This drawing is very much a work in progress. It’s being worked with black Unipin and Sakura Micron pens. When it’s complete, I will scan it in again, add a background, along with shading and highlights.
There’s some motifs in here inspired by fossils, others by flora and nature, and others that are purely abstract in nature.
Art is one of my self-care activities that help me manage my mental and emotional wellbeing. I mention this as it is World Mental Health Day #WMHD #WMHD2020 and, ironically, I need to do a fair amount of self-care today.
There’s plenty of information and advice out there on the internet. If you are struggling with your mental or emotional wellbeing, or if you just want to learn more about good mental and emotional health, ideas for how to look after it, then I’d encourage you to do a google and/or seek professional help.
We all have physical health and if something goes wrong with us physically, we don’t think twice about seeking out medical help and advice.
We all have mental and emotional health too. Yet too few of us will seek out help and advice when we need it due to the stigma and/or discrimination that cloud mental and emotional health.
It is high time that seeking help and advice for mental and emotional ill health was as natural and normal as seeking help for physical ill-health.
An entangled smorgasbord of fossils, stylised fossils, and some of my favourite patterns and motifs.
I enjoyed creating this one, though I feel I rushed the highlights and shadows a bit. However, I can always go back and edit or re-work them. I’m so much happier adding those highlights and shadows digitally than I am with Copics or other media.
Today, my colour scheme is monochrome, with many shades of grey, along with black and white. Those colours echo a conversation I’ve been having about how life isn’t always black and white, that sometimes no matter how you try to find the right path, make the right decisions, not everyone will agree, either totally or in part.
Art is something I do mainly for my own pleasure. Yes, I do work on adult colouring books, but within the broad topic it’s up to me what I create. I guess enough people like my art as I’m asked time and again to create another book and another.
My biggest problem is believing in myself, recognising that what I do is good enough, and that my own way of expressing myself, in drawings like this one, is good enough too. This way of drawing comes all too easy to me, and that lack of struggle makes me think it’s not worthy of consideration.
That is why I end up experimenting with different media, different ways of creating art, of expressing myself. Yet I always return to this style.
In the past, I’ve described it as my ‘comfort art’. I’m beginning to understand that it is my main artistic voice, the tune. Everything else is me just trying to find harmonies that add to that voice. Perhaps the voice itself is enough, as with Gregorian chants.
That is an insight that I need to dwell upon for a while, but it feels right to me.
Drawn with Unipin pens on marker paper. Background, highlights and shadows added digitally.
I got this monogram finished yesterday evening. I think I may have been a bit heavy handed with shading in some places. However, overall I like it and I like the volume or dimension that the shading adds.
I definitely enjoy working in such a detailed, intricate and organically intuitive kind of way. Having the monogram as a design to work around does help quite a bit.
On a kind of related point, I had a new A5 dot grid notebook delivered yesterday so I can start to make a collection of motifs and patterns as I use them or create them. The idea is I can winnow out those that I never/rarely use. The reason for this is that the dot grid notebook I’ve kept as a visual dictionary for the last couple of years is just about full! I will keep it as a reference, but it’s time to start a new, more relevant one I think.
I have a snazzy, teal coloured notebook, covered in vegan faux-leather. It has 218 numbered white pages that are a tad thicker than the usual dot grid notebook pages, The paper is velvety smooth and a pleasure to write/draw on. It’s made by Wordsworth & Black and I came across it on Amazon. Oh, the ink doesn’t feather, bleed through or ghost on the pages. I paid £15 for it and I’m very happy with it so far.
Can you believe that September is nearly over? I swear that the older I get the faster time seems to go.
Anyway, a new month on the horizon means a new colouring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. There just has to be a Hallowe’en theme for October’s page, and you can see a sneak peek of it above. I couldn’t resist colouring some of it in as a way of trying out some new digital brushes and some ideas too.
I put some of my favourite All Hallows’ Eve motifs into the drawing, including a raven, skulls, fungi and a vampire cat! I always enjoy drawing stuff to do with Hallowe’en; it’s my favourite time of year because I don’t have any past traumas associated with it.
I used a combination of fountain pens and fine-line pens to draw the design on dot grid paper. I then scanned the drawing in and cleaned up smudges and smears digitally.
Then, I set about adding colour digitally using my usual tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I also added a background and surface texture that I had purchased via Creative Market.
I am really quite pleased with how the colour is bringing the illustration to life, especially the skull in a jar. I hope to be able to continue to add colour as the month progresses, though I do know I have quite a bit of work to do and focus on.
To Inktober or not Inktober, that is the question.
Last year, I really enjoyed taking part in Inktober. Inktober has become a really popular social media event where artists and creatives use a daily prompt to draw (or create) something based on that prompt and share it on social media.
There is an official prompt list, but people do create alternative lists and I may look at some of them as there may be variations that might be less time intensive than last years’ was!
I shall see what I find and go from there I think.
So, Angela, how are you today?
Tired. However, I’m am quite content, my mood is good enough today. I do have EMDR later on, and I often feel ‘flat’ before my therapy session. I think my unconscious mind starts to bring stuff up in preparation for EMDR.
I know that the likelihood of me being exhausted later is rather high, so I’m not planning to do loads of stuff later on. Self care will be the order of the late afternoon and evening.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with hyperbolic crochet over the past couple of days. The photo shows just a couple of the hyperbolic surfaces I’ve created. they look like corals, flatworms, a kind of flowery ball, and some weird kind of seedpod (the one at the bottom right which I’m still working on)
To create them you only need to be able to crochet chain stitches as well as a double crochet (single crochet in the US), though you can use other stitches if you wish.
To create a hyperbolic surface, you start with any number of chains. You then work stitches into each chain, increasing at regular intervals. You can, if you wish, join the chains into a ring.
I’ve also discovered that you can get fascinating shapes if you decrease from time to time. The shapes end up like some of the weird seedpods and organic forms that I draw!
This form of crochet can be as structured or free-form as you like, or a mixture of the two.
I’ve not felt this excited about a crochet project since I made the virus shawl and then some flowers, stars, snowflakes and feathers.
The excitement is not knowing how the hyperbolic surface is going to work out.
My only problem is what to make with them, what use to put them to, or who to gift them to.
I do have to add that they are very tactile – they can easily be manipulated, and there is something pleasurable and soothing in how they do this, particularly the smaller, tighter forms.
So, Angela, how are you doing?
I’m doing just fine today. I feel optimistic, content, happy even. The sun is shining, I’ve been out for an appointment and a short walk into the town to look at some yarn and also a trip into Holland & Barretts for some organic seeds and nuts; I also scored a couple of vegetarian scotch eggs too. So, after that, I realised I really had to return home to pop them into the fridge. But not before visiting Shaws to look at yarn. I came away with three cones of four-ply yarn in cream, grey and a soft turquoise. No prizes for guessing what for!
Yesterday, I managed to get some sleep before I headed to Hereford for a meeting in the evening. I wasn’t feeling all that bright and cheery as I left home for the hour and a half or so drive there. My mood did improve as I was driving through pretty scenery through a beautiful sunset that bathed the world in soft pink.
It was a long-assed day though; I didn’t return home until nearly midnight. Fortunately, I slept well overnight, and I woke feeling alert, if still a bit tired around the edges.
I quickly found my balance after EMDR this week, which is good to notice. I’ve also found myself at times trying to see if there’s anything sad or worrisome lurking; it’s almost as if I want to take myself back to the darker days of my life. How weird. I wonder if it’s because part of me thinks I don’t deserve to be content like this. Or maybe I’m just wondering if it is real and lasting and I expect to be dragged back down into the pits of despair and misery.
However, that inner summer has been ignited now, and it won’t easily be put out again. Now I’ve found it, I won’t hide it away. It will always be a guiding light for me, even if I find myself in darker places emotionally or mentally. I’m realistic enough to know that things will happen that affect me one way or another – that’s just life. The difference now is that I have a point of reference to journey back to, a touchstone. I now know what it is like to feel contented, optimistic, and it’s a feeling I won’t forget…ever.
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.
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.
Yesterday I took a quiet day at home, apart from a quick trip out to do a little shopping for vittles. I lost myself in drawing and this image is the result.
It took me around 10 hours to complete, using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.4 pen along with a couple of 0.1 and 0.2 Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
The drawing harks back in time where my love of Romanesque and Gothic arches and architecture showed in amongst entangled, rambling organic motifs.
However, I think the passage of time, increase in skill and/or refining of technique shows through. Perhaps even a bit more polish to the design.
Although drawn in black and white, I’ve added a background colour gradient and texture digitally (along with the rather over the top watermarks).
Talking of watermarks…
I had a response from Teespring.com concerning my copyright infringement complaint against ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ on facebook.
The agreed with me and have removed the offending listing.
I am most grateful for their speed and professionalism in dealing with this.
It may be a drop in the ocean, but if we all took care of just one drop at a time we’d definitely reduce the number of copyright infringements out there.
My mental and emotional wellbeing
It’s been over a week since my last EMDR session. In the UK we’ve had a bank holiday weekend, so no therapy this week.
Last weeks session was really draining emotionally. I expected it’s effects to linger long beyond Monday. However, although I was still a bit tired on Tuesday I’ve mostly been quite content with that gentle smile both on my lips and in my heart.
That doesn’t mean to say I’ve not had my moments, ‘cos I have.
However, the drama of stolen artwork didn’t affect me as much as it would’ve in the past. I did what I could about it. I spoke up rather than letting it slide. It also has given me a little bit of a mission as I go forward – to raise awareness of how to spot an ethical company that supports artists by properly licencing work and properly crediting the artists they work with. Compare this with an unethical company that doesn’t support artists, doesn’t even mention who the artists are, and is only in it to make money for themselves.
Copyright infringement is rife. The myth that things on the internet are copyright free and in the public domain has to be dispelled.
Back to the point. I’m doing ok in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing.