This image is in the vein of experiments in digital art. It reminds me very much of chalk/soft pastels, a traditional medium I did experiment with many, many years ago. However, I abandoned it as I didn’t like the feel of the soft pastels nor the messiness of them.
Using a kind of digital version of them means no mess!
I like this pot potpourri of motifs quite a lot. The softness of the lines and translucency of the colours appeals to me. I also like the way the colours glow against the black background. Surprisingly, the simplicity of the motifs appeals to me as well, giving a folk art kind of vibe to this work. Overall this design has an ethereal, ghostly, perhaps even magical feel to it.
My usual style of art is quite intricate and detailed, so this is definitely a departure from this. It’s certainly a style I want to experiment with more.
As it’s digital art, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
I don’t know about you, but watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset lifts my spirits somewhat. Sometimes the experience makes me cry, sometimes with the beauty of it, sometimes releasing some of the stuff going on inside of me. Either way, I find myself relaxing and breathing more easily as I watch the sun set or rise.
It’s something I don’t do often enough. Not just watch the sun rise or set, but spend time in nature. Walking where I can hear birds sing. Paddling in the surf where sea meets land. Feeling the wind in my hair.
When I need to do it most is when I’m least likely to do any of these things. People scare me. Being on my own with people around when I’m emotionally and mentally vulnerable scares me. Being on my own where there’s no people around scares me. Growing up I was always scared and anxious. I always tried to get away from family to somewhere where there was no one who could pick on me. Yet when I got somewhere I’d be so nervous and anxious and scared that I’d end up returning home and then usually hiding away in my bedroom.
If I think about going out to watch a sunset, walk along a beach, sit in nature and draw/write when I most need it to soothe my emotions and mind, the inner critic pipes up in my mother’s voice saying ‘why do you want to bother to do that? what’s the point of it?’ That voice still has power at these times, the times when I really do need to ignore it but don’t have the strength to do so.
I need to fight back. I’ve never fought back, well rarely. I have rarely had ‘no’ in my vocabulary. After over fifty years of life, that voice still has power over me, still robs me of what strength I have.
It’s on notice though – I’ve just recognised you and have worked out what you are doing and your time in my head and heart is now limited.
It’s Friday, so today is both furbaby friday and dangle day, so it’s quite fitting that I have, once again, combined a furbaby and a dangle in one design. I drew the design on Rhodia Dot Grid paper using Uniball Unipin pens and then digitally coloured it using the usual Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
Looking at it now, I think I missed an opportunity to attach the dangle to the cat’s tail. I also didn’t add shadows, and I’m not too sure about the circles on the cat’s coat. Also, the cat looks rather ‘flat’.
‘A Dangle A Day’ is a tutorial book I wrote and illustrated to show how you too can create dangle designs and was published earlier this year.
Over the last couple of days we’ve had some glorious late winter, sunny, mild weather. The kind of weather that can uplift my spirits.
It’s also lovely to see the late winter flowers bursting into bloom – snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils – and even celandines and daisies showing the heads in the sunshine. I also spotted the first signs of pussy willow about to burst into its furry delightfulness. The cascading catkins always lift my spirits. They’re all signs that winter is coming to an end and spring is waiting ready to burst forth.
I woke this morning with the idea of a simple monogram dangle design in my head. I knew it had to have a pusscat in it along with a snowdrops. It’s been a while since I included a cat in a dangle design, but today is the perfect day for that. Actually, every day is a perfect day to draw a cute, cuddly cat. A white cat to match the white snowdrops. I also included a paw print charm; my beautiful white cat, Cuffs, certainly left very deep paw prints on my heart and though I said goodbye to him last year after over 16 years with him as my companion he lives on in those paw prints and my memories of him.
The monogram had to be an S for snowdrops and spring. The monogram also had to have a spring flower as part of it’s design.
I’ve chosen quite a pastel and simple colour scheme for this dangle design to reflect the more pastel colours of spring. I also included a black and white chequerboard frame for the monogram, to add some contrast and some ‘weight’ to the design, grounding it onto the paper.
A sunny blue background with the cooler sky colours of winter but with the warmth of the sun seemed appropriate. It reminds me of these glorious days we’ve had that are presaging the coming spring.
I started by sketching my design out with pencil on paper. I scanned this sketch in and then re-drew the design with a technical pen ‘brush’ in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio. Then it was time to colour, again working digitally in this instance.
My final job was to choose a square background and I wanted one that spoke of sunshine and the threshold of spring, so I went for a soft yellow watercolour wash.
The whole task has taken me around 2 hours to do. It’s a simple design, with simple colouring.
If you like this dangle design and would like to learn how to draw your own then my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ takes you through the steps and has lots of dangles you can use to create your own designs as well as suggestions for where you could use them.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote before I headed off to my EMDR therapy session. I decided I wanted a fairly simple pattern around/behind it, and just simple colours, though I’ve played around a little with adding patterns to the sections.
I printed out the quote and the borders. I Used a Pentel Sign pen to draw the bold, black lines of the design. To colour the design, I used a Microsoft Surface Pen, a Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. Behind the design I added a paper texture which, with some wizardry of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, I was able to add to the design to add some texture and imperfection.
Walks, EMDR and being brave…
I had a lovely drive to Neath for my EMDR therapy and I arrived with enough time to go seek out some yarn to buy for my knitting/crochet stash as well as have a walk around Victoria Park in the winter sunshine.
The first blooming daffodils were proudly holding their bright yellow heads up for all to see, and there were signs of plenty more to follow. Snowdrops, crocuses, pansies were all there to be seen too. Lichens on the bark of trees created a beautiful natural tapestry of colour and pattern. It really was lovely to see.
Without the leaves on the trees to muffle the songs of the birds it was quite raucous at times, but raucous in a beautiful way. The birds didn’t quite drown out the sound of traffic, people or the tinny sounding music coming from the speakers in the bandstand, but they were loud enough that I could listen to them and filter out the other sounds.
It was nice to be out in the fresh air after a few days of barely leaving my home as I recovered from the emotionally draining days of last week. It was nice to take a space to breathe before going in for therapy.
The quote above was a starting point for my session, during the usual reflection on how last weeks EMDR had affected me and how I’d been through the week. One of the weeks sticking points that cause me some discomfort was the many people telling me I’m brave for telling my story, for going to therapy and how good it is that I’m showing people that it is possible to recover from mental illness.
Brave? Me? Surely not! That goes against everything I was led to believe about myself from as young as I could remember.
“You’re fat, thick, stupid, ugly. No one loves you. No one will love you. No one will be your friend. You’re useless. You’re a failure. So and so is much better than you at everything. Don’t bother me. You’re making it up. You’re’ to blame for all of this. Why do you want to bother doing that?”
If I asked for help I was either made fun of, dismissed or ignored. Me and my feelings weren’t important.
No matter what I did to try to please or make people proud of me or to acknowledge how well I had done it was never good enough. There was always a put-you-down.
The only time my narcissistic mother ever expressed any pride in me wasn’t really pride in ME.
“My daughter has graduated.” ” My daughter has a PhD.”
She has three daughters. I was never mentioned by name, not even if I was stood next to her. It was all about her. I was only useful for what could make her look better, for her to be the centre of attention.
These messages were taken up by other people around me. They became ingrained in me as the view I had of myself. I still speak to myself using these phrases when I’m in a fragile state mentally or emotionally.
I’ve known about the way I think about myself and where it has come from long while. However, the realisation that my feelings have never been important to anyone, not even to myself. I’ve pushed my feelings, my needs away so that other people don’t get upset or angry with me, so I make sure they’re always happy, even if inside I’m suffering in some way. This was something that came out of the very, very painful, emotional and frustrating EMDR session that followed.
Frustrating as I have very, very few memories of my past. I was made aware I was trying to hard to find a memory and reminded that part of cPTSD is hiding painful memories away, forgetting about them as a way of coping. I was told it’s ok not to have any memory. That I just need to let things be as they are in EMDR.
I think I’m trying so hard to ‘succeed’ at finding a memory, not to disappoint, the harder I try, the less likely it is for a memory to appear. The funny thing is, that once I accepted that through all the tears and anger and frustration with myself, the memories just appeared. There were so many that we just bundled them together as a ‘cluster’ and worked with them.
Then, through the tears and the pain in my throat and heart, a quiet, small voice told me that I had done nothing wrong and I did not deserve any of this. That I deserve better.
We tried working on me believing that through EMDR techniques. That caused me more tears and upset and emotional pain. So we called an end to the EMDR and talked a little about things.
Through EMDR I’m revealing more and more of my story. It causes me pain when new parts are discovered or insights are gained. But without that revealing taking place there is no hope of me healing. My aim is to tell my story without feeling any pain.
I was very tearful with weird memories cropping up as I drove home and through the evening. I had weird and disturbing dreams through the night. I woke with a blinding headache, which is still with me despite some painkillers. I feel so tired, weepy. However, I know there’s been a breakthrough, more than one actually, through yesterday’s therapy session.
The last words my therapist left me with were that she thinks I am very brave. Brave for telling my story. Brave for seeking out therapy to help me heal. Brave for persevering with EMDR when it can cause me a lot of distress and upset. Brave for showing people that recovery from mental health problems is possible. Brave for telling people that seeking therapy/counselling is a strong thing to do as we are helped to learn the skills we need to regain our mental and emotional wellbeing.
I don’t feel brave. I don’t understand how people think that I am. I do know I want to tell what I feel able to do so of my story to let others know they’re not alone. I do want to tell people about my journey to recovery so they can see that recovery is possible. I tell it to try to help others.
I don’t do it for attention. I don’t do it to have people feel sorry for me. That is my narcissistic mother, and others, still putting me down via the voice that is my inner critic.
I started drawing this one a couple of days ago using a fine nib fountain pen on paper. I’ve spent much of today finishing the drawing and I’ve just started to add colour digitally. Not sure about the colour yet though.
The words appeared intuitively, instinctively as I was drawing. Something’s obviously bubbling in my unconscious mind, most probably a result of the loving kindness meditations I’m continuing to do.
It’s always relaxing for me to draw in this way – just letting shapes and patterns flow from the nib onto the page without too much in the way of consideration or fretting about what appears. Partway through the whole drawing, or even sections, it looks like a total hot mess to me, but I push forward. To give in would be easy, to persevere takes a bit of effort. The effort is usually worth it though; my past experiences have taught me this.
I’m looking out of my window as I’m typing. I can see jackdaws swooping and wheeling in the now sunny skies. We’ve just had a wintry snow shower, which hasn’t lasted on the ground at all. The black feathery jokers are revelling in their fun and games in the air, exuberant in the dry but cool air and the sunshine. There are veritable clouds of them and I know they’ll soon return to their roosts, cloaking the winter-bare trees with their featheriness and raucous caws. I’m smiling as I watch them. I do have a big soft spot for the corvids of this world. Their antics delight me, especially the ones that zoom past the window next to my work area! They whooshed off to my left and now some are whooshing back to my right. What a lovely sight close to the end of the daylight hours!
It also brings back memories of sitting with my cat perched upon my chest, both of us looking out of the window and watching the jackdaws flying by, and in the summer dusk hours bats. His eyes would be wide and alert as his head spun back and forth, avidly watching the flying critters. I’d be equally delighted watching the antics of both the flying and cwtched up critters! So many precious times with my companion to treasure though he has been gone to pusscat heaven for nearly 9 months. I’m sure he’s still keeping an eye on things that fly , wherever his little soul, spirit is residing!
Watching the birds brings me some joy and peace too. And happy memories of my companion of sixteen years.
If you’d like to access to September 2018’s uncoloured template, which is exclusive to members of the group, just wander over to the group, join and download. Please note, that terms and conditions do apply.
I drew this in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my Microsoft Surface Studio using my Microsoft Surface Pen.
Autumn is a-coming!
With the calendar turning to September, my heart lifts with the expectation of the glory of nature as autumn asserts it’s influence.
It’s my favourite season of the year. I love the bright, vivid colours that replace the darker, duller greens of summer. Nature’s picks out it’s most glorious paintbox and sets the world alight in fiery autumnal hues.
I also luxuriate in the cooler evenings and mornings and look forward to waking up to see dew, or even frost, on Binky, my Smartcar.
The fresh, clean, clear air that the turning season brings blows away the dustiness of the hot, dry summer.
There’s also the return of the pleasure and comfort of snuggling up under a duvet as night time is cooler. Not to mention the relief of sleeping well throughout the night.
There are other things I’m looking forward to this year too.
It’s hard to remember now the fear and trepidation that the return to school as a teacher that would come with the start of this month as the new school year starts.
Now, I look forward to the start of the new school year as the world is calmer, quieter during the school day and I can begin to venture forth from my home without my CPTSD panic kicking in when I hear the sound of teenagers shouting and arguing and swearing and being belligerent, just them being themselves really.
It’s not their fault, I know, but their sounds are triggers for my fear, anxiety, panic and cause me to want to hide in a quiet dark corner of my safe home. So much so, that I find it so difficult to venture out of my front door during daytime during the school holidays.
Through therapy, I will overcome this, but the reaction is so ingrained in me and goes right back to my earliest years; teaching, dealing with the dramas of teens on a daily basis as well as being the focus for some to vent their anger, just reinforced these automatic responses. This means not just unraveling the web of trauma that resulted in the panic response, it means learning a healthy response to such triggers, one that I’ve never, ever had in the first place.
Now, with the start of the school year, and a daytime world that is quieter, I’ll be able to find my courage to venture forth during the day once again. Maybe not often, but from time to time.
With it being my favourite season, with the theme of my next book being forests, to sketch and find inspiration in woods and forests during autumn is something I want to do this year.
It’s all part of my road to recovery from CPTSD. Autumn always feels like a time of new starts, more so than New Year. As nature begins to shed what is unnecessary so survival through winter is possible, so I work on shedding the trauma that has kept me in a metaphorical winter in terms of my mental and emotional health for a very, very long time.
This is most definitely a work in progress, and my first piece of raven art. I have an affinity with and a love of ravens, as well as the rest of the corvids.
My time with art has been very limited simply because being back at teaching is exhausting me. I do my best to find time to do art, but I often just fall asleep in the evenings because my brain is so tired from focusing and monitoring all day. The weekends seem to be vanishing in long periods of sleep too.
Plucking blackberries from hedgerows bursting with the deep purple-black fruits of the bramble are memories of childhood.
Taking care not to prick fingers on the thorns, or get clothing snagged and torn upon them either. There were also the sticky burrs of goose-grass to avoid too.
It was all worth the hours of effort, however. Blackberry and apple pie, blackberry crumble, bramble jelly, and the blackberry wine my father brewed (if he could steal any away).
Blackberries were frozen by the plastic gallon re-used ice-cream tub to be used for Sunday desserts through the winter months too.
All of these things created once the blackberries had been washed in salted water to bring out any maggots that had burrowed their way into the fruits. If I caught sight of one single maggoty thing, I couldn’t eat any more of them, and eating them straight from the bramble was not an option for me. It’s no wonder I’m a vegetarian!
A free harvest that I no longer take advantage of, but may manage to do so this year if I can pluck up the courage to go by myself in to the countryside to do this.
Yes, I do mean courage, as I’ve become a bit of a recluse once again, not going out into the world where there are other human beings to encounter me. A long, personal story that is, but one I hope to change with time. The gist is I’ve allowed myself to be hurt by other people over the past few years. Things I was once involved with have gone by the by and I’ve not managed to replace these social activities with others. Oh, I do go out. I am involved in things, but the people I encounter are, generally, more acquaintances than anything else. I still seek and search for a sense of belonging in this world.
Even as I think back to childhood blackberrying, I remember that I was often alone even though the rest of the family were there, all chatting and laughing and playing amongst themselves while I was generally excluded, unless it was to be the butt of someone’s joke. Always funny for them…
Funny, the memories of blackberrying, and collecting bilberries, or whinberries as they are also called, are still ones of pleasure – the pleasure of the food produced as a result. Bilberries are small, blueberries, native to Britain.
There’s plenty of folklore surrounding the humble bramble and it’s fruits.
“Throughout much of Britain there was a widespread belief that blackberries should not be eaten after a certain date.” [Vickery]
This date may have be that of the first frost, as then they become the Devil’s fruit and are not fit for humans to eat .
Michaelmas (29 September) or Old Michaelmas (11 October) relate to the biblical tale of Lucifer being thrown out of heaven for his proud, covetous ways by Archangel Michael (Isaiah 14:12). It is said that Lucifer landed in a bramble bush and cursed it, which is why people won’t eat blackberries after Michaelmas, saying variously that:
they have the Devil in them
the Devil peeps over the hedgerow and blasts them
so the Devil may have his share
the Devil spits on them
Hallowe’en (31 October) or All Saints’ Day (1st November) are also dates given as the cut off for blackberry consumption. As well as the reasons given above, this date also relates to the following:
they have the witch in them
the witches have peed on them
on Hallowe’en the puca has crawled on the blackberries.
“From a scientific point of view, blackberries contain a high concentration of bitter tasting tannins which over time accumulate in the fruit. Old Michaelmas day falls late in the blackberry season making berries picked around this time very bitter. To make matters worse, as autumn arrives the weather becomes wetter meaning the fruit will contain more fungus spores. This will not improve the taste either.” [BBC Nature UK]
Brambles were sometimes planted, or placed, on graves, one belief being that they stopped the dead from walking. Another reason is that they kept the sheep off the grave.
A superstition in Wales was “When thorns or brambles catch or cling to a girl’s dress, they say a lover is coming.” [Roud]
Rotring Rapidograph pens with black ink on white cartridge paper and several hours of time…
Approx. 9cm x 14cm (3.5″ x 5.25″)
Rotring Rapidograph pens with black in on white cartridge paper.
The last several days have been ‘faffy’ days where I’ve just been faffing around with art and reading and not much else.
The weather has mostly been very wet – torrential rain, high winds at time. Perfect weather for battening down the hatches and losing oneself in art and craft and reading.
For some reason the drawing pens have come out again, and I find myself lost in the fiddly fussy work that I do, enjoying it too. It also has shown me how I struggle with colour, unless the colour is purely abstract in itself.
It also allows me an escape from the sting of rejection, the loss of a dream that never ever was, and a chance to let my unconscious mind, my soul, my spirit to start the process of healing and working the way to the person I am meant to be, choose to be, want to be, with a life I’d like. A life that includes people in it – friends, a found family, and love too.