Be Brave – WIP

Be Brave ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Be Brave ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I’m currently working on this design. It took around 6 hours to draw the design and I’ve spent a couple of hours so far colouring it.

I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board using Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. I’ve started to add colour digitally.

I’m not sure about the background colour, yet. I fancy sunset colours, but I think I’ll wait and see how it looks when coloured in more.

Easy to change the colours when I’m digitally colouring using the usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, how do you feel today Angela?

Today I’m feeling quite content and fairly motivated as far as artwork goes.

I’m not quite so motivated to go out and about, however. But content and motivated artistically is good enough compared to how I’ve been of late. Progress is being made.

And so the journey of recovery from CPTSD continues forward once more.

The magic of colour – finished

The magic of colour © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
The magic of colour © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

This morning, I focused on finishing this particular artwork. Colour completed, texture and glowing highlights added. All done and I think I’m quite happy with it. That’s right, I’m quite happy with it. There’s bits I could improve were I to do this again, or edit it, but I’m going to leave it as is for now.

There are some design elements that I want to add to my visual BuJo that I created as I worked with this and that I really love!

I managed to leave ‘white space’ in the design (though that became coloured), which is not something I find easy to do; I always seem to want to fill every available space inky creations. I do see the benefits of the white space for sure and it’s something I’m going to continue to add to my little, or not so little artworks.

Of course, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to colour the design. I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board with Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens, then scanned it in. The only digital editing done to the drawing was to remove some smudges and marks, and very minor completions of lines.

How are you doing today Angela?

I’m actually feeling quite content. Though a little tired as I couldn’t get back to sleep after waking a bit too early. I don’t think I’m going to be able to nap later on though as I have a bit of a busy late afternoon and evening.

Meditation the last three nights seems to have helped me greatly. It’s something I find easier to remember to do when I’m feeling more content than when I’m in one of those rough places.

I think that is because when I’m in a tough, low, sad place I don’t consider doing things that will help me, such as meditation. The inner critic takes hold and I neglect my well being once again.

I’m learning slowly to recognise it’s subtle attacks and suggestions to self-sabotage the progress I’ve made in my CPTSD recovery journey.

It’s sneaky though; very, very sneaky. Catching the inner critic in action isn’t easy, it’s easier to see in hindsight when my mood and emotional and mental resilience are increasing once again.

As they increase I can see how low I’ve been, so low that at times I’ve felt that I don’t want to be on this Earth anymore. Not that I’d do anything about that. I know those feelings pass eventually now and I’m well practiced in diversion tactics – art, Star Wars, sleeping, crocheting while listening to something on Audible.

Why I feel that way is complex. I just feel worthless, ashamed, useless, and lots of other things I cant describe.

I can see, now I’m rising up out of the low place I’ve been in, that it’s not me who should feel these things but all those who have acted and spoken in ways that have caused me trauma.

When I’m low, however, the inner critic repeats the messages of these people over and over and over again and again. Until, that is, I can break out of it’s hold on me and rise up from the low place I’ve been in.

I do know the inner critic isn’t as powerful as it once was, thanks to EMDR. However, it still pounces when I’m vulnerable in some way such as anxious when out and about on my own, when someone says something to me that either echoes the words/actions of my past abusers, or when I’m over-tired.

Instead of months and years of being controlled and abused by the inner critic I know weeks or days when that happens.

That’s real progress.

I know that part of the price I pay with EMDR is that I can be vulnerable for a while after it and that lets the inner critic attack. But with each session of EMDR I become that bit stronger and the inner critic becomes weaker.

So, today I’m content and that is good enough and a point of success.

Abstract Floral Design – Coloured

Abstract Floral Design ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Abstract Floral Design ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

This morning, I thought I’d start my day by colouring in yesterday’s shaded, abstract floral design. And this is the result.

I didn’t remove the shading, but added simple gradient colours above it so that the shading would add to the depth and dimension.

Although this image, thanks to whatever WordPress does to the colour of images when uploaded, doesn’t show this, it actually works really well.

Yes, I know. It’s taken me a couple or three years to get around to working out I can underlay shadows and used colour over the top to add depth and dimension. However, I’ve said it before, I learn tricks at my own pace and when they are relevant to me or when I’m ready to try them out.

I may try this design again, but with more vintage-y colours. Maybe. It’s all learning for me that’s for sure!

The design was drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. Shading and colour was added digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Studio.

Abstract Floral Design

Abstract Floral Design 4 May 2019 ©Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Abstract Floral Design 4 May 2019 ©Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I started drawing this one fairly late last night and completed it just now. The tools I used were a soft Fudenosuke pen by Tombow, a 0.4 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen on white mixed media paper from Claire Fontaine.

I then scanned the drawing into the Surface Studio and used Autodesk Pro and a Surface Pen to clean up the image and then add a few details and some shading to it.

The original drawing is approx. 5″ x 6″ in size.

I’m quite pleased with this one as it’s not my usual ‘lets see how much space we can fill with line and pattern’ kind of drawing. The design has a kind of leaf shape to it in outline, and I’ve let white space exist in the design, which is really unusual for me.

Working in monotone is also unusual for me, but the grey shading certainly adds depth and dimension to the design, brings it to life.

I also have some brushes in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that I can use to mimic graphite pencil shading, which I did here.

I started with the flower motif in the middle and let the design flow out from that point. Of course my design motifs had to include foliage, seedpods and some abstract/geometrical patterns too. Oh and some fungi/mushrooms too. And orbs/spheres.

I really like my circular arches of a pattern inspired by Early Celtic/La Tene art. The shading really helped to define this pattern.

I’m going to make this one available for purchase from my RedBubble shop.

Still emotionally exhausted…

I slept so much yesterday and last night. I’m still emotionally exhausted after my trip out on Thursday. I’m still finding it hard to believe how much something so simple exhausted me so much in terms of emotion particularly. I didn’t think I was any more anxious than usual, or stressed than usual. Seems I was oblivious to my own body.

I do feel a bit better today, but I could just curl up and sleep again now and I’ve only been awake for 4 hours.

I won’t go to sleep this afternoon though. I’m going to keep myself awake somehow. Maybe with art. Maybe with some books I bought on Thursday. Maybe with crochet. Maybe with all of them, but not at the same time!

Even though I’m exhausted I do feel quite content within myself. However, even though it’s a lovely sunny day, if rather windy, here in Welsh Wales, I don’t think I’ll venture out into the realms of peopledom. It’s another Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so the world tends to be more people-y than usual. I think that could overwhelm me again and I’m better off just remaining where I feel safe and calm.

The more aware I am of my emotions and my self, the more aware I am of how much CPTSD has affected me, of how it limits my life, and of how much work I still have to do. Mind you, that self awareness is showing me as well the progress I have made and how I make decisions based around self care too. Like today, knowing the world is too people-y and somethings can be left until the world is a little less people-y.

Entangled Monograms – C, D and E

Entangled Monograms C, D and E ©Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Monograms C, D and E ©Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

Arty things

Another lovely day or so spent hand lettering and drawing the etntangled designs around the monograms.

I used Tombow Fudenosuke, Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens on 15cm x 15cm pieces of Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.

The Tombow Fudenosuke pens are giving me a much thicker line than I’d usually use, along with variable line width too. I must admit I rather like the bolder lines as they really define the designs. What do you think about my use of bolder line?

I have scanned these, and yesterday’s A and B monograms, so I can add colour digitally, should I choose to do so. At the moment I’m really just enjoying the graphic quality of the black and white line art.

Therapy day

Today is EMDR therapy day for me. My appointment is mid-afternoon and it’s been almost a fortnight since my last one as there’s been a Bank Holiday in between.

I must say that I’ve had quite a contented fortnight. The last session was rather disturbing and distressing and though I was absolutely exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically after it for the rest of the day and part of the next, I think I found my balance much quicker than I expected.

I’ve had my moments, hours, mind you. Often when I’m tired and need a nap. So, I take a nap if I can. That’s one of the fab things about being a self-employed/freelancing artist/illustrator/author. It’s a lot easier to do self-care things when self-care is needed. If I need a nap, I can often take a nap. If I need a day or three to recover from EMDR I can take that time, or at least break the time up so I have chunks of self-care in amongst the work I need to do to fulfil contracts.

I really am grateful for this flexibility, a flexibility that is in sharp contrast with the very structured, timetabled, hamster-wheel existence of my life as a teacher.

Flexibility and freedom – a double edged sword

It’s really difficult for me to make full use of the flexibility and freedom I have. I often have an urge to go out somewhere, but I can never decide on where to go, or when to go, or whether I should even bother going as really, what do I want to go there for. Telling myself it’s to sketch, draw, photograph, gain inspiration, for the experience, because I like to walk when I do go and walk, because being in nature is good for my emotional and mental wellbeing, or just because I CAN just doesn’t cut it with the problems that arise from the CPTSD, especially anxiety and social anxiety that forms part of the experience of being a survivor of trauma.

Sometimes I manage to sneak up on myself and surprise myself and get out and about and visit somewhere either familiar or new to me.

More often than not the inner critic manages to talk me out of it.

I think I need to make a list of places close to me, and a bit further away, that I’d like to visit. A list that contains both familiar and unfamiliar places.

Familiar places are less stressful for me to visit on my own. Knowing my way around, knowing where I can enjoy lunch or tea, knowing where I can park my car and knowing I can find my way back to the car, and so on and so forth makes it a much easier experience for me.

Going somewhere unfamiliar increases stress for me as simple things like going into an unfamiliar cafe for some tea or lunch causes me huge anxiety when I’m by myself. The worry about not being able to find my way back to my car is another added source of anxiety too. Even going into unfamiliar shops, cathedrals, museums and so on provokes anxiety in me.

It’s that old fear from being a bullied, abused child that rises up where I worry if I’ll get hurtful comments from people, if I’ll make a fool of myself in some way and people will laugh, if they’ll pass comment about my choice of food or tea.

None of these things have happened to me as an adult, yet the anxiety that lurks within me rises up and tells me again and again that these things may happen. The voice of my anxiety, of my inner critic, can paralyse me or cause me to flee back home without even getting out of my car, that’s if I even manage to drive to where I’d like to go.

If I have company I’m really brave. I’m often the first to enter a cafe or similar and ask for a table and so on. I’m the one who will bravely explore a new cathedral or museum or place quite eagerly.

On my own though, the inner critic is way too strong as I feel vulnerable. As vulnerable as I did when I was a child and all the way through my adult life.

I can overcome this vulnerability, the anxiety, if there is a purpose to my trip, such as giving an anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales. I do it because I don’t want to let others down (as well as because I believe in the mission of Time to Change Wales).

Part of my anxiety is that I never, or rarely, ask anyone to go out with me (not go out in a romantic sense, just go out as in a jolly day out visiting somewhere of mutual interest and enjoying pleasant company). The fear of rejection is still too huge. I’m also very much aware that people I’d call friends and family are busy with their own family and work and so on, and I never, ever, want to become a burden to anyone.

That’s something that I learned early in my life – not to bother anyone with my needs or problems or issues. It’s something as an adult I’ve not gotten over yet.

I also am aware that there are trips I need to make solo. I like to sit and draw and write in places I visit. I can lose myself in this for a long time, I can take as much time as I need to look at . If I’m with someone I don’t want to spoil their day by indulging myself in such an activity. If I’m by myself I don’t have to worry about them not enjoying themselves as much as they could, so I tend to put my needs completely to one side to make sure they’re happy.

Being a people pleaser is part of the CPTSD. It’s what I did to try to gain approval of people who would never approve of anything I did or said or how I looked. Rejection, ridicule, being put down was par for the course no matter what I did. That didn’t stop me trying to please others, to make sure they were happy as if they were happy then perhaps I’d have an easier time of it and wouldn’t be pushed away yet again.

CPTSD sure messes a person up.

I know that there are plenty of people who experience anxiety who are able to do these simple, everyday, taken for granted things like going into a cafe for a cup of tea. They’re able to overcome that anxiety and don’t buy into it’s messages.

I’ve not learned to overcome it or have disempowered the inner critic enough that I can do these simple everyday things, well not yet. I think the critic has a way to go to be disempowered first.

Still, there are days when I’ll be able to sneak up on myself and head out and actually visit places, sketchbook and visual BuJo in my bag, and take that time and will wonder at how I don’t do things like that more often as it’s really not that bad.

I hope those days will eventually outweigh the days where the inner critic wins out.

Until that days comes I just need to be kind to myself and not beat myself up about giving in to the inner critic once again and remind myself a day will soon come where through sneakery or just disempowering the inner critic enough that I can go out.

Entangled Monograms

Entangled Monograms © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Monograms © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

One of the things that is really nice about being between contracts is the opportunity to create art just for the fun of creating art and not having to stay within the limits of the contract. Not that drawing to fulfil contracts isn’t fun, it is. It’s just that I have to work within the remit of the contract.

Yesterday evening and this morning I’ve been having a contented time creating some entangled monograms. I’ve cut some Winsor and Newton Bristol Board down to approx 15cm x 15cm (approx 5.75″ x 5.75″).

I penciled in some guidelines for the edges of the artwork and for the position of the monogram.

First job was to hand letter the monogram. I did start with pencil guidelines for each letter, then used a hard Tombow Fudenosuke pen to ink them in.

Then, the real fun begins, which is the entangling of the space around the monogram. I used the Fudenosuke pen along with a Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and Uniball Unipin 0.2 and 0.1 pens.

All done in plain black and white, with just the weight and concentration of lines adding depth and dimension to the finished design.

I do want to add colour to these at some point. I love pure black and white artwork, but colour can bring them to life as well. Digital colouring is my favourite way of adding colour these days, but I may print copies out on to marker friendly paper and then use Chameleon Duotones and Color Tops to add colour. I’ll see how I feel about that.

As is my wont, I had no preconceptions of how the entangling would unfold. I just let it flow. Some of my favourite motifs and patterns have been used. I did refer to my visual BuJo for ideas/inspiration from time to time too.

Visual BuJo

Yes, a visual BuJo (bullet journal). Or, rather, it’s a collection of motifs and patterns that are being organised using ideas from the Bullet Journal system of keeping a journal. It works for me. I have a way to help me find continuations of collections, or to start a new one, and not worry about a collection being on consecutive pages.

My visual BuJo is an A5 sized, dot grid notebook from Claire Fontaine. It’s a soft back one so isn’t quite as weighty as Leuchtturms and the like. It is also a little less bulky in size, which helps when I want to travel light on a day out.

Mind you, when fill this present visual BuJo I may use a Leuchtturm for my next one. We’ll see…

It is also something that encourages me to seek out new patterns and motifs to add to it, as if I didn’t have enough already! Doing this is a good way to just practice my drawing skills and observation skills, as well as analysing a motif or pattern, breaking it down into simple shapes and steps to draw a stylised version.

I do tend to favour more stylised motifs and patterns in my art, that’s for sure.

So, I now no longer feel the need to try new ideas out for keeping my reference material, constantly redrawing them again and again. The visual BuJo is working for me for sure.

When I’m having a tough time emotionally/mentally with my CPTSD and/or EMDR it can be soothing, comforting for me to use the familiar, and of course I can still do that. I just don’t need to spend a lot of time drawing and redrawing and redrawing again the same things in my search for a perfect record keeping system for patterns and motifs.

The BuJo inspired system may not be perfect, but it works for me.

One other positive that has come from me using a BuJo is that I’ve had to learn to let mistakes go and just leave them in the notebook. The mistakes are what I need to make in order to understand how to draw a pattern or motif. Sometimes, though, a new pattern or motif arises from the mistakes.

Something else I’m starting to do is to make notes alongside the patterns with where to start, the order in which to draw the parts of the pattern or motif, and ideas for varying it.

Entangled garden 25Apr19

Entangled Garden 25 Apr 2019 © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
Entangled Garden 25 Apr 2019 © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

This morning I decided to take a narrow strip from yesterday’s drawing and colour it digitally. This is the result.

I think WordPress converts RGB images to CMYK or something; the colours aren’t as vibrant on this image as they are on my ‘puter. However, I’m sure you get the idea.

I added a background texture to add interest to the artwork.

I really enjoyed doing this. The unusual dimensions of the artwork have worked well too. It would make a rather lovely bookmark, don’t you think?

I drew the original image with a mixture of Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol paper. I then used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, along with Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio, to choose the section of the image I’d like to use and then add colour and texture.

Unusually, I made use of the Copic color palette in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to help me choose colours to use.

I will go back soon and add some increased contrast and some glowing highlights. I think I need some tea first!

It took me nearly three hours to complete the colouring simply because I chose to use the fill tools available in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I’ll spend another hour or two increasing contrast and adding those glowing highlights to the design. I will add a post showing a comparison between the two versions for sure.