrammers @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw respectively).
I started with the fungus as I really wasn’t really enthused by snake skulls. The caps and gills of the Schizophyllum c. formed lovely shapes and lines, and so I focused on areas of them to do some small drawings using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen on dotgrid paper. All I wanted to do was capture the flow of the lines and the interesting shapes and patterns too. I wanted to keep it simple, so no shading or highlights – just pure pattern.
As I was drawing the squares filled with line and pattern I was reminded of how I used to create sketchbooks while doing my AS and A level Art exams around 15 or so years ago. I used to colour the pages or use interesting paper to draw on and collect the patterns and shapes that really interested me. I often focused on small areas of the object of interest and drew the details in squares and rectangles. I added an example of the Floo tangle pattern to a rectangle, just to make sure I’d included that challenge for the day.
So, it was a natural segue for me to add the grungy, vintage paper to the background as I turned Inktober Day 12 into more of a sketchbook page.
I was also reminded of how I used to use charcoal and white pastel or chalk to draw on coloured papers, and I thought I’d do that with the skull, but with my signature black outlines. I drew this digitally, and mimicked the process of laying down charcoal and chalk and blending the colours. I think I’ve managed to do that quite successfully digitally, though, yet again, I could have done with a bit more contrast in places.
So, rather than an illustration that combines all three prompts for the day, I’ve ended up with an interesting melange of images.
If I were to spend more time on this page, I’d add some highlights/shadows and maybe colour to some of the drawings of fungi. I’d also overlay some dot grid paper to the background. I’d also add some hand-lettered information and commentary on the drawings.
However, if I did that it would eat into my time to take on Day 13 of Inktober today, as well as get some work done for commissions/contracts.
Today’s Inktober prompts were rat skull, Lactarius indigo fungi, and the cubine tangle pattern from Instagram lists by @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.
What did I end up with? A very stylised drawing that is rather Art Nouveau in style.
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the rat skull. I also am rather enamored by the Art Nouvea-y fungi and fronds.
Simple colours were needed for this design, along with a texture overlay that makes it look a little less ‘digitally perfect’.
Yes, I did draw this digitally, again using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.
I may not get tomorrow’s Inktober done, as I won’t be home until quite late tonight I think.
World Mental Health Day 2019
I’m currently sat in a hotel in Llandudno, having breakfast and getting myself ready to go and set up a table and take part at an event in a different hotel.
I’m going to be at the Wales Health at Work Partnership Summit where I’ll be talking to delegates but also taking part in the ‘Open Minds’ workshops in the afternoon, which is all about taking positive action on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
I’m there as a Time to Change Wales champion, and so will be giving a short version of my mental health story at the start of the workshops.
Time to Change Wales is an all-Wales campaign that aims to reduce, if not end, the stigma and discrimination around mental illness by getting people to have conversations about mental health.
I’ve suffered poor mental health all my life, having developed cPTSD in early childhood. The rest of my life, until the past few years, saw my mental health decline until I had two big breakdowns. EMDR therapy has been the ‘magic pill’ for me, that is helping me to process and release the traumas of my past and replace the negative beliefs I have about myself with more positive ones.
If I had known what good mental and emotional health was, as well as what it wasn’t, sooner in my life I may have sought help sooner. The self-stigma I have experienced around my own mental health prevented me from recognizing I had a problem and also made it difficult for me to seek help.
Indeed, my mental and emotional ill health would cause physical ill health in me when I was ignoring the stress, depression, anxiety, fear, hypervigilence, and other symptoms of cPTSD.
If I can change attitudes, make people more aware of what good mental health is, help people to recognise that they too may be suffering and then seek help, then I’m doing a good thing. Oh, and of course getting people to talk about mental health, thus beginning to break down the stigma.
So, today is a good day for everyone to ask those they meet not just to ask ‘How are you feeling?’ and accept the first answer given, but to repeat the question, ‘No, really, how are you feeling?’ to let them know you really are interested in them it’s ok for them to tell you that they’re not ok.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m tired. I never sleep well away from home and I did have quite a broken night’s sleep.
However, I am also quite pleased with myself. I managed to stop at a Starbucks on the 4 hour journey to Llandudno for something to drink and eat. I then had a good walk along the sea front and pier after booking into my hotel and having a mug of tea. Then, I actually went to an Indian restaurant by myself to have an evening meal!
Maybe it was out of sheer necessity I went out. However, I could’ve just picked sandwiches or some such at a Sainsbury’s local a short walk away. But I didn’t.
I also didn’t feel all that awkward in the restaurant. I did wish I’d brought my Kindle along so I could read while waiting to be served throughout my visit. I do have the Kindle app on my phone, but I didn’t have a good enough signal in the restaurant to download the book I’m reading.
I am also feeling a little anxious about today, which is only to be expected. I’m going to a strange place, talking to people I don’t know about something that is important but that also can provoke an emotional response in me.
I realised my skull and fungi Inktober illustrations were becoming a bit samey, so I’ve tried something a bit different.
Today, I used three Inktober prompt lists – Animal Skulls from @book_polygamist and Mushrooms from @nyan_sun, both of which are on Instagram. The third is the Inktober 2019 tangle from everythingis_art.com.
I kept the tiger skull drawing very simple, but added a complex patterned mandala behind them, incorporating the Mycena chlorophos mushrooms as the final ‘ring’. I did add some very simple (and rough) shading to the skulls.
As I wanted a more graphic feel to the design, I left it in black and white, though I did place a paper texture to overlay the artwork.
Again, I worked digitally, making use of the available symmetry tools to help speed up my work. Even then it took me more than a couple of hours to complete this design.
I do like the contrast betwixt the more scientific skull illustrations and the busy background of the mandala.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
It’s Monday and so it’s EMDR therapy day for my CPTSD. I am tired today from a lack of sleep, but underlying that tiredness is that contentedness that now seems to be constantly present within me. When my emotions and thoughts are in turmoil, whipping up a veritable storm on the surface of the ocean that is me, I can still sense the contentedness in the ocean-depths.
I have no idea how EMDR will go today, nor do I have much of an idea of how I will feel after it. Last week’s session was so very confusing and not all that clear that I think that a new negative thought about myself may be started upon to bring EMDR back to a definite focus.