I decided to do Slowtember. I like having prompts to challenge me, take me a little outside of my usual style. However, Inktober can be a bit full on with daily prompts. Slowtember gives that breathing space, and I can work it in around my other commitments.
Thanks to @megaelod on twitter for the idea and prompts!
So, the first prompt was a choice betwixt pothos and chill. I decided to combine them! I like foliage, and the word gives me a chance to try out some hand drawn typography/hand lettering.
I sketched the quite stylised design on dot grid paper, inked it with Unipin pens and then scanned it in. after some digital clean up and slight adjustments, I added some simple colour and shadow.
You’d think adding simple colour would be easy, yes? Nope! Choosing the right greens wasn’t easy for me. And then there was the typography. I lost count of how many times I tried different ways to colour the letters. Eventually I decided enough was enough and the gradient I had was good enough.
As I think now, after breakfast and some mocha, I could’ve done the word as a flower pot, or used it to add shadow to a flower pot. Maybe I’ll give that a go for the next prompt (monstera and water).
Complex drawings are my stock in trade. Going simple and stylised is not quite so easy! Still, it was fun to do, a bit frustrating at times, but the result is perhaps good enough, though I’m not sure about that.
I finished the top right design, and have completed the ‘A’ illustration on the bottom left. That leaves one space to be filled, no doubt later today.
I’ve used either Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens or Uniball Unipin pens to complete the drawings on ClaireFontaine’s Paint-On mixed media paper. This paper is fairly weighty (250g/m²) and has a lovely velvety feel to it.
The only pencil lines I’ve used have been to delineate the ‘boxes’ to draw in, and for a couple of the design elements in the top left image as well as the A.
Reflecting on the designs
The white space in the top left design works really well I think, and is quite an accomplishment for me. The same is true, to a lesser extent for the top right design. In both cases, the white space brings attention to the design.
In contrast, the densely pattered area helps to bring out the monogram A, making the white space the focus of the design.
I think I’m going to work on some more monograms in this style. They are fun to do, and dense, entangled patterns are one of my signature artistic voices. It’s been a long time since I’ve completed art like this, with a lot of detail to bring out dimension/volume in the design.
In fact, I’ve enjoyed using line and stipple to add volume in all the designs, exploring how I like to do this as I go. All the work I do with colouring books means I have put this to one side. It’s interesting how I’ve circled back to this style. It’s even more interesting to look at how my drawing skills have developed and evolved over time as well.
I found some peace, contentment and joy while drawing these, and feel a sense of accomplishment, particularly with the two on the left.
Do I prefer digital or traditonal drawing?
A difficult question to answer. I think it depends on what I’m creating.
I really do enjoy using pen on paper. I get a better sense of the overall design. Paper and pen is very portable too – whether I’m sketching when out and about, or drawing in different places at home.
Drawing on the screen of my Surface Studio with a pen is a lot like drawing on paper. The smoothness of the screen makes it a very different tactile experience. It also is great for inking in sketches. It also makes correcting mistakes or re-working areas a lot easier, and there are techniques I can use that are near impossible or very time consuming when working traditionally.
Sometimes, the lines produced digitally are too perfect. I’m still working on developing the brush styles that will mimic the unevenness of an inked line. I do have to use some element of line-smoothing as I draw; without it the lines are really wobbly, but with it they can be too perfect and I lose, to a degree, that personal and unique way that my pen moves on paper.
I also find it difficult to have a sense of proportion or detail when working digitally, even though I can look at the design at the same size as it will be printed. The ability to zoom in and work on a small area means I lose all sense of relative size and complexity/detail of a design. So, if I’m going to work on a drawing digitally, I prefer to start with a sketch to give me that sense of scale.
I rarely sketch out my design when I work on paper, except if I need the outlines of a design element as I’m drawing. I do tend to work very intuitively.
So the answer is, I prefer each for different purposes, and also to suit my different moods and purposes.
Of course, once I’ve drawn a design, I then have to decide if I want to add colour, and then what media I will use – traditional or digital!
Yesterday evening, I found a little oompf to play with colour in my watercolour sketchbook. The little blocks of colour on the right hand side are the result.
I dropped wet into wet, both watercolours and metallic watercolours, and just let the watercolour do their thing. I also tried similar with Inktense ‘watercolours’ too.
Just doing something simple like this, playing with colour for the sake of playing with colour, led me to want to try something different.
I had got frustrated and not all that happy with the designs on the left page over the past couple of days. Browsing through Pinterest, my attention was caught by illustrations that use black line drawings with a wash of colour. So, I thought I’d try those out.
I also wanted to try different pens to see how waterproof they are on watercolour paper. Unipin pens in grey and black, Pitt artist pens and a Signo DX pen were what I had to hand.
I used the pens to draw some of my favourite kinds of motifs, but rather than leaving just the outline, I used the pens to add shadow and the illusion of shape to the motifs. Once I was happy, I added watercolours. I did go back and add more lines where needed once the watercolours had dried. I also used a white gel pen to add highlights.
Firstly, all of the pens were waterproof. The grey Unipin pen did bleed more as I was drawing with it initially than the others, which showed little bleeding at all. Anyway, I’m happy that I now know for sure they are waterproof.
I have used colours that are different for me. They have more of a vintage vibe to them. I actually like the colours, a lot.
Still developing my artistic voice(s)
I keep trying to move away from black line drawings with colour, to paintings made solely of colour. Each time I do this, I’m never really happy with what I produce, it never seems to feel it is ‘me’. I love to see how others use just pure colour to create art, it just never seems to work out quite right for me, not unless I work digitally. Even then, the digital artworks make me smile, but they still don’t feel right.
I like to draw colouring templates that help others express their creativity and to use for relaxing, meditative, calming activities. These are lovely in their own right and for the purpose they’ve been created for. However, they lack the details that I find satisfying.
That ‘Aha!’ moment
And there it is, I’ve worked out why things don’t feel ‘right’. Detailed line work. Using line and pattern to create shadow and volume in a drawing. There’s also a need for me to use line to define and structure artwork.
That was something I always used to love to do in my earlier artsy years, and something that has gone by the wayside as I’ve used my skills at stylising motifs for my work as a colouring book artist/illustrator.
Those skills will never be lost and will always be used. However, I have a need to find ways to express myself in ways that satisfy my artsy heart, and this revelation is one answer to that.
It’s obvious when I look back at my blog, that I’m constantly trying out new things, going back to old things.
Sometimes I return to old crafts and styles I’ve tried in the past as they are familiar to me and that familiarity comforts me when I need time to just create and feel some level of satisfaction in what I do. Comfort art I’ve described this in past, and it’s just as true for me now as then. There are times when I’m not up to challenging myself as I try or develop a new style to me. Then, I go to art and craft styles that I know I can do fairly easily.
At other times, I’m seeking for the new, different and to stretch myself artistically. Out of a lack of inspiration over the past day or so has come a style that will stretch me, and perhaps will sit easily with me so it becomes one of my ‘voices.
Oh, I’ve not abandoned my new-found passion for typographic portraits/art. In fact, my mind is ticking over how I can incorporate that along with this coloured detailed drawings. Before I try the idea, I need to get some drawings done! I’d like to try the idea out digitally to see if it will work. That way, any drawings I’m really pleased with won’t be messed up.
I really needed to do something creative today to sooth my mind, emotions and soul.
I tried digital art and I just couldn’t settle to it, so I thought a spot of traditional pen and paper drawing in an entangled or zentangle style might just fit the bill.
So, I cut some Claire Fontaine mixed media paper into 4″ x 4″ ’tiles’ and used some Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Micron pens to draw the lineart.
I worked intuitively, not really thinking about what I was doing, just trying to lose myself in the flow so I could find my inner contentment and some peace.
I did scan my drawing in and digitally added a background and shading to the drawing, which really helps to lift it and bring it to life. If you’d like to see the black and white version, then pay a visit to my Instagram account – @angela_porter_illustrator.
Instagram is really irking me at the moment. I can no longer upload images or videos from my PC, only from my phone. I really loathe using the silly little keyboard on a phone to add the blurb that needs to go with the image. I may either reduce my posting to Instagram, or give up on Instagram completely.
Anyway, drawing in this style is something I’ve done for a long time. The familiarity of the process, patterns and motifs is a comfort to my troubled emotions and mind. It has helped to settle me down somewhat, though I’m still exhausted after a poor night’s sleep.
Yesterday evening, I took a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Micron and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens to a 6″ x 6″ piece of Strathmore vellum surface Bristol Board. I ended up with a black and white entangled drawing. This morning, I scanned the image in and added a kraft paper background and then some subtle shading and highlights in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
After Inktober and my focus on digital art, it was nice to draw traditionally for a change. My mood and energy levels were such that I needed to slip back into the familiar, comforting entangled style of art to soothe my emotions once again.
This drawing worked out OK. However, I don’t feel it flows at all well, though that does reflect yesterday’s mood and mindset.
The part I really like is the rectangle towards the bottom left. I’m also fond of the arcs to the right. Actually, I like all the design elements, I’m just not happy with how they’ve been lumped together. Maybe I’m just being overly self-critical here.
It’s a sunny Sunday morning in the Valleys of South Wales. I think it’s going to be a quietly artsy day, with a trip out for some essential groceries in a short while I think.
This morning has been getting the day 15 of Inktober 2019 drawings done, but also catching up on those I didn’t get done yesterday.
I’ve gone, yet again, for a sketchbook style montage; focusing on line and pattern is something I enjoy. I’ve even managed to create a stylised motif from the cap of Lactarius resimus.
As before, I drew the mushrooms and tangle patterns on Rhodia dot grid paper with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen. After I’d scanned the page, I increased the contrast to remove the dot grid.
I drew and coloured the cat skull digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I just copied my illustration and made it greyscale for the smaller drawing. I thought purple would be a fun way to colour the skull in; cats are my favourite animal and purple is my favourite colour.
I’ve also included a little more hand lettering on this page than in the past. I know my hand lettering needs regular practice, and I do tend to neglect it. I’m using Inktober 2019 prompts from three Instagrammers:
Animal skulls from @book_polygamist
Mushrooms from @nyan_sun
Tangle patterns from @havepen_willdraw
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
Today I’m feeling tired and have a rather tender digestive system. I had a really upset stomach yesterday afternoon and through the night, which disturbed my sleep.
Yesterday I was really upbeat, ebullient even. However, that drifted away as I drove home, my head full of the thoughts that I’ll soon be finishing therapy. Today, I feel content, a bit weepy, but the dull grey, dampness of the weather is having its effect. I really do need to get one of the SAD therapy lamps to help me on gloomy days.
I had therapy yesterday, but no EMDR. Instead, I talked about my trip to Llandudno last week and how proud I was of myself for walking in a strange town and going out for a meal by myself.
I also needed to talk about the flash of anger that rose up in me when I saw my narcissistic mother at a family thing on Friday. My therapist was pleased when I told her I felt anger; that is a perfectly healthy response to someone who has abused and neglected you. That I didn’t express that anger in a negative manner, such as screaming, shouting, abusiveness, was also a healthy thing to do.
My therapist was also pleased that I was self-aware enough to recognise this. We had a conversation about how far I had come since I started seeing her over six years ago.
Then, I talked about how I thought it would soon be time for me to end therapy, for now. I got all emotional and tearful about that. I still am as I type it.
I’m working on one trauma in EMDR at the moment, so I’d like to finish that. Also, a couple more have come to mind that need processing. Still, it won’t be long until I leave therapy.
First, I need to complete processing the trauma I’ve been working on, and there are another two that I need to process. But shortly I will be leaving therapy feeling I am good enough for now.
I need to continue with the positive steps made in being out and about by myself with some confidence and not much in the way of fear/anxiety, particularly when I am at home. I am, however, going to plan a short trip away over one or two nights in November, most probably to West Wales. I first need to finish my contracts and commissions.
I need to remember that I can always return to Linda should I have problems in the future. I don’t know what my life is going to bring me and what interactions with people there will be that may bring up a trauma response. Linda will always be there for me to go back to help process the traumas.
Yesterday was a quiet yet busy arty day. I worked on some projects, but by the evening, I had a hankering for ‘comfort art’ to soothe my fragile emotions. I’d seen a similar list on facebook and thought it would be nice to do one of my own. Naturally, I just had to add some embellishment in the form of my style of drawing. The drawing then needed some colour. So, I started to add colour.
After typing out the list using Affinity Publisher and printing it out, I used a 08 Uniball Unipin pen to add the drawing. Next, I scanned the design in and then started to add colour in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using my trusty Surface Pen and Surface Studio, both from Microsoft.
My lines are a little less than perfect in the drawing. I’ve noticed a few tiny smudges and some places where the lines have overrun each other a little. I’ve left them as they are, this time.
I thought it might be a good idea to make the colouring a little less than perfect too; so I added a background texture.
About my art and my emotional state.
I seem to have started a lot of projects and not finished them of late. I’m not quite sure why that is. I know I’ve had a really tough time of it emotionally speaking over the last couple of weeks. I think that has a lot to do with it.
I have managed to settle down to get work done for a commission. The main artwork is now done, it’s just doing all the other stuff to go with it. Today isn’t the best day simply because I’ll soon have to sort myself out to go off to EMDR therapy; that’s likely to be emotionally distressing as there’s been a confluence of events in my life that have all triggered emotional reactions. I’ve also not had that much time to let the emotional waves calm. There have also been changes that need to become familiar too.
Today is the first time in a few days I’ve felt anything like settled. Yet I’m not settled fully. I keep having waves of fear followed by tears rising up for no apparent reason.
I think I know what the fear is about. The way I think and feel about a part of my life is changing. It had started to change before the experience, but now it’s really settling in. A yearning in me to ‘belong’, to have that sense of companionship, has been awakened once again. I’ve been given a taster session of what it’s like. So, I’m grieving the lack of that in my life, and fearful I won’t find it going forward. Kindred spirits are few and far between.
This is all part of the journey towards releasing trauma and healing from cPTSD. It’s also about replacing old, unhealthy outlooks with more positive and healthier ones. Grief is involved; even if the old beliefs are harmful, they have been a part of my life, and it’s still a loss. But go they must so something healthier can replace them.
Change is never easy, but it is necessary; for growth, for healing, for a better life.
Yesterday, I had an interesting day. I did manage to get these two illustrations done in between listening to a friend in need and taking care of a very upset tummy along with quite painful cramps.
I used 5″ x 7″ pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol board along with some Uniball Unipin pens to draw the designs. This time, I didn’t add any grey shading. I will scan then print if I decide to colour them with traditional media.
The drawings turned out well, I think. I chose the size of paper for a reason, which I’m not about to divulge! It’s just an idea rattling around my noggin.
It’s Monday, so that means it’s EMDR therapy day.
I know on a Monday that my day can be broken up with a 3 hour or so trip to Neath and back for EMDR.
Today, I’m feeling more like I did last Monday before I received some post that threw me a curveball. I am tired as rather painful tummy cramps woke me from time to time through the night. I’m still getting them now, but a couple of Anadin Extra has taken the edge off them. I must leave early enough to pick up some more painkillers on my way to therapy.
I’ve had some flashbacks this week to events I thought I’d put to bed via EMDR. It seems that these events have several facets to them. Each of these facets relates to a negative belief I hold about myself, so each will need to be processed separately.
I’ve been trying to keep a record of the insights I gain from these flashbacks, and also any other negative beliefs that crop up from them. However, they often happen when I don’t have my BuJo to hand, and by the time I do, they’ve evaporated from my mind.
Hmm. Not really evaporated, the flashbacks have just been automatically shut away in their box once again.
I’ve learned not to try to second-guess what is going to happen in therapy each week. Whatever I have thought may happen rarely if ever happens. So I try to go with an open mind unless something has cropped up in the week that needs discussing.
The line art for this particular entangled drawing is now done and I’ve started to add colour and texture.
The magic of colour is to bring the design to life, to really accentuate the layers by adding depth and dimension. It’s also very much a personal expression of the colours I like and how I like to put them together.
I finished drawing the design with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol board earlier this morning. After scanning the drawing into the ‘puter, I edited the image and cleaned up smudges before starting to add colour. My tools for this are my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
I feel a little inspired to start another drawing in this particular series of inspirational words along with entangled art. As well as leaving some white space. I can now see the value of white space in my art. It helps to define various areas of the design. I also like the way the design seems to float above the background too – another bit of magic.
I still like to create areas of dense pattern, but I’m seeing the value of balancing them with either white space or areas of simpler pattern.
I know that the use of colour will help to separate out the different motifs and patterns within those denser areas.
And how are you feeling today, Angela?
I’m actually not too bad today, so far at least. I’m feeling calm, a tad tired, quiet but quite content. I’m actually quite happy with my artwork and not doubting myself with this particular design as I was yesterday. That’s an improvement on the past few days for sure.
I seem to be rising up from the trough of the tsunami that resulted from some emotional triggers that has overwhelmed me during the past two weeks or so (or maybe even my whole life – though that could be a very complex image of many, many tsunami, storm waves, freak waves that have resulted in CPTSD … but lets keep it simple for now!).
No need to rush climbing that wave though; give it time for some of the energy it carries to dissipate so it shrinks in size and the journey up will be a little easier and a lot more stable I think.
So, being gentle to myself is what I’m trying to say with that rather muddled metaphor.
Gentle means self care, accepting that where I am now is good enough, and not to put so much pressure on myself to do things that I’d like to do but perhaps am not quite capable of at the moment due to my proximity to the trough of the ebbing tsunami.
Today I think that means art, working on a lovely shawl I’ve been crocheting (which is in ombre shades of pink from a delicate pink to a deep cerise) and I’m awaiting the delivery of some bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones which will be great for guided meditations, music and audiobooks – both at home and away from home.