Sketchbook Saturday

Very much a work in progress

I’ve been working in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook (A4 in size). I’ve continued to add some colour to the larger design. As this is a sketchbook and nothing has to be perfect or finished and is a place to experiment, I decided to try adding black lines to the bigger design as well as to draw a smaller design in black pen first.

I’m still not all that comfortable with my entangled kind of designs without black lines it seems. Or maybe this is just a function of me being totally out of sorts over the past few days if not weeks, possibly months.

The black lines add structure and form to the design, but there’s also a colouring book feel to it too.

I am thinking I’ve not yet worked out how to get enough contrast in the watercolours to bring out the volume of the various design elements and to separate them one from another clearly enough.

I also tried adding white lines using a Signo gel pen. That worked out nicely in terms of adding highlights. The shapes of the lines also helped to add the illusion of dimension.

Finally, I tried adding some metallic watercolour in a pale gold. I tried adding dots as highlights,but I also tried a very dilute glaze of the watercolour over the paint. Now I liked that very much, but it has to be dilute and blended out quickly. Sadly, the photo doesn’t show this well on the purple weird mushroomy thingy on the top of the big design.

I’m telling myself it’s all learning, experimenting, finding my way. I just don’t know what my way is at this moment.

Art and my emotional and mental wellbeing

I am tired today. Emotionally drained. and I’m finding it difficult to be satisfied with anything I’m currently doing, even artistically.

This is definitely affecting my ability to ‘art’ at the moment. I lack focus, energy, inspiration even. I am getting frustrated with myself all too quickly, and fed up of what I’m working on too easily.

These are sure signs that I’m out of balance, emotionally more than mentally. However, my emotional health does have an effect on my mental health if I’m not careful.

It feels like some self-care time is needed, with activities that won’t overwhelm me but will help to soothe me and give me the time and space to find that inner balance and contentment once again.

The touchstone of contentment is there, in my heart, but it’s hidden by the shadows the clouds of emotional disturbance are casting within me.

Like all weather, the current unsettled emotional weather will pass. It has lessons to teach me and adjustments to be made. I am resilient enough to do this, to work through this mood and exhaustion, as well as to know how to take care of myself in times like this.

As I reflect backwards, it wasn’t all that long ago, just over a year, that I discovered the touchstone of contentment within me and found that it was OK to look after myself, take time out for myself, to have quiet, non-busy days to myself.

I never feel guilty about doing this any more.

I know if I try to do things that need to be finished, done well, then days like these are not the days to attempt them. The frustration kicks in and just unsettles me more.

I’m not sure if it will be Ben and Jerry’s and Star Wars that will help me, or something else. But I will find my way back to my usual, default, contented state of being.

Productive? Busy?

Everyone could do with learning that we need time to relax, to give ourselves permission to do nothing other than just be.

Society expects us to be constantly busy, productive, on the go, making the use of every single minute of waking.

But all that does is to drain energy, pile on the guilt if we’ve not completed every task in our planners, journals, diaries, and so on.

Social media is full of videos and memes and blog posts about how to be more productive, successful, famous, noteworthy. All of which can make a person feel guilty, useless, underachieving, unworthy.

There seem to be relatively few saying how important it is to look after your mental and emotional health as much as your physical health. So few messages about how important it is to take time out to recharge your energy, to stop and just be rather than forcing yourself to get something done, even if the frustration with the task means it’s taking longer and longer to do.

It’s not easy to give yourself permission to take time out, to relax, recharge just be, watch the world go by, read, listen to music, create, day dream, just for the joy and peace they bring. No, it’s not easy at all, given all the pressures that come at us from every direction.

These kinds of activities are just as important as the ones that are ‘productive’. They are activities that are productive in a different way – you are productively taking care of your energy levels, your mental and emotional well being, feeding your heart and soul with the tasks that soothe and heal.

It’s all part of self-care, making sure your needs are catered for. It’s not being selfish; it’s recognising that you need to take care of yourself as much as you take care of others. It’s about balance in life.

I am hoping that through the pandemic more and more people realise how important it is to slow down the pace of life, to take time to do things that feed heart and soul.

Today, my heart and soul need soothing and caring for. Everything else can be put on hold until I’m able to face them without frustration and rapidly getting fed up of them.

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 practice

Good news – the headache has gone! Yay! The sun is shining, I have uplifting music playing, and I’ve spent some of the morning practicing watercolour skills and working out how to subtly draw/paint on top with white.

The little tiles at the bottom have designs painted on them with white gouache. There’s a lot more variability in line width with these.

The book marks have had the designs drawn using a white Soufflé pen by Sakura. The ink goes on clear but dries a matt and opaque white.

I used som Molin du Roy watercolour paper from Canson for these. The tiles are approx 2″ x 2″, the book marks are approx 2″ x 7″.

I may mount the tiles on greeting card blanks. The bookmarks need a hole punching in the top and then some string/ribbon threaded through.

I did try out the Sakura Quickie Glue pen and embossing powder yesterday, but really wasn’t happy with it. I also tried using a variety of Sakura pens to draw the outlines before watercolouring – black Glaze, metallic siver Gelly Roll and silver Stardust. They were waterproof, but just didn’t give me the borders for the patterns that I wanted. The black was very bold and gave a rather stained-glass feel to the tile. But, white turns out to be my favourite.

It’s been nice to spend quite a few hours working with watercolours and trying out ideas without any pressure to create anything that is finished. Sometimes making art for the fun of making art is enough and much needed to soothe some rather battered emotions.

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.

Entangled Drawing

©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning, I used the random tangle pattern generator and it came up with ‘Tripoli’. This is a tangle pattern I’ve had trouble with so often in the past. For some reason I find it awkward to draw the triangular motifs that make up this pattern in a way that I find pleasing. I almost clicked the button to generate another tangle pattern. Instead, I chose to work with Tripoli and this is the result.

I used one of the tiles I’d coloured with Distress Inks at the weekend, along with Unipin Uniball pens. No pencil ‘string’ or guidelines. I also chose to use a variation of the classic Tripoli pattern (see it on Tangle Patterns or here).

It was an enjoyable and relaxing process to draw this 5½” x 5½” tile.

I’ve been ‘zentangling’ long before Zentangle was a thing. I love pattern. I love stylised motifs. I draw inspiration from architecture, nature, Prehistoric art, pottery, Celtic and La Tene, illuminated manuscripts, and more.

I’ve always been fascinated with deconstructing patterns in order to replicate them in my own way.

Well being check in…

Today I’m tired. I look like I have a pair of black eyes. I really didn’t sleep well last night, again. I may well nap this afternoon; I’m finding it hard to keep my eyes open even as I write this blog.

Even though I’m tired, more than bone tired, the sunshine and warmth of the rays of light finding their way to me through the windows really lifts my spirits.

As I went to put some recycling out this morning, a neighbour’s cat came to say hello. He’s a strange kitty, likes a fuss, but not too much and only in very specific places on his body, but he’s a friendly chap. It was nice to make a fuss of him in the sunshine, his black fur soft, silky and warm from absorbing infrared light.

I had two deliveries today. One an organic fruit and veg box along with some other goodies. Some things weren’t available though, but it’ll be just fine I’m sure. The other was a box containing some tea bags – English Breakfast tea bags containing rolled leaves of tea in biodegradable mesh. And a rather nifty tin to keep them in!

Tea, twice and thrice blessed tea! Always a pleasure and always one to look forward to.

Little things to be grateful for even when limited to home for the foreseeable future.

Festive Dangle Designs

©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Feeling in a festive mood? Fancy getting a little creative? Well, there’s no better way than creating some dangle designs to decorate your own Christmas and holiday projects. They’re also a great way to practice hand lettering and drawing cute, whimsical and simple designs.

Being creative is also a great way to relax and take some time out of the hustle and bustle that can overwhelm us at this time of year. I always find it relaxing to sit down with some pens, dot grid paper and a big mug of tea (or mocha as it’s the last days of autumn here in the UK) and just draw for enjoyment. Mind you, all my drawing work is enjoyment, but drawing for just the pleasure of drawing, with no specific brief to work to is a different kind of joy for me.

I’m finding that I need a focus, a project to be creative at the moment. I’m in between contracts and need some time out as I’ve had a crazy few weeks. However, settling to do anything not connected to a contract can cause me some issues. I still feel the need to create for a purpose, and sometimes that simple joy isn’t enough. I still have some issues to work through in therapy it seems. However, I am now aware of them and can work towards releasing these limiting attitudes and behaviours.

Anyway, today, I’ve created a sheet of some examples of design elements, hand lettering and examples of dangle designs to use as is or just to inspire you. There’s plenty more to inspire you in my book “A Dangle A Day”.

My drawings today are a bit rough, ready and wobbly, as is my hand lettering. I coloured them in very loosely, not worrying about keeping inside the lines or perfect coverage or blending. Colour really does make a difference, doesn’t it? It brings the designs alive!

However, this is a page of sketches, ideas. Maybe I’ll use some of them another time, or maybe I’ll leave it as a page of drawing and hand lettering practice, a page that I enjoyed doing with no real reason other than enjoying the process of creating.

I had thought about doing a video of this page – if you’d like to see videos of me drawing pages like this, then leave me a comment.

I used a mixture of Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens to draw the designs on ClaireFontaine dot grid paper. I coloured the images digitally.

Coloring Book Day 2019

Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

That’s right, there’s an annual day to celebrate coloring books and to indulge yourself in the relaxing, calming, stress-busting activity of coloring, no matter your age or gender!

As you can see if you browse this blog, I do a lot of art. Whether drawing, colouring, or other forms of creativity in art it really does relax, calm and soothe me when I need it.

And there are times when I really do need calming and relaxing. It’s no secret to anyone who has followed my blog for a while that I have complex PTSD (CPTSD) and I am slowly recovering from it with the help of EMDR therapy. On the days where I have low mood or anxiety or I’ve been startled into hyper-vigilance, art really helps to soothe my jarred emotions and calm me until the stress hormones leach from my body returning to their normal level for me. That is still an elevated level, but a level that has always been there in my life.

It’s not just me saying this. Research has shown that spending time colouring has a similar effect on the brain as mindfulness meditation.

One piece of research at the University of West England in Bristol has shown that colouring can reduce stress, boost creativity and increased mindfulness (being aware of what you are doing at that moment, not thinking about the future or past).

The benefits of colouring are listed in an article on the developing good habits blog.

There are so many coloring books available as well as colouring pages, you can find just about anything to suit your tastes. Also, I have many colouring books available (I think it’s around 20 now) – have peek at at my Angela Porter Amazon author page.

If you like to draw your own designs to colour and are looking for something new and a little different, then you may like to take a look at my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show you what dangles are, how to draw them and use them with hand lettered sentiments and monograms. They’re fun to draw, simple, and there are many ways to use them such as in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, journals, scrapbooks, greetingscards, note cards, bookmarks and more.

Also, I gift an exclusive template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group at least once a month. They’re free to members and shouldn’t be available anywhere else, though intellectual theft isn’t unknown in the realms of the internet.

The image above is the August template for the facebook group. I coloured it digitally using gradient tools for some speed. It would take me weeks to do the way I’ve been creating digital art of late!

No matter what you use to colour – digital or traditional media – I’d love to see how you’ve brought my line art to life, whether from one of my books or from one of the templates available in the facebook group. There’s also some templates available on my angela porter illustrator facebook page too.

Here’s the tags you can use to connect with me on the social media platforms that I use:

Coloring Day is tomorrow!

Angela Porter Coloring Day 2018 coloured wip

Tomorrow is National Coloring Day in the USA, but I think it should be an International Coloring Day, a day where people are encouraged to do some colouring as a way to find a little peace and calm in their busy lives, as well as to express themselves creatively.

It doesn’t matter if you only colour in one flower or leaf or letter, or if you complete the whole template on the day; all that matters is that you take time out to just relax with your chosen coloring medium.

It matters not how expensive the medium is, or what the brand is. All that matters is that you enjoy and find the process restful, calming, relaxing and your mind is given a bit of a break from the endless self-talk we all experience.

Each year since it started, I’ve created a coloring template, and this is this years!

Here’s a link so you can download the black and white template . Just right click on the image and save it to where you can find it!

You can also find the image on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. Not a member? Why not sign-up and join in with others who love coloring, particularly my art/templates.

There are just a couple of terms and conditions; please read and follow them:

  • The template is for personal use only. If you want to share the template with others, then please share a link to this blog entry rather than just the template file!
  • The template is not for resale or for inclusion in publications of any kind or in any format (physical or digital) with out my express permission.
  • If you share your coloured version, then it would be really lovely if you would mention me, Angela Porter, as the artist and my blog or facebook page.

I look forward to seeing your colourations. Happy and peaceful coloring!

Winter/Christmas Wreath Colouring Pages

I know that for most of you it’s a busy time of year.  So, I’d like to share a couple of colouring templates to help calm you, even if it’s for just a few minutes.

Many studies have been done that show colouring to be as relaxing and therapeutic as meditation, even if you do it for just a few minutes!

All I ask is that you don’t share the uncoloured images, and that if you share coloured images you provide a link back to either this page or my facebook page.  Oh, and the images are for personal use only, not for commercial use in any way.

Enjoy!

 

And here’s one I coloured!

Are there rules to colouring in?

AngelaPorter_Color Me Stress Free_teaser1I have read many times on various facebook groups how people worry that they aren’t colouring in colouring sheets or books correctly, or they are worried that their work won’t be up to scratch compared to what they see as the amazing work done by others in the groups.

I think I may be qualified to comment on this and to offer some advice, especially as I have now created hundreds of colouring templates for Color Me Calm, Color Me Happy, Color Me Stress-free, Entangled, The Can’t Sleep Colouring Book, Japanese Patterns, Scandinavian Folk Patterns, and 60’s Patterns, with more to come!

Firstly, I’d like to ask you why do you want to spend time colouring in?  Is it for relaxation?  Is it for fun?  Is it to combat boredom?  Is it to while away the time while you are poorly?  Is it for some other reason? Is it for enjoyment?  Is it to lift your mood? Is it because you love colour?  Are there other reasons?

Notice, I ask what your reasons are for colouring, not telling you what mine are.  Your reasons can be as private or as public as you wish.

The colouring templates I have created (and continue to create) have been done with relaxation, joy, enjoyment, lifting moods, taking a break from the crazy pace of modern, technology filled life.  They offer an opportunity to take an almost meditative break from every day life, space for some ‘me time’, some self-caring time.  That was, and is, the aim behind the Color Me books.

In none of the books are there a list of explicit do’s and don’ts for the use of the book (apart from the copyright stuff).  And why should there be?  They are there for you to make your own, for you to have pleasure with, for you to find ways of expressing yourself, to go back to a time of childhood innocence where there were few rules and responsibilities.  They are there for an opportunity for you to become as carefree as you wish. Rules, do’s and don’ts, am I doing it right?, and all these other judgmental thoughts or questions have no place in these books, or similar books.

You can do no wrong!  Trust me.  You really can do no wrong! Really, you are invited to do as you wish to with the colouring templates.

Want to use coloured pencils, wax crayons, chalk pastels, oil pastels, acrylic paints, marker pens, watercolours, collage, glitter, sparkly gel pens, scented pens, stickers?  Want to use many different mediums? Go for it!  Enjoy it! Do whatever you feel inspired to do, whatever you’d like to try out.

Want to split larger sections into smaller ones?  Want to join small sections into big ones?  Great!  Do what you feel you’d like to do!  Trust your instincts, trust how the image is speaking to you.

Want to fill sections in with patterns?  Want to add words or phrases?  Want to add little drawings of your own?  By all means do so!

Worried you’re breaking some rules of art, or colour theory?  Don’t worry!  There are no rules here – if it pleases you that is all that matters!  If you’re using the colouring to get some insight into your emotions or inner thoughts, then don’t worry about all that colour theory stuff, express yourself!

Worried that you’re using the media wrongly?  Don’t worry!  If it works for you, it works for you!  If you’re happy with the result and enjoyed the process, does it really matter what one person or another says?  No, it doesn’t!  If it’s not quite working for you, don’t give up, experiment, and enjoy the process of exploration, of discovery.  You do not have to be an instant expert!  It’s ok to be a learner; in fact we all learn for the whole of our lives and what is so bad about that?  Nothing!  Do you think Leonardo da Vinci just painted the Mona Lisa one day, without years of practice and experimentation, of finding out how to express himself artistically?  Of course he didn’t!

I give you permission to play, to use different media, to shade or not shade, to blend or not blend, to simplify, to make more intricate, to break the rules.

Talking of rules, where did you learn all these shoulds/should nots of colouring?  Why do you still think they are so important? Why do you think that plants can only be green, the sky blue, rocks grey, the Sun yellow, the Moon white.

Let me give you permission to make all these things, and more, any colour you want!  I give you permission to break the rules! You want pink trees with bright purple trunks – absolutely!  You want a lilac Moon – not a problem!  You want to put fuchsia pink and lime green next to each other – what a wonderful idea!

I give you permission to express yourself with colours as a child would, with no rules, but with sheer pleasure and enjoyment!

I believe that inside each and every person there is a creative soul seeking an outlet, and colouring is one way of access things, and who knows where it will lead, what new talents you will discover hiding inside yourself, who knows how it will help you heal, to find new solutions to old problems, new insights to what is going on, as you take a break from worrying and all kinds of thoughts whirling around your head.

Now, what’s the worst that can happen?  You end up disliking something, wasting a little bit of felt tip pen, using up one piece of paper with a printed image on it.  Is that a bad thing?  Ask yourself why you dislike it, what is it trying to tell you, what lessons you can learn from it.  Write notes on the image or the reverse of it, use it to explore yourself, use it in a positive way.

Remember, no one ever has to see what you have done, not unless you wish to show them.

Worried that people will be critical of what you have done?  Don’t show them!  This isn’t for other people.  It’s not a competition.  It’s not to see who can colour the smoothest or stay inside the lines (it’s quite all right to go outside the lines or not go right up to the lines too, you do what you think is right).  It’s something that is entirely for you.  If you’re pleased and proud of what you’ve done and want to share it, then please do, but don’t feel you have to.

Remember, the whole point of this is for you to enjoy yourself, to get messy, to play with different media and images and colours the way you feel you want to at any particular time.

Remember, in art there are no mistakes, only happy accidents!  Sometimes the things we think are mistakes are actually something beautiful and wondrous in their own right, something we learn from and incorporate into our future creativity.

The only ‘rules’ there are in this are the ones you impose upon yourself.  There are no colouring-in police.  There are no international laws about how to colour in.

A last note, I would love to see what you do create and the story behind it and yourself, especially if the process is helping you heal or overcome various difficulties in your life.  That is one of the dreams I have for how my art can be used.