Meh. Just meh.

Sunday morning art

I wasn’t in the mood to continue with the watercolour work in my sketchbook, soI made some Distress Oxide backgrounds on some Bristol board (5.5″ x 4″). I thought I’d do some intuitive drawing on them using metallic gold ink. So much for what I thought I’d do.

Brush and FW pearlescent Mazuma gold liquid acrylic and a brush didn’t work for me. I was getting frustrated with it. So, I tried a gold metallic Gelly Roll pen, which also didn’t feel right. I followed this by a white Gelly Roll pen, a gold glitter Signo gel pen, and finally a black Pitt Artist pen, none of which allowed me to feel I could settle into some art.

Whatever I did I just wasn’t happy with. It seems that this morning I’m not meant to be doing any art.

Feeling Meh

I am feeling meh this morning, meh meaning a lack of enthusiasm, interest and lacking in inspiration. I feel flat, fed up and still emotionally exhausted. This is finally expressing itself in my art today.

So, today is a day to do something different I think. I’ll most probably do some crochet and read.

I started reading a book yesterday by Rupert Sheldrake – “Science and Spiritual Practices”. I’ve long enjoyed reading Sheldrake’s books, after discovering his theory of Morphic Resonance (thanks to the ‘It’s morphic, innit?’ statements in the Discworld books of Terry Pratchett). I also have an interest in what consciousness is, where it resides, and so I find books that tie science into spirituality and a non-mechanistic approach to consciousness and life quite interesting.

For a number of years, I’ve found it difficult to read and focus on reading for any length of time. I experienced burnout, and with it the depression and anxiety related to CPTSD all my life, had become almost unbearable. With these, my ability to read and process written information mostly vanished. That happened nearly seven years ago now. Slowly, my ability to read and understand and retain what has recovered to where I can now enjoy reading, though it’s not always a natural activity to return to.

Today, however, may be the perfect day to snuggle down with a good book, decent mugs of tea, as it’s grey and damp outside. Nice music on would be good too.

Feeling uninspired

This happens to me on a fairly regular basis. I need a break from art and to do something different. I may do some quick, easy, familiar and comforting types of art just to keep my hand and eye in. I do, however, give myself a break from trying to work at any challenging projects. It’s like a short holiday from art. In time my energy, enthusiasm and inspiration returns anew and off I go again.

Learning to be kind to myself, giving myself permission to take a break, hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a long time. On days like this, though. Days when I feel flat, sad, exhausted, it’s easy to beat myself up about being ‘lazy’.

It’s not being lazy at all; I’m busy taking care of myself. I have to work hard at reminding myself of this. And busy taking care of myself means slowing right down and doing activities that soothe, calm, relax and allow my energy to recharge. Today that means rediscovering the joy of reading, something I used to take for granted, and now it’s something that I will appreciate so much more.

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.

That Friday feeling …

Mandala

Today’s art is a simple mandala. A cool grey, black and white colour scheme on a soft, calming green background.

Drawn in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Slim Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Confusion

I am emotionally drained, confused and overwhelmed again today. I don’t have much in the way of focus. I was surprised I could complete even this quick and simple mandala.

I don’t have the focus or energy to reflect on the choices of colours and symbols in the mandala and how they relate to messages bubbling up from my unconscious mind.

I feel trapped, caught between a rock and a hard place. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. The stress of it all is giving me a migraine, upset digestive system and is dragging my mood downwards.

Heck, even the mandala looks like it is either sinking down, pulling itself up or hanging on by the chains of teardrops. That is how I feel, and I had no idea that was how the mandala would appear when finished.

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 Art Therapy

Art to calm and soothe

More art therapy was required yesterday and today. This time I messed around with watercolours and botanical motifs.

Some I like, some are hideous, but all resulted in me finding some calm amidst a maelstrom of emotional and mental pressures being exerted against me.

Although I’ve not yet tried to express my emotions via colour and pattern today, working with motifs from nature is soothing in it’s own way.

Perhaps there’s more of me expressing my needs in creating botanical art. I do feel the need to be out walking where there is nature. With Covid19 still doing the rounds, my places of choice are cemeteries; so few people visit them and I feel safe there in a way I don’t feel safe in nature when I’m by myself.

So, as it’s fairly overcast and there’s a good breeze, I’ll head out as soon as I’ve completed my social media stuff for the day.

Materials and method

I used mostly watercolours, but I did try out the Inktense paint palette I received yesterday for one motif. For some of the motifs I used a faint pencil outline. On others I darkened that outline once I’d painted the motif. And I tried black outlines using a Signo DX 0.38 pen on some others. I also used white Signo gel pens to add highlights. Finally, I splattered some gold watercolour over the page, and added some bigger dots of gold.

Oh, I worked on one of the smooth textured pages in my A4 Arteza watercolour journal.

Monday Mood

Drawing done with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens.
Arteza Mixed Media Paper coloured with Distress Oxide Inks (Stormy Skies, Chipped Sapphire, Dusty Concord, edged with Hickory Smoke).
Paper measures 3″ x 8.25″ (8.3cm x 21cm).

“I make art to show my soul I am listening.”
“This, too, shall pass.”

Art is my solace, my form of expressing my soul, my inner self.

Mandala

Today’s artistic offering is a mandala with a quote about meditation.

The simple typography was done in Affinity Publisher. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create the mandala.

I just needed some quiet time this morning. I spent quite a while meditating before breakfast. Then, my attention turned towards art.

I knew I wanted to include a quote in today’s art, and I found this quote about meditation that resonated with me.

Meditation and mandalas go together like bread and butter!

The mandala design is quite simple and bold, in quite subtle colours, for me.

It’s going to be a quiet day for me today. A self-care day. I may not get anymore work done on my typographical portrait, but I will be immersing myself in arty and/or creative activities for sure.

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.

Sketchbook Page

Sketchbook page

Yesterday, I spent some time adding colour to paper to add to my custom sketchbook. This is one of the papers that I created, with an abstract drawing on it, that is finished enough for the sketchbook.

The artwork measures approx 4″ x 6½”. I used a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-on mixed media paper which I coloured with Distress Oxide Inks followed by some sprays and splatters of water to create a distressed look. The colours used were Seedless Preserves and Fossilised Amber.

I first drew the basic outline of the design with a M Pitt Artist pen from Faber-Castell. To add colour to the design, I used Distress Inks in Seedless Preserves, Fossilised Amber and Ripe Persimmon like watercolours.

Then, I started to add patterns, lines and stippling to the design to bring out the patterns and add depth, interest and dimension.

I think it’s worked out fairly well. I may well go back to yesterday’s ‘Blessings’ artwork and add colour and more patterns to it at a later date.

I went out!

My blog post is a little later as I decided to go out for a walk this morning. This was a big deal for me. Especially after the effects of the high anxiety/stress I experienced last week.

I went to my local cemetery, Glyntaff Crematorium. It’s fairly large, with lots of paths and roads sectioning the cemetery up. I wandered around the older section, which is full of fascinating funereal sculpture. I had my DSLR camera with me, and managed to take over 100 photos this morning, not just of gravestones, but textures too.

It was so nice to be out in fresh air, moving my body around more than I have done for nearly four months. I had nice music on earphones so that any loud sounds wouldn’t startle me. There was work going on around the crematorium as well as grounds work.

It was also nice to drive my car again. It’s been a week, and I really miss the freedom of just being able to take a drive. It’s important that we still stay home as much as possible and to limit our time where there are people. I think my choice to visit the cemetery was a good one. Very few people, alive or dead, haunt cemeteries!

I think I fall into the group of people known as tapophiles – people who are interested in cemeteries, gravestones and funerals. It’s not a morbid interest, just an interest about the changing styles of funerals, funerary sculpture , practices and how they change over time with society and culture.

I discovered the fascination with gravestones when I walked to and from school through this cemetery. It took me longer to get home than it did to get to school. On the way home I had the time to linger and explore and indulge my curiosity. I remember being too scared to look in the chapels there, but enjoyed popping into the columbarium, which has recently been renovated and reopened.

I think I’ll be looking for other cemeteries fairly local to me to visit in the weeks ahead, ones that offer me a good walk as well as interesting graves to look at.

Sketchbook Page

The art

At 4¾” x 2¾”, this is a fairly small drawing.

I used a variety of PaperArtsy Fresco paints to colour a 5¾” x 3⅜” piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper. I chose, for me, an unusual mixture of colours. It’s ended up looking like old, distressed and grungy painted walls.

Next, I drew the abstract design with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens. I did the basic outlines, leaving my decision whether or not to add details for later on.

Then, I tried adding some colour to the background with Inktense Pencils and a damp brush. As this is a sketchbook page, I tried different colours out to see which ones would work well with the background. The finish on the Inktense-d areas was rather chalky and dull, though a subtle colour was achieved on the acrylic paint background. I’m not sure if I like it or not.

I find it difficult to resist a bit of shimmer and shine on my art, so I used a Uniball Signo gold glitter gel pen to fill in some of the circles in the design.

Finally, I added some more complex patterns to some areas in the design. I could’ve filled in more areas, but I’ve decided that this is enough.

Other stuff…

This wasn’t the only piece of paper I coloured with the Fresco paints. As they’re for the sketchbook, I coloured each piece on both sides. So, I now have quite a few prepared pages in my custom sketchbook to draw on as time goes by.

I think I’ve finally settled down after the trip out on Tuesday. I seem to be more settled, for sure. Meditation, self-care, self-soothing and enough rest has worked it’s magic once again. Sunshine today is helping as well, along with the refreshing breeze that is gently flowing in through the windows.

The simple things in life are often the ones that bring most peace to me – art, meditation, quiet times, sunshine.