Entangled art, mental health quote.

©Angela Porter 2019

The Art…

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.

Entangled art

©Angela Porter 2019

I found this lovely quote a couple of days ago and knew I wanted to add entangled patterns around it.

About the art.

Rather than hand letter, I decided to print the quote by J.M. Storm out, along with the outlines to the boxes. I do very much like a well defined space to work within. I know I’ve done art where I’ve left an organic, uneven edge in the past, but I still like those clear boundaries.

To draw the patterns I used a Sheaffer fountain pen along with 06 and 04 Pigma Sensei pens from Sakura. The 06 led to me using some heavy lines to define the patterns and sections, something I’ve not often done for a very, very long time and I find it pleasing. Again, clear boundaries. I also like when art like this is coloured; it looks like stained glass and I love stained glass.

I may spend time colouring this today. I woke with a terrific headache this morning. Although it’s mostly passed, thanks to some Anadin Extras and copious quantities of tea, I still feel kind of spacey and tired and not able to focus much.

Why I like this quote.

She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again.
J.M. Storm

I like it because it almost perfectly describes how I think about what is happening to me during therapy, about my journey to recovery.

The traumas of my life, right from a very young age, left me cracked and over time those cracks led to my mental health and emotional health breaking into pieces.

I’m the one who has to put the pieces back together, however I don’t have the skills and tools to do that. That’s where my therapist, my counsellor comes in. EMDR therapy helps to reprocess the traumas that led to me developing cPTSD and helps me to change the old, unhealthy, harmful thoughts and behaviours that I have into healthy thoughts and behaviours. My therapist helps me learn the tools I need to do this as well as to be more resilient as my life progresses, and so much more I’m sure.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make myself whole. My aim, though, is to be whole enough to have a life where I can do what I currently am unable to do – set healthy boundaries, be confident in myself, be less scared of the world around me, and so on.

I’ll always have cracks – evidence of the life I have led – but I want those cracks to be filled with gold or silver or copper so that they are things of beauty in themselves. They are evidence of where I’ve come from and what has led me to be the person I am.

I’m well aware that as I heal I won’t be quite the same person I was and many people won’t be happy about that. But those are the people who have wanted me to fit into their image of how they have thought I should be for their own ends, not least of which is my narcissistic mother.

No doubt my becoming the person I was meant to be, a mentally and emotionally healthy, resilient, self-aware, self-compassionate woman would be a source of great criticism for those who don’t like the changes in me as I heal the mental and emotional wounds.

Part of the process is learning from the past and freeing myself from the limitations placed upon me in the past by others with their own agenda, whether conscious or unconscious.

I’m sure there’s a lot more reasons why I like this quote, but the fluff-filled post-headache spaced out mind just can’t focus just now.

May You Know …

©Angela Porter 2019

…love, peace, joy, health.

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.

Monogram D entangled design (with some little dangles)

I had a day or two of subconscious reflection on how to pattern around a letter after not being all that happy with the lower case b design. So, I wanted to put my vague ideas into practice.

Yes, they were vague ideas, no clear idea of how I wanted things to look, but I just wanted to try them out and see where they led.

I started with a faint pencil outline of an uncial style letter d, and then used a fine nibbed Rotring Art Pen with black ink to draw the design with.

I used the pencil line as a guide to where the entangled designs would either butt up to the edge, spill over the edge or curl over it and I just let the designs flow and grow. I also left the design in an organic shape rather than working to a square or rectangular shape.

I did work on a piece of A4 paper, but the design is a little over a quarter of the size of the paper. I can’t believe I did such teeny-tiny drawings again! I really enjoyed it!

In some places I’ve made the edge too hard, too linear. In one place I tried to correct that (lower left of the d) by adding more bits to the pattern, but that linear line is still evident. However, it’s all learning.

After scanning in, I wanted to add some texture and a bit of colour to that letter to help it stand out more. I may try doing the reverse as in colouring the design in and leaving the letter plain later. I may even try using some watercolour brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, using my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I have designated friday as #dangleday, and I did add some tiny, fine danglesto the design. Dangles don’t always have to be big and fancy or a prominent feature of designs, like in my book ‘A Dangle A Day‘.

Another, possibly the last, version of ‘B’ monogram dangle design

©Angela Porter 2018

The previous and latest version of the monogram dangle design. The variation is the background paper colour as well as a drop shadow for the design.

I had a lot of fun as well as some frustration when I found it difficult to do what I wanted to do, though I got there in the end, I think.

I certainly have a few more tools in my digital art toolbox.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro really makes it easy to create art like this. Though this may have been simpler for more accomplished, learned digital artists, for me it was a bit of a process. However, I have managed to create something I could only dream about doing in traditional media, I think. 

The skills required are, in my opinion, equally as demanding, whether working digitally or traditionally. Don’t forget, this started out as pen and ink line art on paper – very traditional! I just made use of digital tools to develop it into something that definitely has a medieval feel to it but in a modern medium. Indeed, all the lines/patterns were re-drawn digitally using a pen and the screen as ‘paper’ to arrive at these final versions. I did make use of the color-fill tools to colour these ones in, but the addition of textures makes them less digitally perfect and more ‘perfectly imperfect’.

This certainly has inspired me to create a whole series of such monograms over the coming days, weeks or months. Goodness alone knows what I can do with the digital versions as having them printed wouldn’t result in any sparkle where there’s sparkle. However, I do have an idea about foiling my line art, as well as working with metallic inks once more. Indeed, I had a deliver of Encres A Decorer by Herbin yesterday and dug out my glass pen to use with them. So some experimentation with those is likely (as well as digging out my dip pens and nibs too). I think I have some calligraphy ‘parchment’ or ‘vellum’ paper lurking somewhere in my stash as well.

Finally, I think I’m getting comfortable with my style of hand lettering. It sure ain’t perfect. It’s sure ain’t as slick as that of others. But it’s mine, not theirs.

Of course, some of the ideas/tools/techniques I’ve used here I can make use of in my more usual style of art. For today, I want to work on a design for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook page to help celebrate the changing over of the calendars at midnight on New Year’s Eve as it turns into New Year’s Day. A liminal point of time between one thing and another. A boundary between the old year and the new. 

So, finish my toffee nut latte mocha morning drink I will, then it’s to some hand lettering and drawing, while keeping warm and dry on a chilly, rainy and windy day.

‘A Dangle A Day’ is released on 8 Jan 2019.

Mongram B

© Angela Porter 2018

One monogram dangle design, three different versions.

The first is just the black and white line art. This was drawn with Uniball Unipin pens on dot grid paper then scanned in so the dot grid and faint marks could be removed as well as making a transparent background. This dangle design is much more ornate in terms of pattern than is in my book ‘A Dangle A Day’ but is still easy to do if a bit time consuming.

The second is the line art coloured digitally with some texture added.

The third has the coloured line art floating on a golden sheet.

I’ve not quite managed to get my head around how to convert the black and white line art into golden line art where I can add colour. I suspect it’ll have to be re-drawn, which I’ll most probably do while I’m waiting for a delivery.

I kind of like the gold background, but it is a bit too much as well.

Which version do you like best? Let me know your thoughts!